12+ Ways to Happiness and Heroism

I’ve been following for quite a while Brian Johnson, I think he’s very energetic and I love the way he shares and is amazed by life and learning.
He also has a great youtube channel with book summaries (PhilosophersNotes) and much more related to his philosophy…
Here some of his findings:

happiness = climbing toward the peak of the mountain (having a goal + living in the now)

The good life is a process, not a state of being; it’s a direction, not a destination; the ideal is as a distant star (guiding us), not a distant shore to be reached
You’ll never be perfect: find the benefits, not the flaws! Embrace failure in the stretch zone! (mistake = mis-take = simply do it again)
A few ways to improve your happiness:
  1. express gratitude
  2. cultivate optimism (think of my best possible self in the future, don’t take things for granted)
  3. avoid over-thinking & social comparison (when mad, don’t ruminate, do something else)
  4. practice acts of kindness
  5. nurture social relationships
  6. develop strategies for coping
  7. learn to forgive
  8. increase Flow experiences
  9. savor life’s joys
  10. commit to my goals
  11. practice religion and spirituality
  12. take care of your body (thru meditation, physical activity, acting like a happy person)
Be time affluent (have time to do the things you value), more than money affluent –> energy affluent –> happiness affluent.
Identify and live my wisdom (live according to my values), which already is inside of me.
Happiness = use your signature strengths often, give them to the world (take the ‘VIA Survey of character strengths‘ test here, these are mine: Self-control and self-regulation; Love of learning; Curiosity and interest in the world; Caution, prudence, and discretion; Fairness, equity, and justice). The classic 6 virtues (divided into 24 strengths) are:
  1. Wisdom and Knowledge: creativity, curiosity, open-mindedness, love of learning, perspective
  2. Courage: bravery, persistence, integrity, zest
  3. Love and Humanity: love, kindness, social intelligence
  4. Justice: citizenship, fairness, leadership
  5. Temperance: forgiveness and mercy, humility, prudence, self control
  6. Spirituality and Transcendence: appreciation of beauty and excellence, gratitude, hope, humor, spirituality

Meaning is then simply using my signature strengths often, in service to something bigger than yourself

Your purpose in life (your highest goal) = to connect to the highest within myself more & more consistently (ancient greek word Areté , translated roughly as excellence or virtue, but it’s more than that)

Finding your mission:

Your mission = define it as a CALLING DESCRIPTION
Levels: job (you work for $$$) –> career (you wanna climb the corporate ladder) –> calling (darma: using my signature strengths in serving of a higher cause)
Hedgehog concept/major definite purpose: your mission should be the intersection of what I love to do (passion) + what I can be great at (skills+talents) + what the world needs (and is willing to pay for)
You can better define your mission by answering the following questions:
  • what can I and ONLY I do (start small, e.g. w/ my family: good bf, son, friend…)?
  • how can I use my greatest gifts in greatest service to the world?
  • if I had all the money+time, what would I do (as my mission)?
  • what’d I do if I knew I couldn’t fail?
  • what am I most proud of? what will I be most proud of?
TIPS: be willing to experiment & to make mistakes (mis-take = do it again), follow my bliss and my grunt (clear intention and impeccable action), be patient & serve others, remember my purpose (more important than my mission)
To close the integrity gap (what I actually do vs. what I’m capable of doing) and live with Areté, ask myself: how can I make myself proud in this moment? what would the higher version of myself do in this moment? Act as if I were the highest version of myself!

on Optimism:

3 Ps: optimist perception of (empowering perspective of the Creator: “what do I want?”)

  • good things: permanent (it will stay), pervasive (it spreads to other areas of life), personal (it’s because of me) 🙂
  • bad things: not permanent, not pervasive, not personal

GROWTH MINDSET of the optimalist: you just try to get better, you don’t care for (just) “being good” –> life as a playground (a GAME) to make as many experiments as possible + lesson learned to improve for next time (benefit finder while embracing reality)

Equanimity (balanced mind) game: when you feel off, it’s game time: see how fast you can get back on! (smile, deep breath, and ask: what’s my Areté and how would I respond? Do it!)
Optimal Living:
  1. optimism
  2. purpose (and vision)
  3. self-awareness (know myself)
  4. goals
  5. action
  6. energy
  7. wisdom (life as my classroom)
  8. courage
  9. love
  10. en*theos (harmony with wholeness) – Areté (living at my fullest potential: excellence, virtue)
We build true confidence by knowing that we have the ability to do reach a goal AND that we know we’ll have tough challenges to achieve it!
(e.g. I’ll be a great trader, and it’s gonna be tough!) Commit 100% (not 99%).
Setting goals that make you happy:
  1. the ultimate currency is happiness (not money, time, energy…)
  2. intrinsic (relationships, growth, contribution) vs. extrinsic (fame, wealth, hotness) goals + focus on the STEPS of the process (not the outcomes: results are a by-product of the steps I take)
  3. highest goal: show up to Areté (every moment at my highest self)
  4. happy archetype = positive orientation to the present & the future (you have goals that inspire you AND enjoy the process)
  5. dynamic tension (stretch zone): difficult but possible goals (true confidence) using baby steps
  6. put your virtues in action! (signature strengths, calling description)
  7. put some fun in my fundamentals (meditation, exercise, nutrition, optimism, creativity, relationships, gratitude –> schedule them!)
  8. roles & goals (son, friend, citizen, entrepreneur… –> happy relationships, bravery, money)
  9. creative production goals: focus on giving (getting only as a by-product of giving) = how can I serve?
  10. best selves diary: think about 5yrs in the future where all is great. now build vertical coherence between that ideal and this reality (integrity)
  11. willpower: meditation, breathe, exercise, nutrition, small stuff (e.g. sit straight), reduce variability of my behavior (e.g. schedule), be nice to myself, pre-commit, tidy up, bright lines (know what’s important and when I’m not doing it)
  12. stop doing what brings me down, start doing what brings me up!
  13. be an optimalist, not a perfectionist (mis-takes and do again, failure goes with success, growth mindset, experiment w/ life)
  14. make myself proud (+1/-1 to step forward)
  15. get things done: capture, 1-touch things <2mins, inbox to 0, raise my standards, constrain email/FB/internet/TV time
  16. Covey’s quadrants: important and not urgent, 1st things 1st
  17. prioritize my happiness (happiness precedes success) 😉 have fun!
Synthetic (I’m happy with what I don’t have) vs. Natural (I’m happy to have achieved something) happiness:
  • even if some futures are more preferable than others, striving too much to achieve them brings to unhappiness!
  • bounded fears and ambitions bring to more happiness, but we tend to foresee them as unbounded (which ruins us)!
  • integrity is more important than getting what we want
A well-balanced life, a life well lived, is a life where small amounts of time are invested where it counts, so that physical (body), emotional (relationships), mental (challenges), and spiritual (harmony) energies are balanced as well: small things count!
Life: pleasant life (pleasures) + good life (Engagement & Flow thru signature strengths & life redesign [work, love, play]) + meaningful life (serving something bigger than you) –> the pleasant life has little value compared to the other 2: design my beautiful day, do a gratitude visit, have a strengths date
People are happiest when in flow (absorbed), when with people, active, engaged in sports, focused on loved one, discovering, learning, when having sex; not “the hours I spent figuring myself out” or “looking in the mirror” or “listening to my hear beat”
Motivation = payment + meaning + creation + challenge + ownership + identity + pride
Intrinsic Motivation: mastery, autonomy, purpose; meaningful relationships, personal growth, community contributions
Having too many choices will decrease your happiness, so have a few, not too little, not too many.
Understand that there are cognitive limitations when we think of something as there are physical limitations when we build something
To make a good experience longer: INTERRUPT IT (for a SHORT time)!
e.g. start a massage, then after a while stop, then start again. This is because we adapt fast (to everything) and pleasure decreases!
It also works for bad experiences.
e.g. if I live close to the highway: I hate it also after a year because the noise is not constant but random.
–> accelerate adaptation to something bad and disrupt it to something good!

Uncertainty (non-monotony) prevents adaptation (and boredom) –> also in relationships: use false adaptation (e.g. don’t see each other for a few days).

BONUS video

Here’s a TED video by Prof. Phil Zimbardo, one of my favorite psychologists, about changing our behavior and be our every-day heroes.

Have fun and be happy! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s