Just as 20% of your efforts yields 80% of the effects, I believe there’s a 1% in every domain that yields 20% of potential results. But it takes wisdom to know what that 1% is. I’ll give you what I think that 1% is in the Happiness stage of the simplified success flowchart:
Interests -> Energy -> Value -> Relationships -> Momentum -> Framing -> Focus -> Mastery/Flow -> Happiness -> Success
1. Pray the serenity prayer each morning.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time. Enjoying one moment at a time. Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace. Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it. Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will. That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next.
2. Do the five-minute gratitude exercise.
Here’s the exercise: “Write down three things that went well each day and their causes every night for one week. In addition, provide a causal explanation for each good thing.”
That’s it. We spend tens of thousands of dollars on expensive electronics, homes, automobiles and vacations hoping for a 10% boost. There is a free alternative, and it works.
In a study of exercise’s effectiveness by Martin Seligman, participants were asked to follow those exact instructions for just one week.
After one week they were 2% happier than before, but in follow-up tests, their happiness kept on increasing, from 5% at one month, to 9% at six months. All this, even though they were only instructed to journal for one week. Participants enjoyed the exercise so much, that they just kept on doing it on their own.
3. Cultivate the faith of Job.
This one probably doesn’t apply to you if you don’t experience a lot of negative emotions, but it may be the most important of all if negative emotions are a big part of your life. It depends on your situation.
The lesson of the book of Job is even if God takes away everything you have for the lolz…it doesn’t matter, it changes nothing, and God is still great and good because we’re so small that our lives don’t really matter. It won’t make sense to you why this is comforting if you’ve never been in a really bad place, but it might save your life someday when you’re in the belly of the whale and all hope is lost. Maybe write it down and tuck it in your bug-out bag or pack it with your rice.
13 Now there was a day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 14 and there came a messenger to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, 15 and the Sabeans fell upon them and took them and struck down the servants[c] with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 16 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 17 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “The Chaldeans formed three groups and made a raid on the camels and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 18 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 19 and behold, a great wind came across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young people, and they are dead, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”
20 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
22 In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.
Keep in mind, this was before God sent his son to die on our behalf. The pagan stoicism here requires a decidedly tragic shift in mindset which, like the conviction necessary to kill, you hopefully will never need.