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Get Happy: Making Decisions for Emotional Quality

Three Components of Happiness – Variety, Depth and Quality

There are really three components to happiness, variety, depth and quality:

  • Variety – Imagine going to a restaurant where they served your favorite meal. Except that was the only meal they served you and you had to eat there for every meal of your life. Variety matters in tastes and it matters in happiness. When you only get one type of emotion repeatedly, it starts to lose power until it just becomes normal.
  • Depth – This means the intensity of the emotion. It is the difference between feeling pleasant and feeling ecstatic. Intensity shouldn’t be constant (cycles between low and high) but with only neutral intensity life is boring.
  • Quality – This means the difference between positive and negative. It’s all your perception, but I’d label certain emotions as having a high quality (enthusiasm, love, satisfaction) and other emotions as having a low quality (hate, depression, guilt).

The emotional quality model means you are making decisions in some attempt to improve one of these three factors. Either you want to add different types of emotions, you want to create greater cycles of emotional intensity or you want to improve the quality of your emotions.

That’s great but how do you actually use this to make decisions?

Emotional Decisions – Creating Ripples

Decisions aren’t linear in that they are one cause creating one effect, but like a stone being dropped into a pond, they ripple outwards, creating many effects. Deciding to start a business doesn’t just give you a business. It changes who you associate with, your investments, your way of thinking and your experiences.

Making decisions using the emotional quality model differ than the decisions most people make because you look for different effects, namely the changes in your emotional life.

Let’s say you are trying to figure out whether you should quit your job and pursue a new career. A hard decision to make by any standard, but how would you look at the problem from this new perspective? This graph shows each decision by estimating the impact on emotional quality (EQ), emotional variety (EV) and emotional intensity (EI):

Stay At JobNew Career
This is a pretty generalized example, but as you can see changing careers will create different ripples. You will probably take a short-term dive in EQ (emotional quality) as you switch from comfort to survival. As you reestablish yourself, however, this EQ will begin to spike as you adapt to new living expenses and start working your passion. In contrast, your decision to stay at a job will slowly lower EQ and drastically cut EV (emotional variety) as you simmer at a job you dislike.

That was a pretty obvious example. You could have read any self-help book around and figured out that the intelligent (although scary) choice would be to get out of an environment you hate and pursue a job you love.

What about a decision that isn’t as rationally clear? Let’s say you were trying to decide between whether you should:

(A) Travel the world with less work (See 4-Hour Workweek)
(B) Work hard to establish your own business (See Steve Pavlina or Darren Rowse)
(C) Actively improve your intimate relationships (See AskDanandJennifer)


I’ve simplified the graph to compress more information, but if you really wanted to make your own, you would estimate how variety, quality and depth would be impacted by time for each decision. Total happiness being a product of all three.

Decisions like these are hard no matter what lens you use, but using traditional methods it is almost impossible. Normally trying to use logic to compare these decisions would be like comparing apples to giraffes wearing orange hats. Sure you can do a value assessment deciding if you think personal relationships are more important than world travel or business, but this basically comes down to making a gut decision that often isn’t useful.

With the EQ model, you actually have some basis to compare the results of these different decisions:

I’ve lumped all emotions together into variety, depth and quality, to simplify the diagram, but you can see how each would be filled with different emotions. World travel might create excitement, business could create challenge and satisfaction, personal relationships might create love.

Looking at this model you can get a rough prediction of how each will affect your happiness over different periods of time. Definitely a useful tool if you are trying to make big decisions.

Beyond Decisions – Using EQ for Synergy

The real place this model works, isn’t when you’re trying to compare options, but trying to create them. Using EQ means you get to examine how a decision will impact happiness at different times so you can create a better option.

Let’s say you have a long range goal to earn more money. Now you want to use the EQ model to figure out the best way to reach that goal. Obviously the best solution would be the one where all three components of happiness are maximized for the entire duration.

I recently used a similar process to this when making some decisions about how to create a sustainable income off this website. The problem wasn’t that I had too few options, but too many potential ones. I could write lots of posts and network with other bloggers to try to become an A-Lister, I could look into workshops/speaking gigs, I could work on products or another completely different approach.

Although all of these could work, some of my estimates suggested that working on products as a major focus would probably be the best decision in terms of EQ. More importantly, I decided that starting with smaller products before moving to larger ones would make the most sense for EQ.

Decision making is just one of many ways you can use the EQ model. I still recommend, as Steve Pavlina calls it, the, “Ready, Fire, Aim” approach to making decisions. Just as you won’t know what works best for external success, it takes experimentation to figure out what will work for EQ. The point is simply to give you a first estimate you can then make adjustments from.


A B C till Z guide how to success in Life and Career

The rules for successful lives and careers have been radically altered as globalization and information/communication technology have significantly changed the business of doing business. Here are some of the new rules for success. Obey them and success is yours-in life and career. Disregard them and you’ll be consigned to limbo, if not oblivion.

Avoid burnout. In the past, you had to work hard. Today, you have to work smart and maintain a good balance between professional and personal life.

Beware the boss who promises to build a bridge where there is no river. Don’t stick it out with a boss you can’t rely on. If you haven’t received the raise or promotion your boss promised you five years ago, maybe it’s time to find another boss.

Celebrate your victories. Set your goals and cut your journey to success into milestones. As soon as you reach one, celebrate your victory. By all means, work hard. But learn to play hard as well.

Develop your own value proposition. You and I are salesman. You must have a value proposition, an implicit promise of value to anybody you deal with-customer, employer, organization, etc. Then deliver on that promise.

Enjoy your work. All this time, we have been told and conditioned to work hard. I suggest that you look at your work as a source of joy and love. In fact, I urge you to love it-or leave it!

Find a need and fill it-before others do. If nobody needs your skills, products, or services, you’ll have very little chance of proving your worth. If you want to succeed, find a niche where you can be the best. Don’t just sit there; look for that need-before others do.

Get up when you get knocked down. We have been told to try and try until we succeed. Go ahead, try again, but try something else. What worked before may not work again for you. Don’t count on the same winning formulas or combinations that worked ages ago. Get up, get going, but get more new aces up your sleeve.

Have a fallback. Know how, when, and where to go when your situation becomes untenable. Being an excellent performer or working with a profitable organization is no longer a sure-fire guarantee of success. Thousands of great performers have lost their jobs, and hundreds of great companies have folded up as new rules emerge in life and careers. Innovate-or stagnate. Believe there is always a better way, and find it-before your boss does, or someone tells your boss about it. When the playing field is level in quality, speed, and cost, your competitive advantage will come from new and innovative products and services.

Join winners, not losers. If you are great and join a lousy organization, you’ll stand out. But you’ll soon find your greatness diminished immensely if you remain with that organization. If you hang around with successful and excellent people, their success and excellence will rub off on you in the long run. So join winners, not losers.

Keep your head on the cloud but your feet on the ground. New, innovative, and creative ideas make for success in any language. Make sure your feet are planted on the ground, even if your mind is up on the clouds.

Look beyond the classroom. Despite what the demagogues tell you, believe that there is education beyond the classroom-in fact real education takes place in the real world, not within the corners of the classroom.

Master the technology of business and the business of technology.> You need to know technology and how it can help make doing business or your job faster, better and more effective. If you think you can’t afford technology, I tell you that you can’t afford to be without technology.

Never depend on luck. What’s luck got to do with success? Tiger Woods, Wayne Gretzky, Efren “Bata” Reyes, Dodie Rondain (who he?) have a high batting average in golf, hockey, billiards, and the NLRC, respectively. They don’t rely on luck to win. Nothing beats preparedness.

Overcome the fear of failure. Many people never succeed because they never try. They never try because they fear they will not succeed. Successful men tried and failed countless times, like Thomas Alva Edison.

Perception is reality. What you are is important. What others think you are is sometimes even more important. That’s why successful people are so careful about creating the right perception about them. To others, especially the greater mass of humanity, perception is reality.

Quality does not happen by accident. If you want to succeed, never turn in shabby work, products, or services. Nobody buys poor quality anymore. There’s too much competition nowadays. That’s why people deliberately factor in quality in whatever they do. Do you?

Reason and intuition must work together. Logic alone will make this world dull. Intuition can spark creativity and innovation, but must stand the test of practicality. If you wish to succeed, work with reason and intuition. You’ll need both!

Success is a journey, not a destination. Define your goals, have clear standards, and make sure you achieve them. Success is like taking a very long train ride that stops at every way station. Savor the moment, and maybe the money, every time you reach a milestone. In a survey run by EC Business Solutions and Career Center, 95 percent of respondent managers and supervisors claim that they see themselves as successful.

Think lattice, not ladders. Career success today is no longer just moving up the ladder. Now, there are more lattices than ladders that allow you to gain greater success by moving sideways, not necessarily upwards.

Use other brains-if yours is not enough. Many successful people have not built empires by themselves alone. In fact, many don’t know how. They relied on the expertise of others to be successful in what they do.

Value your customers, and make them feel it. If you want to succeed, develop a maniacal focus on your customers. Understand, anticipate, and satisfy your customers’ needs, or others will.

Watch your back. As you shine, others are bound to envy you and wish that you had the lice in the armpits of a thousand camels. I had been in the lions’ den and had back pains from stab wounds. If you want to succeed, watch your back!

Extra mile gives you an extra push, too. Going the extra mile in whatever you do gives your customer, boss, or audience a better deal. It also develops in you the mindset of quality, excellence, and service. If you don’t have the time or inclination to go the extra mile, your customer, boss, or audience won’t.

You are responsible for your own future. Never abdicate the responsibility for your success to other people or institutions. Nobody is as interested as you are about your success. Nobody else should claim credit for your success, and you can’t blame anyone else for your failure.

Zeal and enthusiasm help create a positive impact. Most successful people have the energy, zeal, and enthusiasm that further enhance the positive impact that they create about their persona. Always make the greatest performance of your life every time you make a presentation, meet with your boss or clients. If you think and act like you are beaten, you are!