Earlier this year the Huffington Post asked me for my six tips for happiness. Here then are half a dozen ideas taken from How To Do Everything and Be Happy. Have a read. Make some lists. Then create your own plan. Tip 1: Manage Your Time
“Time,” so they say “is money.” But imagine that as if it was the hours and minutes of your life, managed by a “Universal Bank of Time.”Under their strict account usage terms, the UBT would mandate a compulsory daily withdrawal of 24 hours. The hours would be automatically transferred to you at the start of each day. But you could never make a deposit, you could never put back what you didn’t use – unused hours would be taxed at 100%. Worse still, there’d be no online banking with the UBT. No paper statements. You couldn’t even get a balance – you’d never be sure how much time you had left.
If real bank accounts worked this way you’d make sure you spent every penny of your daily withdrawal limit on something worthwhile. Pretty soon you’d probably start to plan your spending – you might even keep a book of items you wanted to spend your money on. So with that in mind…
Tip 2: Make a “Now List”
Most folks have heard of a Bucket List (taken from the movie of the same name), a list of all the things you’d like to do before you die (“kick the bucket”). It’s a fabulous idea – except for the built-in assumption that we’re going to be doing all these marvelous things at some far flung point in the future, probably when we’ll be far too old and frail to do anything more than regret each and every item on the list as a missed opportunity.So let’s dispense with the term Bucket List. What we want is to “Live Life Now” list – or a “Now List” for short. Write down everything you’d like to do, then start making it happen. And when you do…
Tip 3: Collect “Trophies”
Andy Warhol, so it’s said, never opened any of his mail. He merely collected it up, put it in a box, and when that box was full, sealed it and wrote the year on the top.I’ve never taken the time to find out just how true this story is, but I do know that the first time I heard it, it had a profound effect on me. I wanted to do the same. However, being a somewhat deluded individual, I was fairly certain I could improve on the concept.And so I started to collect things. Theatre tickets, raffle tickets, train tickets, plane tickets, postcards, greeting cards, thank you cards, business cards, labels, badges, anything that was evidence of somewhere I’d been, something I’d done, or someone I’d met. And something I could pin to a board.This is how my “Trophy Board” looked at the end of 2012. How’s yours coming along?
Yet More Trophies
Not all mementos can be pinned to a board. Every now and then you’ll pick up something altogether more three dimensional. Maybe a pebble from the beach. A pocket full of Lipa (Croatian pennies). A finger puppet your niece made for you. A cork from a bottle of champagne. The security pass from that time you did a radio interview. Don’t throw these items in a drawer. Instead, get yourself an old fashioned glass sweet jar and start filling it with this kind of stuff. Or how about this – an old fashioned printer’s tray available for just a few dollars from your friendly local eBay seller.
Tip 4: Decide What’s Important
Most people I encounter haven’t actually got a clue what they really want. They might wake up in the morning and want to go back to bed. They might flick through a magazine and want those shoes. They might even want the person in the magazine wearing those shoes. But these desires come and go. Few of them seem to stick around and become important – and that’s a mistake.Knowing exactly what you want is hugely important. Merely knowing has the power to change everything. Not convinced? Then allow me to introduce you to the incredible, completely automated wish-fulfilment machine you have inside your head…
Tip 5: Use The Power of Focus
Brains are amazing. Especially yours. Even mine has its moments. And one of the most fascinating mechanisms of the human brain is how it deals with focus. Have you ever noticed how when you buy a new car, or even when you’ve merely decided what type of car it is you want to buy, you start seeing that same car everywhere?! That’s the power of focus. It happens because in order for our brains to cope with the extraordinary amount of information coming in through our five senses from the world around us, we’re programmed to concentrate on what’s “important,” and more or less ignore the rest.
Unconvinced? Excellent! Pick a card from the six shown here. Don’t tell me which one it is, just pick one, and remember which card you’ve chosen. Then continue reading.
Now click on this link and look at the cards again and then come back.
…And It’s Gone!
So, how did I do that? The answer, of course, is focus. Your mind was concentrating on the card you’d chosen, and its apparent disappearance, and failed entirely to notice that all the cards had changed. The other cards weren’t “important.”You might be asking yourself how does the brain determine what’s important? And the answer is: you tell it! And this mechanism isn’t just taking place during card tricks; this happens all day, every day. Your brain is continually filtering the information coming in based on what you’ve decided is important.
Strange then that we quite often focus on entirely the wrong things, or nothing at all.
Tip 6: Remind Yourself Of The Important Things
Most people own a wallet, a purse, or some other item to carry around their credit cards, dog-eared receipts or (if you’re really retro) cash.If your wallet is like mine then it might have a small see-through pocket where you’re supposed to put a photo of a loved one. Ditch it. Not the loved one, just the photo.
On a small piece of card, just big enough to fit that space, write down what you really want in life – your “life vision” if you like – and place it in your wallet. What we’re doing here is utilizing that Power Of Focus on a daily basis by creating something that will remind you of those important things, each and every time you look in your wallet.