Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Three Obstacles To Happiness

Aaaaaah, happiness...

It's a funny thing, in that I think most of us grownups (and maybe some younger folks) spend a lifetime searching for "something" that will bring us happiness.  I sense some think wealth will do it, some believe a certain kind of freedom will do it, while others might feel a different job or different living circumstances will do it.  All along, I sense that few of us can really define the word "happiness". defines happiness as a noun - 1.  the quality or state of being happy.  2.  good fortune; pleasure; contentment; joy.
I'd buy that second one, in that it might represent good fortune, pleasure, contentment and/or joy.

With all that, an email arrived today from one of my favorite Internet marketers, Sean D'Souza, a native of  Northcote, Auckland, New Zealand.  For those who don't know him, Sean has a special way of simplifying many things, including the meaning of happiness.  I knew right away that I wanted to share the following with my readers.  Moreover, there are personal reasons I promise to explain right after you listen to his latest podcast...

Sean says early-on that, "We go around trying to find the purpose of life, when the answer is right in front of us all the time. The purpose of life is to be 'happy.'"  Hmmmmm...

Suggesting we NOT jump around, from one thing to another, in search of happiness, he goes on to say that, "No one thing makes us happy."  Then, getting closer to my personal experiences, Sean describes his "... current moments of bliss..." as walks to the cafe with his wife, the coffee, and the time he spends with his nieces.  Even closer to my feelings, he notes how much he loves his work (man, can I associate with that).

True enough, that few people actually write down what it is that makes them happy.  So, he suggests doing it as an exercise...  And, getting even closer to the way this old hockey coach has been thinking over recent years, Sean say, "... the funny thing is that it will consist of rather mundane things."  He continues, "Making the list enables us to know what we really want from life, so we can start heading in that direction."

With that, he goes on to the three obstacles that are "... frothing, right in front of us..."

Yup, they're inefficiency, greed, and self-doubt.

Ugh...  I know the inefficiency thing (I'm often guilty there).  Here again, though, Sean suggests making a list -- this one aimed at ways we might become more efficient.

Next, Sean suggests that some greed can be good...  "But there’s a point of enough," Sean advises us. "Again, this comes down to a definition, perhaps even a list. What’s your enough? Do you know?"

Which brings us to Obstacle Three, self-doubt...  As Sean says, "... it’s terribly inefficient..."  Or, as he continues, "It fills your brain with a load of nonsense that keeps you from being happy. And there’s nothing much you can do it about it, because the damage isn’t new. It’s something that has been part of you for a good chunk of your life."  (I don't know about my readers but, I'm not liking that thought.  Oh, I know it's true, but I don't have to like it.)

I'm going to have to try Sean's answer to this, however, as in just saying, "Thank you!"  Ya, "That’s it," he says.  "Even just the thought of saying thanks is making you smile right now, isn’t it?"  And, doing away with what I call "the guilties", Sean goes on, "The thank you is your way out of the mess, every single time."

I'm big-time in favor of Sean's approach, and his feeling that just recognizing the things that get in our way is a huge step in the right direction.
As for my personal approach, well...

Some months ago, I thought it a good idea to follow an inspirational message found on my Great Motivational Quotes page.  In effect, an old Chinese proverb says that walking a hundred steps after every meal will help one live to be one hundred.  (Ya, those old proverbs stretch things a bit, but maybe not a lot.)  So, almost every night since, Brenda and I have reminded each other that it's time to take our nightly walk (after our biggest meal).

More recently, something else struck me -- days before Sean's newsletter arrived in my inbox.  Maybe a week ago, Brenda and I decided to start spending an hour or so each midday afternoon taking advantage of the awesome Florida weather.  So, we started going to the pool -- sometimes to do a little paperwork or to hash over ideas, and sometimes to do absolutely nothing but soak in the warm, Florida sun.  I think we missed one day since then, and I felt that miss take a tiny toll on my psyche.  I mean it.  I've tried to remind Brenda of the fact that my somewhat-retirement and freelance writing has given us the luxury of taking breaks pretty close to when we want.  Oh, I am still a keyboard-working fool, but that doesn't force me to punch a clock.
Now, let me tell my readers something, and I'm dying for Sean D'Souza to comment on this one, too...  For, I don't think his walks to the coffee shop each morning -- or my time at the pool -- would supply nearly as much happiness if our significant others weren't also enjoying it, or helping to make such events happy ones.  So, from my side of it, at least, I'm thankful Brenda seems to be enjoying both the walks and the pool time as much as I am.          
Oh, our little buddy Raggs, at over 16-years old, requires lots of walks -- about twenty times through the day and night.  Most of the time we make those walks together -- the three of us, and we're laughing all the while.

Then, there's my work...  It's mainly writing nowadays, with the occasional audio or video production mixed in between.  I've said it often, too, that I could get lost in that work -- just keep me supplied with cold soda or hot coffee, toss me an occasional sandwich, and I'm as happy as a lark.
Want to know when I'm not enjoying my work?  It's when I'm forced to have other things on my mind.  I mean, let's face it, one can't get lost in even the most enjoyable project if there's a ton of crap being dumped on his or her head.  
From a personal perspective, I've learned to "compartmentalize" all I need to pay attention to -- as in dealing with the un-fun stuff for a time, and then eventually blocking that out and freeing my mind so I can dwell on my creative work  If anything can go wrong with that, it's having someone interrupt me with gut-wrenching stuff while I'm trying to be creative..
Over at least 40-years in coaching, I've depended on a hardcopy diary for my appointments, obligations, lists of todos, etc.  Only months  ago, however, I switched to Google's online Calendar.  And, you'd better believe that our daily time at the pool and our nightly walks are plotted right in there.  In a way, they're meant to be obligations, just so I'm not so apt to get rapt in my work and forget what just might be the most important times of my day.  Said yet another way, I'd have to ask, Why am I working long hours if not to free myself for occasional moments of happiness?

Lastly, Brenda and I laughed out loud at Sean's use of the word "mundane".  That was one of my favorite terms when we first met.  For, I told her that anyone can get along during exciting times, but the test would be when all the mundane times came along.  Really, almost everything we do over the course of 24-hours is mundane.  I mean, few of us experience constant excitement.  In a way, our time at the pool qualifies as mundane, as do the nightly strolls, and the walks with Raggs.  So, can we laugh most of the time?  The answer, without question, is a resounding, "Yes!"  As a matter of fact, we laugh nearly all the time!

Visit Sean D'Souza's website for much more awesome advice...

Click this link for Sean's podcast and article on Three Obstacles To Happiness (plus many more podcasts).
Want to know what I'll be doing tonight -- after our nightly walk?  Visit, my Hockey Podcast, and the rest of my posts here in Coach Chic's Hockey Diary.