Table of Contents

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.

Previous Chapter

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 everything inside.

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 hungry.

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.
In contrast, one of the surest signs of a Weak Choice is Pleasure before Pain.
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 two ways.

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 your choosing.

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.



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 nothing.

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."

Continue Reading