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Friday, September 21, 2012

Are You Happy?

I love it when people ask me that.

This is gonna be an organized ramble, so here's the key takeaways / premises before we begin:
  1. There is no One Happiness..... Overall Happiness is made up of a lot of Little Happinesses (I think I just made up a new word - plural of happiness)
  2. It is important to Identify and Prioritize these Areas or Zones of Happiness.
  3. Do an Investigation of Yourself to Determine Your Cornerstone of Happiness (can I trademark that phrase - Cornerstone of Happiness?) This is the one thing that, above all others, affects your own happiness.
  4. Work Ruthlessly and Without Reservation or Compromise on that Cornerstone of Happiness.
  5. Hint.... It's ______ . Sorry - you'll have to read the rest of the post.
So - back to the question....

Are You Happy?

First of all, you have to take the question in context.

Is the person just asking how your day is or are they close enough to you to really be asking that question with some degree of interest?

There's about umpteen responses to that question from my perspective.

Second, you have to understand that when someone asks you "Are You Happy?", what they're usually saying is....

"You don't seem very happy and I want you to tell me about it so I can hear all about the pain you're going through and rejoice in how wonderful my life is ..... but since I'm a networker and a follower of the Socratic method, I'm gonna use this stupid question and answer thing".

So my first response is to just say.... "Huh?"

Third, people who ask this are freakin' clueless mainly because they don't comprehend the concept that....

Happiness is a Many Splintered Thing.

So my second response to the third point is "Happy about what?"

The cup of coffee I just had?

What comes after the cup of coffee I just had (especially if it's the first cup of the day)?

My bodyfat level?

The balance in my 401k?

My relationship with my daughter?

My career?

My efforts to achieve world peace?

I mean come on, People... Life is a little more complex and Happiness is a little more Subject Matter dependent to just lump it into one resounding "Yes.... I"m Happy".

So, it's kinda like the Budget I talked about in a prior post, you have to put some weighting and priority on the different areas in your life from which Happiness is derived.

What is the Most Important Thing to You?  What is it that more than anything makes you tick?  What is it that Brings Joy and Peace to Your World?  What do you have to have on a frequent and routine basis to consistently succeed and consider yourself happy?  What makes you feel good about yourself and helps you be the best in the World around You?

Ask 10 different people and you'll get 10 different lists..... but you need to go through this exercise with yourself.

Take the time to list out the things that make or break your happiness.... and then number them in order of importance / priority.  This may take a few iterations but you'll end up narrowing it down and getting to a final tally.

Here's a few items to get you started.

Relationships - with God or Higher Being, partner or spouse, children, parents, friends, co-workers.

Hobbies and Passions - Hunting, Fishing, Camping, Hiking, Cycling, Stamp Collecting, Dancing, Cooking, Chess, Sewing, Music Playing, Music Appreciation.

Health and Lifestyle - Exercise, Stress Control, Weight Control, Diet, Relaxation.

Career, Finances, Social and Economic Status, Charitable Giving - Job, Debt, House, Car, Discretionary Income, Community Service.

And on and on....

So Pick Your Poison and Pick Your Pleasure.... and Prioritize Your Efforts and Time on those things that make you the happiest.

Now let me caution you.... this little exercise may cause you to think a little bit and it may challenge the ideas and concepts that society and ones close to you have put upon you or that you've put on yourself and it may make you uncomfortable....

And it may change your Life and your Life's Direction.

Because you may find that the things that you've been spending the most time and energy on was making other people happy but leaving you without personal satisfaction and fulfillment.

Let me give you a personal example.

It's taken me a long time to realize that the most important element of my overall personal happiness is being healthy and fit... and not just fit, but really fit and looking good.

Everything else in my life flows from that.

Call it whatever you want - Vanity,  Selfishness, Ego.... blah blah blah.... and wrong wrong wrong.

You see, I'm no good to anybody or anything unless I'm exercising, eating right and maintaining a good sleep cycle.

Sacrifice that and I become less than what I should be.... less than what I can be.

From that single element comes the ability to serve others, to do my job, to think clearly and make good decisions that affect others and my own future.

My Health and Well Being is the foundation of my happiness.

I can be unhappy, dissatisfied and seeking change about other aspects of my life but as long as I am healthy and fit, I can deal with it... and I can work to improve those areas of unhappiness.

Notice I said "areas of unhappiness".

To some extent, you have to compartmentalize your unhappiness.  Identify what specifically it is that is making you unhappy and figure out what you can do about it.

Let me give you an example of how recognizing and focusing on your "Cornerstone of Happiness" can affect other "Areas of Happiness" in your life.

I talk too much.... especially when I should be listening.... I have a tendency to interrupt other people and introduce comments or dialog that is less than conducive to furthering a relationship with the person I'm talking to.  My mind's always working and I'm listening to what they're saying and a thought pops into my head based on what I'm hearing and I figure they need to hear it.

And that pisses people off which negatively affects the relationship which ends up in the end making me unhappy.

You know what?  When I'm working out and eating right and managing my stress better, I am much calmer and more apt to just sit and listen to a person drone on about their kids or their work or their dogs.... when I'm really thinking I wish this person would just shut up or talk about something else.... but I can just calmly listen and respect the person and what they're saying and, in the end, build and nurture the relationship.

You know why?  Oh - you wanna hear the details?

Because everything is right on the inside.... my insulin and corresponding blood sugar level is not blipping all over the place because I just got through eating a big piece of pie or a bowl of pasta or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (Geez - do I miss those)..... I got all kinds of endorphins and encephalins floating around in my brain and my blood because those are secreted as natural pain killers and relaxants when you work out hard.

I guess you can call it "Trickle Down Happy-nomics".

I'm healthy....I'm happy about that.... It improves how I deal with other aspects of my life.... and I achieve happiness in those and pretty soon I got a lot of happy areas in my life.

You know what else?  Truth be known..... Everybody would be a lot happier if they took care of themselves.

Sound selfish..... Nope, You are Wrong!

The most Self-Less thing you will ever do is....

Take Care of Yourself..... and Be Happy!

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