Srikumar Rao on Hard-Wiring Happiness
Why success and failure are exactly the same, or how process supersedes perfection.
By Maria Popova
We’ve talked a lot about the origins of happiness and the various ways people go about pursuing it. And while all these lofty concepts and creative approaches have their place, it’s in the sore absence of happiness that we fully realize the importance of specific, powerful tools and steps to bringing all the theoretical stuff to life.
In this excellent talk at Columbia University, Srikumar Rao (of Are You Ready To Succeed? fame) offers precisely the kind of cognitive toolkit to combat our ingrained preoccupation with success/fail outcomes standing between us and our own happiness.
You have spent your entire life learning to be unhappy. And the way we learn to be unhappy is by buying into a particular mental models. […] The problem isn’t that we have mental models, the problem is that we don’t know we have mental models, we think that’s the way the world works.
Rao’s points about absolutism as the deadliest poison of emotional well-being poke brilliant holes in the very fabric of Western culture and its obsession with control, which yields only frustration and failed expectation.
We live in a world where what we think of, what we invest in, is the outcome. There is an alternative. You invest in the process.
Rao’s thinking reminds us of the slightly more life-coachish approach by Gay Hendricks in The Big Leap, a similar effort to dispell all the myths we keep perpetuating as we stand in the way of our own success and continue looking for happiness outside of ourselves.
Passion exists in you, not in the job.
Published March 11, 2010