Here are a few thoughts I had this morning which perhaps add up to one thought.
I signed up for edX’s course on The Science of Happiness yesterday.* What I’m about is an ongoing exploration of this and the thought of getting a “Certificate in Happiness” at the end of it makes me smile.
I don’t want to anticipate what will be taught in the course, but I’m guessing hard work and engagement and tears and determination will be mentioned somewhere along the way. Humans desire autonomy (freedom) times mastery (skills) times a purpose greater than self (contributing).**
One of the most important things we can do is simply turn up to what it is we must do – every day, until days turn into years, and keep going.
We can struggle to embrace the possibilities life provides because we still live with a “factory” mentality (and before that the serf mentality) – the factory brought stability and guaranteed income but it didn’t stimulate motivation and creativity. Now we find the factory is not so safe and stable – shipbuilding, coal-mining, Kodak, Motorola, British Leyland.
The means by which we can produce and share the art we love have just got bigger – whether we choose to pursue our passion to gain an income or not. Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram make it possible for us to share with tens, hundreds, and thousands more than we were once able to. We underestimate the value of the long tail to what we have to contribute.^
The same technology makes it possible for us to find each other and for collaboration to follow – tribes with purpose. Cities have always been the innovative places because of how they have made it possible for high numbers of people to interact – the Web is a great big city.
There have always been Humans who have made journeys to faraway places, pursued ideas others hadn’t thought of or asked questions when others were content with answers.
Perhaps the one thought is this: when we identify our dream (hope, idea, question, purpose, art …) and pursue it every day of our lives with effort and determination, making the most of the means available to us to share with others and to connect with those who share a similar dream, and we offer it to the world with innovation and sustainability, then, perhaps, we have found happiness.
(*How we learn is changing; this is me trying it out. Check out more from Seth Godin in his free to download Stop Stealing Dreams.)
(**He’s an interesting tweet from Austin Kleon highlighting something he’s reading which questions unrealistic optimism in favour of depressive realism. I prefer optimistic realism!)
(^The Long Tail is the phrase coined by Chris Anderson and is the unlimited choice made available by the internet. The future doesn’t lie in the high end “hits” at the of a curve but in the “misses” found in the long tail where many niche interests are to be found.)
(Cartoon: Letitia is Spanish for “Happy.”)