Introduction of series “Tapping new sources of happiness”


Recently I realized that for many of the activities I enjoy doing today, be it performing certain forms of sport, playing chess, writing, scuba diving etc., I first had to “invest” a certain amount of time and effort into them when starting out. These activities were not “fun” right from the beginning; today I am happy I made the investments, because many of the activities became additional sources of happiness and enrich my life today.

In some cases, the decision to take up the new activity was not even voluntary. For example, if my parents had not played classical music tapes at home repeatedly, I would not have discovered that classical music could be a very enriching source of happiness (maybe I would have found out about it at a later stage, maybe not). Today I am thankful for my parents having done that, although at first I did not enjoy it very much.

For me the question that arises is: are there other activities that could bring us pleasure, which we have not yet discovered (i.e. which we cannot see because they are behind the “hill” of the initial investment)? Moreover, maybe more importantly; how can the initial investment be reduced, so beginners can quickly find out its rewarding potential?

Initial investment to enjoy activities Of course, the diagram oversimplifies things, and is therefore a little imprecise in certain respects, (e.g. the activity will not always be rewarding (even after we have discovered that it can be), sometimes we get bored of activities and the line does not linearly proceed in the positive etc.), but it still may serve as a simple visual reminder that:

  • We have to get our expectations right: we should not expect a new activity to be rewarding right away. A person unfamiliar with classical music who goes to a concert without being prepared and just expecting that it will be “beautiful” is almost certainly disappointed and may never give it a fair shot again. Instead, we should be mentally prepared for the required effort and preparation in order for the activity to become enjoyable.
  • There are ways to make the activity rewarding more quickly: our approach we chose on how to learn a new activity is key in changing the curve to our favour, (it is not the activity’s task to prove to us that it can bring us pleasure). Instead of diving into new things directly (e.g. going to a museum and watch the paintings without explanation, *yawn*), we should approach it in a manner which maximizes chances that we sincerely enjoy it as quickly as possible.

The following posts in this series will be all about on how to do that per specific activity (or at least provide some first ideas, which are longing to be further developed by you, the reader :-)). One of the first topics in the series will be “classical music”, i.e. how do you go about when you try to introduce somebody to classical music, and this person does not enjoy listening to it today? Other potential topics/activities may be:

  • Different forms of art
  • Writing
  • Reading specific types of books (you would not have touched otherwise)
  • Watching really “good” movies
  • Playing chess
  • Etc.

Any other topics you can think of (maybe also where you have made some experience on how to facilitate other people’s access to it, which you like to share)? Please add below!

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