In the recently released Tell the Machine Goodnight by Katie Williams, a machine can provide each character the key to their individual happiness, often in the form of a simple, seemingly inconsequential suggestion, like “eat more honey,” or “move your desk next to a window.” This central premise allows the novel to discuss our relationships not only with technology but also with happiness itself. Here are three tips inspired by the novel:
- Happiness is individual. What makes one person happy isn’t going to necessarily make another happy. Even the sense of contentment and satisfaction that one person calls happiness may not be what another person desires. As we look at our social media feeds it is tempting to compare our lives with others’ posts and think that if our life was more like theirs, we might be happier. While it is ok to seek inspiration from others, it is important to take time to reflect on ourselves and think about what really improves our own happiness—even if that is different from what seems to be making everyone else happy.
- There is no secret shortcut to happiness. Eating more honey, moving our desk by a window—these things aren’t going to suddenly make us happy. But usually there are somethings that will increase our overall contentment. And often, we already know what they are. The problem is they are rarely as easy as eating more honey or moving closer to a window. Something like improving our relationship with our family or rededicating ourselves to our health take time and commitment. This is why the myth of an easy fix can be so alluring. But every effort we spend seeking that easy fix, leaves less effort to work on the difficult, complicated things that will actually bring fulfillment.
- Technology will not make us happy, but it can be a useful tool. We cannot simply say “Siri, make me happy.” But we can take an online course that might improve our career, or we can use various media to bring us closer to our loved ones. So perhaps instead of scouring social media wishing our lives were more like those of others, we can send a text to a friend we haven’t spoken to in a while. Or instead of getting sucked into the vortex of youtube videos, we can look for an online course in something we’ve always wanted to learn. Or FaceTime your mom, it will make her happy too.