My Second Christmas Wish for YOU: Serve To Be Happy

I like philosophy, but I’m a practical guy.
I don’t want to hear about the nuances of a happy life. I want a step-by-step. Here’s what I’ve figured out so far.
First, Maslow’s Hierarchy shows us the steps to fulfillment (Maslow called it “self-actualization”). Now, fulfillment isn’t exactly the same as happiness, but it’s a key component.
Maslows Hierarchy of Needs.svg
Don’t worry about the bottom parts, because if you’re reading this blog, you probably have the bottom two figured out.
From there, though, the path to happiness changes from what we HAVE to what we DO, and who we do it WITH.
Starting With The End in Mind
First, our habits create the base of our day. When I get up early, I get to write for a couple of hours. That sets up my mind for the day ahead. When I work out at noon, I don’t feel tired in the evenings. When I get to bed on time, I feel sharper the next day. And so on.
Our personality is the way we respond to things that aren’t habits. These make up the majority of your life, of course. And you get to CHOOSE how you greet people; choose how you respond to stress; choose how you treat a cranky customer.
But even with the right attitude and habits, true fulfillment still requires service to others. Let me give you two examples:
In The Heart and the Fist, Eric Greitens shares his stories from refugee camps and war zones all over the world. In every case, Greitens says, you have three age groups. The first age group is the kids; they’re just naturally happy, because they find ways to play or stay busy. The second group is the elders, who are mostly very unhappy because they have nothing to do but dwell on their horrible circumstances. But the third group, who are middle-aged, are surprisingly happy–because they have to take care of everyone else.
Even within that group of adults, the division between “unhappy” and “happy” is clearly defined by those who are busy and those who are bored.
In my own experience, I can remember laughing while trying to carry water on my head from a watering hole to a village; but also feeling morose while sitting on a tour bus in France, because I was bored. Service to others creates both mental stimulation and the sense that you’re helping.
Here’s another one: I love exercising with the Catalyst family. But running the business itself doesn’t make me happy (to be honest, it’s pretty stressful.) What makes me happy is taking members for lunch, or adopting 70 families for Christmas. The money part is hard; the service part is easy. Most gym owners will say the same.
In my mentoring practice, we follow the same goal-setting procedure for every client, no matter where in the world they are or how much money they make. We start by calculating a travel goal, then an education goal, and then a lifestyle goal. But we always include a SERVICE goal, because we know that no one can be truly happy without serving others. Sure, we can be glad to have a nice family; we can be titillated by a party; we can be relieved to be on a beach in February. We can be grateful for all of it. But these are all fleeting.
How will you SERVE others this year?
I hope you find a way.