Happiness is an interesting topic.
In part, because most think of it as a destination.
A place to ‘get to…’
That when they do all will be right in their world.
Through this lens, there are two general ways most try to obtain the slippery devil.
- Eudaimonic Approach (Meaning & Purpose)
- Hedonic Approach (Pleasure & Enjoyment)
In reality, neither will bring you the happiness you’re searching for.
An interesting view on entrepreneurial traits (which I'll write about soon - more in Business Psychology).
A hedonic belief focuses on happiness by defining well-being in terms of pleasure attainment and pain avoidance.
This means well-being can, and often is, subjective.
Additionally, there is a cognitive component in which one evaluates their life satisfaction by the prevalence of positive emotions and by a lack of negative ones.
On the eudaimonic side, well-being relates to meaning and self-realization… seen as the full functioning of a person. This is often viewed primarily psychologically… and the focus is on meaning, authenticity and purposefulness.
A hedonic approach can be simplified as moving from external to internal.
A eudaimonic approach can be simplified as moving from internal to external.
You may be leaning towards eudaimonic as the ‘correct’ choice.
Yet neither are right.
Here’s why… and how you can begin to engineer your own happiness.
Alexander the Great got his name for good reason.
He conquered most of the world in ancient history… and all before the age of 32.
He was in no way ordinary - having never lost a single battle in his life.
His ability to plan, strategize and lead was unmatched.
He has been described as being charming, inspiring, and courageous.
Yet what I find most interesting about him is that he was a student of Aristotle.
Shortly before his death, he asked his generals to fulfill three wishes for him.
- His physicians must carry his body alone
- The path to his grave must be marked by gold, silver and precious stones.
- Both of his hands must be kept dangling from his coffin during the procession.
Confused, but not willing to question him, they obliged.
He went on to explain the significance of these three wishes… lessons learned during his lifetime - ones that were significantly influenced by the teachings of Aristotle.
- His physicians must carry his body alone because he wanted everyone to know that no doctor can cure illness, especially when faced with imminent death.
- The path to his grave must be marked by gold, silver and precious stones because what he spent his whole life chasing will have no impact on the next.
- Both of his hands must be kept dangling from his coffin during the procession because we enter and exit this world empty-handed… and that which you attain is nothing compared to who you become.
It’s cliche, but true… all you ever have is the state in which you exist in this moment.
… and it doesn’t require an Alexander the Great sized ego to celebrate your daily wins.
It’s a great parable, and I don’t know the validity of it…
What I do know is that far too often we accomplish great things and instead of celebrating… we lower our energy because we don’t want others to feel bad.
We live in a society where negative emotions are accepted baselines…
… and their positive counterparts are viewed as erratic states for lunatics.
This happens because we perceive success to mean someone's failure.
Instead of success being an example of what’s possible.
This is faulty wiring.
It trains your brain that it’s not *okay to be okay.
That your emotional baseline must exist in the negative.
*You’ve never heard the above, but I guarantee you’ve heard ‘It’s okay to not be okay.’
Most people don’t need a reason to feel like shit, but they need a reason to feel great.
Don’t wait until you achieve your largest target to celebrate.
Instead, celebrate daily…
… so much so that your baseline becomes elevated and your goals ‘just’ happen.
You attract into your life that which you are.
… and you are your repeated thoughts.
Design your ideal state, live in it, and let gratitude steer the ship.
Years ago I decided I was going to remove the word ‘good’ from my vocabulary.
Not because ‘good’ doesn’t exist, but because it’s become a blanket statement for all that is.
How is your day… ‘Good’
How was your vacation… ‘Good’
How did your call with x, y, z client go… ‘Good’
Instead of clearly articulating how we feel, we regress to the mean so as to not rock the boat.
The next time someone asks you how your day is respond with “fucking Incredible!”
… and watch as you’re viewed as an anomaly.
In order to feel different, you must be different.
In order to be different, you must act different.
In order to act different, you must release the desire to be like anyone else.
It will feel frightening at first… because you, deep down, want to be accepted.
Yet do you really want to be known for being the same as everyone else?
People will talk shit about you… until they want to be like you.
Your beliefs become your thoughts
Your thoughts become your words.
Your words become your actions.
Your actions become your habits.
Your habits become your values.
Your values become your destiny.
Try it for a week…
Remove ‘Good’ from your life, and watch as things become exceptional.
I’ve found that anything pertaining to my state requires that I engage my physiology.
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE technology, tools, and tracking…
… but sometimes old school is best.
Get yourself a notebook, and at the end of each day answer the following questions.
- How was I complicit in creating the conditions I say I don’t want today?
- How and when did I show up today as the best version of myself?
- 5 things I was grateful for today are…
- 5 things I learned today are…
- *I use this final question to freeflow for a few minutes whatever is on my mind.
These questions, quite literally, retrain your brain...
... they identify what you don’t want and replace it with that which you do.
There’s a reason it’s 80/20.
… and there’s a reason you do it at the end of the day.
Design the life of your dreams, today.
… and choose the states in which you want to live.
It’s quite simple - and I believe in you.
P.S. Sometimes we must call off the search in order to find what we’re looking for.
Inputs Only - Newsletter
A weekly email of wisdom for life & work.