Monday, March 23, 2009

Ideas that last for times that change.

You can’t change the way the wind blows but you can adjust your sails. How do you find out what to do, what works? First, you need to know where you want to go. Next, you need to have a conscious philosophy about how you want to live your life - a clear set of values to serve as a compass in a changing sea. Here are some principles to guide the search.

Know what you want out of life.
Take some serious time to scan and map your current environment. Make an effort to understand the world you live in. What’s happening around you that’s impacting your life - personally, professionally, for your family, for your career, for your happiness, for your economic prosperity? What trends are most likely to influence your life and how are these trends favorable or unfavorable for you? Which are helpful forces and which are unhelpful constraints?

Next, create a vision of your ideal future.
List everything you want out of your life. Start with absolutely no constraints, assuming that everything you want is possible. Then, factor in the constraints you identified earlier. Determine which are in your control and which aren’t in your control. Take action to make things better where you’re in control. Decide whether to stay in this current (and now improving situation) or move to a new place where there are fewer constraints limiting what you want to do. Think about happiness. Is it really that important as opposed to fulfillment and satisfaction? Don’t be deluded by romantic soap opera visions of happiness - they'll only deceive and disappoint you. Here's what some great minds had to say about happiness:

“Success is not the key to happiness ... Happiness is the key to success ... If you enjoy what you're doing, you will be successful.” - Albert Schweitzer

"Happiness is a conscious choice, not an automatic response." - Mildred Barthel

"Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony." - Mahatma Gandhi

"The greatest part of our happiness depends on our dispositions, not our circumstances." - Martha Washington

Tomorrow - differentiating between two kinds of values - rational, practical values and traditional big question (e g religious) values.

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