Applying the philosophical principle of Ockham’s Razor—where the simplest answer to a dilemma is often the most nearly correct one—to the question of what makes us happiest is one way to identify some universal bringers of happiness. For instance, Rogers and Hammerstein were right on-target in their perennial hit show, “The Sound of Music,” when they mentioned the following as some of their “Favorite Things”:
Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens,
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens.
Brown paper packages tied up with strings,
These are a few of my favorite things.
Cream-colored ponies and crisp apple strudels.
Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzels with noodles…
(Okay, okay…Enough! I think you get the point: simple things can often trigger great happiness, but this business about schnitzels is just too much! While that may work in Austria, schnitzels won’t impress audiences in the good old US of A, where few people even know what schnitzels are and may think they sound suspicious. Besides, schnitzels are fried, and fried foods stress the pancreas, thereby compromising any effort to achieve optimal health.)
Along those same “simple is better” lines, the late American cartoonist-philosopher Charles Schulz built a stellar career around his syndicated comic strip “Peanuts” with its beloved characters Charlie Brown, Lucy, Pigpen, Schroeder and Snoopy the Dog. During the 1960s and ‘70s, Schulz developed an entire subset of “Happiness is…” sayings, which attracted a massive following worldwide and prompted sales of millions of cleverly illustrated, slim gift books. Far and away, his most oft-quoted insight: “Happiness is a warm puppy.”
Many people perceive happiness as something that just comes along— the result of luck, and that if you wait long enough and “just hang in there, baby” eventually it will happen to you. Possibly that may be the case for some people, but study after study has indicated that happiness, like financial or health success, is something that requires a plan and that it should be worked at on a daily basis. In short, happiness is no accident, nor is it often the result of good luck, destiny, karma, divine payback or any other form of fate over which we have little or no control.
The most effective “key” to happiness is a strong sense of purpose in your life. If you have consciously thought about your purpose and can answer the question “Why am I here?” to your own satisfaction, you’re well on your way to achieving the long-term happiness that can form the nucleus of a life of quality.
The need and benefits of having a purpose-driven life have been explored thoroughly during recent years by Pastor Rick Warren and other leading thinkers, so an excellent first step would be to familiarize yourself with their writings.
If you aren’t yet sure of your purpose, that’s the best on-ramp to the Highway to Happiness. Why not give five minutes, right now, to thinking about…better yet, writing down, the things that make you smile, bring you energy, make you look forward to living.
Are you fully occupying your time on those important things? Or have you let the urgent overcome the important?
What ONE THING could you do, today, to move the important up the scale in your life? Do that thing, right now, and begin today, to live your life on purpose.
No one else will do it for you. Why not?! I triple dare you!!!