Entrepreneurship and Lifelong Happiness Babson Thought & Action
Bestselling author and acclaimed social scientist Dr. Arthur C. Brooks had just begun detailing how Babson students, staff, faculty, parents, alumni, and entrepreneurs of all types College can maintain lifelong happiness when they start talking turkey, both literally and metaphorically. .
“In the next few minutes, I will introduce you to the amazing world of neuroscience and social science and human happiness. And, if I do my job, you’re going to have a 401(k) plan for your happiness. Just like I have one for me,” Brooks said during a nearly hour-long chat on campus Tuesday night.
The free presentation, which packed Knight Auditorium, was hosted by the Butler Institute for Free Enterprise Through Entrepreneurship.
Brooks, who writes a regular column for Atlantic on happiness and loneliness in the age of the pandemic, then compared happiness to a well-rounded Thanksgiving meal of pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes and, of course, turkey.
“Now why am I talking about it?” Because it’s a good metaphor for happiness. All foods are made up of three micronutrients: fats, carbohydrates and proteins,” he said. “Happiness requires three macronutrients in abundance and in balance. They are pleasure, satisfaction and purpose.
The vivid images of Thanksgiving captured the imagination of Amanda Blein, a future Babson student from Haiti who came to the event with her mother and sister.
“I never really thought of it like that, but when he said it, it made sense,” said Blein, who stayed after the event to have a free copy of Brooks’ latest book signed. “We really need that balance to have it all together.”
The importance of entrepreneurship
Brooks’ bestseller—From Strength to Strength: Finding Success, Happiness, and Deep Purpose in the Second Half of Life– examines what makes most people happy and what they need to do to cultivate happiness as they age. Much of its response involves innovation and entrepreneurial skills.
“Throughout my academic career, I have studied entrepreneurship. It’s something that’s extremely important to me because it’s important to all of us. For those of you who are American like me, it’s at the heart of this country’s DNA,” Brooks said. “The idea of opportunity and limitless adventure is at the heart of entrepreneurship. And, I think one of the most important characteristics, the most important ingredient of entrepreneurship is happiness.
“The idea of opportunity and limitless adventure is at the heart of entrepreneurship. And, I think one of the most important characteristics, the most important ingredient of entrepreneurship is happiness.
Arthur C. Brooks, best-selling author and renowned social scientist
Brooks spent much of his presentation breaking down these three key ingredients to happiness. Pleasure, he says, is more than just pleasure, it is a well-deserved pleasant experience shared with your loved ones. Whereas success, he said, is actually about wanting less. Otherwise, you’re constantly focusing on things you don’t have, instead of embracing the things you do.
“It won’t come naturally,” Brooks said. He tries to cross things off his so-called to-do list every year, not by doing them, but by letting them go. “I’m making a strategic plan to free myself from these attachments, and if you do, it will change your life.”
Finding Purpose in Business
This wasn’t the first time Brooks’ work had been discussed on the Babson campus. Andrew Corbett, director of the faculty at the Butler Institute who introduced Brooks on Tuesday evening, hosted a screening and student discussion of Brooks’ documentary, The pursuitat the Sorenson Center for the Arts in 2020. The film details the positive role of free enterprise and capitalism in the fight against poverty.
Brooks’ beliefs, also detailed last night and throughout his 11 books, join those of the Butler Institute, established in 2020 by the family of John Butler ’52, P’84. The Butler Institute at Babson College explores the role of business in public policy, providing a space for business to work with government and society to find new ways to solve global problems.
And this is where the final ingredient of happiness – purpose – takes a boost. Work can only be meaningful, Brooks said, if it is meaningful. It means that achievements and hard work are rewarded and work improves the lives of others in some way.
“That’s why I’m such a passionate entrepreneur and passionate about the American free enterprise system, not because it’s perfect, but because it creates deserved success,” Brooks said. “Nothing is better for deriving happiness from work than entrepreneurship and free enterprise.”
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