The content below was recovered from archive.org
I discovered the amazing increasehappiness.com website in April 2010. When I went
back to read it again, I found it was gone and the domain was for sale. So, I
purchased it and recreated this website to help others. If you have questions or
feedback please email travis at increasehappiness dot com.
3. Develop Desire
Now that you know how to change your Desires, what Desires should you strive to achieve?
To Increase Happiness, you need to make Strong Choices. You might recall, a Choice is like a
basket that holds a combination of Pleasure and Pain. When you pick up the basket, you get
A Strong Choice contains more Pleasure than Pain, and adds to your Happiness. To Increase
Happiness, you need to pick up Strong Choice baskets. Instead, many people damage their
Happiness by picking up Weak Choice baskets which contain more Pain than Pleasure.
Why is it hard to make Strong Choices?
You make Weak Choices when your views of
Pleasure and Pain are clouded by Weak Values. People with Weak Values needlessly avoid the
Pain associated with Strong Choices.
For example, eating a healthy diet is a Strong Choice. The Pleasures are many: lower weight
makes you look good and feel good; better health can prevent medical problems and even save
your life. The Pain is learning how to eat a healthy diet.
How bad is that Pain? Depends on your Values. Some people won’t even consider the idea of
altering their diet. They are convinced they will hate the taste of healthy food, or will always feel
On the other hand, many people enjoy eating healthy food. They would rather eat an apple than a
donut. That’s because they have developed a taste or DESIRE for healthy food.
Strong Choices involve less Pain for people with Strong Values.
It’s almost cheating. Eating a healthy diet is easy when you actually like the taste of healthy
food. That’s why the easiest way to Increase Happiness is to Develop Desire for the Pain
associated with Strong Choices.
Why focus on Pain?
People like to focus on Pleasure. They visualize themselves living in a big
house, or driving a nice car, or fitting into a bathing suit. They call it "positive thinking."
But no matter how much you want the Pleasure, you can’t have it without the associated Pain.
You will avoid Choices that are too Painful for you, and therefore you will avoid the related
Pleasure. If you really want the Pleasure, you need to want the Pain.
You also need to focus on Pain because Pain is usually the first step of a Strong Choice. In most
Strong Choices, Pain comes before Pleasure.
- You eat a good diet, before you enjoy better health.
- You save money, before you enjoy financial independence.
- You demonstrate responsibility, before you enjoy a good reputation.
In contrast, one of the surest signs of a Weak Choice is Pleasure before Pain.
- Addictive Drug Use. The Pleasure of intoxication comes before the Pain of addiction.
- Extramarital Affairs. The Pleasure of sex comes before the Pain of a destroyed marriage.
- Compulsive Gambling. The Pleasure of betting comes before the Pain of financial ruin.
Before you indulge yourself with Pleasure, make sure you have earned it, and you are not simply
making a Weak Choice.
Is it unhealthy to like Pain?
The Pain associated with Strong Choices is beneficial. It’s the Pain
of doing what will make you Happy. When you Develop Desire for that kind of Pain you benefit
First, by changing your Desires, you can take a Painful Choice and turn it into something you
actually enjoy. Second, you get the benefit of whatever Pleasure results from that Choice.
Is this brainwashing to convince me I’m happy when I’m really miserable?
If you think
well-adjusted people who enjoy making Strong Choices are really somehow miserable, you’ve
already been brainwashed. In fact, the sum of your life experiences has “washed” your brain into
its current condition. By changing your Desires, you can “rewash” your brain to a condition of
Will making myself like things turn me into someone I’m not?
Exactly. If you want to
Increase Happiness, you need to be a different person than you are now – a Happier person.
What about my current Desires?
Some of the things you already like might help you make
Strong Choices. When they do not, you need to ADMIT FAILURE
- People with Weak Values needlessly avoid the Pain associated with Strong Choices.
- Develop Desire for the Pains involved with Strong Choices, so they will be less Painful to you.
- Be wary when Pleasure comes before Pain.
You say I should focus on Pain. Isn’t that negative thinking?
Negative thinking generally
means you have an expectation of failure. On the contrary, when you focus on the work required
to reach your goal, you are taking the first step to achieve it. Some “positive thinkers” only
consider what they want to get, and ignore what they are willing to give. Many of them actually
have an expectation of failure, because experience teaches that we rarely get something for
Can people really learn to enjoy Pain?
What is Painful to you now, might not be painful to you
in the future. For example, even though many people start out hating routine chores such as
cleaning the house or yard work, over time some learn to enjoy those activities. Do you need to
love chores to be Happy? No. But most chores produce valuable benefits. If you don’t want to do
chores but still want the benefits, you might Choose to pay someone else to do them, and
Develop your Desire for the ability to earn money.
I’ve been told to: "Do what you love." Is that good advice?
Partially. The advice to: “Do what
you love” reflects the importance of why you should Develop Desire. But the implication is that
love must come first. On the contrary, many people have Developed Desire for things that few
would love at first sight. They have learned that better advice is to: "Love what you do."