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Hello everybody, welcome to episode 118 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show. I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino and today we’re solving the whole question of life, as it were. I’d say more about it, but it’s a simple question and I don’t want to spoil it. Just buckle up and listen up. Here it is…

QUESTION: “What is Happiness or What according to you is the best way to be Happy? What can I do to keep myself in a happy mood? Could you suggest a few books, movies, shows that I can watch?


Listen to Greg narrate this post in Episode 118 of the podcast Optimal Living Advice.


The Ultimate Question

Ah the ultimate question, right?

“In episode 118 of Optimal Living Advice the whole thing was figured out”, they’ll say. Yeah, I’ll take a crack at this one.

I appreciate this question – diving right for the source. Thank you for sending this in.

I’ll say in advance that I’m not going to recommend any movies, books or shows. I’m sure there are some that could help, but the way I’d instinctively answer this doesn’t really involve any of them and I want to give you as truthful an answer as I can.

That being said, you could probably answer this question in a lot of different ways, all of which would have traces of truth in it. It’s a deeply philosophical question, it’s very layered and you could, quite frankly, go crazy trying to answer it in full.

The Pursuit of Happiness

Ironically, I think that’s sort of aligned with the pursuit of happiness itself. Trying to solve it completely and always hunting it down to get to the truth and acquire it in its purest form is the opposite of happiness. Not only is it an answer you’re never likely to find, but to constantly demand happiness is to constantly say that what you have is not enough to be happy with.

So I think a lot of happiness lies in the acceptance of what you have and learning to come to terms with it rather than always insisting on more, and if you are going to insist on more, you have to do it in such a way that your life doesn’t hinge on it, ya know? Search for more but with the mindset that if you don’t find it, you’re still content with what you have.

The Journey vs. The Destination

In this way, it’s much more about the journey and less about the destination. Happiness mustn’t always be this mystical being that constantly exists somewhere in the future, it must instead lie in the choices we’re making every day.

To make those choices correctly, to make choices that provide a regular undercurrent of happiness, I think there are two things to really keep in mind, and those things are:

  1. your values and
  2. your sacrifices.

Allow me to explain.

Defining Happiness and Success

Happiness and success mean different things for everyone because everyone has different values. To fulfill these personal values is a great way to live a life of personal happiness. So I think it’s crucial for everyone to really reflect on the things that they care about and prioritize.

You’ll find a lot of people considering things like family, friendships, good health, etc. That’s all fine.

However, if you’re being honest with yourself, you might also find that you’re prioritizing some things you don’t want to prioritize. Maybe you’re spending so much time and money on plastic surgery because you want to keep looking better, but part of you wishes you didn’t because in reality, you feel looks aren’t important.

It’s key to recognize the values we’re living by that we don’t want to, because they’re still currently our values nonetheless and they’re there for a reason.

Questions to Ask Yourself on Values

If the lines are blurry for you on this, some questions to ask yourself that help to flush out bad or average values are:

  • Would this be one of the things I’d want to do or take with me if I were stranded on a desert island?
  • Is this something my childhood self would be proud of?
  • Is this something I’d want my child to be focusing on?
  • Would I be indulging in this if money didn’t matter?
  • And most importantly: Will I be thinking about this on my deathbed?

As I said, less than desirable values are there for a reason, and that reason is typically childhood conditioning and/or childhood traumas that have shaped who we are. Again, accepting these values is imperative, but you can always tweak them and reshape your priorities with the help of a counselor.

We want the choices we make to be based on things we want to believe in, not things we’re stuck believing in, if that makes sense.

So here you are with good values and you’re fulfilling them with your daily choices. All of your choices are respectful to your values in some way and life is good. Now am I happy, Greg?

Well, there’s one more thing about those good values, and that’s that you aren’t likely to have time to uphold all of them each day – which is where our old friend “sacrifice” enters the chat.

Four Main Values

There’s something called the 4 Burners Theory, and it’s pretty brilliant to me. The way it works is that it encourages us to imagine that our life is a stovetop with 4 burners on it.

One burner is friends, one is family, one is health and one is work. These are four main values and four things we all tend to put a lot of our time towards and it doesn’t even consider free time or whatever other values you might want to include in there.

The theory suggests that you only have so much power (time) to fuel the stovetop and that in order to have a good balance, one burner needs to be turned off. And to perfectly power the meals on each burner/excel at any of these four values, two burners need to be turned off. So if family and friends are most important to you, you can master them, but your health and work life are going to suffer, for example. Or your family, friends and health could all have decent representation (not mastery) and only you health would suffer. And again, free time isn’t even taken into consideration in this theory, which I think it should be.

Summary: Happiness, Values, and Choices

What all this means is that even if you have good values and your choices reflect them, you still only have so many hours in a day, and thus at least one of them is going to have to lag behind. You don’t have enough time to have a perfect relationship with work, family, friends and health.

Therefore, you need to first choose which values are most important to you and how to give them solid representation in your daily choices. You must then choose from that list what value or values you’re willing to sacrifice, whether it’s to ignore them or just have less involvement with them than you’d like.

We’re always doing this whether we realize it or not, and much of our stress comes from constantly wishing we had more time for the things we’re lacking on. So to bring happiness into the equation, we must accept inevitable sacrifice and choose that sacrifice wisely.

——

Ok, folks. Life solved. How about that? Thanks so much for listening today, everyone.

It’s a loaded question, but I hope my one piece to the puzzle that is answering it was helpful for you the asker and you the listeners. If you have questions about my answer or questions of your own that you’d like answered on the show as I did today, please email us at advice AT oldpodcast DOT com

That’s the move and I look forward to hearing from each and every one of you. So have a great day, thank you for being here, and I can’t wait to talk to you all again. Bye everybody.


Listen to Greg narrate this post in Episode 118 of the podcast Optimal Living Advice.


mm

Greg Audino

Greg Audino is a Rhode Island-born certified life coach, actor, and graduate of Goucher College. He is the host of the mental health podcast Optimal Living Advice and narrates dating, marriage, and parenting content over at Optimal Relationships Daily.
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