Pleased or Displeased?

I’ve been trying an experiment. I imagine what I would be doing if I could do anything that I wanted to do. Luckily, I am not a mean or perverse person so I didn’t even have to rule out things that are cruel, immoral, or illegal. Then, I tried to make that situation happen by sheer force of will.

Surprisingly enough, this experiment was a huge success. The only thing that I can’t explain is why it took me so long to come up with this plan. Actually, it didn’t. I’ve been running this experiment since I was a teenager with ever so gradual progress toward ultimate success the whole time.

Which reminds me of a story. A friend of mine had a six  year old son. It was back in the days of arcade games like Missile Command, Centipede, and PacMan. Her son loved to play PacMan. And the thing is, he always won. His secret? He always played the ghosts.

That story illustrates that living a successful life is all about being careful how you define success. You have to define success in terms of what makes you happy, not what everyone else expects would make you happy.

Happiness is a state of mind that you choose to be in. One of the early employees of Google once taught a class in happiness. It consisted of three steps. First, think of something that would make you a little bit happy, for instance if you are thirsty, think of a sip of water. Second, take a sip of water and notice how it makes you feel. Third, experience the joy that you feel. Repeat.

It’s funny but that is also the reason that I enjoy programming so much. When you program you repeatedly are faced with a problem, you figure out a solution to the problem, you feel really good about solving the problem. This happens over and over again, often several times a minute. And, if it takes longer than that, you feel even better when you solve it.

I’ve been writing every day for six and a half years. I’ve figured out that writing makes me happy. I will probably continue to write. I might even try writing more than I do now. But if that doesn’t make me more happy, I’ll go back to the way things are now.

Don’t be afraid to experiment. If you aren’t happy, figure out why, try to do something about it. If you succeed, great! Keep it up. If not, try something different. You won’t magically become happy if you keep doing the same old things that make you unhappy now.

And another surprising thing that happened to me when I started this process. I discovered how happy I actually was. When I tried to imagine what would make me happy, it was largely, more of what I was already doing.

Sweet dreams, don’t forget to tell the ones you love that you love them, and most important of all, be kind.