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Thursday, July 1, 2010

THE ROAD TO HAPPINESS


“The road to happiness lies in two simple principles,” said Rockefeller. “Find what interests you and that you can do well, and put your whole soul into it – every bit of energy and ambition and natural ability you have.”

So you're on your way to college. Courses, textbooks, roommates, sports, clubs, parties -- and, oh yeah, your major. Somewhere along the line, you've got to pick one. The thing is, at most colleges and universities these days, you've got so many choices.

Are you the right you?

Rockefeller gives us two basic principles to follow.

1. Do what interests you.

Don’t forget the most important resource of all: you. Think about what you're good at, what you enjoy, and what fascinates you.

You can look for a career path that seems interesting, secure, and well-paid. You can decide to go to grad school and delay having to answer the question for a few more years. Or you can rephrase the question into one that we think is more important: “What am I interested in?” No, not every interest can be turned into a job that pays the bills. But if you ask people out there in the real world whether the tougher thing is to find your passion or a job, we bet that nine out of ten will pick passion. The problem is most people don’t want to change careers or start a new business. They don’t necessarily want more money. What they want is freedom, and the things money can buy.

2. Put your whole soul into it.

In other words, as Ralph Waldo Emerson, the American philosopher clearly stated, "Put your whole soul into it. Stamp it with your own personality."

Doing something for money will lead you to a life you have no passion for. Doing something because someone else told you to will lead to the same. Most people dream of finding a way to build a better quality of life and to control their destiny. Yet, this never happens for most people. Success in anything seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go. It might take a little longer, but ultimately you'll be doing something you love, and that's what matters.


Recently, a friend shared a really interesting article with me, titled, “U.S. Is Richest Nation, But Not Happiest”.

It said that there are two major categories of happiness: overall life satisfaction; and more moment-to-moment enjoyment of life.

While overall satisfaction of life is strongly tied to income, meaning richer nations and individuals have more of this overall bliss, how much one enjoys life (by measures such as laughing and smiling) depends more on social and psychological needs being met. These include having social support and using one's abilities, as opposed to sitting at a mind-numbing job.

The United States, which had the highest gross domestic product per capita, came in at No. 16 for overall well-being and No. 26 for enjoyment, referred to as positive feelings. The No. 1 spot for overall well-being went to Denmark, and New Zealand landed the No. 1 slot for positive feelings.

"Everybody has been looking at just life satisfaction and income," said study researcher Ed Diener of the University of Illinois and the Gallup Organization. "And while it is true that getting richer will make you more satisfied with your life, it may not have the big impact we thought on enjoying life."

The positive feelings aspect of happiness could have evolutionary roots. "Whereas life satisfaction reflects whether people are obtaining their values and goals in a long-term and big picture sense, positive feelings seem to arise from momentary things that are prewired, since feeling good about the support of others and about using skills are both necessary for humans to thrive and survive," Diener told LiveScience.

Overall, as a result of following these two simple principles, it was estimated after Mr. Rockefeller retired from business that he had accumulated close to $1,500,000,000 out of the earnings of the Standard Oil trust and out of his other investments. This was probably the greatest amount of wealth that any private citizen had ever been able to accumulate by his own efforts.

The lesson? The road to happiness is doing something you are passionate about. The money will follow!

Are you ready to strike out on new paths, rather than travel the worn paths of accepted success?

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