In an interview
on The Knowledge Project
podcast, chess master and investor Adam Robinson says one of the key life lessons he’s learned is that the secret to happiness is to be fully engaged in your life.
He points out that if someone were to ask him during the interview if he was happy, he wouldn’t know. His attention is focused on the conversation itself, and not his feelings about how the conversation is going.
For Robinson, the paradox of the most important things in life – happiness, love, success – is that you can’t actively look for them.
“If you’re looking for happiness, you’re not doing what you need to do to be happy. If you’re looking for love, you’re not being lovable. If you’re looking for success, you’re not doing whatever it is you need to do to be successful.”
Happiness, like other desirable states, is a by-product – something that catches us by surprise.
In Robinson’s view, if you’re feeling a negative emotion like doubt, fear, frustration, or loneliness, it’s a sign that you need to redirect your attention.
Whenever Robinson is feeling such negative emotions, he asks himself: Where should my attention be right now?
The answer to that question, and his “great revelation of 2016,” is that there are only two places his attention should be: either on the task at hand, or on others.