I was intrigued about how bad most of us are at predicting what will make us happy.
“What’s your story and how did you arrive to this point?” Countless people have been asking me that question since I left Intel to dedicate my life to Happy Brain Science.
I was a cognitive science major at Vassar College and have been fascinated by the things that stimulates our brains. Despite using artificial intelligence in my career, I was mostly leaving cognitive science behind to work on games and other software.
My path into the science of happiness truly started several years ago with a New York Times article. I was fascinated by the article, which prompted me to buy Stumbling on Happiness. I was intrigued about how bad most of us are at predicting what will make us happy.
It was no more than a few months later before my next purchase was triggered by Gilbert’s positive review of The How of Happiness.
I think saying that I liked her book is just a huge understatement. This book was not just based on one woman’s opinion. It was practical information on how to be happier, based on experimental data. I was quite thrilled to discover the real science of happiness.
I thought to myself: “I want to learn this and live this.” Then, my next thoughts were: “I’m not going to do that. I’m going to forget all of this in about one month, and go back to being only somewhat happy?” After a moment, a thought popped to my mind saying that if you really want to learn something, you should start teaching it to others.
So, I proposed a talk called The Science of Happiness in Game Development for the International Game Developer’s Association Leadership Forum and a similar talk to an internal Intel conference. Both conferences accepted my proposal. Now, I had a good reason to read every science-based book and article on happiness. I was delighted to do so.
After months of practice, I finally delivered the talks. I received the best feedback of my life. The great feedback wasn’t just from the audience. It was from my own feelings. I felt that I had done something that could really help people.
I love making games and apps while helping others to do the same. Although, teaching others about how to apply the science of happiness was deeply satisfying in a new way.
In the first five minutes of my talk, I showed a slide that included the benefits of happiness. Happier people are more sociable, creative, resilient, insightful, productive, and successful. They are also healthier and live longer.
When I mentioned these numerous benefits, I came to the realization that it is what I need for myself, my company, and our industry. I wanted the whole world to experience this feeling.
The Science of Being Happy and Productive at Work went viral. I ended up presenting it dozens of times to thousands of people. Some people asked me if I was getting tired of presenting it. To the contrary, I was energized and satisfied every time I presented my talk. Soon, I was expanding my focus to include more neuroscience and cognitive science.
As I presented at more conferences, I started getting approached to see if I could come to businesses to deliver my speech. I started getting paid to do what I was enjoying more than anything I had enjoyed in my career to date. At that point, I found myself compelled to switch careers.
I had given it much thought before resigning from Intel. Starting a new career is not always easy.
While I have been thrilled to work full time on making others happier and more productive, nobody knows if I’ll be able to sustain a career from doing it. Although, I am happy to be making the effort.
Recently, I sat down with Kallen Diggs in an interview to talk about the evolution of Happy Brain Science.
Now, I have shared my story. What is yours?
Another version of this article appeared on HappyBrainScience.com
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