“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed…”

“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.”

—Denis Waitley, American motivational speaker

Image from Unsplash by Constantinos Panagopoulos

Did you know that Harvard University has a course on happiness?

Think about it.

The students of one of the most prestigious universities in the world want to learn what’s involved in living a happy life, and don’t want to wait for some day down the road to begin their journey.

The fact that extrinsic recognition, rewards, and accomplishments alone never seem to do the trick is surprising to many people. It is our inner journey and the pursuit of intrinsic factors that provides the fulfillment we all seek.

EXERCISE:

Please pick up a copy of the book Happier, by Tal Ben-Shahar, PhD, which provides the backbone information for Harvard’s most popular course.

You can also look into the work of Martin Seligman, PhD, author of Authentic Happiness, for additional guidance into living a happier life.

“Happiness held is the seed; happiness shared is the flower.”

“Happiness held is the seed; happiness shared is the flower.”

—John Harrigan, writer, director and performer

Image from Unsplash by Yuriy Garnaev

Did you know that Norway is considered one of the happiest places on the planet? The CNN special Chasing Life, hosted by Dr. Sanji Gupta, recently highlighted a small town 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle.

Despite the frigid temperatures and the complete darkness November through January, most people interviewed described themselves as a 9 or 10 on the Happiness Scale.

A critical component to their happiness was the focus on the level of family and community engagement.

In Norway, after the birth of a child, a parent receives 80% of their wages and a full year off of work to focus on raising the child. If they choose to take off only ten months, they receive 100% of their wages.

EXERCISE:

Where can and will you plant the seeds of happiness in your community gardens, so that you can share the flowers of happiness with those you care about and love?

One of life’s small pleasures is to return something to its proper place

“One of life’s small pleasures is to return something to its proper place.”

—Gretchen Rubin, American author and speaker

Image of tools properly aligned

Image from Unsplash by Florian Klauer

I am an Amazon Prime subscriber. One of my most common purchases, as you may know from reading The Quotable Coach blog, is books.

One of the criteria I use to confirm my instincts about a purchase is the number of high review scores on Amazon.

To receive over one hundred is respectable; over 500 is quite significant. To have over 1,000 is remarkable given the abundance of books and our reasonably short span of interest.

The book, “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” has over 13,000 reviews. Over 80% of them are four or five star ratings. They must be on to something!

EXERCISE:

Where and in what ways could bringing a bit more order into your world increase your life satisfaction and happiness? Of course, please investigate the excellent work by Gretchen Rubin, including The Happiness Project, which has over 1,600 reviews, of which 79% are four or five stars.

 

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?