Find and Share Your Core Joys: Some Father's Day Advice to My Grown Children - Part 2
"There is an expiration date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction; the moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you." J. K. Rowling
Continued from last Wednesday . . .
Last week I wrote that I have made three "stupidly simple and duh-obvious" observations about people, and that if you were to understand and apply these three principles in your lives, they would greatly increase your overall happiness. The first principle I mentioned is:
Principle No. 1: Different things make different people happy.
I invited you to thoughtfully inventory the activities that make you happy and to make a written list of those activities. I encouraged you to ask yourself, "When I am doing _________, I feel pleasure, happiness, or joy." I asked you to remember that this is your list and no one else needs to approve or disapprove.
This week, I want you to evaluate the activities on your list as you apply the second principle:
Principle No. 2: There are different levels or degrees of happiness.
Some things we do are fun, amusing, or simply pass the time. Other things we do have deep and lasting impact, with life-long or even eternal consequences. Other things are somewhere between these two contrasts.
I think a wholesome life includes a healthy mix of these activities. It is true, as the old saying goes, that "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy," but it is equally true that, "all play and no work make Jack a poor and spoiled boy." Balance is required.
Let me introduce you to "The Farnsworth Felicity Scale." I picture a continuum of activities that add to our sense of well-being. On one end I see "having a good time." Near that is "present pleasure." Next on the scale is "gladness." Moving to the right is "happiness," followed by "great happiness." Then comes "bliss," and on the other end is "pure joy."
When I use the term "pure joy" I'm talking about those things that, at the very core of your being, fill you with deep meaning, a sense of purposefulness, and lasting satisfaction. These are things of enormous importance that lead to long-term happiness. When you do those things, you feel that you are being true to yourself and you are making a difference in the grand scheme of things.
I don't want to get tangled up in semantics; different people may use these various terms slightly differently. If you want to move the words around on the scale to suit your own personal lexicon, that's OK. The point is that different types of activities create different types of felicity or happiness for each of us.
Now take the activities list you made in Step 1 and place each activity somewhere along the continuum of The Farnsworth Felicity Scale. With each activity, ask yourself, "When I do ____________, what is the length, breadth, and depth of the good feelings I experience? In what way and to what degree does this activity add to the quality of my life?"
Just as the list you made is for you and you alone, this process of evaluating the activities on your list is likewise for you and you alone. With any luck, it will give you significant insight about yourself, and lead you to a greater understanding of how to increase the quality of your own life. One key to a better life is to spend more time doing things that make you happy and less time doing things that make you unhappy. (Another "stupidly simple and duh-obvious" observation, I know, but how many people never seem to figure this out?)
In my experience, the most valuable outcome from this exercise is to identify for yourself those things that are located on the far right of your scale. Hopefully you will find a cluster of related activities that fit in the "pure joy" area of the scale. These I call your "core joys."
Identifying your core joys is one of the great discoveries of life. When you know what activities give you pure joy, you can start to focus on them. A second key to a better life is to spend more time doing things that give you a deeper, more meaningful, longer-lasting level of happiness. When you tailor your life by devoting more energy and time toward your core joys, you end up compounding your joy. That's when life becomes rich and sweet.
This should give you plenty to think about for the next seven days. Next week I'll talk about:
Principle No. 3: Life is sweeter when we share our core joys.
To Be Continued . . . .