FOR THE WEEK BEGINNING JUNE 11, 2007
Each weekly edition of GHOST STORIES is a short read beginning with a quote that inspires the ideas expressed in the column. Feel free to share our stories with friends and colleagues!
INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:
GO WITH THE FLOW!
Ice cream or cake? A new car or a trip to Europe? Take a new job or stay put? All of our choices are rooted in the desire to become happy, but there's always the possibility that our choices could be wrong.
Maybe that's because happiness is more of a personality trait than a goal to set oneself. Consider that last year Americans spent $750 million on self-help books and $1 billion on motivational speakers. All that money invested, but what has been the return?
Money does not buy happiness, except for those lacking the basics. Once you've got what you really need, you'll never really get everything that you want. The trick is altering your approach to what you want. Imagining possible futures of happily-ever-afters or endless gloom won't get you anywhere. Neither joy nor despair last forever, and there's no one answer to encourage or prevent one or the other.
So where does that leave us if winning the lottery doesn't guarantee bliss? Instead of happiness, we could aim for what Pierce Howard calls "flow." Find an everyday joy, like cooking, reading, painting, whatever. When that activity engrosses you to the point where you forget where you are or what time it is, then you're in the flow.
When you're in the flow, you actually stop worrying about being happy. Remember that happiness is not a goal - it's a personality trait. Making happiness your goal may only encourage frustration. True happiness flourishes with family and other close relationships, which are not always perfect, but do lead to what Howard calls a "full, satisfying life."
So forget about lottery tickets and instead pick up a book, a brush, a telephone. Reach out or reach in, and seize the day. Become a happy person by forgetting about becoming happy!
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