Hello and good day!
There are many studies showing conclusively that the most important factors contributing to a happy and fulfilling life are good health and good relationships.
After recently reading Man's Search For Meaning by Victor Frankl, I think you have to add purpose to that list.That gives you the golden trifecta of health, relationships, and purpose.
These are the keys to happiness castle.
Here is concept I think I invented the other day. I believe it is an original insight, but maybe I picked it up somewhere. I believe that purpose is most easily found at the intersection of passion and skill. What do you care about and what are you good at.
It is a bit mysterious how people become passionate about things, but I genuinely believe that passion almost always has a social component to it. If the interest or activity doesn't somehow have an effect on other people, the level of feeling won't usually be strong enough to morph from high interest into passion.
I'm sure you could find some minor exceptions to my theory above, but on the whole, I think it works quite well. To summarize:
If you are physically healthy...And you have good friends and/or a good romantic relationship. And if you spend a good amount of time doing something that you are really good at, that you care about a lot, and that helps other people or somehow makes the world a better place....
Your chances of being happy and fulfilled are dang near certain.
Here is what got me thinking along these lines. I was thinking back on my childhood and on my brother Brian's childhood. We are both children of entrepreneurs.
Brian and I have the same mom and different dads, although Brian says he has two dads. Brian counts my dad, Dan, as his second father.
My mom and dad are both entrepreneurs and Brian's biological father tried his had at entrepreneurship as well. Brian and I were raised in a very loving family.
There was never any question about how much our parents cared for us. Neither of us ever struggled with the material necessities of life. There was always enough food on the table. We always had clothes on our backs and a roof over our heads.
And yet, we both struggled with substance abuse problems at some point in our lives.
I've come to believe that heavy substance abuse is usually a numbing mechanism for people in pain. Some people will try drugs and alcohol, but it won't come to dominate their lives.
I had friends in high school and college who could party one night on the weekend and then live a productive, successful life the other 6 days of the week.
I was not one of those people.
I've thought about this a lot over the years. How is it that somebody who is loved and who has a good life by most measures, can still be in pain and want to numb themselves?
Here is what I now believe.
My parents were so caught up in chasing their own goals, as entrepreneurs are won't to do, that they didn't take the time to help my brother and I find our own purpose. We were just kind of dragged along into whatever they were chasing after. That isn't a complaint against them by the way, they were doing what they had to do.
It wasn't until I fell in love and got married, and started to feel a deep responsibility to be a good man for my wife, that I started to get my act together.
Getting into the chocolate business then filled in the rest of the picture. Even though I love a good beer, nowadays I usually don't partake because I don't like the effect that alcohol has on me. I always want a clear mind so that I can be in the best shape possible to pursue my purpose.
Getting high or drunk is totally unthinkable to me now. This whole line of thought got me thinking about my own kids. They didn't choose to be born to me. Kids don't choose their parents. Just because I am completely absorbed with my business and what we are trying to do, doesn't mean they will be.
As a father, if I want to keep my kids from falling into the same trap I fell into, I feel I need to help them find their own unique purpose in life. And that path likely originates at their own personal intersection of passion and ability.
Take my oldest son Isaiah for example.
He is naturally gifted at music. I don't just say that as a gushing father. It is undeniable. He can hear a song on the radio that he's never heard before, and then sit down and play it on the piano a second later. He can do the exact same thing with a violin.
One time we were singing karaoke and I was singing the John Denver song Take Me Home Country Roads and he picked up the violin and started playing along in real time without having ever practiced that song before.
Music is a special ability he has and he loves to play and when he plays he makes other people happy. Sure sounds like this meets my definition of purpose. It behooves me as a father to encourage him down this path.
If I succeed, the chances of Isaiah being happy and productive throughout his life will be increased tremendously.By the way, I think the danger of kids failing to develop purpose is more wide spread now than ever before.
With the advent of public schools, millions of parents in the US have outsourced the education of their children.We have put our kids on a standardized path that fails to help kids develop a special purpose in their lives.
The marching orders are to graduate high school, go on to college, major in something, and start working. Very little thought is given to teaching our kids about the three main things that will have the biggest impact on the quality of their lives, namely health, relationships, and purpose.
It seems like those three things should get as much or more time than any other subjects taught in school and yet they get almost no time. If a parent ignores these factors and the school doesn't teach them, the kids will end up in a bad spot, which I think is happening now on a large scale.
Anyhow, I am running out of steam on this topic a bit now.
I thank you for letting me bend your ear for a moment.
I hope that you have a truly blessed day!