Unlocking Happiness: Insights from “Build the Life You Want”Book. Dr Brooks.

Explore the wisdom of "Build the Life You Want," co-authored by Oprah Winfrey, and discover the journey to happiness through insights from Dr. Arthur Brooks. Learn about the key components of happiness: Enjoyment, Satisfaction, and Meaning. Find tips on managing negative emotions and understanding emotional profiles for improved relationships. Delve into an enlightening podcast with Rich Roll and Dr. Brooks for valuable lessons on personal growth and fulfillment.

Reza Sahraei

9/28/20233 min read

A few days ago, I strolled through the aisles of my local Indigo, casually browsing the latest book releases. Amidst the sea of titles, one caught my eye: Build the Life You Want.” At first, I assumed it was just another commercial book with a celebrity’s name slapped on it, in this case, Oprah Winfrey’s as co-author However, my perspective shifted when I stumbled upon a podcast episode titled “How to Actually Get Happier,” featuring an interview of Rich Roll with Dr. Arthur Brooks, author of the very same book.

Listening to this enlightening podcast not only convinced me to read the book but also inspired me to share some of its wisdom through this article. I highly recommend giving the podcast a listen; it’s a treasure trove of insights on how to lead a happier life. In the podcast, Dr. Arthur Brooks opens with a powerful statement: “Happiness is not a destination; it’s a direction.” He emphasizes two crucial aspects of happiness. First, don’t obsess over whether you are currently happy; instead, focus on becoming happier. Second, happiness isn’t merely a fleeting emotion; it’s a skill that requires cultivation. The bulk of the conversation centers on the key components that contribute to happiness:

1. Enjoyment: The Art of True Fulfillment

Dr. Arthur Brooks’ insights on enjoyment go beyond the surface-level pleasures of life. While pleasure can be derived from engaging in various activities, Dr. Brooks emphasizes that true enjoyment transcends mere momentary delight. It’s about infusing those activities with a deeper sense of meaning.

Imagine savouring a meal. Pleasure can be derived from the flavours and textures, but true enjoyment arises when you share that meal with loved ones, creating cherished memories. It’s not just about what you do; it’s about how you do it and who you do it with. The act of sharing enriches the experience, making it more profound and lasting. This concept encourages us to seek connections, embrace meaningful interactions, and make memories that add layers of joy to our lives.

2. Satisfaction: The Quest for Fulfillment

Satisfaction, according to Dr. Brooks, is a powerful component of a fulfilling life. It often emerges from the journey of overcoming challenges and obstacles. Dr. Brooks introduces a thought-provoking formula for satisfaction: “Your haves divided by your wants create your satisfaction.”

This formula underscores the importance of managing our desires and expectations. By reducing our wants, we make satisfaction more attainable. In a world often driven by consumerism and the constant pursuit of more, this perspective challenges us to reconsider our priorities. The “Reverse bucket list” technique, introduced by Dr. Brooks, serves as a practical tool to minimize desires and extend our moments of satisfaction. It involves reflecting on the achievements and experiences we’ve already had, shifting our focus from what we lack to what we’ve accomplished. This shift in mindset can lead to a more content and fulfilling life.

3. Meaning: Unpacking the Essence of Life

In the realm of meaning, Dr. Brooks provides a comprehensive framework that breaks it down into three distinct parts: coherence, purpose, and significance.

Coherence- addresses the fundamental question of why things happen as they do. It prompts us to seek understanding and meaning in the events and circumstances of our lives. By finding patterns and connections, we can make sense of our experiences and derive a sense of order from the chaos.

Purpose- involves defining the goal and direction of one’s life. It’s about setting meaningful objectives that give our existence direction and focus. Identifying our purpose helps us align our actions with our values, contributing to a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment.

Significance — delves into the profound question of whether our existence matters. It encourages us to contemplate the impact we have on the world and those around us. Recognizing our significance can provide a profound sense of purpose and drive us to make meaningful contributions to society.

These nuanced aspects of meaning offer a more concrete and actionable approach to understanding the meaning of life. Dr. Brooks’ framework prompts us to explore our own lives deeply, seeking coherence, defining our purpose, and recognizing our significance. By doing so, we can embark on a journey towards a more meaningful and fulfilling existence.

Another intriguing topic explored in the podcast is the importance of choosing better reactions to negative emotions. Dr. Brooks delves into the idea that happiness and unhappiness are not mere opposites; they are processed in different areas of the brain. This means that one can experience high levels of both happiness and unhappiness simultaneously, leading to unique emotional profiles. Understanding these emotional defaults, as described in the “Penis test” (mentioned in the book), can help individuals manage themselves and their interactions with others more effectively.

The podcast delves into these four emotional profiles, offering valuable insights into self-awareness and relationship dynamics.

This podcast episode, spanning approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes, is a rich source of wisdom that cannot be fully condensed into a single article. I encourage you to listen to it multiple times to fully absorb its teachings.

If these topics pique your interest, stay tuned for more valuable lessons that I’ll be sharing. Together, we can work towards becoming happier and better individuals in our lives.