During a past Daily Show episode, Jon Stewart responded to President Obama’s statement that “this is America: we don’t do what’s easy, we do what’s necessary” by holding up a jar of Baconnaise (bacon spread for sandwiches). Stewart sarcastically retorted that Americans love doing what’s easy – so much that products like Baconnaise exist for people who love bacon but don’t want to exert the minimal effort of cooking it. With the happiness industry rapidly on the rise and the science of happiness rushing to keep up, we might expect that positivity gurus will promise products and solutions that spread happiness with the same kind of ease as spreading Baconnaise on a sandwich. I think we need to check our expectations.
Sometimes the experience of joy is spontaneous and fleeting. Experiencing joy in this way feels easy and immediate, much like the instant gratification of spreading Baconnaise on a sandwich. However, much of the research on well-being shows that we need to make intentional and regular effort to cultivate positive emotions like happiness.
Consider the analogy of exercising regularly to maintain physical health. Although I am in decent physical health right now, I cannot give up my gym membership. Staying physically healthy requires being active and cultivating healthy eating habits on a daily basis. It’s helpful to view happiness and well-being in the same way – that they need to be cultivated with ongoing and intentional effort.
If you find yourself looking for quick fixes to improve your happiness and well-being, check our suggested Happiness Habits instead. We provide many research-based ways to spread happiness and well-being in your life and the lives of others – while holding the Baconnaise.