Monday, March 22, 2010

Steps To Happiness

New York magazine had a recent feature 50 Steps to Simple Happiness. There's lots of interesting advice – quite a mixed bag – and some of the nuggets include:
  • Collect visual memories of moments when you were incredibly happy.
  • Start an old-fashioned (hand-written) correspondence with a friend.
  • Surround yourself with things that smell like green apple or cucumber (or visit a Jo Malone store!)
  • Carry yourself more erect. You can improve your outlook and confidence simply by improving your posture.
  • Forget the brown rice sushi. The Japanese are some of the most long-lived people on the planet, and they only eat white rice.
We each develop our own strategies for preventing and relieving stress and promoting joy and contentment in our lives. The key for me, as I’ve previously noted, is the idea of work / life integration. This is different to work / life balance that is so often talked about – the notion that happiness depends on making a series of trade-offs: home versus office, work versus family. To me, this approach of sacrifice and subtraction is all wrong. My philosophy is to bring each aspect of my daily life together into a satisfying whole. If we're happy in our personal life, work sits lighter on our shoulders; if work is stimulating and enjoyable, that will happily infect our life outside the office.

One way to achieve work / life integration is to be diligent about your happiness. Think about what brings happiness to your life, and make time for it. Plan for it and prioritize. I love playing tennis, and I sometimes arrange tennis matches with friends six months or more before we hit the court. Big sporting events bring me untold joy, and I make sure to organize my time so that I get to enjoy them (watching USA Rugby team's first World Cup match in Wellington September 23 2011 with my New Zealander rugby mates, Spiro Zavos from Sydney and Bill Middleton from New York, has been in the diary since minutes after the draw!).

Treat time to breathe and to enjoy life as vital and urgent priorities. Don't relegate or postpone. Your life – and work – will suffer if you do.