Will you look back on life and say

“Will you look back on life and say, ’I wish I had,’ or ‘I’m glad I did’?”

—Zig Ziglar, late American author, salesman, and motivational speaker

What percent of the day does the average person seem content, happy, or even joyful? Alternatively, what percent of the day do they go through the motions, feel stuck, or experience regret?

Where do you fit on this spectrum of feelings, day-to-day, week-to-week, or even year-to-year?

Someone once shared the thought that life is a bit like a toilet paper roll. The more life sheets you use, the faster it spins.

EXERCISE:

What steps can and will you take at this point in your life to have many more “I’m glad I did” moments in the years ahead?

My daughter Rachel suggested a wonderful book related to this topic, titled A Million Miles in a Thousand Years – How I Learned to Live a Better Story, by Donald Miller.

Contentment Makes Poor Men Rich

“Contentment makes poor men rich. Discontent makes rich men poor.”

—Benjamin Franklin, American Founding Father

Image of Benjamin Franklin

Image from prachnhachivit.com

Did you know that for over 50 years the citizens in many countries have become wealthier with no increase, and often a decrease, in their levels of happiness?

There is increasing evidence that the effect of income on life satisfaction seems to be transient, with many people seeking the next fix. Perhaps one of the most disturbing examples of this is the phenomenon of hoarding.

Being content, as today’s quote suggests, describes wealth through emotional criteria rather than material criteria.

It is our attitude about who we are and what we have that frames our views on life.

EXERCISE:

Consider exploring the work of Clayton M. Christensen, who wrote the book, How Will You Measure Your Life?

 

Doing what you like is freedom

“Doing what you like is freedom. Liking what you do is happiness.”

—Frank Tyger, late American Editorial Cartoonist and Humorist

Image of an elderly couple sitting on a bench

Image from Unsplash by Matthew Bennett

I am often asked by my contemporaries when I plan to retire. I’ve been coaching for 26 years, and find myself only a handful of years away from collecting Social Security and qualifying for Medicare. I love what I do. The idea of a traditional retirement has very little appeal.

I have, however, observed many people my age pining for the freedom to do their own thing and escape the daily grind of “working for the man,” or simply not enjoying their vocations.

Upon retirement, some individuals find their freedom isn’t always associated with the happiness they expected.

EXERCISE:

As you pursue your personal and professional objectives and purpose, how can you find freedom and happiness by doing more of what you like, and liking more of what you do?

Talents and Deep Gladness

“At what point do my talents and deep gladness meet the world’s deep need?”

Frederick Buechner, American writer & theologian

Aerial view of tropical rainforest with converging rivers, Guyana

Image from thefatherhoodcomission

Imagine two great rivers flowing from their source high in the mountains, where ice and snow melt into the purest waters possible. The names of these rivers happen to be “My Talents,” and “Deep Gladness.”

Many miles away, where the two rivers converge, is the ocean of “What the world needs most,” and the resulting delta could be the Island of Happiness, Fulfillment, and Life Purpose.

EXERCISE:

Where and how can you best channel the naturally flowing aspects of your talents and deep gladness to generously contribute to the world’s deepest needs?

Real Happiness is Cheap Enough

“Real happiness is cheap enough, yet how dearly we pay for its counterfeit.”

—Hosea Ballou, 19th Century American Theologian

Image of book cover "Happier"

In his 2007 book, Happier, Tal Ben Shahar, PhD, introduces us to different archetypes people commonly pursue in their “Happiness Journey.” They include:

The Hedonism Archetype, in which people pursue present pleasure and often experience future detriment.

The Rat Racer Archetype subordinates the present to the future, suffering now for the purpose of some anticipated future gain.

The Happiness Archetype finds enjoyment in their present efforts (i.e. the journey) while also knowing it will lead them to a fulfilling future.

EXERCISE:

What no-cost or low-cost activities, rituals, or daily behaviors provide you with enjoyment and pleasure, while serving you in realizing your personal and professional goals?

How can and will you insert more of these activities into every day, to lead a far happier life?

Happiness is When What you Think

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

—Mahatma Gandhi, 20th Century Indian Activist

Throughout my professional life, I have learned from personal growth and development thought leaders that, “Thoughts Become Things.”

As Wayne Dyer conveyed in his book Manifest Your Destiny, we all have the ability to influence and create our world through our thoughts, words, and actions.

EXERCISE:

Where and how can and will you harmonize your thoughts, words, and actions to manifest greater happiness in your world?

Another one of my favorite Wayne Dyer books on this subject is The Power of Intention.

 

All the Joy I Can Wish

“I wish you all the joy I can wish.”

—William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Act II, Scene 2

Boys jumping in a field

Image by Robert Collins on Unsplash

With the holiday season upon us, and the new year just ahead, Shakespeare’s wish feels quite appropriate.

Take some real time to reflect on the people, things, and experiences that bring you joy and reach out to those you love with extra hugs and the kind words we often neglect.

EXERCISE:

How and where can you share Shakespeare’s wish of joy throughout your communities this holiday season, and all year long?

The Greatest Source of Happiness

“Satisfaction of one’s curiosity is one of the greatest sources of happiness in life.”

—Linus Pauling, 20th Century American Chemist and Author

Image of a boy curiosity

Image from Flickr by Mohammad Abdullah

Rate yourself from one (low) to ten (high) as to your general level of curiosity.

Virtually everyone I ask to do this exercise places themselves in the six to ten range. A few even go beyond ten, to see what happens when they break the rules.

We humans are seekers, always looking around the corner or over the hill to discover what lies beyond our own knowledge and view of the world.

Consider our historic and current explorers.

Examine the risks we as a species have been willing to take to feed this craving, the boost of dopamine, and the feeling of happiness it provides.

EXERCISE:

Where and how can you boost your happiness index by becoming a more curious explorer?

Please reply to this post with the actions you plan to take.

 

A Happy Family is but an Early Heaven

“A happy family is but an early Heaven.”

—John Browning, 19th Century Firearms Designer

Image of a house under a rainbow

For many people – myself included – home and family represent a sanctuary of safety, peace, and happiness. It is a place we expect and usually find security, community, and the love we seek to give and receive.

How much time and attention do you actually give to your family during the work week, as well as on the weekend?

How often do you share meals together without phones, play board games, or engage in deep and meaningful discussions?

Far too many of us operate as ships that pass in the night. We only experience brief moments of togetherness, more often under the same roof, but not together.

EXERCISE:

Where and in what ways can you experience far more “Heaven on Earth” by making your family a more prominent priority each and every day?

To the Wrongs that Need Resistance

“To the wrongs that need resistance, to the rights that need assistance, to the future in the distance, give yourself.”

—Carrie Chapman Catt, 20th Century American Women’s Suffrage Leader

Image of Carrie Chapman Catt & her quote

I love the idea that time is the Coin of Life. How we spend this precious resource, and those with which we spend it, makes all the difference in the world.

Fundamental to living a happy life is the need for purpose and having a reason to leap out of bed each morning. In other words, what are we giving ourselves to each day?

EXERCISE:

Consider these questions as you create and pursue your future:

What “wrongs” in your world need resisting?
What “rights” or causes need your assistance?

Feel free to reply to this post regarding the areas of life you intend to give more of yourself.