The Secret to Happiness

The Secret to Happiness

Have you noticed that many extremely successful, high-profile, high-net worth people are not particularly happy.  Lady Gaga sent her fans into a frenzy after she claimed that “fame is prison.” If money and fame can’t make you happy, what can?  That’s a question that best-selling author and New York Times columnist Arthur C. Brooks answers in his new book From Strength to Strength: Finding Success, Happiness and Deep Purpose in the Second Half of Life.”  Don’t let the subtitle mislead you.  The book offers guidance to anyone regardless of age. 

The core principle in Strength to Strength is that many people, especially those who have been extraordinarily successful, find themselves frustrated as they move through life.  Brooks explains this is because almost everyone declines after the age of 40.  He notes that classical musicians peak at 39. The same can be said of financial professionals, surgeons, lawyers, entrepreneurs, entertainers and perhaps kitchen and bath showroom owners.  When someone who has achieved a certain level of fame and success starts to decline, they feel horrible. An International Olympic Committee report found that 45% of former athletes suffer from anxiety and depression after they retire.

Brooks cites research from British psychologist Raymond Cattell who claims there are two kinds of intelligence.  Fluid intelligence is what makes you good at what you do and that reaches a peak in your late 30s or early 40s and then starts to decline.  Brooks related that “with fluid intelligence, you’re a cowboy.  You’re a Ninga.  You’re the best at what you do.  You can solve problems faster than others.”  

The second type of intelligence is crystalized that does not rely on the same skill set as fluid intelligence.  Another way to describe crystalized intelligence is wisdom. To ensure happiness later into life, successful people need to transition from relying on fluid intelligence which is not sustainable to crystalized intelligence which enables someone to use their wisdom to help others.  
Brooks asserts that if you jump into a new career or a new way of performing your current job that focuses on using your wisdom to teach and help others, you will get better and better in the second half of your life.  “And the big bonus is that you’ll be doing something that serves other people more. You’ll have more friendships and love in your life.  And that’s cracking the code.”

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