Arthur Brooks has found the keys to happiness.
Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, stopped by our media company’s office Wednesday to speak on camera with editor Paul Edwards about how people can find happiness in their lives.
As president of the AEI, Brooks participates in conversations across the country with scholars on public policy. Before joining AEI, he taught subjects related to business and government at Syracuse University.
Known for more than just teaching, Brooks has also penned some top books and articles, including “The Road to Freedom: How to Win the Fight for Free Enterprise,” which made the best-selling list of The New York Times. He’s a strong advocate for entrepreneurship and upward mobility.
In the last year, Brooks has spoken and written much about happiness. So what does Brooks see as the key to happiness?
In a December 2013 opinion piece for The New York Times, Brooks said happiness can come from our genes, events and our values. The genes we inherit from our family members help determine what makes us happy, he said. And particular life events we encounter also help determine our levels of happiness with our lives.
But the biggest thing that influences our happiness is values. Brooks highlighted four values in particular -- faith, family, community and work, which Charles Murray discusses in a book called “The Happiness of the People” -- that are more likely to lead to a person’s happiness.
“It turns out that choosing to pursue four basic values of faith, family, community and work is the surest path to happiness, given that a certain percentage is genetic and not under our control in any way,” Brooks wrote.
In his piece, Brooks tells the story of how he was once considering dropping out of school and stepping away from the music scene. But when his dad explained to him that he wasn’t necessarily anyone special, and that it was irresponsible to leave school behind, Brooks changed his life’s path in a different way -- a more happier way.
“After going back to school, I spent a blissful decade as a university professor and wound up running a Washington think tank,” he wrote. “Along the way, I learned that rewarding work is unbelievably important, and this is emphatically not about money.”
It’s not about solely making money, but rather about spreading an idea, concept or experience that’ll give joy to others, as well as ourselves. And we only do that, Brooks wrote, by following our values.
“To pursue the happiness within our reach, we do best to pour ourselves into faith, family, community and meaningful work,” Brooks wrote.
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