Thursday, 29 May 2014

Draw a sharp picture of your future. Psychological well-being requires a strong sense of direction. Only clear definitions make personal satisfaction sustainable

How would you rate your current level of happiness from 1 to 10? If you are already experiencing the highest levels of personal satisfaction, congratulations. Most people aren't. My next questions is even more sensitive. If you were to assume for yourself a life expectancy of 80 years, at what levels of happiness are you aiming for the rest of your life?

Men and women who are already enjoying a great life worry about how they are going to maintain it year after year. Those living in less than perfect conditions are usually full of hope for a better future. The crucial question is, of course, how we get there.

If happiness is a long shot, it pays to aim as close as possible. How can we make sure that we are moving in the right direction? These three principles have often helped me sharpen my focus:

Only clear definitions make personal satisfaction sustainable 

People have different ideas of what it means to be happy, but this does not mean that random events possess the capacity to improve your life.

Happiness is composed of specific experiences that we long to have. Well-being is a positive event, something that we crave, a place where we want to be. Make an effort to draw a detailed picture of your ambitions so that it serves you as compass while you are walking through the desert.

Happiness involves the avoidance
of undesirable events

At a very minimum, it demands the postponement of death. What negative elements do you need to keep away in order to be happy? Make the list as long as you need. Pain and sickness should be amongst the things to avert. The same goes, for most people, for poverty and discomfort.

Your compilation of negatives won't be finished before you add names of certain persons, or perhaps types of persons, that you deeply dislike. The purpose of this exercise is to make you conscious of which negative aspects you consider incompatible with happiness.

Psychological well-being requires a strong sense of direction

This crucial aspect is often overlooked. Lacking a sense of direction is equivalent to trusting luck for raising your personal level of satisfaction. Clarity of purpose gives an individual a target to achieve and a path to follow.

Steps taken with the right destination in mind are likely to improve the quality of your experiences, at least in the long term. Your life should flow towards your objectives. Steer your way to pursue your specific goals, while at the same time, try to keep off those negative aspects that you wish to avoid.

Draw a sharp picture of your future

Whatever your present situation, achieving a better future is going to involve substantial work. Most people are able to motivate themselves for a short while, but they are quick to give up when they meet the first difficulties.

Draw a sharp picture of your future and that vision will provide you with a clear sense of direction. Only consistent, rational ambitions sustain the long-term motivation that allows individuals to reach the highest levels of happiness.

For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living


[Image by PhillipC under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under]