By Bruce Barbour
Part 3 - The Happiness Strategy
With happiness you don't have to choose just one approach and in fact it is wise to use a number of different approaches. You can use your various chosen approaches to happiness in whatever balance you choose. And this may be varied throughout life (e.g. working life compared to retirement) and even throughout the year (work time compared to holidays) and the day (work compared to rest time).
One of the main requirements is that the overall strategy chosen is resilient, that is, it is not easily broken down. If things go wrong in our life, which let's face it they will, a person needs to have the tools from the approaches chosen that will allow their happiness to bounce back after a while. Sadness is going to be experienced at some stage however this sadness need not be extensively ongoing.
The approaches chosen should not have many limitations or if they do then these limitations can be compensated for by the strengths of the other approaches in your Happiness Strategy. If you have a number of approaches in your Happiness Strategy then if one approach was, for whatever reason, to fail to provide happiness then the other approaches will still be there with the potential to provide continuing happiness. There are also some approaches that can provide immense happiness so even though they have limitations, if these limitations occur infrequently then they are worth including in your Happiness Strategy.
This is my suggestion on how to achieve long term happiness. The Happiness Strategy can have some primary approaches that should be used consistently and be woven into your lifestyle. In addition the Happiness Strategy could have a number of secondary approaches that could be used when desired if available.
The three primary approaches that should be included in your Happiness Strategy (24) are:
In addition to these as secondary approaches I would include:
The values based lifestyle should include all of the
values that you determined to be important to you.
In particular concentrate on your universal values. While
not always possible it is desirable if you can align your
work with your values. If not, you may be able to align
another aspect of your life with your values. Ideally your
work and other activities should also provide an
opportunity for gaining a sense of satisfaction through
purpose, competence and achievement.
In addition to this you need to have a method of handling negative Self Thought and emotion, so that they don't stop you from achieving what you want to achieve. As mentioned ACT seems to offer a viable approach here and I suggest you re-read the section in Part 2 that provides a brief explanation of ACT.
By all means include other approaches into your Happiness Strategy on a short term or longer term basis. However before adding it to your Happiness Strategy analyse it for its limitations and resilience: its duration, its availability and dependency. Also ensure that it is ethically sound. Being aware of its limitations will determine where you can place it in your Happiness Strategy: whether it is a primary approach that can be relied on; or a secondary approach that can be used but not necessarily relied upon.
For example an Intellectual Pursuit in the form of a hobby can provide happiness (from a sense of competence and/or achievement). Stamp collecting can be an intellectual pursuit, as you study the history of the stamps and the country of origin. There can also be goals based happiness from the search for, and attainment of, a rare or missing stamp. It can also link into values as you may be collecting with the aim of preserving a small but important part of human history.
Reading of books can be an Intellectual Pursuit. Humour can also be included on a short term basis. The possibilities are endless.
The Happiness Strategy incorporates approaches to
happiness that covers all facets of consciousness with the
aim of achieving resilient and long lasting happiness.
24. You can of course use other approaches as well as, or instead of, these suggestions. For example an Intellect pursuit as work (or hobby) has great potential. If you chose an approach that has limitations it would be wise to have a number of approaches so if one method should fail, for whatever reason, the other approaches should continue to be available.
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