This isn’t what Richard Exley said last week, but rather what I took from it:
If you want to be truly happy,
1. Commit to a cause greater than yourself.
2. Value people rather than things.
3. Give thanks for what you have instead of complaining about what you don’t have.
4. Celebrate the ordinary. Find joy in life’s daily pleasures.
I see Richard’s Recipe for Happiness as the perfect checklist for conducting a Blind Spot Self-Examination. Each of us has a blind spot. You disagree? Consider this: if you knew it was there, it wouldn’t be called a blind spot.
Are you willing to do a self-examination with me? I’ll go first:
1. Commit to a cause? Check. I’m committed to building a school for business owners with fewer than 100 employees. I’m committed to the little guy, the underdog, the misfit, maverick, renegade, disruptor, entrepreneur: the visionary with an impossible dream.
2. Value people? Blind Spot. I love my Crazy Smart Friends but I’m profoundly annoyed by lazy people, frightened people, self-righteous people, whiners, complainers and professional victims. This is obviously where I need to grow. As much as I believe these people to be a tragic waste of skin, a little voice tells me I’m wrong.
3-4. Give thanks? Celebrate? Check. Check. I live in a constant state of amazement over my extraordinary good fortune. If I ever need money, I’ll buy a lottery ticket because I honestly believe I’ll win. Each morning when I get behind the wheel of my 11 year-old pickup truck with 100,000 miles, I remember how incredibly fond I am of it. And brown beans. And Fuji apples. And of looking at my wife when she doesn’t know I’m looking. Good things happen to me that I do not deserve. And for these things, I am thankful.
Number 2 is my blind spot; the people thing. Which one is yours?
Don Kuhl publishes behavior-change journals. His clients include the Justice Department and more than 6,000 correctional institutions and rehab centers.
Don shared something profound with me recently when I asked him if there is a specific turning point that leads broken people to recovery and rehabilitation. I’m not quoting Don exactly; I’m just sharing what I think I remember:
“The single biggest mistake people make is their refusal to own their circumstances. When something bad happens, they say, ‘I’ve been wronged. I didn’t choose this. Someone else did this to me, so someone else needs to fix it.’”
“This someone else, by the way, is usually
2. religious organization
4. medical community, or
“But if someone else can’t or won’t ‘fix it,’ these people become miserable. They feel like victims, angry and helpless. This victim mentality causes their life to begin spinning out of control.”
“The turning point toward happiness is when a person takes ownership of their circumstances. When something bad happens, they learn to say, ‘I’ve been wronged. I didn’t choose this. But these are my circumstances. Now what am I going to do to change them?”
New beliefs lead to new choices.
New choices lead to new actions.
New actions lead to new circumstances.
If you don’t like your circumstances, examine your beliefs.
What do you believe? Does “someone else” need to fix it? Or do you need to fix it?
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