What Does it Take to Make You Happy?

Corbett Barr at FreePursuits.com recently posted  a fantastic video that is closely aligned with my personal life view. The TED video is of Srikumar Rao who outlines how to be happy in life. I briefly summarized the video below, but I didn’t include the great examples that will help convey the message. Watch the video, it is worth it.

Brief Summary

Srikumar Rao

Everything we do in life in someway is a quest for happiness.

There is nothing that you have to get, do or be in order to be happy.

Happiness is your innate nature. It is wired in your DNA.

We have a mental model that says we have to get something in order to be happy.

IF this happens, THEN we will be happy.

The IF-THEN model itself is flawed. But instead of realizing that, we spend an enormous amount of time changing the ‘IFs.”

Recall a scene of spectacular beauty that took you outside of yourself into a place of great serenity like a rainbow or mountain range. The reason that happened is that you accepted the universe exactly as it was. You didn’t say that is a beautiful rainbow but it is a little off to the left. If I could move it 200 yards to the right it would be ever so much beautiful.

We all want to achieve things in life. We all want certain outcomes in our life.  Actions are within our control but the outcome is completely out of our control. Sometimes we get the outcome we want and sometimes we don’t.

We typically invest in the outcome. The alternative is that you invest in the process. Don’t focus on the winning. When it is over and you look in the mirror, did you do the best that you were capable of? And if you did the best that you were capable of then the score doesn’t matter. If you did the best that you were capable of, you will find the score to your liking.

Passion exists inside you, it does not exist in the job. If you do not find a way to ignite it within you, you will not find it outside. If you ignite the passion where you are, you will find the external world rearranges itself to accommodate the new person you are becoming.  As you do that, you will find that miracles happen on a regular basis.

Seth Godin’s Linchpin

Godin’s latest book Linchpin is also related. I have written a brief summary of Linchpin and have a couple of links to a free mp3 and eBook that Godin created on my IdeaEconomy blog. Please talk a look if you are interested.


Godin and Rao both speak about something that I have been calling excellence. I really feel that the only route to happiness and success is striving to do the best that you can. You don’t have to be the best to be happy. You just have to do your best. At the end of everyday ask yourself, ‘did I do the best that I was capable of?‘ I find that when I can answer that question affirmatively, then I am pretty happy with my life regardless of what occurred or was accomplished.

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My name is John Bardos. My wife and I gave up our business, house and possessions in Japan to search for more meaning and fulfillment in our lives. We've discovered that a satisfying life is about rich experiences, quality relationships and meaningful contribution, NOT consumption.

5 Responses to What Does it Take to Make You Happy?

  1. Mars Dorian says:

    Yeah, I watched that talk.

    I luv that Zen approach on living life and doing business. You’ll never be really satisfied with the future and the results, it REALLY is the process that’s the most fun – the realm where anything goes and everything is possible.

    My blog is a creative artwork in progress – it’s fun and a lot of hard work – but it’s an exciting journey which vibrates with every inch of my digital soul !

    THank you for sharing this cool message,

    Time to rock on !
    .-= Mars Dorian´s last blog ..How to become a Productivity Maniac – just like me !(video) =-.

    • John says:

      It is like the saying, “it is the journey, not the destination.” Sometimes the anticipation and excitement of traveling somewhere new are better than actually arriving. It is easy to over-hype a future outcome so that when we achieve it we are felt let down. More emphasis needs to focus on the journey.

  2. floreta says:

    I saw this video a couple months back and its the type of message that you find in Zen/ Buddhism. It truly is the process, and not the destination! I’m not very “successful” in most people’s terms. But that’s ok. I’m living my life the way I want to live it and enjoying it!

  3. John says:

    Thanks for the comment Floreta,

    I think all modern measures of success are relative comparisons. Who has the newest car or biggest house? Achievement is always about having more than your neighbors. With those rules it is impossible for anyone to feel successful.

    I like the message of the video. “Did I do the best I was capable of?’ To me that is what is a successful day and life is. With that definition, it sounds like you also have a very ‘successful’ life.

  4. Hey John,

    Thanks for the post and video. I truly subscribe to the idea presented, and I am getting better at living it more consistently now. It is so true that the outside world rearranges itself to accommodate the new you that you are becoming. I am experiencing more and more of these miracles.

    .-= Rasheed Hooda´s last blog ..Old India in New Mexico =-.

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