“The purpose of our lives is to be happy.”
We all know what it means to “catch” a cold. Something from outside you gets inside you and makes you feel bad. When you catch a cold, your body experiences symptoms of that badness: runny nose, headache, cough, et cetera.
But what does it mean to “catch” your spirit? When something catches your spirit, something is triggered from inside you and makes you feel great. When you catch your spirit, your body experiences symptoms of that greatness: engagement, excitement, and enthusiasm.
One summer evening in 2020 at 7:38, a text message from Melissa caught my spirit. Melissa is Dr. Melissa Petersen, the force behind the book, Codes of Longevity, and a dear friend with whom I instantly clicked with the moment we met at a longevity event in the summer of 2019.
Hey friend, your [podcast] show layout is so perfect! Any chance that you would have enough time to write a 1,500-word chapter for the book, Codes of Longevity, in the next three weeks following a similar format to your show? Meaning [will you share] your formula and then break down your own story so that someone can understand and follow to express their own state of happiness? I just love all that you’re doing, and this is such an easy way to understand flow and format that I feel it could be a great read as well and possibly something accessible enough that we could get [your chapter added to the book] before the deadline hits for edits. Let me know your thoughts, no pressure. 🤗
Eight hours later, at 3:38 the next morning, I replied:
I’m on it. I’ll aim to have a final draft in your hands before the end of August 📖❤️
Now it’s 4:53 a.m. and I’ve spent the last few hours tossing and turning and thinking about writing this chapter. Finally, too excited to sleep, I just start writing. Putting pen to paper as they say (or, more literally, thumb to keyboard on my iPhone).
And now, lying in bed, with my beautiful wife sound asleep next to me, I’m writing to you, dear reader, to explain the secret to happy in 1,500 words or less. Easy peasy, huh?
The reason I haven’t slept much this night is actually also the secret to happy … it’s what I call the 3 E’s of Happy: Enthusiasm, Excitement, and Engagement. When I catch my spirit and I’m living—in the 3 E’s—life is inspired and flows easily. Writing a chapter for a book is a snap. “Work” becomes a joyful service because I’m operating from my true, unencumbered self. The real, authentic me, in-spirit… the person I was meant to be.
The question is, how do we start living there? Here is the simple formula I’ve developed that helps me spend more and more time being happy, living in-spirit, and experiencing the beautiful symptoms of engagement, excitement, and enthusiasm.
Happy Formula: Capacity + Purpose = Happy
In other words, the “Happy” you want from life comes when you combine capacity with purpose!
Let’s break down each of the three pieces, okay?
Happy, as I define it, contains four elements. They are:
- Doing things you love
- In places you love
- With people you love, AND
- Creating something of value to others
So, it’s doing and it’s giving… But to be a giver, you need excess capacity in your life.
Happy is built upon a foundation of capacity.
I think of capacity as the ability to take care of myself and to have something left over to give to others. It’s my personal responsibility to become fully optimized as a human being, utilizing the gifts that I’ve been given to create the life I want to live.
My capacity builders are physical fitness, mental fitness, financial fitness, and spiritual fitness.
Physical Fitness is all about strengthening the body, and encompasses not only exercise, nutrition, hydration, and sleep, but important health maintenance like doctor’s visits, diagnostics, and bloodwork. It’s important to note that the energy created by the practices of physical fitness are finite. What gets used up must be replaced with food, water, sleep, exercise, and so on.
Mental Fitness (commonly referred to as mental health) is all about strengthening the mind, and while not as tangible as physical fitness, it is just as vital. Mental fitness includes reading, meditation and reflection, goal-setting, creativity, lifelong learning, and the pursuit of hobbies. The energy created by the practices of mental fitness is also finite. The mind tires from use and must be rested, and its energy replenished.
Financial Fitness is building the financial resources needed to provide for yourself and others, and for me personally it is connected to a deep-seated sense of responsibility to do so. It creates the freedom to do the things I want to do and to enjoy them to the fullest, without financial worry. Of course, financial fitness is also finite. To maintain financial resources, every dollar spent must be replaced.
Spiritual Fitness is focused on discovering and cultivating the inner being that is my unique soul. Spirituality is learning to detect the differences between energy and ideas created by my mind (earthly energy) and those generated from deep within my awareness (spiritual energy). Spiritual Fitness is knowing that my inner spirit is my direct connection to the greater magnificence of everything in the Universe. It is my practice of holding and strengthening those moments when my “spirit is caught” and staying in-spirit more and more each day. It’s awesome to exclaim that Spiritual Fitness is infinite. The more you use, the more you have. It’s a lot like Love…well, actually, it is Love!
Before I move on to Purpose, let me share an amazing capacity-building concept called Kaizen. Kaizen is the Japanese idea that small, incremental improvements will add up over time to yield big results. As a personal practice, it means that there is always something I can do better tomorrow than I did today. It keeps me moving forward. Every single day. I may choose to work on a craft, or a physical skill, or a spiritual practice. I could be expanding my capacity for kindness, or becoming a better listener, or accepting others’ perspectives more graciously. Kaizen can be applied to any capacity that I’m wanting to improve.
So, I’ve made it my lifelong practice to do whatever I must to build the capacity I need to take care of myself and my family and have something more to give to others. From that strong foundation, I do everything I can to discover and live my purpose.
Happy is ignited by purpose.
In my second book, Turning Inspiration into Action, I explore the idea that major life transformations and “discovery of purpose” often comes from devastation –terrible illness, a sudden death, et cetera. However, in the living of life I’ve found that a happier way of discovering my purpose is using inspiration.
I use adventure and love to discover my purpose.
Adventure helps take me away from the day-to-day. I relax my mind. Quiet my ego. When I’m thoroughly away and relaxed, that’s when something catches my spirit and inspiration strikes. I pay attention to WHAT INSPIRES ME. Inspiration leads to my purpose and my purpose is where I want to live.
Love is doing things I love, with people I love, in places I love. One of the fastest ways to improve your happy is to stop doing things or hanging out with people that make you feel bad… a feeling that is the opposite of love. Recently, I’ve learned to even stop doing “good” things that make me feel bad. If I’ve taken up a new practice to build my capacity but I find that I don’t like doing it, then I’ll stop and find something else I can do to build up that particular capacity. So, I’d say, if you hate running, try hiking. If you hate meditating, try reading spiritual books. I am always trying to move towards Love because Love knows where my Happy is.
When I’m living in my purpose, I’m enthusiastic, excited, and engaged. When I’m in-spirit, my life is inspired, and it flows easily.
When you combine capacity and purpose, the sky’s the limit. Can you imagine what it would be like to be doing work you love, with people you love, in places you love and creating something of real value to others? It’s a very happy life!
The magic of GIVING
That brings me back to the elements of “Happy,” specifically, the fourth one, which is where I know the real MAGIC of life comes. Do you remember it? Creating something of value to others
I knew that if I could do what Melissa asked of me—if I could break down my story, and share my Happy Formula so that someone (you!) could understand and follow it to express their own (yours) state of happiness—well, that would be creating something of value to others. And that got me feeling so engaged, and excited, and enthusiastic that I could hardly stand it. My writing was inspired and flowed easily.
At 12:49, less than ten hours after I started writing, I texted Melissa:
Guess what? I’ve just finished the first draft. 1,578 words. I’ll re-read and edit after lunch. Should have my submission to you before the end of the day🤗
My friends, it is truly that simple. I leave you with a HAPPY challenge: begin a lifelong practice of paying attention when something catches your spirit, as if a lifetime of happiness depends on it. Begin it now, and never look back!
Oh, one more thing. I’d like to introduce you (to you). Please meet your true, unencumbered self. The real, authentic you, in-spirit… the person you were meant to be.
I wish you a long, healthy, happy life.
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