Why the Pursuit Brings Happiness

In this week’s issue of Time magazine there is a fascinating article on the “Happiness of Pursuit“. The article focuses on the culture in the United States. Why is it so hard for Americans to be happy when it was declared as part of their independence? Part of the problem is that thing inside our skulls. In a research study at Harvard and Boston University an analysis showed that search or pursuit feels better than the seeing the finished product. This is why we enjoy shopping rather than buying. This is why hunting is more fun than bagging the prey. There is a reason politicians have a much better time running for office that holding it. Personally, starting a new project and getting it off the ground is more enjoyable than finishing it off and moving on. Why is this?

Why the Pursuit Brings Happiness

The grass is always greener on the other side. This is a saying I have heard for as long as I can remember. As a young boy, a teenager and even a college student I could not grasp the true meaning. As a business professional and a man who has been in out of too many relationships to count, I can now say that I understand the underlying meaning that the grass is always greener on the other side. In the last several months I have learned quite a bit from a volunteer experience at a local retirement community. One of the most important things I learned was to appreciate what we have.

You will never have it all. There will always be someone who is stronger, more athletic, smarter, richer, wiser or more successful. No matter how much money you have, there will always be opportunities to earn more. No matter how many followers you have on a social media website, there will be more that sign up every single day. This is a tough pill to swallow for those of us that are “numbers” people. We find a way to assign a number to anything and this causes problems when we are pursuing personal happiness.

The studies by researchers at Harvard and Boston University illustrate that the pursuit is more enjoyable than the final product because serotonin and dopamine are considered feel good neurotransmitters. The more you have of them, the happier you are. “In the case of immigrants the power of the chemicals is that they regulate what researchers straightforwardly call search activity; forward looking behavior that often occurs in the pursuit of a specific goal. Searching activity simply feels good.”

I think we can all agree that searching for something stimulates the brain in a way like nothing else. Once the search is complete we are almost let down. The pursuit brings about the happiness. Unfortunately, once the pursuit is complete we must find something else to stimulate our brains. This makes it quite difficult to cherish what we already have. As an American, we are breed to pursue bigger and better things as this is the only way to be happy. Right?

Enjoy the Pursuit, But Enjoy Life Even More

I am an individual that loves nothing more than challenging myself – both physically and mentally. I admit that the pursuit is amazing. The increased heart rate while just starting that workout is a surreal experience. After the work out is over I expect to feel better but it rarely happens. We have all heard of “runner’s high”. If you have ever felt it you know how extraordinary the experience can be. Once you stop running it disappears immediately.

The same happens when it comes to mental stimulation. When starting that new project there is a special feeling that puts you in a state of bliss. You are willing to work long hours into the night just to get the project off the ground. Once things are up and running there is an urge to find this state of happiness again. Unfortunately, the completed work does not bring about the same happiness. We enjoy seeing our companies thrive but there is always the next best thing just around the corner.

Finding a way to enjoy the pursuit while also stepping back and enjoying life can be a difficult process for Americans. It is not all our fault. We have been breed to figure out the next best thing. Even though this is true, I urge you to step back and enjoy what you have created. Take a moment to realize you just ran a mile under six minutes. Do not think about breaking five minutes and 50 seconds. Step back and look at the successful project you completed. Try not to think about the next one that will be getting started tomorrow. It will help you to achieve true happiness.…

Why the Google Waze $1.3 Billion Purchase Was Smart

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When I see Google Waze I cannot help but think of Google Wave which was a complete disaster. Let us hope that Google Waze does not follow in the footsteps of Wave. This morning, June 9th, 2013, I woke up to news that Google was on the brink of closing the books on a $1.3 billion acquisition of Waze. Just two weeks ago rumors were swirling that Facebook and Apple were both interested in this GPS crowd sourcing application. In the end, Google made a very smart decision by outbidding the competition.

Google Owns Maps and Navigation

It is hard to imagine what Tom Tom and Garmin are thinking right now. When I was driving around as a teenager I was so excited to finally get my hands on a GPS system that actually worked. It was one of those Garmin box type devices. In less than a decade the GPS industry has changed completely. With the use of smartphones and tablets most drivers are not willing to fork over $129 for a device that is strictly GPS based. They want a device that can be used to surf the web, play games, run apps and pretty much anything else that a computer can do. in 2013, they have that option.

Apple attempted to create a Google-less phone not too long ago. They encouraged Apple iOS users to use Apple Maps. I think we can all agree that was a failure. As soon as Google Maps came out for the latest iOS update it was the #1 app downloaded. Apple users were craving a GPS application that actually worked. I know, what a novel idea. Google displayed their dominance of maps with this little escapade but there is one area that Google does not dominate with maps and GPS – crowd sourcing.

Waze has been touted as the best crowd sourcing navigation app on the planet. The ability to get instant notifications on traffic issues is invaluable. We have all been driving on the Interstate only to see red lights about half a mile ahead. In that split second we have to decide if we are going to exit and take another route or sit in traffic and hope the accident has been cleaned up. If you are like me, you want to know your options as quickly as possible.

With Waze you would have known about the accident and traffic jam three minutes ago. This would have allowed you to take a detour and get to your destination in a much more timely manner. Waze is a social network for drivers. Crowd sourcing traffic data is extremely important to Google and every other Internet company. What most people do not realize is the data collection that is available through this app.

Waze is a Gold Mine for Google

While all these drivers are out and about avoiding accidents they are running the app which is tracking their location. This gives Waze information on their most commonly traveled routes and roads. Google already has the data as to what businesses are on these roads. The next time you have to take a detour from I-40 Google knows that you will pass three Starbucks locations and two Panera Bread locations. Google also knows that you love to eat sandwichs as you looked up unique sandwich recipes just last week. Ding. Ding. Ding.

Another value of Waze is the online gaming integration. I was part of the Ingress addiction for about two months and I can tell you that people love to drive around playing games if there is an incentive. I saw many adult men and women driving hundreds of miles to play Ingress. In fact, one individual saved up a weekly allowance for gas to drive great distances to play this game. If there is an incentive to drive around, people are going to do it.

Google vs Facebook

I first heard that Facebook wanted to purchase Waze several weeks ago. I chuckled as I wondered how they were going to integrate a mapping app into their ecosystem. After a few days went by I heard about Google being interested in Waze. I completely understood Google being interested as it is a search engine and mapping company. At the time, I knew Google would outbid Facebook because Facebook is running out of money quickly. Facebook has sunk millions into Facebook Home and other silly projects that cannot even get off the ground.

Google prints money with their Internet Advertising as they have over $50 billion in cash sitting around. Google has been very smart to save up this cash for a purchase like Waze. Even though Waze might not be valued at $1.3 billion today, Google will make much more in the long run. Just ask them about that YouTube acquistion.…