Image of a recipe book with the title of the blog post: The recipe for a happy life

The Recipe for a Happy Life

Image of a recipe book with the title of the blog post: The recipe for a happy life

The recipe for a happy life consists of three ingredients. The ingredients are important, but so is how you mix them together. Brought to you by

We discussed the recipe for a happy life on The BIGG Success Show today. Here’s a summary of that discussion.

This show was inspired by a research paper on the recipe for a happy life. We’ll talk about the three ingredients as well as instructions on living a full life and avoiding an empty life.

3 ingredients in the recipe for a happy life

1) Pleasure

We often think of this as a negative, and it can be. But we found its origin interesting. Aristippus said hedonism (the psychological term for the pursuit of pleasure) means keeping control in times of adversity or prosperity.

One usually doesn’t think of pleasure and adversity in the same sentence. But the point is to extract the most enjoyment from every circumstance. In other words, you don’t let circumstances control you. You control how you feel about them.

2) Meaning

Aristotle is credited with this theory that a person’s happiness is a result of his or her pursuit of meaning (or eudemonia in technical terms).

It probably sounds familiar: Identify your values, cultivate them, and live alignment with them.

3) Engagement

While the first two theories about man’s pursuit of happiness are centuries old, this one is relatively new. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is the father of flow, the relatively modern term for engagement.

You’ve experienced flow. You may or may not know it. Think of a task where you just lost yourself. Time was immaterial. You were hyper-focused. Afterwards, you felt invigorated.

That’s flow! Performing activities which engage your whole being makes you happier.

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The sum is worth more (or less) than the parts

Not surprisingly, participants who scored simultaneously low on all three pursuits had less satisfaction with life, i.e.. an empty life. If you find yourself feeling life is empty, it’s probably best to get some professional help.

Those who scored simultaneously high on all three pursuits ranked high on their satisfaction with life. These people are living a full life.

Your recipe for a happy life calls for a custom blend

We don’t like the word “balance” for situations like this. We prefer “blend”. “Balance” implies equal. “Blend” means customized.

Think of Meaning as the meat, Engagement as the potatoes, with Pleasure as the spice.

Note that Pleasure is not irrelevant. It adds or subtracts from a life full of Meaning and Engagement.

But we’re programmed for a certain amount of Pleasure. So, target Meaning and Engagement, and incorporate pleasing activities.

What does all this mean to our money?

For most people, it’s best not to wait your whole life waiting to enjoy it. Yes, you need to plan for a time when you no longer make money from your labor. But it’s also important to live now, if for no other reason than to recharge so you can perform those tasks which can give you the choice to retire sooner, rather than later.

If you blend pleasurable pursuits with meaningful and engaging pursuits, you’ll be happier, according to research. For example, spending money on experiences makes people happier.

So, instead of buying some thing, DO something – preferably with people you care about. That’s BIGG success!

BIGG Takeaway

Fill the better part of your days with meaningful and engaging activities, toss with a pleasurable pursuit, and your heart will be filled with happiness.

Here’s to your BIGG success!

George “The Professor” & Mary-Lynn
signatures: George & Mary-Lynn
Co-Founders, BIGG Success

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Retirement Planning an Easier Way

retirement planning an easier way blog image

There’s good news on retirement planning, whether you’re early in your career or further along.

We discussed an easier way to plan for your retirement on The BIGG Success Show today. Here’s a summary of that discussion.

This show was inspired by a study on the power of retiring later, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Which of these two options sounds harder to you…

(1) saving 1% more every year for 30 years, or

(2) postponing your retirement by 4 months

The two of us agreed that Option 1 sounds harder. Yet the researchers found the two options deliver similar results.

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the downside to finding your passion blog image

The Downside of Finding Your Passion

the downside to finding your passion blog image

We discussed finding your passion on The BIGG Success Show today. Click the player to listen, or keep reading for a summary of that discussion.

This show was inspired by a study on finding your passion to be published in Psychological Science.

The research shows people are led astray by the advice to “find your passion”. It makes it harder to discover one’s passion. So you get stuck. In fact, that’s a conclusion we came to years ago here on BIGG Success.

Fortunately, there is a better way…

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A Tip to Save Money at the Store


We want to share a tip on how to save money at the store with you today. As we share it, we’re sipping on coffee. It’s because we saw an interesting study about coffee cups. Yes, we can learn an important lesson from coffee cups.

We talked about this on The BIGG Success Show today ( click the player to listen)

Here’s the show summary:

The experiment

Participants were handed a coffee cup. They were told it sold at a local retail store for $4.95.
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The Ironic Starting Point of BIGG Success

starting point on road to BIGG Success

The starting point of BIGG Success is part gratitude, part discontent. Find out why in this BIGG Success Show Podcast.

The starting point of all BIGG success is a paradox. We’ve become convinced of this, based on studying the research but also from personal experience. We’d like to share what we learned with you today.

BIGG success starts at the intersection of gratitude and discontent.

These two attitudes, seemingly in conflict, work together to create the success you crave. Let’s look at them one at a time before we talk about how they partner up for your BIGG success.

The starting point of BIGG success is part gratitude

Robert Emmons is considered the world’s leading scientific authority on gratitude. He has found all kinds of amazing benefits of gratefulness. But we want to zero in on gratitude’s effect on achieving your goals.

His research shows that participants who habitually kept a gratitude journal made 20% more progress toward their goals than participants who didn’t. At the end of each week, the first group simply listed five things they were grateful for.

Yet this simple act – which can be done in less than five minutes – led to significant returns on the investment of time. Gratitude is the input. Progress is the outcome.

The starting point of BIGG success is also part discontent

Now let’s move to discontent. Research shows that the happiest people make 15% more per year than the unhappiest people.

Now, we hear you – you’re thinking, “I’d be happy too if I made 15% more a year!” But the study looked at people about 19 years after they reported a general feeling of happiness or unhappiness. First, they asked college students to rate their general state of happiness on a 10-point scale. Then – nearly two decades later – they compared incomes, based on level of happiness. The happiest were making 15% more than the unhappiest.

It just goes to show…happiness buys money!

Pretty amazing, huh? But the real surprise is what the researchers found next. They looked at people who were happy but not the happiest – i.e. they were above average on the happiness scale but not at the top. They made 6% more than the happiest! So it pays not to be too happy!

Let’s summarize what we’ve learned so far. First, habitually grateful people make 20% more progress toward their goals. Second, the happiest people make 15% more than the unhappiest people. But third, people who are happy but not content make yet 6% more!

The starting point of BIGG success is where these two attitudes meet

It begs the question: How can you be grateful and discontent at the same time? Surprisingly, it’s easier than you might think. Gratefulness forces you to break destructive thought patterns. You stop comparing yourself to others.

You recognize the help others have given you, so you realize you’re not alone in your journey.

You acknowledge the gifts you have been given, realizing the presence of a Higher Power at work in your life.

You focus on what you have, instead of what you don’t have.

As we mentioned earlier, the research on gratitude showed a number of benefits. Not surprisingly, one of them was increased optimism. Another was higher energy levels.

Which leads to a healthy discontent. You’re grateful for all you have. But you know you can accomplish more. You can help more people.

You can’t wait. You must get started now. It leads to BIGG success!

Have you experienced the combination of gratitude and discontent?

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