I am delighted to have the honor of welcoming a very very favorite blogging friend here today – Ken Wert of Meant To Be Happy. I chose to invite him here today, because Ken is a teacher.
I fell in love with Ken’s blog the first time I visited it. Not only does he write fantastically, but he also has the very rare gift of perfect presentation, in language that totally appeals, with brilliant metaphors and with a good dose of humor. I confess that two thoughts always occur to me when I read his posts –
1. I wish I had written that myself
2. I wish that post was on my blog
Ken is a warm human being and I can definitely see why his son loves him most-er
. I love the way he uses metaphors. I highly recommend one of my all-time favorites: his post “What is on the dashboard of your life
” where he uses the blog dashboard as a metaphor to take stock of our lives. This post made it to Tim Brownson’s 20 of the Greatest Self Development Posts Ever Written at his popular blog, A Daring Adventure. I shared screen space on that list with my own post Take time to smell the flowers.
A big warm welcome to you, Ken!
Go Ahead and do your magic!
The Nuts and Bolts of Happiness – Guest Post by Ken Wert
If you were to strip happiness to its bare essentials, revealing the nuts and bolts of its most basic parts, you would be left with the schematics of a fundamentally happy life.
But what would be included in so basic a schematic of happiness? I suggest the following …
5 Necessary Traits to Happiness
No matter how you slice it, a life without gratitude is a life without happiness. It is, perhaps, the single most important trait to living a happy life.
The habitually grateful are thankful they have feet even if they don’t have shoes. They are grateful for freedom even if they also have poverty. They appreciate the day even if it rains and love that they are still alive even if their bodies ache.
Ingrates, however, are the opposite. They focus on what hurts and what’s out of place and what doesn’t fit or looks awkward or is uncomfortable. The difficulty to happiness is that when we’re so focused on the negative, we lose sight of what is beautiful.
The result is a very dimmed sort of spiritual malaise that tarnishes what would otherwise have been happy, good and wonderful.
We all want to think we’re good people. To the degree there’s a little evidence of the fact, we can feel pretty good about who we are. To the degree the evidence is stacked against us, our happiness is compromised because our character shines too darkly to hide it from view.
Who we are inside truly matters to how we feel about ourselves. We care even if we pretend we don’t. Even those who treat others with hate and disrespect, who live only for themselves and take what they want from those who have it know in their hearts that they are on a dark path.
And somewhere in their hardened hearts, they feel crummy even if on the surface they don’t seem to. The truth is that indecency never was happiness. But human kindness and compassion and integrity always has been.
3. Personal Growth
Stagnant pools become poisonous just as stagnant lives do. But dynamic lives of self-discovery and personal improvement and constant education feels good.
Even if we have miles and miles to go before we see anything particularly wonderful in the mirror, the fact that we are moving in the right direction gives us a sense of accomplishment, a sort of self-satisfaction. We know we are on the right track and that is a happy feeling.
And while a life of constant moral growth metaphorically kills two birds with one stone (see #2), any growth will help. Overcoming a fear, pushing against a comfort zone, challenging yourself physically or emotionally or mentally. Intellectual development or spiritual improvement or even learning a new skill or picking up a new hobby or honing an old talent can help as well. The point is to feel like the life you’ve been given is being used well.
A meaningless life can’t be a happy one. It’s empty and barren. But a life filled with purpose and meaning, one that makes you feel like you matter, that you’re leaving your little corner of the world a little better than the way you found it is an essential ingredient to happiness.
People passionate about their work, about the family they hurry home to see, the service they render, the faith they celebrate live meaningful lives that deeply matter to them. And a purpose-driven life of passionate pursuits is a happy life indeed.
We are social beings who crave connection and attachment, to be heard and understood and accepted by another person who cares. Not everyone has to love and appreciate us, but someone has to. We need that. But in our Facebook and text message world of digital connectedness, that deep-level connection is less obvious.
The point is not to hate on all things digital and electronic. Technology has allowed me to reach out across oceans to connect with people I never would have known before. It has brought me here, to the shores of Vidya’s life. It has added one more person to the list of people I care about and love and appreciate. And that’s a good thing.
Still, it’s vital that we make time to spend with real people doing real things bonding in real time, touching, holding, looking into eyes and feeling the pulse of their lives in the beat of our hearts.
The Paint and Upholstery of Happiness
Did you notice I said nothing of external conditions? Did you notice I left out a wife who loves sports and obedient kids and obedient husbands? There’s nothing about supermodel looks or genius IQs or any other DNA-related advantages, in fact.
There is no need to live a particular lifestyle or have a particular job or live in a particular house in a particular neighborhood. Such things are not bad and can even enhance the happiness of those already happy. They just can’t create what’s not already there. It’s like the paint and upholstery of a car.
The nuts and bolts hold all the parts together. Without them, everything falls apart. The paint and upholstery improves the driving experience, but without them, the car still drives. Without the traits described above, all the whistles and buzzers of life will do little to provide us happiness.
The essential parts are, in fact, essential. So go on walks and meditate and read inspirational material or adopt a puppy. Such things will help buff the paint and condition the upholstery of your life. Just be sure to remember to tighten the nuts and bolts that hold it all together.
Vidya has a favorite saying about happiness
. It’s even the title of the chapter she wrote for my up-coming eBook on happiness. If you read much of Vidya’s writing, you may be smiling and mouthing the words already. She uses them regularly and are worthy of the repetition.
Have you already guessed? One of her mottos in life is that “Happiness is a DIY Project.” And she’s right, of course. Only by “doing” happiness ourselves will we ever be happy.
We can place ourselves on a shelf and wait for someone else (a lover, a friend, a boss, coworker or a parent) to come along and decide to pick us up, dust us off, and do something happy with us. Or we can proactively construct a happy life on our own (which, by the way, increases the likelihood that others will want to tag along).
I choose the latter.
How about you?
Ken Wert is a personal development blogger at Meant to be Happy
where he inspires readers to live with purpose, act with character, think with clarity and grow with courage. Sign up for his free eBook, A Walk Through Happiness
and newsletter! Connect with him on Twitter
Thank you, dear Ken!
“It is the birthday [5 September 1888 ],of the second President of India, academic philosopher Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan. It is considered a “celebration” day, where teachers and students report to school as usual but the usual activities and classes are replaced by activities of celebration, thanks and remembrance. At some schools on this day, the responsibility of teaching is taken up by the senior students to show appreciation for their teachers.”
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