Five Principles for Happiness in 2007
Tuesday, January 2, 2007
The arrival of the new year marks a symbolic time for fresh starts. Many of us take it as an opportunity to set goals, contemplate decisions, and renew commitments. It’s special because of the revitalized sense of hope it brings.
Before you make your New Year’s resolutions for 2007, I’d like to share some thoughts about how it’s never too late to start living a rich life.
The Live Rich Factor
Most people believe that if they just had more money, the things that make them unhappy would disappear and their lives would be better. The truth is that your life can be better without more money. It can be better today, but you need to make some decisions and take some actions.
You don’t need me to tell you what will make you happy — only you know that truth.
I believe each of us has the power to discover our purpose and become joyful in the process of journeying toward that purpose. It’s not easy, however. Nothing important and meaningful ever is.
What you need to do is create what I call the "Live Rich Factor" in your life. I call it this because those who find the purpose that leads them to joy are truly the luckiest people in the world, because they’re living richly.
There are five basic principles involved in creating your Live Rich Factor:
Principle 1: Give Yourself a Break
We all tell ourselves the story of the one that got away. You can’t move forward if you spend time focusing on what you shoulda-woulda-coulda done in 2006 or before. It’s over, and its time to move on. The fastest way I know to do this is to write all of your regrets down on paper.
Make a list of all your personal and financial if-onlys. For example, "If only I had saved more money. If only I hadn’t quit that job. If only I hadn’t taken the job I have." You get the idea.
After reading the list aloud to yourself, get rid of it. Let it all go by literally burning the list (safely). Now you’re ready for a fresh start in 2007 — a new beginning.
Principle 2: Get Connected with Your Truth
The hardest thing to do is be honest with yourself. Asking yourself some key questions will lead you to some amazing discoveries, and possibly motivate you to do what it takes to create the life you envision for yourself.
I suggest writing your (honest) answers to the following questions in a new journal for the new year:
- What makes you happy at work?
- What makes you happy at home?
- What makes you happy with your friends and family?
- What makes you happy when you’re by yourself?
- What do you love to do?
- What would you do with your life today if you weren’t afraid of failure?
- What’s not working in your life?
- What are you currently doing that prevents you from experiencing joy?
- What’s working in your life?
- Who’s not working in your life?
- Who in your life is subtracting value from and adding misery to it?
- Can you fix any of these relationships, or should you let them go from your life?
- What relationships are working in your life?
- If we were getting together one year from today, what would have to happen for you to be able to tell me that you now have more joy in your life?
- What’s the single most important thing you’ve learned about yourself as a result of answering these questions?
You’ll find that by putting your answers down on paper, they’ll become clear more quickly and the actions you need to take more obvious and easier to initiate.
Principle 3: Stop Judging Yourself
Be nicer to yourself in 2007. Many people talk to themselves in a way they would never accept from a stranger, friend, or loved one. If this describes you, try stopping the negative conversations you have with yourself immediately.
For one week, simply commit to saying "stop it" when you think a negative thought about yourself. If you’re in the habit of saying negative things to yourself, you’ll find this is one of the most difficult exercises you’ll ever do. Carry a notepad with you and make a mark each time you catch yourself thinking negatively. You’ll find that as the days go by, your negative thinking can quickly be reduced.
Principle 4: Stop Judging Others
It’s hard to be joyful when you’re always judging others. In fact, it’s close to impossible. Judging others creates a huge amount of stress in our lives. It affects our marriages and our relationships with our kids as well as the way we relate to friends, co-workers, and society in general.
We’re not here to judge one another.
The next time you find yourself upset at someone or some situation, catch yourself and ask, "Are you judging?" Judging others is often an unconscious habit. But it’s a habit that can be changed the moment you decide to stop doing it.
Principle 5 : Pursue Fun with a Vengeance
It’s OK to pursue fun. It’s what children do. My greatest joy these days is the simple pleasure of playing with my three-year-old son, Jack.
This holiday season with Jack taught me the simple power of pursuing fun — again and again. What was fun for Jack this Christmas? It turns out it wasn’t the Big Wheel that my wife, Michelle, and I stayed up so late building on Christmas Eve. And it wasn’t the Star Wars Lego toy (although he was pretty excited about that).
Instead, what Jack found the most fun was a new game I made up to keep him entertained. The game was called Geronimo — and it involved Jack jumping from the bed onto a stack of pillows yelling "Geronimo!" This silly little game ended up bringing us both hours of fun. The price of the game: nothing. The fun: priceless. And the laughs? Endless.
Why do we stop pursing fun as we get older? Fun shouldn’t be squeezed into a few weeks of vacation each year. And it shouldn’t be squeezed into the last chapter of your life when you "get to" retire. Fun deserves to be a part of your life now — in 2007.
But fun doesn’t just happen. You have to make it a priority in your life or it’ll go missing. Life’s too short to not have it.
So here’s to a fun, happy, and healthy New Year. Cheers!