One sentence is enough to explain any truth worth remembering.
I will uphold my values of freedom and independence and strive to create an environment where I have complete autonomy. I will keep things organized. I will make things simple. I will laugh and endeavor to make others laugh with me. I will act with integrity in all my actions, being honest and fair and always trying to do the right thing. I will at all times attempt to use good judgment, common sense, and wisdom. I will remain a life long learner and always seek to broaden my body of knowledge. I will help when I can, however I can. I will be dependable to those who rely on me. I will be authentic and take responsibility for the direction of my own life. I will create my own meaning and purpose. I will seek only internal justification. I will participate and engage with life. I will remind myself that I will die. I will express gratitude for those things that move me. I will never stop asking the big questions. I will let go of the idea that the world needs to be rational. I will be prepared. I will think less and do more. I will do what makes me proud.
As you walk the trail of life you will constantly look up to see the next mountaintop to scale, the next river to ford, or the next plain to cross. There is no end to this quest. There will always be another distant thing at which you are grasping, slightly out of your reach.
Happiness is not a destination. Happiness is a byproduct.
Humans evolved to survive and reproduce, not to be constantly happy. Happiness is the drip meted out to you any time you do something your body deems pleasureful. It is the drug used to stimulate you and condition you to keep seeking those things that allow you to survive and reproduce. If happiness were a destination and you could somehow “find” that one thing then you would perish shortly thereafter. If eating chocolate ice cream brought perpetual happiness then those people who found it would simply stop doing anything else. They would die and eventually the gene for the feeling of perpetual happiness would evolve itself out of human biology.
Happiness should never be a goal. You should not expect nor want to experience it all the time. It is a fleeting feeling, transient, and momentary. As soon as it is gone you will wonder what happened to it. If you become addicted to chasing it then not only will you fail in that quest – you’ll spend your few moments of happiness trying to figure out how to hold on to it, not let it go, or prolong it. Those thoughts will destroy your ability to experience that happiness in the moment. You will be doomed to a life of seeking that which you cannot have by virtue of your fear of losing it or your belief that somehow you should own it forever.
No, happiness is a byproduct of living a life based on your values. Living authentically. Making your own meaning. If your self reflection is clear, your intent pure, and your aim is to do rather than to seek then and only then will you be rewarded with moments of pure happiness.
Release the expectation to be happy all the time and it will find you. Release the need to be happy all the time and it will find you. When it finds you it will be a surprise and one that you will be able to enjoy in the moment. You will allow it to come and go as it pleases without attempting to hold on. That will make it all the sweeter.
There is no happiness to be found at the top of a mountain, or the other side of a river, or the distant side of a plain. Happiness can be found in each footstep between here and there, if only you weren’t looking for it.
This is the first post in a series that I am going to create that is intended to be advice I would offer my twenty-something self were I able to go back in time and have those conversations.
I love golf. If you’ve never played golf you may not realize just how difficult it is to swing a golf club consistently and strike the ball consistently over time. Sometimes you can go an entire round and not feel like you swung the same way twice. It can be maddening. Mastering the sport takes as much mental energy as physical athleticism.
Learning about the golf swing is relatively easy. There are millions of online articles, illustrations, and videos to show you everything there is to know about the perfect golf swing. The problem is that this type of learning is thinking and not doing. Watching golf videos makes you feel like your making progress towards a better golf swing but you’re not. Reading about the perfect grip or take away conjures up images in your head that you can be that guy that dominates your local muni course. But those are simply thoughts, some might even say delusions. You will never become an excellent golfer, or excellent anything for that matter, by only thinking about it.
Visualization is okay. Simply thinking is not. Thinking and thinking and thinking about being a better golfer without getting out on the range and doing focused, deliberate practice is going to lead to more misery. So learn what you can from all that stuff but be damn sure you get out into the physical world and start doing it. Don’t let the plethora of information out there about what you want to accomplish assist you in thinking your way to inaction.