The Five Disciplines of Happiness

Gustav Klimt
  1. Claim responsibility for your own circumstances. We all face the occasional wild card, whether it comes in the form of a runaway bus, or a priceless art find in the attic. Ultimately, we call the shots on our actions and the interpretation of our circumstances. The choices we make today, we live with tomorrow.

  2. Know thyself. Know your psychological slipping points and tipping points. Life is about relationships. The fundamental relationship is learning how to cooperate with ourselves. Set yourself up for success. If you’re trying to lose weight than surround yourself with healthy, beautiful food. Don’t keep ice cream in the fridge. Skip the ice cream aisle entirely. Skip it three times and you’re on your way to creating a habit. Small habits don’t only accumulate, they spread. Someone sent me an email about a woman who discovered the secret to keeping her house clean. She made sure her kitchen sink was always spotless. I tried it and she’s right! Keep your kitchen sink clean and watch it spread to your counters, and the floor and the dining room table. The same works in reverse. Remember small habits are cumulative.

  3. Way leads on to way. When we choose actions in one direction, doors will open in the spirit of the original choice. Paula Payne Hardin writes about re-marrying in her 50’s. She and her new husband developed the habit of settling down for a drink after dinner. It wasn’t long before one drink became three. They quickly realized they needed to develop a different evening ritual so they mapped out a mile-long route and started to walk after dinner. Over time one mile became two and then three. They met their neighbors, they got healthy. They explored the national parks together, then the walking trails in England. Paula had always held a dream of hiking the Himalayas. While attending grad school she happened to overhear a Napalese student speak about a trek to the Himalayas. They struck up a conversation and he invited her home to meet his wife and children. She writes, “All sorts of coincidences continued to develop until nine months later a motley group of six Americans in their 50’s and 60’s arrived at the trailhead in Gorka.” Way leads onto way. One door always leads to another.

  4. Work toward what you love. The more popular version of this is, do what you love and the money will follow. Maybe, maybe not. If we all loved what we did for a living then there would be no garbage men. (No doubt, some people really like being garbage men. They like watching the sun rise. They get to drive a really big truck.) If we don’t like what we’re doing however, we’re free to work toward something better. It’s working toward the goal that makes us happy.

  5. It’s nice to be nice. I heard a story about a little girl who was pronounced dead after a terrible drowning accident. A team of doctors and nurses finally revived her. When she was asked if she could remember anything about the incident she thought for a moment and said, “I learned that it’s nice to be nice.” This is not a debate about near death experiences and seizure activity in the left temporal lobe of the brain. It’s far simpler than that. It’s about the take away. It’s nice to be nice.

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Blogger Sterling Smith said...

Those are great ideas.

I was thinking about #4 recently. I was watching Dr. Phil or some call-in show where people get answers (I'm pretty sure it wasn't "Talk Sex with Sue Johannsen" though).

Some guy called in and was complaining about not loving his job as much as he though he should. The host said something along these same lines. He said that it's only a very recent social concept of "loving your job". Prior generations didn't think of jobs in this way. They saw a job as an end to a means, not a path to fulfillment. He said that yuppies in the 80's were the first ones who started espousing that you should "do what you love and the money will follow".

It's one that I don't really have to worry about, thankfully. I really enjoyed engineering, and I really enjoy writing. Maybe I'm a product of that social programming, but I don't think so.

8:24 PM  
Blogger GTV said...

I love Technology... I've worked in the travel industry, financial industry and the accounting industry... In Technology.

Let me know what you HATE doing the most in life so I can suggest that you do it 5 days a week for the next 50 years...

Npw... Have you finished writing down and proofreading all the reason why you think my suggestion is stupid? Good... When you have a job that you feel is a "means to an end" then you're list is not for me... It's for you...

1:02 AM  
Blogger Sterling Smith said...

To Gerard's comment: Huh?

9:42 PM  
Blogger GTV said...

To Sterling Smith's comment: I was drunk. At least I hope I was drunk because even I have no idea what I was trying to say!

Man... I just hope I'm an asshole only when I'm drunk!! :(

6:02 PM  
Blogger Tracy O said...

No worries Gerard. It takes a big man to admit when he's drunk. :)

7:18 PM  
Blogger Sterling Smith said...

Yeah Gerard no worries. I guess everyone has had some idea when they were "under the influence" that sounds perfectly reasonable and eloquent, but if you look at it later, you wonder "what the heck was I thinking?"

Tracy, I wonder how it would affect your writing if you wrote while drunk? Might be a good experiment.

7:47 PM  
Blogger GTV said...

If it's anything like what I wrote I suggest you save it as a draft first and re-read it when you sober up! Since I'm sober now I think that's what I'm going to do from now on... I just don't think I'm going to remember to do that when I'm drunk again! One of Life's Little Paradoxes!

9:40 AM  

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