21 Mar, 2022Happiness – The Truth
So, how do you define happiness?
I mean, I was simply really inquisitive and asked that question. I think asking them the question, “What is happiness?” is an interesting thing to do.
How many debates do you believe there have been? Who coined the term “happiness”? Because, at the end of the day, it’s only a word, and what does it really mean?
It’s possible that what it means to you is very different from what it means to someone else. I just believe that happiness is something that many of us hope to achieve in the future. I believe we all know it deep down. It was a good time. What’s fascinating about happiness is that if you type in the word happy, you’ll get a lot of different results.
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Pete is the author of 20 published books, several of which have been best-sellers across the world, including Shut the Duck Up, Habit Busting, Life DIY, and Sort Your Life Out. He has also presented his own show on TV called The Coach and was the resident Life Coach on GMTV for 12 years.
Pete Cohen 0:00
Happy, beautiful, amazing day. It is the Future Self Podcast with me. Pete Cohen. Today's podcast is called, Happiness, The truth. I'll see you after the theme tune.
Pete Cohen 0:37
Good morning to you. It's Pete Cohen Good afternoon. Good evening is what I'm about to say. I'm talking all things happiness What is happiness? What is happiness? This song by Ferrari has definitely made a lot of people happy. It's definitely make a lot of people start jumping up and start dancing so in the UK around the world actually a march 20 International Day of Happiness around the world
Pete Cohen 1:26
So what is happiness to you? I mean for was just asking that question because I'm genuinely curious. I think it's such a fascinating thing to ask people the question of, you know, what is happiness? How many debates do you think have been had? Who came up with the word happiness? Because ultimately, it's just the word and what does it actually mean? I suppose what it means to you might be something completely different to somebody else. I just think that for a lot of us, the idea of happiness is some sort of future destination, I think. I think we all know that deep down right? Was fun. What's fascinating about happiness if you type if you type in the word happy to Google what you'll see is that song that sarong and what you'll see is that song by Burrell, and it has a few different meanings, but the feeling of showing pleasure or contentment, isn't that fascinating is this kind of really weird concept of happiness. Because how many of this do you think have been bought up to believe that happiness is something in the future that you can only be happy when this is why it's such an important conversation for all of us to have. Are you happy? Well, I think that in order to ask the question, it means really well looking at yourself. And in 2003, I became internationally recognized for happiness. We came up with the Happiness Equation, which obviously is p plus five times e times three times h. And this was a publicity stunt for Thomson holidays. It was to get some publicity in the UK, who would have believed that when this came out, it was literally publicized globally. It was featured in 27 countries around the world. We had people from Korea coming over to see us because they thought that we had found the answer to happiness. I mean, literally, because it was based. I mean, I'm not a clinical psychologist, but we were working with to clinical psych one occupational psychologist and one clinical psychologist, one of them a guy called Connell Platts, who's just a genius. And when we were asked to do this thing, we actually did quite a lot of research on it, and when it came out, Thompson holidays weren't expecting what happened happened. But it really got a debate going around happiness. And by the way of the equation, you can Google it if you want. If you Google Pete Cohen, happiness will, you'll see you'll find it. It's still out there. It's on the Sunday. Times, the BBC website, the Evening Standard. And it was it was crazy. I was on I was on BBC Breakfast. I was on ITV. I was on Channel Four. Talking about this, this thing, that before you know it, that subject kind of disappeared until we have International Day of Happiness again or international happiness week or whatever it is, until someone's almost saying we should be in a nap. Now's the day to be happy rather than I think we probably all know that. Every day can be a day. But it seems really interesting and this is where I want to explore the concept of what is really known as psychological wealth. You know, wealth in terms of well being. And I think if we really, if we're really honest about all of this, and we look at the experience of being ourselves, what is that experience? You know, that question of how are you? What does that mean? You know, how are you really how are you and how many how often I mean I'm I'm guilty of it as well. When someone asks you, how are you that sometimes you'll say you're great when you're not? Well, you know, when deep down, there's something going on, you know, like there's something you're dealing with or something's happened or you're just not feeling very well. So what was really ironic was yesterday was the international world have whatever it is international world International Day of Happiness. And when it was a year ago that my mum died now, I'm not a particularly I don't know what that word is. I'm pretty philosophical about life and death. And then when people die, I mean, obviously I miss my mum. I think about her every single day. I'm glad that she's not suffering that definitely to me, is not happiness when you see someone suffering and seeing her in pain and seeing her basically haven't given up and I think about that, but I also think about the fact that I saw her take her last laugh, last breath. And she was the woman who gave me life. And I feel very
Pete Cohen 5:54
can I say happy? Well, depends what you define the word to mean a feeling of showing pleasure or contentment. Think about it a feeling if that's what it means, right? Because it can mean it's a word, right? So who came up with a word? Again, we could go deeper into that but maybe not. Now. If you look in the dictionary, what does it say? It means it means a feeling or showing pleasure or contentment, feeling or showing pleasure or contentment. So am I happy? When I think about my mom? Yeah, of course I am. Happy for the life that she gave me happy for the warmth of the times I held her hand the times I see to feel happy. It means contentment, then that's a real problem for a lot of people. Because if we believe that happiness is a future destination, and you can only be happy when I mean let's again let's just be honest about many of what we've we were kind of told in our life that what do you need to do the good life is what I mean I think a lot of it is BS but and I think I work that out quite early age in a happiness is getting a good job. When for me anytime I did it nine to five I don't know about you, but for me, hell would be doing a nine to five. If someone said you've got to be at this job at this time and you work till this time. I worked out when I was about 14 and I was working in a supermarket called Waitrose. I realized that I hated the idea of conforming to what other people were doing. That was the first thing I also was there were so many other things that I kind of worked out at a young age, I believe but I still conformed to try to fit into a world and just think about it. Is it any surprise why a lot of people struggle to be happy is it if you genuinely ask people today How do you feel about where you are right now? How many people in the world today right now? Well, how do you feel? Because it's all very well we can look at everyone else but what about you what is the experience of being you and what would make you happier? Would having X amount of money in the bank make you happier? You know, there's been times where I've had very large sums of money. I can tell you didn't make me any happier at all. When I bought the Porsche and I was driving it down the A 24 It didn't make me happier. It maybe it makes other people happier that there is this concept of when you get when you achieve something it becomes a norm until you want something else. So ultimately, I'm only making this podcast today because I want to give you the opportunity to look at your life and think about what happiness means to you. And I remember reading a book called happiness. And it talked about different types of people he talked about the rat race and a rat race or someone is always thinking about the future. I used to be like that. I was so insecure I was so uncomfortable in myself that I was definitely chasing something I don't know what I was chasing but I was chasing basic I was running away from how I felt I was running away from probably my past. My view of the future really didn't go very far. But when you're a rat racer, you're a slave to the future. And if you don't know what that future is, then you just be rich you just never stop but I don't know whether you know anyone like that. Maybe you've been like that. I remember working as a personal trainer in the gyms in the 90s with all of the yuppies of people that were working, working the traders who were working some of them were working 20 hours a day snorting huge amounts of coke. What were they working towards burnout and an early death in many cases. And then you've got this the hedonist and I've been a hedonist. As well, you know, when I was at university, even when I was younger, a hedonist is like the slave to the now I was only just really kind of interested in is squeezing as much out of every day as I possibly could, in terms of just living for today. Living for tomorrow. And then there's the nihilist which is kind of disillusioned with the world, and you're a slave to the past. And I like those kind of categories. The rat race of the hedonistic person and the nihilist What about you? What would you say? You were?
Pete Cohen 10:30
See, we came up with a word a few years ago called inspirated. And we actually wrote a book about this people who were inspired by who they were recognizing who they were, and wanting to give and wanting to get better at being who they were, and then give that in service to the world. And that's what I think happiness is. And it's quite boring and mundane. That happiness to me is not a destination. It's not a question of I'll be happy when and it's still this is a big issue for people to to, to look at their happiness is the journey. You know, many of you you know, we we recently created something, which we're very proud about because as a business we exist for just for one reason, and the reason we exist is simple. We want to help people make progress. We want people to develop an internal feeling of progression. Like I'm progressing. I'm never going to get there. I'm progressing. I'm enjoying the journey. So we created stop one start one to help people enjoy the process of using their personal power. There is a there is a word a Greek word called Ethiopia. We've been talking about this recently. The Greeks were very clever, right? They they sat down, and they they talked and they they theorized and they started to work things out. They apparently that they just realized, hey, look, we're giving all the power to these gods. Maybe we should start working some stuff out for ourselves. So they sat around, and they started talking and thinking and some of the greatest thinkers are still referred to as the Greeks, the Aristotle, all these people that were saying things that excellence is not an act excellence is a habit you are what you repeatedly do. You know the importance of getting to know thyself, spending time with self, looking at oneself, the experience of being oneself, going internal, and we know that's a big challenge for people we know that studies have shown that people would prefer an electric shock them to spend time on their own with their own thoughts. Yeah, if you spent enough time with yourself, maybe you'd start to realize what is in you. What is there within the inquiry, the conversations that we can have? To find out really what makes us tick, and we're not encouraged to do this. Schools don't encourage that. Many of our parents don't encourage that because they weren't encouraged to do that. But maybe now is the time to stop. Just let's stop. Could we all stop for a moment? Is it possible and tick think about the greater things that are stuck in some you know, the greatness that is actually inside your head
Pete Cohen 13:29
the greater things. So if you think that, you know, what is the ultimate currency, the ultimate currency, I would say is happy. It's not money. It's happiness. It's this concept which many people call psychological wealth. It's more than achieving life circumstances is a process. It's the evolving you know, many people have heard of the Japanese word, the E key guy. And I came across this from the blue zone studies which was looking at why people live long lives. And there are certain places in the world where people live for a very bright Old age is a certain place in Italy. And obviously, Okinawa in Japan is a place where they've got a lot of people that live past the age of 100. So it's like, well, why? Why do people live long? And it's not just living long because people do live longer in the Western world, but many many cases the last 510 15 years of their life, the quality of their life isn't necessarily very good because they were sold an idea. They were sold an idea what's that idea? The idea was retirement. See, my sole thing is to say Guys, can we just stop for a moment? Can we stop and look at the experience of being ourselves and be curious about it? asked how we feel and then asked what would make us truly happy? Or happier? What could we pursue? What could we find? See the word iki guy is a beautiful night. This is something I've studied and then one of my colleagues, Thomas Brosnan. He then found a book on it. And then he bought me the book on it, and I've been reading the book. And then my understanding of EQ guy went to a whole new level, and one of the meanings of it and I've been to Japan and I when you ask people, what's your iki guy? It's really quite interesting because they're very self conscious about telling you because it's not something that they tend to vocalize very much, but they all know what it is. You know, they all know what it is. And in this in this kind of world that we're in right now
Unknown Speaker 15:34
even your emotions and so much,
Pete Cohen 15:36
because 40% of people that are going to the doctor right now in the UK are going because of mental health challenges they're having right now. Because of this, this world that we're in
Pete Cohen 16:04
I don't think there's ever been a more important time personally for all of us to look at the experience of being ourselves and just being curious about that. Being curious about what is our EQ guy because our EQ guy really according to the Japanese philosophy is your reason for getting up every single day. And I feel really lucky and honored to be in this room right now recording this podcast with you listening because this is what I get up for. I get up for sharing different perspectives, different ideas. We know that people don't change when we tell them what to do. People change when their perspective changes, and there's nothing better when your perspective is your perspectives as Joseph Campbell who's extremely well known in the field of storytelling and archetypes, would tell the story of King Arthur who told his knights to go off to the forest. And he said, find the part of the forest where no one has walked a path and go through that path and yet might be a bit sticky and you might get a thorn or something or scraped in some way, shape or form because you've got to go into a path that no one has tried before. And I personally think that that's what I see the happiest people I know. And I've spent the last 30 years of my life working with people. I find that the happiest people are the ones who have found their path to walk. They found that a good guy. And it's funny because when you really look at the meaning of the word, it means like an armor that you have an arm around you that stops you from being so affected by what goes on because you know what you stand for. And then when you look at the word you Semia, which is this Greek word, it means it translates into English meaning tranquility. But again, it has a much deeper meaning to that a much deeper, it's a sense of your own path, and how to stay on it. Isn't that fascinating? Don't you think that's truly fascinating that this word you Semia a sense of your own path and how to stay on it without getting distracted with all the other paths? Because Come on guys, let's be let's be let's be honest here. I don't know how much time you've wasted procrastinating putting things off ruminating, which is what cows do you know they eat something and they throw it up and then then they eat it and they throw it up and they do about five times and they digest it. You know how many let's be honest you know I'm all up for world peace. You know, I'm all up for don't want conflict, but I'm having to wake up more and more to perhaps be a little bit more forthright and saying to people come on. Let's be really honest. look at ourselves in the mirror. Let's let's not shame or blame ourselves. But realize that we are shaming and blaming ourselves. A lot of the time. We are ruminating we are procrastinating we are getting very distracted. Because who knows? Maybe we were scared to step on our path and stay on it. We're scared to realize you know what this is when I feel most alive and we seem to see that most people feel most alive when they are in service to something that is bigger than them in service service. So it's not it's not a destination it's an ongoing process. That's how I see it. And I'm just looking for pay. I'm genuinely looking for people you'd like you wouldn't believe I'm looking for people that just want to get better, that don't want to buy into this ridiculous idea of retirement. Now we talk a lot about future self. So everything we do as a business in Mi365 and with the whole stock one stock one challenge that we've created. It is all about building a relationship to the person that you want to be you know who you want to be but you know that because that is a becoming that is not a destination. It's that's how I look at it's becoming an every single day you are becoming every single day you have any key guy every single day, you know what your your simiar is, and you're getting up every single day, and you want to do what the Greeks called our attai. Again, it's fascinating that we can be talking about something that people came up with where did they come up with the idea? Arete is another Greek word which means excellence.
Pete Cohen 20:10
And the practice is all about practice. Everything that I believe is about practicing excellence. And it's an excellent is a virtue. It's called being a good soul, which is another Greek word called eudaimonia. I wish they taught us this at school but they're not just taught us at school said right now you got to go out and demonstrate. Go out and demonstrate living with Arete which means which is the study of a good soul. And for them that meant about being virtuous. So, practicing being courageous practice being wise practice standing up for the rights of others. We see that right now and what's going on. In the Ukraine. We see people standing up and saying no one of my good friends Joe dishonor, the founder of Spartan Races, go and see what he's doing. He's gone over to the Ukraine. You know, they had offices over there and they've just completely emptied those out and they're bringing food in and there you see in service to in service to others. And then of course, the other great virtue is wisdom. Sorry, the other great virtue is temperance, self control. So the ultimately, we have this day now which is called the world International Day of Happiness. Every everyday should be the world International Day of Happiness. I mean, it was started by the United Nations and the aim is to have a happier world for people every day. But I think we need new paradigms new perspectives. Many years ago, I worked for a company called Kellogg's, you've probably heard of them a crunchy not cornflakes, Frosties the cereals that we all grew up with which we all thought were good for us. And really, if you really saw what those cereals were, you'd probably think what because what they do with those cereals, they extract everything off the grain till it becomes like cardboard that rats would need to eat it. And then they just spray them with sugar and fortified vitamins. And minerals. And then you eat them. And we're told the idea that it's it's good for us, right? Because it's got iron in it. Many of what we've been told isn't necessarily the truth. And what is the truth? That's up to you this is your life. And I'm asking you to consider looking at happiness from a different perspective. And looking at it from the point of view of becoming happy by giving your best self to the world by generating and cultivating something within you that some people might find boring, mundane. But you know, if you want a beautiful garden, you can get someone to do the garden or you're going to have to do it yourself. Now if someone did it for you, great. But would you get more enjoyment from someone doing it? Are you doing it now you might say? No, I wouldn't I want someone else to do it fine. But what about you? Who's going to give you a better life? Who's going to give you a better sense of who you are and what you're doing what you're about, about being around other people that are doing it? Hugely important? Being able to talk about it, how you're thinking how you're feeling to be able to express yourself, but it's in the inquiry. It's to ask the question, when am I most happy? For me? I'm most happy professionally and personally. When I see other people growing
Pete Cohen 23:32
when I see someone it may be they didn't feel like meditating or they didn't feel like exercising or they came up with an idea to build a business and whatever it is, and I've been thinking a lot about this recently just seeing something grow. You know, we look at the daffodils right now here in the UK and we appreciate them. But they won't be here for much longer. And then it'll be next year. It'll happen again. But just to appreciate what's there
Pete Cohen 24:11
it's not easy life is challenging. But we can still be happy. Especially if you want to take that definition of the feeling or showing pleasure or contentment. So, can I show you that feeling right now? What is the full meaning of happy feeling or showing pleasure? Glad I'm happy you came enjoying a condition or situation being suitable for something happy choice. It's such a fascinating conversation, isn't it? That as human beings, how we make sense of the world is very different to how other animals perhaps make sense of the world. Perhaps for them, it's just not nature and instinct. But for us it's more choice. And the reason I was talking about Kellogg's was I was asked to do a job and I was pretty tricked into this because I didn't really know what was going on. But I was asked to do some work with people that work in the factories at Kellogg's and I arrived and they said that thank you. We discussed we'd had a few meetings about I was doing workshops all day with all of these people. And I was pulled into a room and they said listen, we need to tell you something. These guys are just about to find out that the retirement that they thought they were going to get they're not going to get an immediate I was like what? I said, Well, what do you mean? He said, Well, we, you know, we're having to make cutbacks, we're having to make some big decisions about what we're doing, if we, for us to be able to continue and I said well, what does that actually mean, in terms of the people that I'm going to be speaking to? He said basically, a lot of these guys are not going to retire when they thought they were going to retire. A lot of these guys are going to have to work maybe 2345 years longer and they'll probably end up getting less for their retirement fund and they want me to go in and motivate them and they knew this was going to happen. And I tell you it was brutal. Because literally I had gone in I really was so I was really honored that a lot of these people listened. I mean, I don't think I would have listened. I mean think about it. We know that our view of the future, everything we do for years we used to think that human beings were driven by the past. Now of course our past affects our present but what drives human beings is our view of the future. We know that we know that now. And we know people's view of the future doesn't go very far. It's very hard to have empathy for someone that you don't know. It's absolutely fascinating. And I've played this before, I'm going to play it again. This is Meg Jay, who's a clinical psychologist. Just listen to what she says.
Unknown Speaker 27:16
So philosopher Derek Parfit said, we neglect our future selves because of some sort of failure of belief or imagination. So I'm going to say that again, because it's really important. We neglect our future selves because of some sort of failure of belief or imagination. But that's a problem, because research shows that our brains think about our future selves, similarly to how they think about strangers. And that's where the empathy gap comes in. It can be difficult for us to care about a version of ourselves that we haven't met yet. Yet. Research also shows that if we find a way to close that empathy gap between our present selves and our future selves, we start to think more about what we could do now to be kind to ourselves down the line. So the idea here is just to try to get to know your future self because when we spend time connecting with that person, we do some reverse engineering and we start to ask our present self questions about how our present and our future can come together or meet somewhere in the middle
Pete Cohen 28:24
is fascinating, right? And more and more research is coming out about this and but people are very funny, because if people don't know what something is, they ignore it. It's almost like ridicule. That's all this happens all the time when new ideas come out. They're ridiculed. They're opposed, and then they're accepted. And it's coming to the surface that more and more people are waking up to the fact that we don't have a particularly compelling view of the future that goes beyond a week. You know, you can imagine people in parts of the world right now and thinking they don't have a view of the future that expands beyond a few days or a week because they're just living in complete uncertainty. But then you always find people like Viktor Frankl who, in Man's Search for Meaning. You know, he said, the purpose of life is to find a goal that is worthy of you. And then realize that as you're pursuing that goal, it's going to be challenging that you can see a view of the future that is a guy who's in a concentration camp. He's written this book, which is called a new that is taken away from him by the Nazis. Yet he's still he's, this book has to be published. And no matter what this book, I'm going to get it done. Or John Stockdale, it was a prisoner of war in Vietnam. Yeah. As his plane had been hit, and he was going down and knew he was going to crash. He knew he was going to be a prisoner. He said, You know what? This is going to be tough. I'm gonna be here for six years, or five years and he was there for six. And he was tortured, and he had this optimism around. I know this is going to be tough, but I know that there's something on the other side of this. Now I'm just curious. I'm looking for people genuinely looking for people that want to build a relationship to their future self that goes beyond six months or a year. And we've been doing this now with a lot of people, and it's changing their life and I believe that the lives of people around them, it's making that choice, but we're not encouraged to do that. We are not encouraged to do that. The way our systems have been set up in the world, no one wants you to build a relationship to your future self. Not nobody. Some people do that. Most people don't think about all the all the coaches in the world and teachers who coach people and self development. A lot of them want you to think that there is a destination to all of this. You know that there's ultimately one day you will be happy rather than you can be happy right now and you can look inside yourself. You can give yourself a big hug and go you know what, I've got your back. I forgive you for what you've done to yourself over these years. But now's the time to get better. Let's practice at getting better. You see with these guys at Kellogg's because they were working towards a specific date retirement. They knew their future self. They could see their future self they could see the person that they were committed to becoming. You can understand that right? They could see themselves on the golf course they didn't enjoy their job. Most of those people I asked them that's why they were really struggling because I spent all day there. In the breaks. I was speaking to people about the situation they had now woken up to the fact of they were not going to have their retirement and for some of them that was a living hell, because they realize oh my god, I might have to be here for another five years. I hate coming here. The only reason I'm coming here is to save enough money. So I can spend more time with my family, my grandchildren, I can be on the golf course. And, and I really, really, I could see what they were saying. And I really got it and it really made me think about the future in a different way. And those guys, they stayed with me for a long time, but it's sad that people don't enjoy their work. But you could enjoy your work. You could change what you do. There's never been more opportunities for all of us to walk our path Euphemia to find your path. And that's what I want you to really think about I challenge you I challenge if you want to be challenged to think about that Greek word you Semia the sense of your own path and how to stay on it. Because if you do that it's going to be a lot more difficult for you to get distracted to ruminate to procrastinate as I said, I stand for world peace. I stand for kindness I stand for love. But I'm fed up of seeing so many people struggling that don't need to. And I want to wake up people to the fact of the reason is you're not happy is you're not walking your own path. You're scared to take come off that path and really face yourself and realize what would make you most happy. Again, I can't speak for everyone. I don't know everybody. But I would say most people are the happiest people I've ever met. They're the ones who are practicing getting better. Always practicing. They're always mastering. They're in the pursuit of something growing themselves helping others grow contributing. That's the only reason we're here on this earth today. Is because people that have worked together, people have supported each other people have decided to become more than they currently are. So I'd love to know what your biggest takeaway is from what I have just shared with you.
Pete Cohen 33:27
United Nations March 20 The aim of make a happier world what would make you happier, truly happy. I appreciate you listening to this podcast. And I'm looking forward to continuing to support you and help you on your journey. We released the program that we're most proud of a couple of weeks ago. Stop One Start One we built an app to go hand in hand in this to help people stop doing things which are holding them back. Stop procrastinating well, okay, good, but stop procrastinating about what? Stop ruminating about what? See in order to start something I think it's a really good place to look at maybe what do you need to stop doing? And what if you started doing it and if you did it over an extended period of time you got through the honeymoon period of where you just feel like giving up you know you hit a plateau. That something inside you goes no this is the time to dig in. This is the time to get better. I really appreciate having this conversation with all of you. And I look forward to welcoming you on another future self podcast. A great life. It doesn't happen by chance it happens by design. We'll see you next time.