I bet you don't remember, Jack, what we talked about back in 2007 about happiness: you can never be happy all the time because the mind measures happiness relative to how things were before, especially not so long before. If things are getting better you feel happy. if things stay the same for a while, no matter how good they are, you eventually start to feel less happy. And if your conditions should be going down then you feel sad, no matter how high a point the fall started from. Sure if things are good you are more likely to be happy but not all the time.
[Since you are good at maths, one day soon (if not already) you will understand this mathematical version of what I just said: happiness is proportional to the rate of change of your circumstances, more than their absolute value.
H = a.C + b.deltaC, a << b ]
The upside is that this allows people in pretty miserable circumstances to still feel happy at least sometimes. The downside is that you can't be permanently happy.
There are ways to increase happiness:
- Money. "Money can't buy you happiness but you get a better class of misery". "I been rich and I been poor. Rich is better". There is no doubt that having enough money to not have to worry about it every minute of the day will make you happier. Having enough to have the freedom to do the things you want to do, like travel or take a break or play trains, makes things better too. On the other hand, if you pursue money too hard you WILL make yourself miserable. And if you screw up the other aspects of your life all the moeny in the world won't fix it. Which brings us to...
- Family. Family drive you nuts at times. But on average having family around makes you happier. So don't wander too far from us for too long, hope you find a soulmate one day, and having kids is generally on balance a positive thing.
- Partner. I already mentioned soulmate above, but it deserves a separate mention: you can't beat the contentment of a healthy stable relationship with someone. But be warned: it is hard work being happy. You have to work at relationships top make them successful. And like the Trust Tree, you can chop a relationship down in minutes. Unlike the Trust tree it often does not re-grow.
- Achievement. or maybe Self Respect. Being a winner, on top of your game, making progress, succeeding, just doing the right thing. These can all make you feel real good a lot of the time. Once again, there's that hard work thing...
- Friends. Friends feel good. Build friendships and keep them. In the mobile world it is important to stay in touch and not let them drift away. it may seem corny but you can't beat a Christmas card list - touch base at least once a year. You never know when you will drift back together. I let way too many friends fade away.
- Detachment. The Buddhists and others know that the more you can detach yourself from physical things the more content you will be. But this is really hard work!
I'm sure there's a few more.
Chemicals are not one of them: drugs ease unhappiness but they don't make you happy. They fake happiness for a short time but you pay with a come-down afterwards that leaves you even unhappier. This is true of everything from tobacco to alcohol to ganja to smack. Nothing wrong with a bit of chemically-assisted happiness every now and then, but not when you are unhappy: that way leads to dependency.