Happiness is about balance – The lasagna principle & too much of a good thing
I love opportunities to get together with my friends; to chat and have fun. But I also look forward to those days where I’m at home, by myself. I’ve come to recognize that finding the right balance is key for my wellbeing and happiness.
Is it really possible to have too much of a good thing like spending time with friends? I remember when Tal Ben-Shahar described it as the “Lasagna Principle” when I took his Certificate in Positive Psychology course. He also discusses it in his best selling book, Happier. He explains that we will be happier if we can recognize that our capacity to enjoy different activities is limited and unique. For example, Tal’s favorite food is his mom’s homemade lasagna; yet that doesn’t mean he wants to eat lasagna every day. This concept of finding balance applies to all of our favorite activities and favorite people.
“Just because my family is the most meaningful thing in my life does not mean that spending eight hours a day with them is what would make me happiest; and not wanting to spend all my waking time with them does not imply that I love them any less” – Tal Ben Shahar, Ph.D
Tal points out that when we notice our inner feelings and thoughts, we are much better at knowing which activities bring us happiness and how much times is the best to spend on each one. Recognizing both (activities and time spent) is what creates the highest quality of life without guilt and without losing our appreciation for what makes us happy. We need variety and novelty, and we need to find what combination works best for us.
Think about the things and people that boost your mood and happiness. Now consider what might be the ideal amount of time for each. Think about finding the right balance.