“The only thing that matters is what you choose to be now”
Po from Kung Fu Panda

The number 2 film on my “all time most watched” list is Kung Fu Panda 2.  It was my daughter’s favourite during many of our travels together over the last decade.  It is a film that had something for a young girl and something for her father.

We begin with Po, the Kung Fu Panda, frustrated with his life and feeling lost.  Over the course of 90 minutes, Po learns to accept who he is and find inner peace.

Any guesses on the film I have watched most in my entire life?  Check out this comment on the blog post for the answer!

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University of Pennsylvania psychologist Martin Seligman categorised hundreds of people into three groups based on how they pursued happiness:

  1. The Pleasant Life: People in pursuit of the Pleasant Life seek happiness by looking for pleasure. They are good at savouring the moment and making their pleasures last.
  2. The Engaged Life: People in pursuit of the Engaged Life seek happiness by working hard at their passions. They can immerse themselves so deeply in their passion that they sometimes come across as cold and uncaring of the needs of others.
  3. The Meaningful Life: People in pursuit of the Meaningful Life use their strengths to work toward something they feel contributes to a better world.

Warning for those who seek Pleasure

Seligman found that people who pursued the Pleasant Life experienced little happiness, while those who pursued the Meaningful Life and the Engaged Life were very happy.

Raul Aguirre recently reminded me of the ideas of Dr John DeMartini on the Pleasant Life path:  “We attract into our lives the opposites of what we seek”.  To seek to avoid pain, is to invite pain in.  To seek to avoid problems, is to invite problems in.

Which Path are you on?

Update: Raul has provided more detail of the life paths

Lawrence Kolhberg worked on levels of morality: he defined three stages of moral development. At LV*, we operate al Level 1 (the most primitive, seeking reward and avoiding punishment).

*LV is “Lower Values”, a Dr John DeMartini term for a life that is not dedicated to your personal HV – highest values.  When our life is coherent with our purpose and Highest Value (we don’t have to do much work to find it, just pay attention to where things flow easily for us) then all of our activity moves to a more inspired level of consciousness.

 Level 1 (Pre-Conventional)

  • 1. Obedience and punishment orientation (How can I avoid punishment?)
  • 2. Self-interest orientation (What’s in it for me?) (Paying for a benefit)

Level 2 (Conventional)

  • 3. Interpersonal accord and conformity (Social norms) (The good boy/girl attitude)
  • 4. Authority and social-order maintaining orientation (Law and order morality)

Level 3 (Post-Conventional)

  • 5. Social contract orientation (Laws that do not promote the general welfare should be changed when necessary to meet “the greatest good for the greatest number of people.”)
  • 6. Universal ethical principles (Principled conscience) (Laws are valid only insofar as they are grounded in justice, and a commitment to justice carries with it an obligation to disobey unjust laws.)

Six Human Needs according to Tony Robbins

 PERSONALITY NEEDS

  • Certainty / Comfort
  • Uncertainty / Variety
  • Significance
  • Love & Connection

SPIRIT NEEDS

  • Growth
  • Contribution

Happy People share one characteristic in common.

There are many different approaches to happiness, and many varied approaches… but there is one vital ingredient.

It is very hard to find someone who is happy who doesn’t have strong, quality friendships and a satisfying romantic relationship.

(Even imaginary friends help. Children with imaginary friends are more happy than children without friends.)

The fundamental source of an individual’s unhappiness can almost always be found in an inability to establish good friendships.

Making Better Friends

How can you improve the quality of your relationships?

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“One of the single best predictors of your happiness is the happiness of your romantic partner” Dr. Mark Holder

According to Dr Mark Holder, there are 3 words that can improve the quality of your relationships.

When you talk with a friend, the use of these 3 words builds deeper bonds.

When you speak with a loved one, these 3 words build stronger connection.

Here are those 3 words…

“Tell me more…”

When your friend tells you about his new mobile phone and you are about to tell him about your new mobile phone…  instead “tell me more…”

When your friend tells you about the great safari holiday that she has just returned from and you are about to say “I did a safari back in 2001″…  instead “tell me more…”

My friend Florian Mueck hates what he calls “The 1-Uppers”.  I tell a story of running a 10k…  the 1-upper says “I ran a marathon”.  I tell a story of hiking for 4 days… the 1-upper says “I hiked for 6 days”  I tell a story of having a blog post read by 1000 people… the 1-upper says “I had a blog post read by 10,000 people”.

Don’t be a 1-upper.

“Tell me more…”

You can thank me later.

* Check out Dr Mark Holder’s TEDx talk.

What keeps us happy and healthy as we go through life? If you think it’s fame and money, you’re not alone – but, according to psychiatrist Robert Waldinger, you’re mistaken.

What is the Most Important Aspect of a Happy Life?

pablo (12)It is the quality and depth of your relationships that make all the difference…  to health, to brains, to overall life happiness.

Good close relationships are good for our health and our happiness.  Here’s Robert Waldinger’s TED talk:

As the director of a 75-year-old study on adult development, Waldinger has unprecedented access to data on true happiness and satisfaction. In this talk, he shares three important lessons learned from the study as well as some practical, old-as-the-hills wisdom on how to build a fulfilling, long life.

Why is it hard?

We often look for quick fixes.  There are no relationship quick fixes.  Relationships take lifelong, constant effort.  You must actively work to keep the important relationships in your life strong.

What does leaning in to relationships look like?  Do something new together.  Reach out to the family regularly.  Listen and share.  Reach out without reason to friends.  Pick up the phone and meet.

 

It is imagination that makes humans unique in nature.

Genetically we differ 2% from chimpanzees and 3% from worms. It is not our genes that have us living in penthouses and connecting on facebook.

Our difference is the human cortex, the layer of brain that is most highly developed in humans.  The cortex is where we begin to live intentionally. We have a choice.  We don’t have to just respond to the world, but can begin to imagine a better world and thus plan and act accordingly.

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The unique gift of humanity is reason, the ability to solve problems in the mind.

What is the Purpose of Human Life?

2,300 years ago in the Greek city-state of Athens, Aristotle asked himself “what is the purpose of human life?” Aristotle defined the purpose of an object as being that which it can uniquely do.

A human is alive – but plants are also alive – so that cannot be human purpose.

A human feels – but animals also feel – so that cannot be human purpose.

The unique gift of humanity is reason, the ability to solve problems in the mind: to imagine solutions before putting them into practice.

Aristotle concludes the Nicomachean Ethics with a discussion of the highest form of happiness: a life of intellectual contemplation. Reasoned imagination is the highest virtue.

Leadership Requires Imagination

A leader must see a future that is not yet here. The clearer you can see and touch and feel this potential future the more compellingly you can communicate it to others.  The more you practice your imagination, the better you will get.  How can you practice your imagination?

How can you develop your imagination? Here are some ways:

  • Spend time bored.
  • Read fiction. Write a new ending to a classic book. Make a hero into a villain, and a hero into a villain. Write yourself into the book.
  • Throw photos on the floor and then explain the connection between them.
  • Watch TV in another language and explain to a friend what is happening.
  • List 10 small improvements you could make to the seat you are sitting on.
  • Tell bedtime stories to your children…  let them create the characters as you go.
  • Develop 2×2 matrix on an area of interest… and develop scenarios for changing positions.
  • Go to an ethnic restaurant and order something you have never had before.
  • Go to a railroad station or airport and take the first train or plane to depart.
  • Imagine a world without oil, cars, telephones, internet… fill in the blank…

What other ways can we develop our imagination?