The Happy Life – Sustainability

(This post is part of a series on happiness called “The Happy Life”)

Do you marvel at the unpredictability of life?  Isn’t it great when life throws a happy curveball at you?  Something you didn’t see coming.  Some source of joy that was completely unexpected, would not have been missed, but makes your life fuller for having come to you out of the blue….like a juggler on a street corner.

Those are great, right?  Love ’em.  Give me more of that for sure.  Those are the things that give life flavor!

But while we wait for more of those I want to talk to you about the power of a more proactive approach to long term happiness and joy.


We all have hopes and dreams about what the future looks like.  Relationships, money, travel, hair (how did that get in there?)…. All of these things (well most of these things) are attainable over time.

“Time” is where the juice is…

I often see people who seem to be regressing.  Big dreams, no results, no forward movement.  Time keeps moving on and the world keeps spinning.  In life you are either moving forward or you are backing up.  There is no such thing as standing still.

People who think they are standing still…are actually backing up. They just don’t know it yet.

It’s like standing still on a moving treadmill.  That will work out for a short time before….well.

The stuck-dreamers are often suffering from an imbalanced focus.  They are focusing too much on the goals and results and not enough on the process.

Focus small.  If you are interested in a Happy LIFE as opposed to a Happy weekend….you are going to have to put in place some small SUSTAINABLE habits that will stand the test of time.

Want to be 20lbs lighter for the summer….or forever?  Don’t go on some crash diet.  Find out what’s hurting you nutritionally and make a change to something less damaging that YOU REALLY LIKE.  That last part is key.  If you are suffering through a food that is good for you but requires you to suffer through it….THAT is not sustainable, my friend.  You are just setting up the weight yo-yo pattern that we are all (myself a prime example) very familiar with.  Same thing with exercise.  Find something you enjoy doing, something you look forward to and it will naturally sustain itself.

Want to learn to play a musical instrument?  Or do you just want to play that one song you think is really cool?  What you figure out real quick is that playing a musical instrument with enough expertise to play that one song can require a lot of foundational work.  So don’t focus on the one song….play a little each day.  Just piddle around, get comfortable with the feel of the instrument in your hand.  Let it become natural to hold.   Then learn a couple notes, a trick here or there.   Learning to play an instrument is a lot like learning a set of little tricks.   There comes a point where you start to naturally stitch those tricks together…..and suddenly you are able to play that one song you thought was cool…….along with a thousand other songs that are more similar than you might have once thought.

Want to have enough $$$ for retirement or just enough for that next vacation?  A 401K is the exact same concept, right?  Small habit over time produces big results.

In all these examples, the power is in the small sustainable habit….not the result.  It’s like that old question.

How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time of course.

Don’t focus on the elephant.   Focus on the fork.


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8 Replies to “The Happy Life – Sustainability”

  1. “Standing still on a treadmill.” Heh!

    Sustainability and commitment are so important to meeting goals. It’s so important to teach children that lesson. And grownup children like me. 🙂

    1. That’s so true about the kids…and teaching ‘vision’ is such a challenge with the young mind who can’t really comprehend that life is finite. How do you do it?!?

  2. This is my favorite write up so far. When I was teaching guitar lessons, I had a certain population of students that didn’t really like the “gettin’ there”. They would ask me how I got to the level I was at(which is still MILES away from where I want to be)…and the answer was always time. I’m not crazy disciplined, though. I really really like the “gettin’ there”, which obviously makes it super sustainable for me. And the truth is that there isn’t really a there there(as they say). I was trying to explain to Mason(12 yr old son, for those of you playing at home), that the cool thing about learning, in general, for me, …is all the stuff you don’t and will most likely NEVER know!!!! So much! An ocean. That shouldn’t be defeating. It’s awe inspiring. If you spend an inordinate amount of TIME on one thing, most likely you will elevate yourself as the guy/gal who does that thing,…better than the most of the other peeps, who are spending time on some other thing. Time!

    1. Couldn’t agree more, brother! Your observation about your students viewing your level of expertise as their target….and you viewing your level of expertise as part of a longer journey is an interesting juxtaposition of thought process.

      I particularly like the reference to the “awe inspiring” immeasurable volume of knowledge available. It really does come down to choosing what to learn and how to spend your time.

      Next Tuesday, I am actually publishing a piece on this very topic entitled “24 Hours To Choose”. (Would you consider a position in our marketing department here at Towers? It pays nothin’, but it is chalk full of prestige!)

    1. This one is close to my heart. I preach ‘vision’ to whomever will listen. Sustainability seems like a close cousin to vision….maybe?

      Thanks for the feedback! Keep it coming!

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