The third form of happiness, which is meaning, is again knowing what your highest strengths are and deploying those in the service of something you believe is larger than you are.
There’s no shortcut to that. That’s what life is about.
Martin Seligman interview in Edge “Eudaemonia, The Good Life“
Here are three activities to cut back or stop altogether:
- Watching television.
- Working more than 40 hours a week.
- Worrying about things you cannot control.
I was fortunate–although I didn’t realize it a the time–when our television screen gave out with a blue flash and a loud pop late last year. We took it into the shop and there were several weeks of diagnosis trying to determine which part to order and then realizing that the part would cost as much as a new set. We went shopping for a new one and couldn’t decide. At that point something funny happened. We stopped shopping because we realized we were getting more done and the boys were much better about chores and finishing homework. In the end we hooked up a projector to the DVD player and stuck with Netflix but have yet to replace the television.
OK, on those last two do as I say not as I do. That’s the problem with proverbs and rules of thumb. For challenges in the realms of idealized problem solving like mathematics or chess (anywhere there are child prodigies), you can learn a lot from a proverb. But many insights in life can’t be reduced to writing, especially those involving either self-mastery or other people (and startups, alas, involve both).
If you read the history of an event how does that compare to living through it? Can you learn to ride a bike from a book? The challenge with a startup–like many other things in life–is that you need to integrate many different inputs, your own hopes and fears among them, and negotiate a working consensus with your co-founders.
Things to do in your newfound time
- walks or other exercise: obligatory, again do as I say not as I do
- reading books: an excellent way of visiting another world or appreciating another perspective. They help to pull me out of a rut and give me access to information that’s not part of casual conversation or the daily news cycle.
- more time with your family: things change. At this point I find myself listening to Rush‘s “Time Stand Still” more frequently, I just want to savor things as they are.
- reconnect with old friends and co-workers: they are your tribe. Not that you can’t make new friends.
- visiting nature, a museum, or other thin places where you can appreciate beauty: I was “home base” tonight for the Trick-Or-Treaters and I spent the early evening feeling a storm moving in and looking up at the clouds gliding across the sky. It reminded me of my boyhood: some days I miss St. Louis.
“Time Stand Still” lyrics excerpt:
I’m not looking back
But I want to look around me now
Time stand still
See more of the people and the places that surround me now
Freeze this moment a little bit longer
Make each sensation a little bit stronger
Make each impression, a little bit stronger
Freeze this motion a little bit longer
The innocence slips away
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