We’ll begin with a disclaimer: The Hamburger Model doesn’t sanction a hamburger fest. Nope, it’s way more nuanced than that. So what does Harvard’s Dr Ben-Shahar have to say about hamburgers and happiness?
Ben-Shar’s happiness model rests upon his assertion that “When you learn how to live for today and for tomorrow at the same time, you learn how to balance your immediate personal needs with long term goals and enjoy life as you never have before.”
Using a hamburger analogy, the happiness model emphasises how some of our choices will bring immediate satisfaction. Cue the image of a big, juicy, cheesy hamburger. Yum. Ben-Shaham equates that with tasty, short term pleasure. But long term? Not so great. Sure there’s a short term gain but it comes with a long term price. Health, wellbeing and physical fitness are all impacted. Ben-Shaham then offers us the alternative example of a veggie burger. Initially, to some, less appealing. It’s the healthy option, we may have negative feelings about consuming the healthy option over the hamburger but long term, it provides us with multiple benefits. The hamburger model illustrates how we oscillate between healthy-unhealthy options, choices and attitudes in every area of our lives. The happiness model encourages us to refine our choices, identifying options that are both healthy and tasty.
In addition to the hamburger analogy, Ben-Shaham identifies four archetypes;
Nihilism: Nihilists feel that all of the joy has been sucked out of life. They don’t see the point. Present and future benefits don’t exist for the nihilist.
Hedonism: Hedonists are all about the present moment. Whatever brings them pleasure is ok by them. There’s little future thought when they make their decisions and choices.
Rat Racing: This archetype focuses upon future reward at the expense of present pleasure. Deferred gratification is the mantra for the rat racer.
Happiness: This archetype represents balance between the present moment and the future.
Do you recognise your own individual archetype?
By developing our awareness and identifying choices that will increase our happiness, Ben-Shahar argues that we can increase our level of happiness. This model is all about incremental steps, small choices or tweaks that we can make each day to contribute to our overall wellbeing.
Ask yourself: What incremental steps or choices am I able to make today that will provide balance and happiness tomorrow?
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