The Pursuit of Happiness in Silicon Valley.

Notes from Palo Alto and San Francisco Meetings:

  • Need to be part of broader cause
  • Creating something, not doing something
  • Two kinds of people: maximizers (always trying to one-up what they did before...if stayed at Four Seasons, next hotel has to be even better) and satisfiers (hey -- this is great! Esp when compared to third world etc).
  • Detachment from outcome -- being content when goals don't work out. Need to find joy in the journey.
  • Internal vs. External factors. So easy to gauge well-being on external factors, it's the default mode. Clearly happiness must come from within. Amish ban external factors. People lose individual liberty, but are happy!
  • Do major events (winning lottery or losing loved one) affect your happiness in long run or just blips?
  • Money can't buy happiness, but it can buy your way out of a lot of misery.
  • Visit 3rd world always keeps it in perspective. Perspective from comparison.
  • What's the role of introspection and self-knowledge in happiness? Are introspective people usually more happy, or more cynical? If someone is happy and clueless, don't fix it!
  • Why is happiness even relevant?
  • Are there activites that are "fulfilling" but don't contribute to happiness?
  • When do people most feel "in the flow"?
    • When connected to people and to communities
    • When I live most honest to who I am
  • Aimless joy is pure joy
  • Childhood and parental influences on happiness -- if you grow up in hyperfrugal environment, feel guilty buying material "excesses" later in life.
  • Is it bad that consumption can make us happy?
  • Happiness and contentment are different -- strive to never be content
  • Hard to tell when you're happy, very easy to tell when you're not happy. Thinking about it in the negative helps.
  • "Something to do, something to love, something to hope for."


Palo Alto Participants:
Name
Email
URL
Ben Casnocha
ben@casnocha.com
http://www.casnocha.com
Chris Yeh
chris@chrisyeh.com
http://www.chrisyeh.com
Zoli Erdos
zoliblog@gmail.com
http://www.zoliblog.com
Olivier Marchand
olivier@comcate.com
Client Services Director at software company
Jan Leeman
jleeman@stanfordalumni.org
Entrepreneur and investor
Eric Case
eric [at] vedana.net
http://vedana.net/
Don Yates
dyates@extraordinaryorganizations.com
Management theorist
Dale Edmondson
dedmondson@omm.com
Lawyer

San Francisco Participants:
Ben Casnocha
ben@casnocha.com
http://ben.casnocha.com
Susan Etlinger
susan.etlinger@zenogroup.com
The Horn Group
Larissa Lorian
llorian@worldtradeclub.org
World Trade Club
Gabe Rosen
paparosen@gmail.com
Headhunter
Robi Papp
robi@ingrian.com
Ingrian
Renee Blodgett
renee@blodgettcomm.com
http://www.downtheavenue.com
Paul Roales
proales@proales.com
Podcast advertising company
Tim Taylor
agapett@gmail.com
http://ttblogs.typepad.com/my_weblog/



Questions to Chew On Before the Meeting:
  • Do you actively think about your pursuit of happiness?
  • How are you affected by thinking relative to your neighbors and peers? Living in the Bay Area, with billioniares all around us, how do we overcome constantly feeling inferior?
  • What does it mean that the "pursuit of happiness" was endowed in our country's founding documents?
  • What is "the good life"? Socrates said that living a good life of high moral standard is the key to happiness.
  • Do you buy "positive psychology"? Are there states of mind or places or habits that make you more happy? Is happiness a condition to be cultivated, or is it more genetic?
  • Is it immoral to be unhappy?
  • What is the role of work, family, and leisure in the pursuit of happiness?
  • To what extent is happiness universal vs. unique to the individual?
  • What are the things in life that have made you happiest?
  • What is the role of geography, nationality, and culture in happiness?

Recommended Reading:


http://www.newyorker.com/critics/books/articles/060227crbo_books
The Fragility of Contentment - New Yorker

This I Believe: Life, Liberty, the Pursuit of Happiness by Andrew Sullivan

Eudaemonia by Martin Seligman
http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/seligman04/seligman_index.html

Ben Casnocha's del.icio.us "happiness" tag:
http://del.icio.us/bencasnocha/happiness

Chris Yeh's del.icio.us "happiness" tag:
http://del.icio.us/chrisyeh/happiness

Eric Case's del.icio.us "happiness" tags:
http://del.icio.us/case/happiness