A few days ago, I mentioned, in front of a group of five dozen people linked to the real estate sector, some moments in which I enjoy complete satisfaction, that is, circumstances in which, on a scale of happiness between 0 and 10, I position myself at the top.
The first moment that I exposed, and that I described in detail, alerting to the subjectivity of the question of happiness, is a routine that I cultivate every day in the first hour after the long nocturnal unconsciousness that allows me to experience moments of complete satisfaction. I open a parenthesis here for a caveat about nocturnal unconsciousness, explained by António Damásio in Feeling and Knowing: On the Way to Consciousness: “When we are deeply asleep, consciousness returns during dreams and creates a very strange situation. We are asleep and we are aware.”
Simply put: I wake up and try to tune in to the channel of happiness. I will describe the routine: after carrying out the basic functions of hygiene, feeding and caressing the two cats that live with us, I repeat to myself that I am alive and that this is good, I inhale and exhale deeply a few times with awareness — being aware is different from to be aware of something – that the act of breathing is essential to life, I prepare a breakfast with foods that I really like and sit down to eat while I read. And there I stay, between half and an hour, reading and sipping a cup of freshly brewed bagged coffee that brings back childhood memories.
This may very well be, with one adjustment or another, the routine of millions of people. I don’t pretend to be original. I just want to point out that I repeat these moments every day — I purposely wake up earlier to enjoy them in absolute silence, hence the priority in feeding and petting the cats — with the awareness that they make me 100% happy. I repeat what I wrote above: being aware is different from being aware of something. Awareness is not synonymous with attention. “Without conscience, life would be like death. Mindfulness makes life worth living,” says neuroscientist Susan Greenfield in A Day in the Life of the Brain – Consciousness from Sunrise to Sunset.
Two of the people in the real estate business who heard me talk about happiness later confided in me, in the privacy of a written message, that they practiced routines more or less similar to mine, but that only after hearing me describe it and electing it as full satisfaction, they were aware of how happy they were when fulfilling their own routine. “Today, I even got up a little earlier to have time to read a few more pages”, one of them confided to me.
“Wow, I’m a wellness guru who awakens people to the happiness that ordinary things can make us feel”, I immediately thought. I’m kidding, I didn’t think any of that, I thought of Susan Greenfield’s quote — “Without conscience, life would be like death. The conscious state makes life worth living”—and that we all need to be called down to earth from time to time.
We all know that, behind the cover of a computer or a cell phone screen, we become loose-tongued beings, capable of saying things we would never say face to face — look at the comment boxes of online newspaper editions, for example…
Now, one of my new acquaintances also shared with me that other things that made him 100% happy (I have his own authorization to disclose it) was the moment when he made known, on social networks, the completion of a deal. I explored the confidence:
– But isn’t the moment of complete satisfaction the completion of the business and the financial benefit that it brings you?
– No, that makes me happy, but what makes me really happy is being able to make this achievement known to the world.
– Make it known to the world. Your world of social media, I mean… What about the money, doesn’t it matter?
– It matters, of course, but recognition tastes much better.
“Derek Sivers has been a musician, producer, circus performer, entrepreneur, speaker and book author,” reads the book’s flap. Invest in what makes you happy – 40 tips for new entrepreneurs. Sivers, the author, developed a business, aCD Baby, which sold for $22 million. And what did he do with this value? Donated all of it to charity. At a certain point in the book, whose profits from the Portuguese edition (January 2023, Ideias de Ler) he gave to Refood Portugal, Sivers writes: “Happiness is the real reason why you do whatever you want, right? Even if you say it’s for the money, money is just a means to happiness, right? But what if it turns out that after a certain point, money doesn’t create any happiness, only headaches? You can be much happier with a million dollar business than with a billion dollar business.”
Further on: “When I decided to sell my company, I already had enough. I live simply. I don’t own a house, a car, or even a television. The less I have, the happier I am. The absence of things gives me the invaluable freedom to live anywhere, anytime.”
The subjectivity of happiness. The happiness of simply being who we really are. The happiness of being aware of what makes us happy. And the circumstances in which we are.
The author writes according to the Spelling Agreement of 1990