Friday, May 26, 2017

What Makes You Happy?

Mo Gawket, author of Solve for Happy: Engineer Your Path to Joy and CBO at Google X, realized for all his success, he wasn't happy. In fact, increased wealth seemed to contribute to more unhappiness. After a lot of research, he came up with a mathematical formula for permanent happiness! Thirteen years later, he got to apply the formula with the unexpected death of his son.

Happiness is greater than or equal to your perceptions of events in your life minus your expectations of how life should be.

His algorithm seems accurate. I guess if you don't know how to be happy, or if you're not clear on what makes you happy, then Gawket's book might be worth a read. 

Without reading his book, here is what I know for sure about my happiness. First, a couple of self-discipline practices I have to contribute to my happiness:

The practice of being honest with myself. I continuously try to be aware and work on overcoming my self-deception. I ask for feedback from others beginning with, "How am I doing?"

The practice of avoiding comparing myself to others. I recognize I am one of a kind. I practice loving myself just as I am, but I don't stop practicing on improving! I celebrate my uniqueness and victories and overcoming my failures.

The practice of being mindful of the ordinary and finding the extraordinary in the ordinary. Running water out of the kitchen faucet is incredible! Duct tape, pocket knives and dryer sheets are life changing!

The practice of being mindful in the company of others. I try to be interested rather than interesting. I avoid judging others, especially if they have different beliefs, ideas or opinions.

I practice simplifying. Letting go of things and not owning means more living. I pay attention to how stuff impacts me. More stuff—more time I have to spend paying attention to it and its upkeep. More living space—more cleaning, bigger carbon footprint. More clothes—more closets. My one exception ... more books, more bookshelves!

The practice of Carrpe Diem! is gratitude. There is so much I have, so little I need. I practice being mindful of who and what is in my life. Being grateful for what I have brings me joy and happiness. 

The practice of Carrpe Diem! is also about forgiveness and asking for forgiveness. I am an imperfect, scarred, mistake-prone human being. I step on landmines of others and cause pain. To ask and receive forgiveness, is another start to happiness.
What makes me happy? 

- Waking up before sunrise, before the birds are singing and celebrating a new day of possibilities! 
- Watching my glass fill with water from the kitchen faucet and then drinking it! 
- Taking Jackson for a walk before the sun rises.
- Wrapping both hands around that first mug of delicious coffee, smelling its aroma, and taking that first sip. 
- Seeing people smile after I have smiled at them. 
- Hearing someone say or receiving a note telling me I made a difference in their life.                                                                       
Marion's Piazza
- Handwriting a note to someone (usually four per day!) and thinking about how our lives have intersected and the relationship we have. 
- Seeing a V formation in the sky. This reminds me of my father.                        - Watching a butterfly move from flower to flower. This reminds me of my mother.
- Coming home from work and being greeted by an always excited, unconditionally loving Jackson!
- Holding hands with Terri in a movie or watching television.  
- Long, delicious dinners with family and friends.
- Reaching over in bed at night to touch Terri and thinking how blessed I am to be with this woman.
- Living in Asheville, NC. The surrounding mountains take my breath away!
Carrpe Diem!
- Living in our home. It's a sanctuary of goodness. It offers sacred space.
- Penatonix, Vivaldi, James Taylor, Allison Krauss, The Piano Guys, Mozart, Diana Krall, Sting, Indigo Girls, Yo-Yo Ma, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Playing for Change
- Old hardware stores where the scent of linseed oil, turpentine and fertilizer mix with the bins of nails and and loose sheets of sand paper.
- Art by Monet, VanGogh, Degas, Rodin, Corbin, McNulty, Welker, Koch and Southerland.
- Rainy Saturday or Sunday afternoons, especially at the beach.
- Sitting in front of a campfire or our living room fireplace.
- The scent of the air after a thunderstorm. 
- The scent of Dial soap.
- Visiting the Carr family memorial in Charlotte, NC and the Privette memorial in Princess Anne, MD.
- Eating Cabot Vanilla Bean Greek Yogurt.
- Hosting Final Fridays.
- Eating pan fried okra.
The Nubian Princess and Dr. Steel
- Eating Marion's Piazza with family and friends!
- Drinking Sierra Nevada's Torpedo Extra IPA with family and friends.
Breaking bread with family
- Sipping Stranahan's Colorado whiskey with family and friends, especially in front of a fire.
- Early Friday morning phone calls with Dr. Steel and the Nubian Princess. 
- Sailing. 
- The feeling after swimming a good distance.
- Hearing Terri say her "pet" name for me and "I love you."
- Hearing my children end a phone call with, "I love you, Dad." 

What do I do when I feel unhappy? 

I begin by moving my body. I focus on my breath. I close my eyes and meditate. I am especially fond of meditating on 1 Thessalonians 5:18. I journal my thoughts and feelings as well as for what I am grateful. I look at photo albums and recall how blessed I am, how much good is in my life. I look at PostSecret cards I have saved in a file on my computer. I get away from technology and go outdoors for a long walk or a hike. I hug my wife. I ask Jackson to sit in my lap. I look for something that is broken and repair it including a relationship. Ask for forgiveness. I go to Haywood Street Congregation. I give a panhandler a gift. I call a mentor. I call a friend and ask if we can meet for coffee. I go exercise. 

Part of living into Carrpe Diem! is the daily challenge of, can I be content with my present situation and optimistic about the future? ... 98% of the time ... YES!

No comments: