Creating a Happier Society by Focusing on Ourselves


Lewis Miller, Marketing Coordinator, HDO
April 26, 2016

Money doesn’t buy happiness. It turns out a relatively long list of accomplishments doesn’t necessarily, either.

The puzzling question of why achieving traditional measures of success doesn’t inevitably translate into happiness is the subject of a new book by Dr. Raj Raghunathan, a professor at UT Austin’s McCombs School of Business and HDO’s One-Day Seminars program.

In a recent interview with The Atlantic, Dr. Raghunathan discussed his research and his new book, If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Happy? One of his key points is that our principal mode of gauging success – measuring how much more we’ve done, earned, or achieved relative to others – is destined to create personal discontent.

“When you don’t need to compare yourself to other people, you gravitate towards things that you instinctively enjoy doing, and you’re good at, and if you just focus on that for a long enough time, then chances are very, very high that you’re going to progress towards mastery anyway, and the fame and the power and the money and everything will come as a byproduct, rather than something that you chase directly in trying to be superior to other people.”

Raghunathan notes that embracing a new worldview, one that places reduced emphasis on peer comparisons and a greater focus on personal growth, would lead us to feel more fulfilled as individuals and happier as a society.

“If you were to go back to the three things that people need—mastery, belonging, and autonomy—I’d add a fourth, after basic necessities have been met. It’s the attitude or the worldview that you bring to life. And that worldview can be characterized, just for simplicity, in one of two fashions: One extreme is a kind of scarcity-minded approach, that my win is going to come at somebody else’s loss, which makes you engage in social comparisons. And the other view is what I would call a more abundance-oriented approach, that there’s room for everybody to grow.”

Dr. Raghunathan leads Fulfillment in the Workplace, a One-Day Seminar for HDO that covers many of the topics from his research. The next run of his seminar is October 7, 2016. Early bird specials are currently in effect; learn more and/or register today!