Happiness: our goal goals
Socrates called happiness “the goal of goals”.
Everything we do – building businesses, earning money, helping charities, traveling the world, recording music. Whatever it is, it comes back to happiness. For us and the people around us that count.
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So, with that in mind, why do we build lifestyles where we are so busy that happiness becomes a bonus rather than our focus?
As a Lifestyle Entrepreneur, I’ve tried to step outside the Cubicle and learn how to create a lifestyle that puts happiness at the top of our needs pyramid. Then, and only then, engineer a business that makes that happen.
This is what I’ve learned.
Happiness is not rocket science
At the end of the day, this is what it’s all about isn’t it?
I wonder why we make it so difficult all this time, this searching for happiness.
I tried everything – yoga, meditation, veganism, making money, losing money.
I discovered that happiness wasn’t a state, but a verb.
What I mean by that is that being happy isn’t something that happens as a result of how you are thinking or feeling, but the result of what you are doing.
If you want to be happier, do more of what makes you happy.
Happiness starts inside
When you’re an adult, happiness isn’t your default state.
As a child, yes. Look how simple pleasures like feeding the ducks or chasing a plastic bag in the wind can make a child happy. But, as a grown up, we learn to fear what others think.
Matthieu Ricard, author of “Happiness” says that to become happy, we must train ourselves. Think of all the crap that life throws at us in any given day – problems, crises, the opinions of other people. Your goal is to fly, to be happy. But, this crap is gravity. If you don’t beat your wings, the crap will drag you back down to earth.
So, happiness is a verb that requires constant work.
We all have some things that we like to do, that make us happy.
Could be baking cakes with your kids, making music, going for a walk along the river, watching opera or exploring the backstreets of a foreign city.
Whatever it is, these are verbs, actions, that make us happy. And to be happy we need to practise them regularly.
And these actions don’t start with other people:
- What your friends will think when you rock up in your new sports car
- Reaching 10 million twitter followers
- Looking young and glamorous like those girls in “Sex in the City”
- Getting promoted to “Vice President”
The Cubicle has us in a bind, a belief system that happiness comes from the outside.
When we escape, we realise that happiness is internal and starts with ourselves.
So, now we know that, how can we be happier in life?
Ask “what if?”
This is a “what if?” question that is core to becoming a successful Lifestyle Entrepreneur.
Bob Dylan wrote that “a man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night, and in-between he does what he likes.”
A successful Lifestyle Entrepreneur makes a conscious decision to design a life where he or she is able to do more of what makes him or her happy.
Let’s say that happiness, as in my case, is endurance sports like triathlon and cycling. Living in London, both the weather and traffic conspire to make that a challenge. So, what do you do? You end up working harder, making more money. And what do you do with that money once you get it? You spend it on “stuff” to make you happy. But, that “stuff” like cars and clothes never really makes you happy.
Adventure makes me happy. Business is an adventure. Some years ago, I sold my shares in a profitable business and decided to travel the world. Why? Because travel made me and my family happy. We lived for 18 months in Lanzarote, Spain – part of the Canary Islands 200km off the west coast of Africa. Why? Because with its 3000 hours of annual sunshine, brutal hill climbs and virtually non-existent traffic, Lanzarote is a mecca for endurance sports athletes.
The journey to happiness starts by asking, “what if I could have a lifestyle where I can do more of what makes me happy?”
Engineering your lifestyle
What would it take to have that lifestyle?
In most people’s cases, the tail wags the lifestyle dog. They fit lifestyle around their work. It’s never fulfilling and often stressful. Most people save up money for their 2 weeks in the sun to decompress from 50 weeks of hard work.
But if you consciously started out by putting “lifestyle” at the top of the pyramid and then re-engineering work around that primary need you can be happier.
And the good news is that today, with the advent of the internet and the growing availability of business models suited to this setup, being a Lifestyle Entrepreneur and being successful is more than possible. Lifestyle Entrepreneurs can make far more money than salaried employees, engage in more fulfilling work and have more control over their schedules to do more of what makes them happy.[c2a]