Keys to Happiness a Stoic’s Point of View
As we kick off the new year, many people will be reorganizing their lives and making resolutions to make significant changes in their lives. In this process, I thought it would be important to share something that people might want to read as they begin these processes - a summary of what Marcus Aurelius would state as the keys to happiness (or at least modern interpretations of his take). Stoic philosophy has many good elements towards introspection and internal critical review about our roles here on this planet.
What we often forget, is that the key to happiness is easy to complicate, but even easier to fulfill by simply changing mindset; one that deals with finding gratitude for things we “do” have, empowering ourselves as the true vehicles for change, and allowing us to realize our potential by relinquishing attempts to “control” things we have no control over and concentrating on what we can control.
It’s worth a read if you have some time to weigh against current resolutions. Perhaps some of these tips might help reinforce or re-focus some approaches that can lead to greater success.
Five elements of happiness:
Your own happiness is up to you.
may not give you what you want, but it will give you what you need.
There is good in everyone.
True peace comes from within.
Treat life as an "old and faithful friend."
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Stats Around New Year’s Resolutions
It’s a year old, but I can’t imagine the data would be that different this year. Here are some stats around New Year’s Resolutions from Inc.com’s magazine written in 2019. According to Peter Economy, 60% of us make resolutions, but only 8% of us succeed - not the most encouraging stats overall. But it does talk to the amazing opportunities for improving on these stats. What would the world look like if we doubled that success rate? Quadrupled it? Better?
These stats were compiled based on a survey of 2,000 respondents entering into 2019. In addition to the success rate, they did quantify the types of resolutions we put out there - top 3 health and diet related. Then the percentages drop pretty considerably into financial, learning and other health related topics. If you like stats, this might be a fun read for you to see what the top 10 resolutions for 2019 were…Are yours on this list?
Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail
I found this blog post on Lifehack.org dealing with 10 reasons why resolutions fail. While there may not be “science” behind the post per se, the items in the list are all reasons why I have failed in a resolution in the past.
Some of the biggest things for me revolve around the idea of treating a marathon like a sprint. Resolutions are like strategy. Sometimes we don’t really define the true end goal. For example, I want to lose 20 pounds. Great goal, it’s defined, measurable, and attainable, but isn’t that part of a larger goal of living a healthy and balanced life? If you state I want to live a healthy and balanced life, you are actually defining a lifetime strategy; losing weight becomes one of the milestones towards accomplishing that goal, but you will always be revisiting the overall goal in order to redefine what it means to live that life - for me this is the “now what” kind of resolution - not bad in and of itself, but also not one that is set up to provide meaningful and lasting change.
On the other hand sometimes we do make the big grandiose statement, but neglect to lay out the plans to get there. True strategy is a combination of vision and tactics. It would be great to say I am going to live a healthier and more balanced life, but then you have to lay out short term and long term tactics to get there. Eating better (5 dinners prepared at home each week, cut sugars by XXX). Exercise more, walk/run/bike etc. 3 times per week. Lower cholesterol to XXX, etc. Then as you accomplish certain goals, you can revisit the tactics to keep you on the path to meaningful change and limit your potential for failure and set backs. Writing out your plans has a demonstrable influence on success!
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