A program director at the
BBC asked Adam Khan, "What are the basic principles of your
work?" Khan's answer was the following:
Human beings need a sense of purpose to
be happy, just as we need Vitamin C to be healthy. The higher
quality the purpose, the more it will contribute to happiness.
By high quality, I mean it should be something you personally
feel is important and valuable or enjoyable, and something you
feel confident you can accomplish.
Simplicity of purpose is important too:
There is a kind of greed that is natural in people. We want more.
And so we keep adding goals to our lives until it starts to stress
us out. You have to constantly prune away the least important
goals to keep a sense of purpose in your life, but not so much
you get up into overwhelm. Read Why a Goal is Good.
If you're trying to be happy, it really
helps to exercise. I see a lot or articles about how walking
the dog and gardening can be considered exercise, but in my experience,
working up a real sweat and breathing hard has a much more dramatic
impact on a general feeling of well-being.
Eating right is also important. Taking
care of your body. It is easier to be happy when the body is
healthy. Read Administration
of Food and Drink and Where
EXPLANATIONS OF SETBACKS
Some ways of explaining setbacks can cause
unnecessary negative emotions that spoil happiness. Specifically,
it is important to train yourself to explain setbacks accurately.
You do this by imposing the discipline of checking your explanations
for mistakes: overgeneralizations, exaggerations, hasty assumptions,
Sometimes you will find your explanations
are neither true or false. Then the explanation needs to be assessed
for its helpfulness.
This area is my hot spot. There has been
a lot of research about it, showing how your explanations can
affect your health and your ability to succeed. I have a few
chapters on that in my book. The chapter called Fighting Spirit tells of an interesting study
Seligman did on the Berkeley swim team. And another chapter,
Healthy, talks a little about the research on your explanations'
impact on your health. Read more about how to change your explanations
to improve your persistence: Antivirus for Your Mind.
INTERACTIONS WITH PEOPLE
third of my book is on dealing
with people. It is so important for happiness. It may be the
most important. Conducting your relationships with openness,
fairness, loyalty, etc., and choosing a few good people to bond
with really makes a difference in how happy you will be. An alignment
of purpose is also important. Conducting your relationships with
deceitfulness will definitely reduce your personal happiness
in the long run. Read Deep
Advertisers are of course interested in
promoting the worldview that happiness comes from acquiring things.
And I think humans have a built-in tendency to want to accumulate
possessions. But this drive can be curbed, and it contributes
to happiness to curb it, because the time and effort it takes
to accumulate a lot of stuff could be better used if what you
want is happiness. Read We've
Being true to yourself, learning to trust
yourself, doing what you feel is right, not doing what you feel
is wrong, speaking honestly: All these are important contributors
to happiness. They help you like yourself, they make a big difference
in the quality of your relations with others, and they will reduce
stress in the long run. Read How to Like Yourself More.
Getting enough time away from other people
is very important. It is calming, it brings sanity and clarity,
and it is essential for the development of integrity. It is very
difficult, if not impossible, to know what is really right for
you, and what you really think and feel about something important,
when you are in the presence of other people. We're social animals,
and we are naturally and strongly influenced by the opinions
of those around us. Going for walks by yourself, and spending
time alone and thinking will make your long term happiness more
likely. Read Solitude