Friday, January 27, 2012

Retired in Ann Arbor: Happiness (in retirement and before)

Before I retired, I used to hold a subscription to the Harvard Business Review.  When I retired, I decided that it was a luxury, and resigned myself to reading it in the library.  I recently was very happy to find the HBR blog-- as many topics are as pertinent and interesting in retirement, as they were when I was working.

Here's a great excerpt about happiness, that supports much of why I think Ann Arbor is the perfect place to live:

"Beyond having rich networks, what makes us happy day to day? The psychologist Ed Diener has a finding I really like. He essentially shows that the frequency of your positive experiences is a much better predictor of your happiness than is the intensity of your positive experiences.

When we think about what would make us happy, we tend to think of intense events—going on a date with a movie star, winning a Pulitzer, buying a yacht. But Diener and his colleagues have shown that how good your experiences are doesn’t matter nearly as much as how many good experiences you have.

Somebody who has a dozen mildly nice things happen each day is likely to be happier than somebody who has a single truly amazing thing happen. So wear comfortable shoes, give your wife a big kiss, sneak a french fry. It sounds like small stuff, and it is. But the small stuff matters. I think this helps explain why it’s so hard for us to forecast our affective states. We imagine that one or two big things will have a profound effect. But it looks like happiness is the sum of hundreds of small things. Achieving happiness requires the same approach as losing weight. People trying to lose weight want a magic pill that will give them instant results. Ain’t no such thing. We know exactly how people lose weight: They eat less and exercise more. They don’t have to eat much less or exercise much more—they just have to do those things consistently. Over time it adds up. Happiness is like that. The things you can do to increase your happiness are obvious and small and take just a little time. But you have to do them every day and wait for the results."

So go out for coffee, visit the arb, wander Main Street, go to a student concert, and enjoy life. And remember-- all these little moments of happiness add up.
Read the entire article here:


  1. And make sure you and Richard pass out those little doses of happiness to everyone you come across.