Action x 101
I know, you thought you were getting an easy list to read right? Why not, I like them as well. They’re quick, easy to scan and read, make you think for a minute… but then what?
Alright, you got me, if you really want a list, stick around and read this article and I’ll give you a list at the bottom.
Regardless of the number of things on my list, most people would look it over then move onto the next list or big thing. The thing about books, blogs, and especially lists, is that simply reading them does not accomplish squat!
It’s actually putting those things into action that creates real change.
People like lists because they’re easily scanned and usually bulleted. I’ll admit that I too like lists, but rarely do they have any lasting effect on my way of life, let alone happiness.
Of course there’s nothing wrong with making a list of things you believe will make you happy, but until we put it into action, it’s just a list on paper.
You may be thinking, “but Jared, what about the gratitude list you believe so much in?” I’d say, “good question.. but a gratitude list is the result of taking action.”
Writing down an inventory of things you’re grateful for is an action that helps put your life and situation in a different perspective. I suppose I should start calling it a gratitude inventory, but list just sounds better… hmm, maybe I will change that from now on.
Decisions and lists are hypothetical, they exist on paper and in our minds.
Actions facilitate movement through space and time and affect the universe around us. Actions enable feedback from our environment and nurtures learning through experiences with others..
Three frogs are sitting on a log. One decides to jump. How many are left? … Three, he only made a decision to jump yet took no action.
If you really want to create a list of things that will make you happy, make it a short list; breaking it down into actionable sub-lists and processes which you can act on.
I can honestly say that for me, every great awakening or enlightening experience has come about from action taken. Certainly ideas and revelations can manifest themselves during times of meditation or deep thought, but even those exist because of or as a result of some type of action.
Taking ideas and turning them into actions influences things around us with whom we interact, thus altering our course and future.
For example let’s look at inner-peace:
Most would agree that happiness involves inner-peace (at least I hope you do because I’m telling you from experience its vital!) But just knowing we need inner-peace, or making a list of things that might bring us peace, will not satisfy our soul.
Inner-peace is the by-product of right living, and right living can be different for everyone. Even so, we all have an inner compass that suggests the way we’re living may not be the most healthy, spiritual, or emotionally sound. I lived that way for years but had no idea what was wrong.
I knew there must be something more but had no idea how to find it. It’s like wearing a pair of shoes a half size too small; they may look good but you’re always just a little uncomfortable. So why do we put those same pair of shoes on again and again, knowing by the end of the day we’re going to be in pain?
If nothing changes, then nothing changes!
Let’s say I don’t know how to swim and I’m taking a nice drive down a coastal highway. “Wow, what a view” I think as I’m looking out over the ocean.
I also know that if I were to stop the car, get out, and jump into that beautiful ocean I would drown. Pretty simple right?
But what if I really want to learn how to swim? I’m not going to magically learn how and be able to jump into the ocean, something has to happen first. The first thing that needs to happen is I have to stop driving the car.
Some action or thing in my life (driving the car) has to stop or change completely for the possibility to even exist that I’ll learn how to swim.
No matter how much I pray, meditate, write lists (things I would not suggest while driving) etc., nothing will ever change until I stop driving.
The key is just do something different no matter how uncomfortable it is! If you’re not willing to take action and create the possibility for real change, then accept your circumstances and quit whining and feeling sorry for yourself.
I know it’s hard and that sounds harsh, but the biggest revelation in my life was the moment I took responsibility for my miserable life. It sucked because I was pretty lazy and knew that if I was responsible for being miserable, I was also responsible for doing something about it.
I’ve always liked this example by Derek Siver’s post that Ideas are just a multiplier of execution:
To me, ideas are worth nothing unless executed. They are just a multiplier. Execution is worth millions.
AWFUL IDEA = -1
WEAK IDEA = 1
SO-SO IDEA = 5
GOOD IDEA = 10
GREAT IDEA = 15
BRILLIANT IDEA = 20|
NO EXECUTION = $1
WEAK EXECUTION = $1000
SO-SO EXECUTION = $10,000
GOOD EXECUTION = $100,000
GREAT EXECUTION = $1,000,000
BRILLIANT EXECUTION = $10,000,000
To make a business, you need to multiply the two.
The most brilliant idea, with no execution, is worth $20.
The most brilliant idea takes great execution to be worth $20,000,000.
Fortunately for us, brilliant execution is not required to find happiness. Just do something!!
Remember we talked about creating a short list? Here’s mine:
- Be Kind to Self
- Actions: Demonstrate self-respect by eating better, exercising, and enough sleep. Do something kind for a stranger (anonymously!)
- Be Content With What I Have and Want Less
- Actions: Meditate, prayer. Look for opportunities to be of service to others. Go through closet and get rid of any clothes I haven’t worn in a year and donate to shelter. Demonstrate gratitude for people and things in my life by cleaning out garage, wash car, and making it a point to remind those in my life how much they mean to me.
What’s on your short list?
OK, I know I promised 101 ways to find happiness… this list took me awhile to create and some of the items may sound a little dorky, so bare with me.
- Go for a walk
- Take a bike ride
- Buy a friend lunch
- Call a friend on the phone
- Make a new friend
- Introduce yourself to 3 new people today
- Make your bed
- Plant a tree
- Plant some flowers
- Pick some flowers
- Walk barefoot in the grass
- Watch the sunset
- Watch the sunrise
- Listen to the birds
- Buy a bird book and spend 15 minutes each morning identifying birds out your window
- Climb a tree (be careful)
- Read a book
- Buy a new book
- See a funny movie
- Make a happy journal to keep track of the things that make you happy and you’re grateful for (I use a moleskin)
- Take a moment and remember something or someone that made you laugh
- Start a happy journal of things that make you laugh
- Fly a kite
- Go to the zoo
- Bake a cake
- Buy a cake and take it to someone who recently had a birthday
- Tell a loved one how much they mean to you
- Be honest
- Go walking barefoot in the rain
- Convince someone else to dance in the rain with you
- Go fishing
- Take a nap
- Learn how to play an instrument
- Write a gratitude list
- Bag up anything in your closet you haven’t worn in a year and take it to charity
- Rake your neighbor’s leaves while they’re gone
- Send a $10 bill to someone in need (anonymously!)
- Volunteer at your local soup kitchen or homeless shelter
- Sponsor a hungry child through organizations like Children’s International (my wife and I recently did this and it’s very rewarding)
- Pick up trash in a nearby park or neighborhood
- Go see a movie
- Take dance lessons
- Give dance lessons
- Write a song
- Re-write funny lyrics to your favorite song (just try it!)
- Be crazy (in a safe and fun way)
- Make candles
- Learn how to paint
- Hug a stranger
- Pet your dog
- Pet your cat
- Give your dog a bath
- Email an old friend
- Smile at a stranger
- Hold the door open for someone
- Assist an elderly person
- Play your favorite music
- Check your couch cushions for loose change
- Walk your dog
- Get a puppy
- Get a kitten
- Make a child laugh
- Make a friend laugh
- Make funny faces in the mirror
- Climb a tree
- Give a dollar to a homeless person
- Take notice when you get good service and let them know you appreciate it (or tell their manager)
- Have a water balloon fight
- Catch an ice cream truck
- Pack a picnic lunch
- Lay in a hammock
- Run through a sprinkler
- Go to the circus
- Attend a sporting event
- Take a Yoga class
- Plant some flowers
- Make your bed
- Pick some flowers
- Plant a garden with friends
- Buy your best friend a gift for no reason
- Send flowers to your mother
- Send a card to yourself listing the things which you’re grateful for
- Have a food fight
- Rent your favorite movie and make popcorn smothered with butter
- Work up a sweat exercising
- Do some Christmas shopping regardless of what time of year it is
- Give yourself a Cool-Aid mustache
- Smile regardless how you feel
- Tickle a child
- Ask yourself, “How Important is it really?”
- Turn over control of something that stresses you out
- Focus on this moment, right now!
- Pay attention to your breathing, and be grateful for it
- Call your parents (trust me, I lost my father suddenly this year and you might not get another chance)
- Go to bed early
- Wake up late
- Make a choice to be happy
That’s it. That’s my 101 Ways to Find Happiness. Thanks to my wife for #’s 53-61.