What is the secret to happiness ? I believe the key is not to aim for happiness at all. More than 100 years before my generation in the 1960s focused on pursuing happiness, novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne warned of the dangers of doing so. “Happiness in this world happens when it happens,” he observed. Target it and it will lead us to chase the wild goose and it will never be achieved. “Look for another object, and most likely we will find that we have achieved happiness without dreaming.”
I believe Hawthorne was right. I know people who have spent their whole lives in search of happiness. It deceives them from one job to another. As they seek fulfillment, it drives them into debt. He has taken them through multiple marriages.
If you think Hawthorne was right, like me, then what? What is our purpose in life? I want to create an item for a useful life. This is what I try to do. To measure my progress, I look at four things:
The relationships I form
The older I get, the more important relationships become to me. I am naturally a people. I am an extrovert, I enjoy my time with others and most of the time people give me energy. I know not everyone is like that. But I think even the most introverted people will realize the importance of people. Our highest and lowest positions in life include others.
People cannot have a useful real life unless they give their best to their family. For years, my definition of success has been that the people closest to me love and respect me the most. That doesn’t mean I have to be perfect – which is good, because I cannot be. That is, I try to be honest with my spouse, children, and grandchildren and treat them with love.
I also value the relationships I build with my team. As a leader, I have to do more than focus on doing things with and through tayammum. It is my responsibility to help the people who work with me succeed personally, reach their potential, and enjoy the process.
The decisions I make
Little things in life are more important than the decisions you make. What is our life but the culmination of all our choices?
The two main factors that play a role in my decision-making are values and order.
Early in life I decided what my values were. These values basically determine the path I want my life to take. They also help me know where I do not want to go. After making those big decisions, I try to manage them on a daily basis, which requires discipline.
Discipline and decision-making are complementary. If I make a decision without daily discipline, I have a plan that pays off. If I have discipline but have not made important decisions, then I have a regiment without reward. But when I put the two together, I give myself a good chance of success.
The growth I get
When I started my career, I had high visions and dreams. I thought hard work and the right attitude were enough to help me achieve my goals. But I soon realized that the only way to achieve great goals is to grow them.
The day I changed my focus from success to growth, two things happened to me. First, it set me on a path that gained growing potential. The more I grow, the more potential I have. With each stage of growth, I build capacity. I do not use it. Growth is one of the few areas that the more you use it, the more you get back.
Second, by becoming a goal in life, I set a goal that I could always achieve, but it never really came true. How is it possible? Because growth is not a destination. This is a process
While I’m on the subject of growth, I want SUCCESS readers to know that my next book is called 15 Valuable Rules of Growth: Live them and Reach Your Potential. It will be released in October and I will tell you more about it as it approaches.
4. The value I add
The last area I focus on in my quest for a productive life is adding value to people. This has become the main focus of my life. Helping people has been important to me throughout my career, but now my career has become helping people. This is the only way to make a lasting impact in this world.
The pursuit of happiness is inherently a selfish pursuit. If my focus is on being happy, it’s all about me. And I may be tempted to ignore others, exploit them, or use them to get what I want.
In contrast, adding value is inherently selfish. Prioritizes others. This allows me to focus more on what I can do for others instead of what I can do for myself. I do not know you, but I need a reminder not to focus on myself.
Will this shift in focus lead to some upsetting experiences? Yeah. Does he sometimes ask me to make sacrifices? Yeah. Does this sometimes make me feel less happy than the traditional definition of the word? Yeah. But being connected to a goal bigger than myself creates a more valuable kind of happiness, a deeper level of happiness: satisfaction.
If you are focusing on the pursuit of happiness, then I want to challenge you and encourage you to re-evaluate that goal. I believe that if you trade happiness for the four factors that help build a useful life, you will go beyond life and learn to be satisfied in the process.
Last but not the least
When we have a legal problem, we call a lawyer. When the pipes burst, we call a piper. When tax time comes, we make an appointment with our accountant. So why is it that we are so oblivious to procrastination when it comes to one of the most important aspects of our personal and professional lives – being happy? To help make up for lost time, with a range of qualified resources, from lifestyle educators to licensed psychologists, who share a lot of insights and ideas on how to show – and maintain – a smile on your face. They were happy, we consulted. Spring is at your feet.