The Happiness Fallacy

Well, this morning I had a shower thought that ended up spiralling wildly out of control all day, so I figured I'd post and get it off my chest. Buckle up kids.

Is happiness real?

When I was in highschool I had brutal acne. All I could think about was how I could finally be happy once it was gone. I started accutane, and presto, six months later it was gone. I was happy... for all of a few months. Then it was on to the next thing stopping me from achieving happiness. Being strong. I started working out like a fiend, and put on a bunch of muscle and quite a bit of fat. I achieved my lifting goals, and was truly happy... for a week. Then I needed to get cut. You can probably guess what happened next. Cut for a long-ass time, and eventually got down to single digit bodyfat. The happiness here lasted a little longer, but still faded. Next came the girl I wanted. I put in maximum effort to get her, and halfway through college her an I started dating. I got bored after two months, and the relationship fizzled out. Next came good grades, then travel, then I busted my ass and managed to land my dream job in IB. Guess what? The happiness is gone.

Now you might say, "happiness comes from within, it can't be achieved through external gratification."

Sure, that's great, and it's probably true. But if I hadn't had the drive to chase these external things, I wouldn't be in the fortunate position I am today. I busted my ass, beat the shit out of my body, studied until my brain felt like mush, and am now spending 12-14 hours a day learning through a firehose. The constant pursuit for the thing that will give me my next hit of happiness has exponentially stoked my ambition to be better. To be stronger, faster, smarter, richer, and kinder.

Yet I have friends who work in bars or retail stores, living paycheck to paycheck in shithole apartments, and they're happier than a pig in shit. That's one of the primary reason I'm posting this here. I know this is a finance forum, and despite the fact that there is a whole lot of dumbasses on here, most of the WSO population is either extremely smart, extremely hard working, or a bit of both. I wanted a different perspective on this topic than my buddy who will tell me to "just go with the flow and enjoy," before hitting a bowl, picking up a controller, and playing his 17th straight game of Smash Bros.

I guess this is what I'm asking:

Is happiness a myth that drives us to achieve greatness in it's pursuit? Or is happiness a real thing, and something that can actually be captured?

TL;DR: Read the sentence above.

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May 4, 2022 - 9:19am
Arroz con Pollo, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I've found stupid people find it easier to be happy. Happiness is a state of mind - look at your values and see what they are. This will strongly determine if you're happy or not.

I am happier playing with a dog than I was traveling the world in college.

As you grow up and mature, you'll realize life is not easy. Life is hard, but seeing as I live in America, it's a lot easier than other places. This doesn't make me "happy" per se, but it's changed my values, which has led to some level of increased happiness.

Some of the happiest people I've ever met are the poorest. I don't mean the American version of poor where you still have an iPhone. I mean African mud hut poor. I've worked with girls who escaped child marriages, and girls as young as 13 who had been raped and had children were happy as they had escaped their horrible situation and now had hope of a better life

May 4, 2022 - 3:50pm
MonkeyNoise, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I remember working crap jobs in college during summer with guys mid 20s-30s. Theyd have girlfriends, wives, kids, and generally tiny homes or apartments where they rented. Would do their mindless retail/service/labor job but go home smoke weed most days, play super smash bros with friends on a futon, watch documentary, hang out, etc Would hang out with them and it was fun.

Sometimes think if that life is happier than the corporate rat race. Or if there is much more stress about money that they dont show and I take things for granted.

May 6, 2022 - 1:30pm
Roger Sterling, what's your opinion? Comment below:
MonkeyNoise

I remember working crap jobs in college during summer with guys mid 20s-30s. Theyd have girlfriends, wives, kids, and generally tiny homes or apartments where they rented. Would do their mindless retail/service/labor job but go home smoke weed most days, play super smash bros with friends on a futon, watch documentary, hang out, etc Would hang out with them and it was fun.

Sometimes think if that life is happier than the corporate rat race. Or if there is much more stress about money that they dont show and I take things for granted.

It may be fun for a little while but it won't last once they hit their 30s. I knew too many old people in those types of jobs who told me to stay in college to avoid becoming like them. Most would get just drunk every weekend to escape the misery of their workweek.

Controversial
May 4, 2022 - 11:55am
Isaiah_53_5 💎🙌💎🙌💎, what's your opinion? Comment below:

-

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

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May 4, 2022 - 3:29pm
Isaiah_53_5 💎🙌💎🙌💎, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This ^ is one of the greatest quotes in the past 15 - 20 centuries.

Runner up:

-

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

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May 6, 2022 - 11:31am
kindheartedconsultant, what's your opinion? Comment below:

username checks out

Remember, always be kind-hearted.
May 4, 2022 - 12:11pm
dnejffiskswn, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Rich is not the one who has the most, but the one who needs the least.

If u earn 30k a month but "need" a 100k a month lifestyle to "be happy" you r poor. If u earn 7k a month but are happy with a 5k lifestlye, you are rich.

May 4, 2022 - 3:58pm
MonkeyNoise, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Similar quote in this vein is parable about the rich man, the poor man, and the king. A rich man passes a poor man on a street on his way to pay respects to the king. He says to the poor man, "you know if you kneeled before the king, you wouldnt have to live on just rice and beans". The poor man replies "If you knew how to live on just rice and beans, then you wouldnt have to kneel to the king"

while it's not for everyone - financial independence is a top priority for myself. It provides true freedom, and is often a spending equation as much as an income one

May 5, 2022 - 8:26am
sheldonxp, what's your opinion? Comment below:

To play devil's advocate here - isn't your search for financial independence also a variation of wanting more than what you have?

Presumably you want financial independence because you don't want to have to keep working. So I can flip your quote and say "if you knew how to be happy with your job, then you wouldn't have to search for financial independence."

May 4, 2022 - 12:15pm
GaribaldiIV, what's your opinion? Comment below:

You might consider starting a journal. Carve out 10-15 minutes a couple times a week to write out your thoughts, no holding back, being brutally honest. When you are faced with another bout of unhappiness/external motivation, look back on what you've written previously and see if you're making the same mistake again/ are in the same headspace as you've been before.

Think about what you want to have done or accomplished in your life, and then think about ways you can get there. Often times happiness comes not from achieving the actual goal itself, but in the difficult path that lies between you and a goal. And keep a record along the way - it will be good reading for you at all the future points in your life.

May 4, 2022 - 1:12pm
radio528, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Good point on the hedonistic treadmill, it's an empty and unfulfilling game of life when chasing external pleasures for happiness. Like you said, you think "if only I have this, then Ill be happy", you work your ass off to that goal and become happy for a bit and then it subsides and it is on to the next thing. It never is enough and you are always looking towards that next thing that you think will be the mecca, but it never sustains your happiness, as you end up just constantly chasing that dragon like an addict, looking for a high as good as the first one. Happiness needs to come in an intrinsic way, internally within yourself. My advice is let go and only focus on the things you can control. Always strive to improve, but never let your quest for improvement run your life or place your happiness on one goal or event. Be content with who you are, but always move forward and never chase for happiness.

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May 4, 2022 - 2:40pm
Deal Team Six, what's your opinion? Comment below:

So I have spent a number of years reflecting on happiness, and how to "maximize" it. Anyone who embarks on a similar endeavor does so due to starting in the same place, one of extreme dissatisfaction. At my worst I was diagnosed with severe depression, and at my best I would say I have found a way to reach a fairly consistent level of happiness, and one that I am content with. 

For starters, in general, I too have found that those who are substance abusers and / or are lower IQ are generally the happiest. I have a friend who works at a hotel front desk and drinks himself to death each night while gaming until 4 AM, and he generally seems much happier than most of my other friends. Contrast him with my friends in IBD right now, and he is objectively happier on a day-to-day basis. While his quality of life may seem depressing, so does working until 4 am night after night on pitches for mandates your bank wont win. So, working extremely long hours in order to justify a prestigious job with a really high salary is ultimately not the key to happiness for many who have the "holy grail" of finance type jobs (IBD at top firm, MF PE, VC in the bay, etc.). 

I realized long ago that I would never derive enough happiness from the job I held to make it worth sacrificing all of my time. Take your acne and workout analogy. For starters, I too went through both of those phases, and neither led to long term satisfaction. I reached extremes too, having perfectly clear skin and putting on 50 lbs of muscle over the course of 6 years, lifting religiously, dieting like a NYC model, counting every calorie, refraining from any cheat meals, etc. Do you know how happy either end result made me? Moderately happy for a short while, then I fell back to my previous happiness plateau. 

When I got my first IBD internship, I was ecstatic. Then I completed it and looked at all the Year 2 Analysts I aspired to be like. They were so smart, good at their jobs, and I wanted to be just like them. Or did I? Most of them were depressed, but too overworked to address it, doing copious amounts of cocaine on weekends to make up for their micro-weekends (just a few hours of fun per week, per month, etc.). I had an epiphany, I absolutely do not want to be like them. 

This was when I embarked on a new approach to reaching happiness. I realized it had to be a biproduct of a number of things. I needed to see my folks, get a girlfriend, exercise regularly, stay in shape, eat right, manage a reasonable level of stress, ALL WHILE doing a challenging job that required more effort than a 9-5. I wanted to still solve complex problems, and to do work like what I did in IBD, but without sacrificing my happiness.

Through a lot of trial and error, I was able to try multiple different roles in consulting and then in corp dev. I have found Corp Dev to be a career path that allows me to be satisfied with the work I do, while all the while maintaining the necessary balance to at least feel somewhat content. I spent years working on myself, this was no small project. I stopped drinking, I read every single night (non fiction), I studied for the GMAT in my free time, I dropped a lot of my shitty friends, I stopped playing video games, I networked and interview prepped like mad, applying and interviewing for as many different jobs as I could until I found the right one. I went on dates and went out with a bunch of different girls, trying to find the right one. There is no shortcut for any of this. I failed, a lot. But if you view it as trial and error, and measure your progress month-over-month, I was objectively succeeding. I should mention that even after doing all of this for months, I still regularly felt EMPTY INSIDE. I would sit alone on Friday nights contemplating if I was doing the right thing, while all my friends gathered at the local watering hole right around the corner. I wasnt trying to be elitest or to outperform my colleagues, I was simply chasing happiness. At the time, I knew that if I went out late and woke up hungover the next day, I wouldnt accomplish anything, and therefore would certainly feel more depressed. So I stayed in for weeks, just trying to see if working harder in my career and studying more for the GMAT would result in a higher level of happiness. In the end, I didnt even take the GMAT, but it wasnt about that, it was about trying different things to see what worked. I also realized that completely cutting out those social events with my friends didn't work either, and that I needed a realistic balance. 

To somewhat attempt to answer your question - many high IQ folks (especially in finance) sacrifice it all for the most prestigious job, then dont get why they arent happy. Because you put all your eggs in one basket. When your VP screams at you for a formatting error, it ruins your day, maybe your week. You dont have something else you are good at to offset your failure, and you become consumed by it. Additionally, a certain title, salary, and level of prestige will only bring with it a certain level of happiness. For me, I realized no title would ultimately make me reach a satisfactory level of happiness. I still remember getting screamed at as an intern in IBD for minor formatting mistakes, and the level of depression I felt for the rest of the day, sometimes for multiple days. No job is worth that level of low. I had nothing else going in my life at the time, so that outburst and level of failure was really crushing. 

If you want to maximize YOUR happiness, you need to uncover the drivers behind your "happiness formula". Sounds corny I know, but there are a bunch of different levers and every person is different. Michael Burry was probably content by just being extraordinarily good at his job. Like I said, I needed a myriad of people and experiences to maximize my happiness. You can figure out what works for you by trying different things. It is objectively 10x harder when you work 70+ hours per week. Maybe start critically thinking if IBD is right for you, and use that as a starting point to drive your happiness equation. 

May 4, 2022 - 4:09pm
MonkeyNoise, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Good post. As for the contrast between a banker and your hotel desk friend - I think something that is worth saying is that the individual in the high prestige rat race places a lot of their worth on the value of what others think of them (prestige, and to advance must need to impress peers, clients, leardership) compared to the 'bum'.

The thing I hate most about working is the feeling that you have a sword over your head the entire time. Dont get me wrong - have never had a bad relationship with any manager, never any bad feedback on annual performance reviews, but you still have to be someone else. Play the networking game. Be PC in the office. check emails in evening, etc.

Meanwhile you drive for uber or do construction or whatever you can just clown around and are really 'free'.

May 5, 2022 - 8:31am
sheldonxp, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Have you asked your friend who works hotel front desk what makes him so happy? Somehow I doubt he achieved it through "uncovering the drivers behind his happiness formula" or "critically thinking about his happiness equation". 

This is not a knock on your post btw - I think what you've shared is great. Just saying there seems to be some disconnect between how it started and how it ended.

May 5, 2022 - 11:28am
Gustav Mahler, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Don is that you?

Overprepare because even the most obscure detail may suddenly be of great importance.

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May 6, 2022 - 9:18am
BAIIPlus, what's your opinion? Comment below:

And you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car. It's freedom from fear. It's a billboard on the side of the road that screams with reassurance that whatever you're doing, it's okay.

May 4, 2022 - 2:50pm
Abusement Park, what's your opinion? Comment below:

+1mm SB's. This is an excellent take, in addition to many others on this thread. It's pretty obvious that true happiness doesn't directly come from external achievements, and I'm definitely going to have to do some work to reframe my mind to derive happiness from internal progress. I still can't help but wonder whether there is value in riding out this external gratification for a few more years. Of course if I let it get out of hand, life will be pretty miserable, but it's hard to discredit how far "chasing the happiness dragon" has brought me. I feel like if I was completely content where I am, I would lose a lot of the ambition that has gotten me to this spot, and being relatively young, I definitely want to strive for more.

The issue is that I've always been someone who has to push until something breaks. If I achieve something, it's never good enough, and I always need to push myself to the absolute edge, often tipping over and harming myself in the process. So far nothing has been unfixable (broken bones, deflated ego, etc.), but I know it's just a matter of time before something more serious happens.

Essentially I'm trying to toe the line between striving for more, and pushing too far. 

Edit: This was meant to reply to Deal Team Six

May 4, 2022 - 3:24pm
Deal Team Six, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I think you and I are very alike, and to be honest, leaving IB prematurely may be detrimental to your long-term happiness. No one gets into IBD without an insane amount of effort, and if you feel like you need to weather the storm a while longer, then by all means, hang in there internet stranger. I really enjoy pushing until something breaks too, and I have no doubt right now you are pushing yourself mentally and physically, learning invaluable lessons about what you are capable of. That is why I wanted to do IBD so bad at the beginning, to see if I was tough enough. It was like an all mental version of the BUDS training for Navy Seals (for those that know BUDS, it is of course extremely mental as well). You entered IBD for a reason. You didnt get here by accident. So if you want to see how far you can push yourself until the wheels fall off, keep on pushing. Maybe right now your focus needs to be on seeing what your capable of, and down the road you take a more balanced approach. Maybe you become a legendary career banker, and you never would have accomplished this had you given up now. 

IBD is an awesome avenue and maybe the best place to start your career, so think carefully about what you want. I am in no way trying to indicate it is the wrong path for you, and that is your personal journey. I merely want to share my own path in candid transparency, in hopes that you can reflect on what you need in order to ultimately be happy. It should be an internal dialogue you have with yourself every day, I know I do. It is iterative, and should be something you tweak your entire life. I am a big car guy and I like to think of myself as a mechanic and happiness as my dream car. Each week, I try something new, and tweak my vehicle a little bit. Maybe its new brakes, or a different exhaust system, but I am constantly changing things. To continue the analogy, maybe this week I try to outperform my last few weeks work-wise, and next I focus more on my relationship with my folks, as they are getting older. Some weeks I just take my car for a joy ride, and just appreciate how far Ive come. Having nothing weekends where I wake up late eat a huge breakfast and watch movies in bed can be key too. Doing that with a SO is even better. 

May 4, 2022 - 2:59pm
KClubs, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Happiness is usually tied to a short feeling of joy. But you can't really be "happy" for an extended period of time. Its an emotion. You can't be "angry" for years on end.

Its why chasing happiness doesn't make sense. You're just chasing highs. And after you come down from the high, its onto the next one.

Set goals, work hard, achieve, make something of yourself. Stop taking life advice from people your age and younger. Basically no one knows wtf they're talking about

May 4, 2022 - 3:02pm
thebrofessor, what's your opinion? Comment below:

wrote something here: https://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forum/off-topic/long-post-for-those-that-hate-their-job-here-are-my-thoughts

Now, on happiness. As I've mentioned before, the moving the goalpost will be consuming, and part of me believes that individuals believe that achieving X will make them happy, and therefore they don't expect happiness (or at least significant happiness) until X is achieved. Bullshit. Life is more like baseball than golf, you're going to miss, waste time, get rejected, slog forward with unnoticeable progress, beat yourself down only for a shot at glory. But that's the beautiful thing about life. Happiness is fleeting. If it was constant, it wouldn't be any fun. Variability is what we crave, and I firmly believe that a "happy" person may not have a higher quantity of happy moments in life, just simply that the happy moments outweigh all of the bullshit they had to go through to get there. back to some of the struggle comments, think about the happiest activity you can possibly think of for you. For some, that may be a sport, it may be a trip, a place in nature, or maybe it's just chilling with your favorite person. Now, let's dissect that for a moment, you just thought of the happiest thing in your world, well let me burst your bubble, I'd argue that the majority of the time that was spent leading up to your happiness was not in fact happy, but you still remember that thing in the fondest sense. My example would be surfing. the bliss of riding a wave is something that I can only truly describe to anyone who's actually done it. I imagine there are other sports out there that give you similar neurological effects but the pure joy when you're able to propel yourself forward against the raw power of nature that doesn't know you're there and glide along it if only for a second, that's my happy place. So what's negative about that? Well, for starters, in a dreamy 3 hour session I might catch 5 waves an hour, so 15 waves lasting on average less than 10 seconds, so 150 seconds max or 2.5 minutes surfing out of 180 minutes. The rest of the time I'm paddling, sitting, getting my ass kicked by whitewater, and so on. before that? I likely had to sit in traffic and barely find parking at a crowded beach if it's summer, or brave the cold and squeeze myself into an initially uncomfortable wetsuit and resign all of my extremities to numbness for the balance of the morning. None of those things are "happy" per se, they're not what a surfer talks about when he recounts a session to a friend, but they're all part of the process of achieving bliss, and so it is with life. So ask yourself this: if your current job is not giving you, either directly or indirectly (by allowing you time/space to do) moments of happiness that for a time, make you forget about all of the bullshit, then I'd say you need to change your scenery. If, however, you're expecting happiness to be a state of being rather than a flash of light in a sea of darkness, I'd suggest you adjust your expectations, look around and see the beauty of what's around you and enjoy the process. If you can't enjoy the process (I still dislike making cold calls), at least get yourself to a place where the good significantly outweighs the bad, so that when you're happy, you forget all about getting nearly drowned by whatever your "whitewater" is.

May 4, 2022 - 7:21pm
Abusement Park, what's your opinion? Comment below:

As a surfer, this analogy really hit home. I could sit out on the water for six hours without catching a single wave (i never said I was a GOOD surfer), but as soon as I get even one mediocre ride, that day spent on the water is immediately worth it. I guess that's what makes you come back for more, both on the water and in life. You can get shit-kicked to the point of quitting, but one little hit of "happiness" is enough to keep the chase going.

May 4, 2022 - 3:46pm
Tracer85, what's your opinion? Comment below:

One of my profs used to say life constantly gives you a choice between meaning and happiness. I've been happiest in situations where am not working or high on something. I've been the most alive in moments when I'm doing the work I love, learning something new, etc. The latter activities are painful. What has helped me is not focusing so much on the outcome. It's just the kind of person you are and you have to live with it. Stopped running after happiness a long time ago. Life throws shit at you unprovoked - just take care of yourself, set goals that make you into a better version of yourself and chill seems to be the most logical thing to do now.

Array

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May 4, 2022 - 5:01pm
BillAckmanOfficial, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This reminded me of Matt McConaughey's Oscar acceptance speech. He said that when he was young, someone came up to him and asked him who his hero was. Matt said "I don't know let me think about it". So a while later his friend came back with the same question and Matt said "you know what, my hero is me in five years". Five years later, this same friend came back and asked "so are you your hero now?". Matt said "not even close, my hero is me in five years". The point of the story is that every day and every year of his life, McConaughey's hero was always a future version of himself that he was chasing, and life is all about this constant pursuit to attain a better version of ourselves. 

May 5, 2022 - 11:45am
Frybird101, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I love that quote. After I got my IB internship offer, I actually became a bit depressed for a few months. Didn't know why bc I thought I should be happy. After some self reflection, I figured out it was because I had achieved what I worked so hard to get and the ultimate satisfaction was working the process to do something difficult but worthwhile. Now I realized that the true fulfillment and ultimate happiness (at least for me) comes from self-improvement and working hard. Less about the goals and more about the journey in life.

May 4, 2022 - 7:00pm
worklikeamachine, what's your opinion? Comment below:

"A healthy person wants 10,000 things. A sick person only wants one thing" ~ Confucius 

Your internal state is entirely dependent upon your interpretation of the things taking place around you. From a place of scarcity, even a little bit can mean the world. From a place of abundance, a little bit means nothing.

Most valuable thing I've found is to be grateful for the things in one's life, and learn to observe the world without judging it.

I think- therefore I fuck
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May 4, 2022 - 8:49pm
Friedmaneconomics, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Here's something to think about, is happiness and intellect inversely related? I haven't looked into this but I've wondered myself. I know there's a relationship between money and happiness and after a certain point it tapers off but haven't looked into the relationship between IQ and happiness

May 5, 2022 - 9:46pm
LeverUp6.0x, what's your opinion? Comment below:

The "ignorance is bliss" phenomenon absolutely exists, but unhappiness in intelligent people largely occurs in those who think that their intelligence should be responsible for their happiness. Hinging your happiness on intellect in modern society almost always equals hinging happiness on professional goals, or just short-term, achievable goals in general. IMO, as a humble college student, my baseline QofL will be increased by tangible goals, but happiness in the more ethereal sense can really only be achieved by learning to be content with my current state (reconciling my expectations with reality, which, for more intelligent people, tend to be higher) while simultaneously striving to improve my life -- one has to really be able to accept that even if they don't achieve the goals that they want to, it should not make them unhappy. It's an extremely difficult state of mind to achieve, one that I certainly have not.

"We need to learn how to want what we have, not to have what we want in order to get steady and stable happiness." - Dalai Lama

On a separate point, try doing things that help others. It does wonders for your own sense of fulfillment.

May 4, 2022 - 9:13pm
celestialbanker, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I truly believe happiness isnt a end state of the mind. I think it's a temporary feeling that can come and go and you have work to get the feeling. I don't believe you can do certain things and then reach a permanent "happiness state".

May 4, 2022 - 11:14pm
SirAxwell, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Very much a cliche, but I don't think happiness is a state reached and you "stay" in for an extended period of time, it is more about the journey to get there, the triumphs and tribulations. Most of us on this forum are pretty high achievers, and we want to constantly be reaching for something more, which I don't necessarily think is bad. Constantly yearning for more, however, can be detrimental when you think conquering XYZ will FINALLY make you happy... it just doesn't work. I think this can be easily compared to the golden handcuffs idea, where if you're only ever after $$$ then no number is going to be satisfactory. Hit $25M? Now you need $50M and so on. Money is a zero sum game, someone will always have more. Someone's car will always be faster, wife hotter, house bigger, comparison truly is the thief of joy. I have internalized this as much as possible, and try to stay "in the moment" as much as possible and taking little dopamine hits from small milestones while realizing what I'm working for won't ever truly satisfy me. I have a disdain for complacency, so am always trying to improve myself. 

I have come to realize I much more enjoy the process to get there than I do the final moment. Getting an offer for IBD was a grind because I was a non-target and I wanted it so bad, and it felt awesome for a few days/weeks, but then I started to want more. Now I have the job, what's next? In the gym cutting weight and now I finally get to XXX on the scale. Alright, another 5 pounds. I don't think your drive for continued results is a direct correlation to not "being happy". Personally, I think the fact happiness is fleeting is what makes it worth while, the same goes for sadness. It's important to know the highs and lows of where you've been to appreciate what YOU have and what you've accomplished. The journey to get to any meaningful point in life will teach you much more, in reflection, that the hit of joy you get once on top of that hill. 

So, in summary, yes, happiness is very much a real thing, but I think you're expecting it to be a constant state of emotion, which would render it useless if you were constantly "happy". The journey to achieve any goal is incredibly rewarding, and not feeling happiness for extended periods of time after achieving said goal is completely normal, anecdotally.  Highly recommend Viktor Frankl's "A Man's Search For Meaning". I read it senior year of HS and think it's excellent for people, like myself, who ask these types of questions surrounding meaning of life, happiness, death, purpose, and more.  

May 5, 2022 - 1:32am
rimjob_steve, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This has been rehashed a lot on this forum. I definitely struggle with it too. The conclusion I've arrived at is similar to all of the above people that said happiness is more of fleeting emotion than a prolonged state of mind. On the other hand, I do think long-term contentment is something you can achieve if you examine all aspects of your life and realize you have basically everything you need (financial security, good health, self-confidence, friends, family, significant other, etc.). It should feel pretty neutral, not like some sort of exciting high. From there, you can keep setting goals and doing things you find enjoyable to achieve those occasional highs. In the past year, my favorite, happiest memories have been from spontaneous crap I did with friends, or cool events / shows I attended. Outside of those moments, though? My happiness / sadness "level" was pretty neutral.

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May 5, 2022 - 2:18am
bhejafried, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I would like to say that in my journey through life, I have realised that happiness is transient and momentary. It is much more important to manage to achieve a state of peace which is long lasting unlike happiness. It is very important to analyse the reasons for our actions and understand what are our key motivations and drivers in life. For example I understood over the past 2 decades, that I was motivated to act in a certain way because of my childhood insecurities as well as a sense of ego driving me to strive to "get better" than my peers. Realised that this was only rendering me a life which felt hollow. However I also realised that my base nature is one where I constantly love to learn and aspire to a higher ideal and holding this as my key principle instead of running in a rat race gives me much more peace and bliss in life. Your buddy if he is at peace with himself with his lifestyle is living the perfect life. However, you gotta ask yourself if that is what you would like for yourself. Maybe you feel much more fulfilled if you are able to bestow a good life upon your near and dear ones or build something for the world to take benefit of. Look inwards, The answer is within yourself and then you just need to align your actions accordingly.

May 5, 2022 - 8:27am
curiousgeorge79, what's your opinion? Comment below:

We're not supposed to be happy all of the time… it is ok to be sad or angry so long as it is directed properly.

The goal of life isn't happiness but is Eudaemonia from the Aristotelian perspective, becoming a Saint from the Catholic perspective, or theosis from the Orthodox perspective. This goal of "happiness" is a recent and shallow Protestant invention that has led to much suffering, imo.

May 5, 2022 - 11:19am
nagatorosan, what's your opinion? Comment below:

There are many of you who chase money above all else. Some guy might hate IB after a few months, but the solution is to stick to it for two more years of your youth and then and two more years of MBA that you probably also hate, just to get higher paying version of the same job. Then you wonder why your miserable. You could say your sacrificing your time now to be happy in the future, but that is not the right approach. Happiness isn't a fleeting emotion. That is pleasure. Life is fleeting and so is your youth. You can't say that you couldn't have gotten that job some other way. By working a job you enjoy and networking harder. Or maybe just by moving to a "lesser" BB where you work 60 hours instead of 80. I also think its not IQ thing. Maybe you think too hard about how to make more money while the guy next to you getting paid half is just trying to enjoy his life doing things he loves with his loved ones, while your just rotting away in your office dreaming about the day you will be satisfied with your 7 figure salary or retire on the beach. By the time you do, your best years will be long gone and you won't even know how to start enjoying life. Happiness is just about just enjoying the moment and being content with what you have and your daily life, also doing something meaningful to you so your life isn't completely empty. Being happy to start the next day and not dreading it. Even if your working minimum wage you could be happy knowing the direction your headed and that you are trying your best to succeed without sacrificing the moment. Being able to go home and do something else other than sleep. You spent all those years chasing money and then your 30 and miserable and don't even know how to start being happy.

May 5, 2022 - 12:50pm
ChadrickBasedman01, what's your opinion? Comment below:

The problem with most people in this profession is that they're too rational. Looking at happiness through the lens of rationality is the first mistake people make. Emotions aren't rational, they're fleeting and happiness is no exception. I believe "peace" or "gratitude" are the emotions/states of being that people are truly looking for instead of happiness. Just my two cents

May 5, 2022 - 6:00pm
Costin8, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I think there is a lot to be said for happiness as a relative concept.

Sort of as a enjoy the climb and get through the falls. I find doing something outside comfort zone/ meeting a few different people works well. Either find something to enjoy / new people to hang out with OR become more appreciative of what I have because it was awful

May 5, 2022 - 10:39pm
exec.realness, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Science will tell you happiness comes from meaningful relationships. I agree with that. I think it's also about how much you actually enjoy your life, from moment to moment. I'll use books as an example of what I mean. I'm a big reader, but I'd never think that I needed to build a list of books to read and check them off. What I love about books is the process of reading and learning itself. It's about the experience, and the 'accomplishment' is just incidental.

Achieving and accomplishing things is important to fulfill the ambitious drive that most people in finance have, but if that's ALL you have, it's going to be a pretty empty life.

And FWIW, I'm skeptical that it's possible to be happy if you're spending 80+ hours a week at work. I work in a niche strategic finance group and one of the guys on my team came from IB. He took a slight pay cut to come here and says it was the best decision he ever made. Now he actually has time to work out, spend time with his fiancée, and he's even gotten into painting. Humans aren't meant to be productivity robots.

May 5, 2022 - 11:28pm
awfulwaffle, what's your opinion? Comment below:

For me, I've found that the mentality that yields happiness is: grateful but hungry. The goal posts inevitably move, but every once in a while you gotta take a step back and appreciate how far you've come, and then be okay with the fact that you want to go a lot further. It's okay to want more in my opinion. "The hunt" is just intrinsically exciting. Accepting that fact about yourself, but then taking some time to be grateful, for me, has made life a lot more satisfying. Okay I'm drunk but I stand by it

May 6, 2022 - 7:49am
JamesBank, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I'm the happiest I've been in a long time. I think it's because it's the first time I've really seen improvement on the personal goals I've set.

Work will always be work. But when you are lucky enough to work under someone you actually appreciate who lets you develop, that's when you can be at least a little happy.

May 6, 2022 - 11:21am
boristhegreat, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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May 7, 2022 - 1:30pm
Infovest, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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May 10, 2022 - 8:36am
pxxlsiski, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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May 12, 2022 - 9:28am
BallsOnChinBoy, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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June 2022 Investment Banking

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