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  • Writer's pictureLinda Pizzitola, Kauai, Hawaii

It’s the Journey

Updated: Apr 18, 2023

Happier Tal Ben-Shahar

The most popular class at Harvard is a course in Happiness taught by Tal Ben-Shahar, Ph.D. His curriculum and his book, Happier, are based on the premise that both meaning and pleasure are required for us humans to be happy. Neither quality, in itself, is enough for lasting well-being.

Consider which of these categories best describes how you spend your time:

Are you a ‘rat racer’ driving yourself toward external rewards and future pleasures, at the expense of current happiness?

Are you a ‘hedonist’ seeking current pleasures, with little regard for your larger purpose or future happiness?

Are you a ‘nihilist,’ stuck in the past, in learned helplessness, hopelessness, and despair, having given up on finding happiness?

Or are you one of the ‘happy’ ones, engaging in activities and practices that 1) are meaningful and pleasurable in the moment, and 2) pay off for both your present and future selves?

Ben-Shahar, a recovering rat racer like me, challenges his readers to explore where they derive meaning and pleasure in both their work and personal lives and then to do more of that.

At his recommendation I generated lists of activities that give me pleasure and meaning generally, then zeroed in on ways I might reap more of those rewards from my work in graphic design.


  • Have fun

  • Connect with clients in a collaborative process

  • Enjoy creative breakthroughs and flashes of inspiration

  • Learn new things, have ‘aha!’ moments

  • Appreciate beauty in art and in nature

  • Get lost in the focus and flow of the creative process

  • Find just the right words to express an idea


  • Connect with clients in a collaborative process

  • Capture the essence of an organization and its offer

  • Connect my clients with their clients (or audience)

  • Provide communication solutions (in images and/or words)

  • Learn and build skills continuously

  • Collect ideas and images for future inspiration

  • Develop design projects for my own self-expression

  • Create one or more products for passive income potential

NEW JOB DESCRIPTION (based on the above lists)

  • Create for the fun of it, sharing what I love and what inspires me, with the world

  • Connect in meaningful ways with clients, their organizations, their offerings, and their audiences

  • Nurture partnerships, getting to know clients, sharing marketing possibilities with them, supporting their businesses and referring to them when I can

  • Develop personal projects that take my skills in inspired directions and generate passive income opportunities

  • Welcome outside challenges that stretch my abilities

  • Stay in awe of the entrepreneurial spirit

The process has given me ‘new eyes’ with which to view my world and has paved the way for more positive experiences. As I mentally measure the pleasure and meaning in my daily activities, my choices become more deliberate, more intentional. I get that I can construct my life with these building blocks of happiness at work and at play. And so can you!

Since everything we want, from conditions to relationships to material manifestations, is about being happier, why not cut to the chase and go for ‘the ultimate currency’ of happiness itself? The happiness literature points to three factors that determine our happiness: our genetic predisposition, our life circumstances, and our activities and practices. Since we have no control over our genetics, and very limited control over external circumstances, our best shot at happiness may lie in how we choose to spend our time. Happiness may indeed be found in the journey, not the destination.

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