Jonathan was a successful architect working for a reputed company. He owned a nice studio apartment and was living there with his girlfriend and two dogs. He was well settled both in his professional and personal life. He was smart, well educated, successful and wealthy. And yet he was not satisfied with life and was unhappy. He decided to seek help from a counsellor.
After the first few sessions, the counsellor seemed to come up with a plan for Jonathan. She told him that she would give him a few tasks each week and that he needed to report back to her once the task was completed. Though Jonathan was quite surprised with this plan, he decided to just trust the process and go with the flow.
Week One started where the counsellor gave Jonathan the task of meeting at least one of his friends whom he had not met with in the past few years. It took some time for Jonathan to list out all his university friends with whom he lost touch. It suddenly stuck to him that he could organise for a dinner get together with all his friends, which he did. They had a great time, bonded well and promised to stay in touch.
Week Two the counsellor gave Jonathan the task of helping one of his colleagues who was struggling at work / assignment. Jonathan was not convinced how he could go about asking other people if they needed help. He also felt what would he tell people as to why he is doing that? To make him feel happy in life? But nevertheless he went on to find a new intern who was struggling to integrate in his office. After he spent a couple of days talking to the intern, he not only helped him with his assignment but also helped him succeed.
Week Three the counsellor gave Jonathan the task of visiting an orphanage, buying them some nice, simple lunch and having lunch with them. Jonathan did not quite understand why he needed to have lunch with them but nevertheless he decided not to question or confront and did just that for the next one week. By the end of the week, he felt lighter and more energetic.
Week Four, he went to his counsellor ready for his new assignment when the Counsellor told him that this week he would just reflect on the past weeks. He was not quite ready for this as he had got into some rhythm with the counsellor giving him tasks and he does them, and he realized he was so happy doing this. The counsellor smiled and went on to say: “Human happiness is caused by four basic chemicals”:
Sources of your happiness
# On your journey to become fit, your body released endorphins to cope with the pain of physical exercise. You probably began to enjoy exercise as you got into it, and the endorphins made you happy – temporarily.
# On your journey to become rich, you probably completed many tasks and goals. You probably bought all the things you’ve ever wanted. Nice cars, beautiful clothes, and a perfect home. This released dopamine in your brain when you achieved your goals and bought these things, which once again contributed to your happiness – temporarily.
# Serotonin is released when we act in a way that benefits others. When we give to causes beyond ourselves and our own benefit. When we connect with people on a deep, human level.
That’s why you often see billionaires turning to charity when they have already bought everything they wanted and experienced everything they wanted to in life.
# Oxytocin on the other hand, is released when we become close to another human being. When we hug a friend, or shake someone’s hand, oxytocin is released in varying amounts.