I recently read two articles in the New York Times that got me thinking. In “How to Get Back the Time Covid Stole,” Tim Urban points out that our lives are time-limited, and by using “depressing math,” we can calculate approximately how many times of a certain activity we have left. For example, if you really enjoy something, like going to a Broadway show, and you go once every two years, you may think that you have dozens of shows left to see. However, if you are sixty-five years old and expect to live to ninety, then you may only get to go to twelve more shows. He observes that this math became even more depressing during the pandemic, especially in terms of seeing our friends and family.
Laurie Santos, the Yale professor who teaches the extremely popular class about happiness entitled “Psychology and the Good Life,” was interviewed by David Marchese in the New York Times Magazine. In her interview, Dr. Santos discussed how many of our intuitions about what will make us happy are either “misguided” or wrong. Santos recommends that we let go of those preconceived notions of what will make us happy: the new iPhone, lots of money, perfect grades, or a fancy house. Research has shown that these things will not make us happy. Instead, Santos argues that a sense of well-being will often come from some behavioral and mindset changes, which include:
- Connecting with others
- Keeping a gratitude journal
- Being kind
- Good sleep
- Developing a sense of meaning in one’s life.
After taking us through his “depressing math,” Tim Urban gives us some good news: We can change our future by changing our priorities and making better decisions for ourselves. By recognizing what is truly important, we can take advantage of the “reset” that Covid has provided us. By prioritizing our relationships and practicing some of the other behaviors that Laurie Santos suggested, we can certainly live a happier and more meaningful life. More than ever, it is essential to stay focused on what really matters. Make sure you create the time to spend with those people and activities. Stay mindful and enjoy!