How Happiness Works Over Time
The primary focus of everything I discuss, in all the areas I write and speak about, is how to achieve long-term, consistent happiness. I don’t mean happy now but angry or sad later. That’s easy. I mean a strong level of happiness that lasts decades long. I wrote an entire book on the subject that I strongly recommend you get if you haven’t yet. One of the concepts I talk about is the Happiness Change Curve (depicted above) and how you can use the fluctuations of happiness to achieve your goals. It’s the result of an analysis of how your happiness levels change over time based on your personality and decisions.
If we rank happiness on a scale from 1 to 10, then measure it over time, how does it fluctuate? How do our actions and attitudes modify this fluctuation? Today we’ll examine this using some fun nerdy visuals.
Let’s take the typical man first. Since most men are beta males, how does a beta male’s happiness fluctuate over time? Imagine a beta; the typical skinnyfat guy who works at some corporate job he doesn’t really like, married to the typical average-looking, nonsexual chubby woman, and who has a few kids. His happiness looks like this: (click graphs to zoom)
The typical beta’s happiness is always around “okay,” floating in the range of 4-6 on our 1 to 10 scale. He’s not necessarily miserable, but he’s not happy. His life is calm, predictable, and socially acceptable, but also boring and limited. He can’t do what he wants, he doesn’t have a lot of sex, and excitement is rare. He’s doomed to live a life of mediocrity and moderate happiness for the rest of his life unless he makes some radical changes.
Now let’s look at how happy the typical woman is:
As you can see, most women are basket cases of exciting highs and dramatic lows. Sometimes she’s happy as can be, almost ecstatic. Other times she’s depressed, angry, frustrated, or in the middle of drama with her husband, boyfriend, ex, boss, co-worker, girlfriend, sister, mom, dad, or whomever.
Happy or angry, she’s never at that state for very long. Within a few hours or days, she’s back to the other extreme again. As I describe in the book, this is biological and secretly how she likes it. Being happy all the time would actually be a little boring to her. Unlike most men, she needs a wide array of both positive and negative feelings in order to feel “alive.” She likes being happy, but she also likes drama and problems too, at least to some degree, even if she doesn’t admit it.
Now let’s look at the Alpha Males. Since the vast majority of Alpha Males are Alpha 1.0s, we’ll examine the Alpha Male 1.0 first.
As you can see, unlike the beta, the Alpha Male 1.0 is able to experience great happiness, fulfillment, and excitement in his life. He’s free to live his live as he chooses most of the time (though not always), and he’s competent enough to get results in the areas important to him.
On the flip side, happiness is not his primary objective in life. He likes happiness of course, but his primary goal is to control and to be heard. Because of this, he semi-regularly experiences problems like drama, anger, loneliness, and/or conflict.
He gets a new (monogamous) girlfriend. He’s super happy. Then he bosses her around, she resists, and they argue. Now he’s unhappy. They have makeup-sex and everything is great again. Then she dumps him. He’s very unhappy. Then he uses his PUA skills and has sex with a bunch of new girls. He’s happy. Then he reflects at how meaningless it all is. Now he’s unhappy. Then he fucks more girls. Happy again. Then he gets busy with work and goes through a long dry spell where he doesn’t have sex for five months. Unhappy again. Then he gets a new girlfriend. Happy again. Then he orders her around and has drama. Unhappy again.
On and on this pattern goes for the rest of his life. Very happy often, also regularly unhappy. Unlike a woman, the Alpha 1.0 doesn’t like being unhappy, but he considers regular unhappiness as “worth the price” of ensuring people follow his program and making sure they listen to and “respect” him.
Now let’s look at what this blog and my book is all about, the Alpha Male 2.0‘s usual happiness pattern:
The Alpha 2.0 has structured his attitude and his life to achieve long-term, consistent happiness. His happiness level fluctuates between 8 and 10, just about all the time. The only time his happiness drops below an 8 is when something very unusual happens outside of his control, like one of his parents dies. Thankfully, these kinds of events are very rare.
He makes a decently high income doing something he likes, and aligned with his Mission, without working long hours. He never does monogamy yet is decent at long-term relationships, so he constantly has all the sex he wants, with the emotional connected experience of a relationship (if he wants it), but without most of the PUA/pickup work. Nor does he ever have dry spells (again, unless he choses to have one).
Unlike his Alpha 1.0 brother, he doesn’t tell women what to do, nor does he care, so he has virtually zero drama or conflict in his personal life. Instead, he focuses on his Mission which creates even more happiness. Unlike his beta brother, he’s 100% free to do whatever the hell he wants, at all times.
Because his lifestyle looks odd to most of society, he doesn’t quite get the accolades or respect from friends and family that the beta gets and that the Alpha 1.0 sometimes gets. However, the Alpha 2.0 is outcome independent, so he doesn’t care. He’s too busy being happy while smiling at the unhappy world around him.
Now let’s switch gears and look at how some of your life decisions affect your long-term happiness patterns. Usually, doing what society says is appropriate actually makes you less happy. The tricky part is that this unhappiness often slowly sneaks up on you. Let’s look at a few examples. Remember to click the graphs if you can’t read them.
I’ll start with an easy one: getting a girlfriend. Everyone wants a girlfriend, right? I’m talking here about the standard monogamous type, not an OLTR. How does your happiness look when you get a girlfriend over time?
When you get a girlfriend, this is what happens almost every time:
During the first few months of NRE, your happiness skyrockets to 10 and you think you’ve hit the jackpot. Over time, the two of you become more “comfortable” with each other and that’s when the boredom and drama start kicking in. For a while you’re still happier than when you were single, but your average levels of happiness continue to decline ever so slowly.
Eventually, you’re less happy in your relationship than you were outside of a relationship. Then she puts the final bullet in your head and dumps you, and you feel like absolute shit. Eventually, your happiness begins the slow climb back up to where it was when you were single. It’s very predictable, and happens in the vast majority of standard boyfriend / girlfriend relationships. Serial monogamists thrive on these up-and-down highs and lows.
Let’s kick it up a notch and look at what happens to your happiness when you actually get married:
As I’ve explained many times, and as all the stats and your own anecdotal experience shows, here’s what usually happens when you get married. During the engagement, wedding planning, wedding, reception, honeymoon, moving in together, and perhaps that first baby, you’re on cloud nine and you’re the Happiest You’ve Ever Been™. But then, slowly but surely, the drama increases, the sex decreases, you start remembering all the stuff you want to do with your life that you’re not allowed to do anymore because your Wife Won’t Let You™. Then you hit the three year mark and your wife almost completely shuts off the sex because she’s sexually bored with you now. Say hello to a new, permanent, lower level of average happiness, below your average level of happiness when you were unmarried.
Since we’re talking about marriage, it’s only fair we talk about your happiness during a divorce too:
When you get divorced it’s pretty bad, and your happiness level is in the toilet for a while. You have to battle your wife and the law, both of which are allied against you. However, as I’ve discussed before, once most of the crap is taken care of (moving out, the ex-wife calms down, the legal divorce is over or at least on its way, visitation with kids is established, etc), then you suddenly feel a rush of happiness and euphoria (10 on our scale) unlike anything you’ve probably felt before. You’ll be so happy you won’t belive it. Over time, your natural habits will take over and you’ll descend back to a standard level of happiness, perhaps a 6 or a 7, which is the same level you had before you got married, but well above what you had when you were married.
Here’s another fun one I’ve talked about before as well. Kids! Just about everyone wants kids someday, right? Well, let’s see what happens to your happiness when you do this:
When a person goes from childless to parent, average happiness goes down, and stays down, until 20 years later when the kid grows up and moves out of the house. Every study done on this topic shows the same pattern, even though because of Societal Programming most people are too horrified to admit this. They equate admitting unhappiness as a parent to not loving their children, which of course have nothing to do with each other. Scott Adams just made an interesting blog post about this right here.
The reason people say they’re “so happy” or “happier” being a parent is because when they’re saying this, they’re thinking about the isolated moments of joy that occur when you have kids, particularly when they’re very little and still cute. Yes, that little two-year old bastard has been keeping you up for the last four days, creating constant messes you have to clean up, and stressing the fuck out of you, but then one day in the kitchen he looks up at you with his big brown eyes and his fat little face with mashed potatoes all over his mouth, looks you right in the eye, and says in his cute little voice, “I wub bu daddy.” Then you melt, and your happiness goes to 10 for about three minutes before it plunges back to it’s usual parenting 4. When people ask you how happy you are to be a dad, you remember that little moment, not the pain prior that lasted four entire days.
I hope these visuals have been helpful. Personal happiness is the most important topic there is. If there are any other ways I can educate on this, please let me know.
Note: I’m offering a $500 cash prize (and other cool stuff) for the best success story using any of the concepts I talk about. Go here for contest details. The deadline is Feb 22nd!