The path to lasting happiness

The notion that the path to lasting happiness is paved with gratitude is often hard to understand. After all, what does gratitude look like on a daily basis?

So, here’s a different, more concrete, framing.

The path to lasting happiness is not needing..

…sickness to be grateful for a healthy body and mind.

…a bad relationship to appreciate the good ones.

…and misfortune to be thankful for everything that is working well.

Fitness-as-a-state

One way to think about getting fit is to invest in activities that contribute to better fitness. Going to the gym, playing a sport, taking a swim, and running are all activities that help us get fitter.

That said, investing in such activities takes time. And, there are phases in our life when other priorities take precedence. These priorities should ideally be few and far between but there are times when family and some crucial periods in our careers can take precedence in the amount of time they take.

In these times, I’ve found it helpful to double down on fitness-as-a-state. This means doing many little things throughout the day to be fitter – e.g., walking up the stairs, taking the scenic route to the bathroom, investing in and working with a standing desk, and replacing sitting meetings with standing and walking meetings.

In the ideal world, we’d be able to supplement such investments with activities too. But, if we find ourselves in a bind, fitness-as-a-state is a great place to start.

Misunderstood introverts

“Introverts are capable of acting like extroverts for the sake of work they consider important, people they love, or anything they value highly.” | Susan Cain

This is for all those misunderstood closet introverts who get stared at when they turn down company to eat lunch alone, who find pockets in their day to take a walk outdoors, or who just put their headphones on to get some quiet time to recharge their batteries.

You are not alone. :-)

Talent and winning

I came across a quote by Rafael Nadal – “People get confused about talent. Talent isn’t striking the ball well, or very hard. Some play beautifully, some flawlessly, others run brilliantly. But in all sport the final objective is to win. So, in summary, the person who wins the most is the one with the most talent”

It is an interesting quote that perhaps applies better to individual sports than team sports.  That said, it outlines Nadal’s belief that raw potential that isn’t put to use to deliver results doesn’t amount to much.

While the quote is as much about talent as it is about his ethos and incredible desire to win, there’s something to be said for such single mindedness.

Especially as he moved one step closer to taking over the mantle of the most successful tennis player of all time from my favorite player. :-)

The challenge with how we measure our life

One of the biggest challenges with designing a good life for ourselves is that the stuff we measure our days, weeks, and even months with is not how we measure our life as a whole.

The stuff we measure our life with – living with integrity or building a few deep relationships with people we care about for example – come with no awards, no vanity metrics, no promotions, and no recognition. And, just in case that wasn’t hard enough, there are often minimal signs of progress for long periods of time.

On the flip side, most of the stuff that seems to loom large and feature so prominently in the near future (e.g. work/career milestones or fun side projects) seem to matter for the longest time… until they don’t.

It is the classic urgency vs. importance prioritization problem. And, as is the case with most things, it is much easier to talk about thinking long term/balancing the short and long term than it is to actually do it.

PS: This is much like building good products. The foreseeable future seems more important than it is.

The tire queue

I was recently in a self-serve queue to fill air in my car tire recently. At one point, however, the queue got stuck.

Instead of a quick one minute wait, we were now waiting close to five minutes without any sign of progress. This car owner seemed to just be walking up and down from the machine to the tire. Someone ahead shared his frustration at the situation and he finally got help from a technician at the tire center.

As the queue was fairly backed up, the technician helped the rest of of us get it done as well.

As I reflected on that incident, I realized that the issue wasn’t that he didn’t know how to work the pump. Instead, it was his unwillingness to ask for help. And, while it happened to him in this instance, it could just as easily have happened to me in another context.

It is natural for all of us to want to demonstrate capability – even in seemingly inconsequential things. However, that desire gets in the way of learning and progress.

Helpful reminder that becoming is more important than being in the long run.

The 30 minute introductory conversation

There is no tool I’ve found to be more effective in 10x-ing the productivity of a working relationship than a 30 minute introductory conversation.

How it works: Before you need to collaborate with a colleague/partner on a project or request them for something, go for a coffee or walk outdoors with them. Then, spend that time getting to know them with your pick of questions. My favorites are – i) “Would love to get to know your story starting from when you were born…”, ii) “What is the dream?,” and iii) “What do you like doing when you have free time?”

(And, if they’re interested, share your story too :-))

As simple as this sounds, I’ve found that it is easy to forget to do this in the face of the many urgent things that need to get done.

And, yet, this knowledge leads to the the understanding and trust that enables us to collaborate effectively.