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Your Happiness Plan

Your Happiness Plan

Blue sign points the way to happiness

    A Quick Survey

    Before we get under way with today’s briefer-than-normal chat, I want to conduct a little research on the run. Put up your hand if happiness is one of your aims in life. And no, participation is not optional at Stepcase Lifehack today. Yep, even you scaredy cats. Okay, keep ‘em up so I can count… 1001, 1002, 1003… yep; that’s all of you. Guessed as much. So it seems that despite the fact that we’re all different people, in different situations, inhabiting different parts of the globe… we have one common goal; happiness.

    Who’da thought?

    But do we Need a Happiness Plan?

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      We create plans to build wealth. And plans to lose weight. Plans for our dream home. Future plans. Travel plans. We plan the academic path that will lead to our ideal career. Or so we think. We plan our wedding (well, some do). Our marriage. Our family (2.3 kids and a Golden Retriever). It seems we have a plan for pretty much anything that’s remotely important in our lives, so why wouldn’t we have a plan for the thing which drives us all: a desire to be happy? Perhaps we think we’ll find it in all our other plans? That is, happiness will be the net result of all the other.. stuff.

      Blaah Central

      If happiness is such a universal pursuit, why does it prove to be so elusive to so many? Dare I say, to the majority? Perhaps not in your (personal) world, but step back a little and take a peek beyond your fence. Take a look around. And not a cursory glance, a proper look. Examine the faces, the body language, the posture. Listen to the conversations, the words, the tone. So much of it reeks of… blaah. So much of it seems to be devoid of happiness.

      Why the Long Face?

      Walk around your city and look people in the eye (don’t get beaten up in the process) and what do you see most? Fear? Uncertainty? Stress? Self-doubt? Frustration? Apathy? If you had to label it, what would you say the dominant emotion is these days? Would it be closer to the positive or negative end of the emotional scale? To be honest, I’m not seeing a whole lot of joy out there lately. Why all the long faces? Why all the busy therapists? Why all the affairs? And body-modifying surgery? And substance abuse? And other addictions? And why all the accumulation of stuff we don’t need with money we don’t have?

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      Could it be that when it comes to the universal goal, we’re missing something crucial? Something massive perhaps? Like the whole point? Could it be we’re looking where happiness ain’t? Perhaps we’re chasing the wrong things? Perhaps we shouldn’t chase at all?

      Could it be that happiness is not to be found in the chasing but rather, in the choosing?

      The Accumulation Lie

      Maybe happiness doesn’t live in places or things? Maybe our happiness methodology and mentality is all wrong? Could it be that we don’t really understand it? Or maybe we don’t recognise it because we’re not sure what it looks like. Perhaps we already have it and don’t know? Perhaps we unknowingly and unintentionally make happiness an impossibility? Perhaps that’s it over there, hiding behind our insecurity, fear and self-doubt? Maybe it’s in the second drawer underneath all our issues? Perhaps it’s obscured by the crap. The cerebral crap. The emotional crap. The human crap. The crap we hold on to. The crap we believe. Perhaps we don’t see it because, like the masses, we have somehow bought into the lie of the ego; the accumulation lie. The when we get enough stuff we’ll be happy paradigm. You know the one. And if we’re not happy, it’s obviously because we need more stuff. Or new stuff. Or different stuff. Or best of all: stuff nobody else has.

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      Bingo.

      Perhaps happiness is not to be found in the chasing, the acquiring, the accumulating or even the planning; perhaps we’ll find it in the letting go. That’s where I find it.

      I’s love to hear your thoughts on happiness. It’s such a universally relevant issue — it might make for some interesting group discussion. Feel free to be as deep, philosophical and/or spiritual as you like. What has your journey taught you? What do you have to teach the rest of us? Could we (the collective mindset) possibly have it wrong? Has your thinking (about happiness) changed over time? If so, how? What have you had to un-learn along the way? Can happiness be a permanent state or will it always be transient? Is happiness a matter of perspective? Is it different things for different people? Is happiness.. joy? Is it contentment? Is it the absence of fear? Or perhaps the absence of pain? What do you think?

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      As always, we’re not about “right or wrong” here at Stepcase Lifehack, we’re all about the respectful sharing of ideas, lessons and experiences. And yes, we’d love to hear from you Newbies and Lurkers too. We don’t bite.

      More by this author

      Craig Harper

      Leading presenter, writer and educator in the areas of high-performance, self-management, personal transformation and more

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      Last Updated on November 5, 2019

      How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

      How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

      Assuming the public school system didn’t crush your soul, learning is a great activity. It expands your viewpoint. It gives you new knowledge you can use to improve your life. It is important for your personal growth. Even if you discount the worldly benefits, the act of learning can be a source of enjoyment.

      “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” — Mark Twain

      But in a busy world, it can often be hard to fit in time to learn anything that isn’t essential. The only things learned are those that need to be. Everything beyond that is considered frivolous. Even those who do appreciate the practice of lifelong learning, can find it difficult to make the effort.

      Here are some tips for installing the habit of continuous learning:

      1. Always Have a Book

      It doesn’t matter if it takes you a year or a week to read a book. Always strive to have a book that you are reading through, and take it with you so you can read it when you have time.

      Just by shaving off a few minutes in-between activities in my day I can read about a book per week. That’s at least fifty each year.

      2. Keep a “To-Learn” List

      We all have to-do lists. These are the tasks we need to accomplish. Try to also have a “to-learn” list. On it you can write ideas for new areas of study.

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      Maybe you would like to take up a new language, learn a skill or read the collective works of Shakespeare. Whatever motivates you, write it down.

      3. Get More Intellectual Friends

      Start spending more time with people who think. Not just people who are smart, but people who actually invest much of their time in learning new skills. Their habits will rub off on you.

      Even better, they will probably share some of their knowledge with you.

      4. Guided Thinking

      Albert Einstein once said,

      “Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.”

      Simply studying the wisdom of others isn’t enough, you have to think through ideas yourself. Spend time journaling, meditating or contemplating over ideas you have learned.

      5. Put it Into Practice

      Skill based learning is useless if it isn’t applied. Reading a book on C++ isn’t the same thing as writing a program. Studying painting isn’t the same as picking up a brush.

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      If your knowledge can be applied, put it into practice.

      In this information age, we’re all exposed to a lot of information, it’s important to re-learn how to learn so as to put the knowledge into practice.

      6. Teach Others

      You learn what you teach. If you have an outlet of communicating ideas to others, you are more likely to solidify that learning.

      Start a blog, mentor someone or even discuss ideas with a friend.

      7. Clean Your Input

      Some forms of learning are easy to digest, but often lack substance.

      I make a point of regularly cleaning out my feed reader for blogs I subscribe to. Great blogs can be a powerful source of new ideas. But every few months, I realize I’m collecting posts from blogs that I am simply skimming.

      Every few months, purify your input to save time and focus on what counts.

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      8. Learn in Groups

      Lifelong learning doesn’t mean condemning yourself to a stack of dusty textbooks. Join organizations that teach skills.

      Workshops and group learning events can make educating yourself a fun, social experience.

      9. Unlearn Assumptions

      You can’t add water to a full cup. I always try to maintain a distance away from any idea. Too many convictions simply mean too few paths for new ideas.

      Actively seek out information that contradicts your worldview.

      Our minds can’t be trusted, but this is what we can do about it to be wiser.

      10. Find Jobs that Encourage Learning

      Pick a career that encourages continual learning. If you are in a job that doesn’t have much intellectual freedom, consider switching to one that does.

      Don’t spend forty hours of your week in a job that doesn’t challenge you.

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      11. Start a Project

      Set out to do something you don’t know how. Forced learning in this way can be fun and challenging.

      If you don’t know anything about computers, try building one. If you consider yourself a horrible artist, try a painting.

      12. Follow Your Intuition

      Lifelong learning is like wandering through the wilderness. You can’t be sure what to expect and there isn’t always an end goal in mind.

      Letting your intuition guide you can make self-education more enjoyable. Most of our lives have been broken down to completely logical decisions, that making choices on a whim has been stamped out.

      13. The Morning Fifteen

      Productive people always wake up early. Use the first fifteen minutes of your morning as a period for education.

      If you find yourself too groggy, you might want to wait a short time. Just don’t put it off later in the day where urgent activities will push it out of the way.

      14. Reap the Rewards

      Learn information you can use. Understanding the basics of programming allows me to handle projects that other people would require outside help. Meeting a situation that makes use of your educational efforts can be a source of pride.

      15. Make Learning a Priority

      Few external forces are going to persuade you to learn. The desire has to come from within. Once you decide you want to make lifelong learning a habit, it is up to you to make it a priority in your life.

      More About Continuous Learning

      Featured photo credit: Paul Schafer via unsplash.com

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