Happiness. If there is a word that we’ve overly complicated more than this, I am not aware of it. (Well, maybe success, but that’s for another article…)
There’s books for it, classes for it, coaches for it, and drugs for it. And yet…we haven’t seemed to get any better at attaining it.

Is it possible that we’ve taken something that should be engineered in the language of simplicity and instead attempted to engineer it in the language of complexity?

I’ve been on the consumption side of the happiness publishing industry more times than I’d like to admit, and the same patterns continually emerge. When I take these countless thousands of pages of information and analyze my own life in conjunction, these patterns become crystallized.

In the product development world an MVP, or Minimum Viable Product, is an early version of a product used to collect the maximum amount of learning about customers with the least effort. In effect, it’s the most attainable version of the product that becomes the starting point for its evolution. Minimum input for maximum output.

When I apply this MVP line of thought with my beliefs and observations about happiness, the product becomes pretty simple.

Something to Strive For

Our positive anticipation of the future gives us hope for what lay ahead. We need a reason to work hard, a reason to move forward, and by intentionally striving for something to accomplish, we add fuel to that future. This doesn’t have to be overly lofty or ambitious either. Competing in a race, bumping up a few spots in the sales numbers, starting a blog. Simple and attainable goals to strive for add purpose, and in turn happiness, to our daily lives.

Someone to Love

No, this doesn’t mean we need to be in a relationship to be happy. But it does mean we need relationships, whether romantic or not, in our lives. It’s no secret that we’re wired to be social beings, and by surrounding ourselves with people that we love we create a foundation that makes the rest of our lives operate better. It can be family, it can be a few close friends, or it can be our significant other (or ideally all three). Social relevancy feeds one of our oldest and most hard-wired desires for connection.

Something to Celebrate

Achievement is like an immediate and significant dose of endorphins. We love checklists because we love to check things off of the list. We love goals because it feels good to achieve them. We love small wins because they make the journey to the big win worth it. Achievement is the key to happiness in our work, which most of us spend a good chunk of our lives absorbed in. We’re better off pursuing things that we’re good at than things that we’re passionate about, because the former gives us satisfaction from achievement, while the latter doesn’t.

When it comes to MVPs, the goal is to iterate based on what you learn. The same applies to this MVP of happiness. It is the starting point. We strive for goals and we iterate based on what we learn. We engage socially and we iterate based on what we learn. We achieve and celebrate and we iterate based on what we learn.

The result is happiness, and that is a product we’re all sure to love.