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December 21, 2017

On Finding Happiness

I’ve always been interested in productivity and personal growth. It’s not uncommon to find me in the self-help section of a used book store thumbing through books on productivity hacks, mindfulness, meditation, how to be more successful and the like.

So often these kinds of books are an interesting mix between psychology, philosophy, science, and pragmatism. The latter being key because what use would personal development be without offering up a practical way to integrate what we have learned about this human experience.

Furthermore, I find that the path of personal reflection runs parallel to living a fulfilling and meaningful life. For without learning, growth, and change, life would be not only boring. It would be stagnant.

 

Reading Between the Lines

After having a major personal setback in 2016 I found myself asking questions like, “What does true happiness look and feel like?” “How can I structure my life to enable happiness and experience it more often?”  “What does it mean to be happy?”

As a result, I took it upon myself to make 2017 a year for personal growth. I did a lot of reading about happiness and sought to dig deeper into what we have discovered about the truth of happinesses.

Hollywood paints for us a very skewed perspective of what it looks like to be happy. To boot, the capitalistic nature of our modern world makes us think that we can find fulfillment in things or the status that we achieve. We consciously know that it’s not that simple but it’s so easy to get caught up in popular culture’s fast moving current.

Although happiness can be complex, it doesn’t have to be impossible, unrealistic, or unattainable. We all deserve it but just because we want it doesn’t mean that it is granted. Like any valuable skill in life, it takes effort and practice to get better at it and a little training can go a long ways to help us get there.

 

Three Books on Happiness

When we make small changes in our daily lives we broaden our perspective of who we are and how we show up in the world. I like to think of it as, broader perspectives gives us a greater range of experience to behold; narrow-mindedness is both limiting to our own potential and the possibilities in life.

Here are my top book recommendations that motivated me this year to expand myself. These books inspired me to take stock in what already makes my life meaningful and I stumbled across a few universals about what it truly means to be happy.

Money matters, but less than we think and not in the way that we think. Family is important. So are friends. Envy is toxic. So is excessive thinking. Beaches are optional. Trust is not. Neither is gratitude. – Eric Weiner

The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World by Eric Weiner

Happiness: A Very Short Introduction by Daniel Haybron

The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living by Dalai Lama

 

Happy, Content, and Grateful

When it comes down to it, life doesn’t need to be as complex as we make it out to be. At the root of so many of our personal struggles is excessive worry, high expectations, and unreasonable self doubt. It’s a slippery slope into overthinking our predicament which leads us to second guessing who we are and why we are here.

Don’t fall for it!

Life is hard and no one said it would ever be easy. But that’s ok. There is so much to be grateful for when you develop yourself and evolve your perspective. Life has always been about balance, walking the line, and riding the wave.

As a friend once said to me, “forget about all the head winds that you’re up against and remember all the tail winds that brought you to where you are now!”

 

Bonus

Although these books aren’t directly about happiness per say, they are a great add-on to learning more about yourself and enhancing your life perspective.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson

Think Straight: change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life by Darius Foroux

 

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