In “Happiness by Design”, Dr. Paul Dolan makes two points.
First, happiness depends on what we attend to. We are happier when we focus on the activities we engage in. Therefore, a quiet environment, retreat from cell hone and internet, etc., all are good for your happiness. In this sense, multitasking is a myth—it drains your attention.
Second, context is the key. Unlike other self-help books that demand your ironclad willpower to battle additions, Paul focuses on your environment: you should actively designing your surroundings so that it facilitates good habits and prevents bad ones. In a word, If you build it, happiness will come.
It is almost a professional betrayal for an analytical guy to listen to what behavioral folks have to say. (Frankly, behavioral science is Psychology.) Fortunately, Paul, an economist by training, knows both fields well. He makes a convincing case with scientific statistics and a personal touch. This approach is in sharp contrast to many journalists’, exclusive anecdote style.
Will his prescriptions work? While reading his book, I cannot help but turn on the music and start smiling…