Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Posts tagged ‘George Bernard Shaw’

Three Distinctive Types of Happiness

Given the amount of human interaction involved during the holiday season it may be helpful to visit the topic of happiness in an effort to better understand ourself and others. A little knowledge is a powerful thing. It can help us remain calm, cool and collected and avoid judging others when they do not react as we would hope for or expect. Martin Seligman, known as the father of positive psychology has contributed much to the field. From his research he has discovered three highly distinctive types of happiness. The differences are real and identifying them empowers us to be our better self during this holiday season.

The first type of happiness Seligman called the ‘pleasant life’ in which a person strives to surround themselves with as many pleasures as possible. Folks in this category are in a constant state of accumulating stuff such as the latest technology, clothes, furniture, cars – the list goes on and on. They are driven toward making themselves happy first and foremost. Happiness to them is showing the world what they have achieved by having newer, better or more. As you might guess, the research shows that since this type of happiness is determined by accumulating things it does not result in lasting fulfillment or happiness. Thus, the cycle continues – as they decide to purchase the next thing to make themselves happy. The sad part is that there must always be – the next thing – for them.

The second type of happiness comes from ‘engagement.’ People in this category find happiness from deep involvement with their family, friends, or their jobs or career. They want to be engaged with others and find great personal reward by doing so. In fact, they receive such positive feelings from their connections that they can become totally absorbed in a life that revolves around others as their source of happiness.

Seligman found a third type of happiness results when we live a ‘meaningful life.’ Once we discover our personal strengths we find ultimate happiness and satisfaction by applying these strengths in service to a cause bigger than ourselves. A meaningful life is more than simply accumulating things or maintaining our connections with others. This type of happiness is achieved from making a difference – a contribution – in a field or to society in general. George Bernard Shaw wrote ‘A Splendid Torch’ which explains this particular view or orientation to happiness quite well.

“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish, little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community, and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no ‘brief candle’ for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”

The reality is that each of us has our own take on what we need to be happy. Our challenge then is to learn to accept others and their own unique perspectives when they don’t match our own. Acceptance through greater understanding is key.

Have a great few days!

Choose Happiness!

Do you really want to be happy? This is not a trick question but one that calls for a serious, thought provoking reflection of your life. I believe the majority of people might respond to this question with qualifiers. “I will be happy when …” They consciously or subconsciously place conditions on their own happiness. They might think that they will be happy when the get a new home, job, a true friend or enough money to pay the bills at the end of the month. The problem with this type of thinking is that as one qualifier is attained another one simply surfaces in their mind to take its place. For instance, once they get the new house they may begin thinking about the furniture they ‘need’ to make it better. It becomes a never ending cycle. Any condition you put on happiness automatically limits your ability to attain it.

People who think of qualifiers before believe they will be happy live in the past or future not in the present. They continually see their cup as half empty and often have a deep seated preference to view life as a burden not a gift. It may be a result of early conditioning. Yet all of us have had challenges growing up – some greater than others – but some have manage to pull up their bootstraps and move past them. How is it that some people see a pile of yuk but are insistent in their minds that there is a pony in there somewhere? True, they are the perpetual optimists and also true, they are a joy to be around. They are living a life of happiness.

If we believe our lack of happiness in life is because of what we don’t have we are sure to get more of the same. The Universe just works that way. We get more of what is foremost in our thinking. Thinking of the ‘lack’ in our life produces more ‘lack’. With this mindset, life becomes heavier each day until we feel we will break from carrying the weight. Then one day we may wake up and say, ‘Enough!’ There is always, always something to be grateful for if we choose to see life through a different lense. Change your lense and let in more light!
.
When we begin digging into the spiritual side of life it becomes apparent that each of us has unique lessons to learn and challenges to overcome. As different as each script is we all have one big thing in common – learning to find happiness along the way. It’s as if the life script each of us has written has HAPPINESS as the key word. How each of us goes about learning it remains our life challenge.

Being happy and living in the present doesn’t mean not having goals to work toward and ultimately achieve. What it does mean, however, is that we recognize that each moment of each day offers a reason to be grateful and happy that you are alive and making a contribution on planet earth. It is not necessarily the type of the contribution but the fact you are choosing to do it that is important. Even offering a smile to someone to brighten their day is a contribution. We are learning lessons – some more difficult than others, granted, but we have been given the gift of time to learn them.

If you keep it simple and truly ask yourself, ‘Do I want to be happy?’ you will realize it is fully under your control. But you must decide to be happy without conditions. Choosing unconditional happiness means that whatever happens whatever challenges occur in your life you will decide to see them in the context of the bigger picture of life – your end goal – and refuse to let them wear you down.

George Bernard Shaw’s quote is worth remembering in this context:
“Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”

He was talking about learning and accomplishing things in life and a big part of accomplishing things is the attitude that we bring to the task regardless of the difficulty. Deciding to be happy allows each of us to be more, achieve more and celebrate more before passing our torch on to future generations.

Over the next few days you might want to really think about making a conscious decision, sort of a vow to yourself, to choose happiness – because you can – it is within your power regardless of the path you have chosen. It makes the bumps in the road much easier to maneuver around and helps to make life fuller, richer and more meaningful. Happiness is yours simply by choosing it!

Have a great few days!

A Difference of 1 Degree!

Sometimes seemingly small things we do can make all the difference. There was a book published a few years ago entitled, ‘212 the extra degree,’ by Sam Parker and Mac Anderson which emphasized the importance of just going the extra mile to achieve outstanding, life transforming results.

They used the analogy of water. At 211 degrees it is hot. At 212 degrees water will boil and cause steam. The steam, ultimately can power a locomotive or serve as energy for other needs. If that one extra degree can transform an element such as water, what could it do for us? The example they used was simple, the message unbelievably powerful. It’s about adding a bit more commitment to the game, a little more effort to things we do that can change the composition, the product and ultimately, the end result.

In school we are often pushed to do our best. What happens when traditional school is over and the rest of our life begins? Do we remember that what served us well in school will also serve us well in life? Do we do our best and commit that little extra surge of energy, even when tired, to make a difference?

When I used to hear Wednesdays referred to as ‘over the hump days,’ I would question the mindset. I visualized someone with a downtrodden outlook thinking …’just two days left ’till the weekend’ rather than thinking ‘I have so much I want and need to do and ONLY have two days left in which to complete the tasks.’ The amount of work is the same but the path to getting there and the final product can be light years apart. The mindset in the first example robs us of energy and being all we can be while the second actually energizes us to be more …that one degree more that can make all the difference.

As George Bernard Shaw once said, …life is no brief candle to me but a brilliant torch that I’ve got hold of for the moment and I want to make it burn brighter…

The choice is ours in life, either we choose to simply show up or bring our A game to be fully PRESENT in what we do. No one can make us happier or more successful in life, only we have the power to do that through the attitude we choose to manifest. If you were giving yourself a letter grade in life what would it be up to this point?

The next time you think about your job or the tasks before you consider adding that one extra degree of effort – you’ll be glad you did.

Have a great few days!

Ordinary or Extraordinary?

Making a living is important. My parents worked hard from the 30’s through the 60’s raising a family, buying a house, cars, furniture and were grateful to be able to afford a one week camping vacation each year at the same Michigan state park the third week of June. Dad would go fishing while Mom would cook and try to dry out the blankets on a makeshift line during the day. That was before air mattresses and other camping gear was either available or affordable. Yet, that was how they lived year after year and they were grateful that they could pay their bills and take that one week vacation. How times have changed!

Working and taking care of our families enhances our self esteem. My parents taught me the difference between ordinary and extraordinary is just that little bit more that you are willing to do without being asked. Dad used to say, ‘give your employer $1.50 back in effort for every $1.00 you make and you will never be out of a job. It was good advice that I followed.

The opportunities are endless when it comes to making a difference. Some may be able to discover new scientific methods and answers that will benefit the world. We are all recipients of medical and engineering breakthroughs. Steve Jobs said he wanted to make a dent in the Universe and he consequently changed they way the world communicates. More often than not, these breakthroughs only happened when the person did more than was expected.

We all have the opportunity to make a difference in our own unique way if we choose to do so. The question is will we rise to the occasion or take the easier path. Something to think about when we are wishing, hoping and longing for an easier road in life.

Anthony Bourdain, the world traveler who discovers exotic foods and author of Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly wrote, “No one understands and appreciates the American Dream of hard work leading to material rewards better than a non-American.”

My favorite, George Bernard Shaw said, ” My life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is a privilege to do for it whatsoever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment; and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”

Something to think about! Have a good few days!