The Three-Month Vacation, that's one of the things that make me really happy. But what else is required to keep that happiness level up? The key lies in identifying the obstacles. When we remove the obstacles, we know how to get to happiness. This may seem like a weird topic to take on, but check it out for yourself.
Happiness isn't some weird pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
It isn't some Internet marketer promising you endless clients. It's reachable, you know. So check it out.
When I was 8 years old the highlight of my week was “coconut water”.
On Saturdays, I'd go with my father to get all the provisions for the week. There was no drive to the supermarket ten times a week. Instead, once a week, we'd get on the train, then walk into a market filled with fresh vegetables, meat, fish and fruit. And in the middle of this market was a guy who sold coconuts—and coconut water.
Almost nothing brought a smile to my face as much as the thought of drinking coconut water on Saturdays. It was my moment of pure bliss.
And that, just that, is the secret of life
We go around trying to find the purpose of life, when the answer is right in front of us all the time. The purpose of life is to be “happy”.
Except I wasn't entirely happy with just the coconut water
After we bought a ton of meat, fish and vegetables and headed back to the train station, we'd eat a potato snack dipped in a mixture of green mint chutney and tamarind sauce. Now that too, was my moment of bliss.
So wait, this happiness story is getting weird, isn't it?
I mean here we are trying to establish happiness, and it seems we're jumping from one point to another. And that's exactly the point! No one thing makes us happy. For me, my current moments of bliss are the walk to the cafe with my wife, the coffee, let's not forget the coffee. There's also the time I spend with my nieces. My painting, my work, the music on my podcast, single malt whisky—and yes, the 3-Month vacations.
And yet, most of us never write down what makes us happy
So do it as an exercise. Get out a sheet of paper. Make the list. It won't necessarily be a very long list. And the funny thing is that it will consist of rather mundane things like gardening, a walk on the beach—I even know someone who is super contented by ironing. Making the list enables us to know what we really want from life, so we can start heading in that direction.
Because frothing, right in front of us are the obstacles. They’re determined to reduce, even eliminate our happiness.
So what are these obstacles?
Yes, really! Though you'd never expect to see inefficiency in a happiness list, it's the No.1 killer of happiness. That's because if you were to look at your list again, you'd find that everything that makes you happy, also takes time.
Time that you're spending being inefficient
Look at the software you're using. How efficient are you at it? Let's take for example the “Three Month Vacation” podcast that I create. Well, the podcast recording itself is just 15-17 minutes. And I can usually do it in one take. But each podcast is matched to music—often as many as eight different pieces of music (you have to listen to it, to believe it). And all this music, and production, and editing—well, it takes 3 hours.
So the question that arises is just this: How do you save 10 minutes?
Just 10 minutes in a three-hour exercise, adds up to 20 a week—about bout 100 a month. Which totals up to 1200 a year. That's 20 hours of happiness deprivation and for what? For inefficiency? That's a stupid, yes stupid, way to go about things isn't it?
But we do it routinely—we stay inefficient
We know that one of the best ways to get clients is to write a book, or a booklet. To create information that draws clients to you, instead of you chasing after them. And we know that the book can't just be “written”. It needs structure. But no, no, no, no and no. We just sit down and write the book. And many, many hours later, we're not sure why we're struggling so much with the book. Or why a client is even going to read it. And we're stepping deeper in the doo-doo of inefficiency.
So what are we to do?
Well, we have a list of what makes us happy, right? How about a list of the things we do; the software we use; the books, video, audio we have to create? How about a list—and not a very long list, that enables us to see where we can get more efficient? Instead of slogging for a year over a book, would there be a way to write it using structure? That alone could shave off 10 months of twirling round and round.
If you're using a piece of software, how about learning just two shortcuts a week? Just two a week! See how that brings inefficiency down to its knees, two shortcuts at a time. Yes, inefficiency is a big problem, but greed isn't far behind is it? Let's examine greed, shall we?
So what's the big deal with greed?
I think greed is good. Whenever I'm greedy, I've almost never felt bad. I'm pretty happy when stuffing my face with one more helping of biryani (that's a rich, rice dish) or another heap of maccha ice-cream. So greed itself isn't a problem.
But it sure can get in the way
That's because it takes time to wash off the greed. Too much ice-cream, too much wanting this and that—it all takes time. Because I now have to balance out that greed and atone for it in some way. I have to walk more, exercise more, work more. It doesn't make sense, does it?
Yet we have all the dollar signs in our face
We have marketers that show us how much they earn. This month I earned x. no of dollars. The month after, I earned so much more.
Oh, look a dip in income!
That's not good. Let's work twice as much to obliterate that dip. And so we follow along like idiots expecting that the dollars will show us the way.
And they do. Without the dollars we're just spinning our wheels.
But there's a point of enough. Again, this comes down to a definition, perhaps even a list. What's your enough? Do you know? Even though I love my nieces dearly, I do have a point of enough. Coconut water? Even an 8-year old could tell you what was enough. And yes, the dollars. Do we really have to keep doubling them? Are we working for the joy of working, or are we slaves to the smile of our bank managers?
Greed is nice in small bursts, but terrible as a strategy
We pay the price and it becomes a form of inefficiency—and the second barrier to our happiness. Which slides us into the third big hurdle, which is just as surprising. Namely, self-doubt.
Self doubt is a big rocking chair, isn't it?
You know the concept of a rocking chair, don't you? It gives you the feeling of movement, but it goes nowhere. Self-doubt is like that, doing cartwheels in the velodrome of our brain.
But run into a person who's always second-guessing themselves, and you realise that you can't do much about it. And it's terribly inefficient, this self-doubt. It fills your brain with a load of nonsense that keeps you from being happy. And there's nothing much you can do it about it, because the damage isn't new. It's something that has been part of you for a good chunk of your life.
So learn to say thank you.
That's it. The inefficiency comes from the fact that someone won't like your article, your book, your painting, your garden, the muffins you just baked, etc. And if you just assume that you're at the point of “thank you,” you've saved yourself a lot of grief. Because if you're saying “thank you,” it means you just got complimented on something. Even just the thought of saying thanks is making you smile right now, isn't it?
Now you no longer have to apologise, or back track. The thank you is your way out of the mess, every single time.
The secret of life is in knowing what you want—what you really want
It's the inefficiencies, the greed and the self-doubt that get in our way. Can we save 10 minutes of inefficiency? Can we define our “enough” so we can earn what we want, but then stop? Can we get off the rocking chair by envisioning the “thank you” that is to follow?
Just recognising the barriers and getting out of their way, that's the goal, isn't it?
The secret of being happy isn't as hard as it seems.
Well, it can be.
Right at this moment I can't decide: coconut water or coffee?
Still reading? Have a look at—How To Slow Down—And Why It’s Critical: Episode 17