Episode 62: Life, Liberty and the *Practice* of Happiness

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Back in Jefferson’s day, he explained, the common usage of the word “pursue” was not “to chase after.” In 1776, to pursue something meant to practice that activity, to do it regularly, to make a habit of it.

What a difference a definition makes! Thomas Jefferson, our wise Founding Father, meant that we all had the right to practice happiness, not chase after it--which isn’t very productive anyway.

So let’s stop pursuing happiness and start practicing it. We do that by practicing new habits.” ~ Marci Shimoff from Happy for No Reason

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Transcript

Back in Jefferson’s day, he explained, the common usage of the word “pursue” was not “to chase after.” In 1776, to pursue something meant to practice that activity, to do it regularly, to make a habit of it.
What a difference a definition makes! Thomas Jefferson, our wise Founding Father, meant that we all had the right to practice happiness, not chase after it--which isn’t very productive anyway.
So let’s stop pursuing happiness and start practicing it. We do that by practicing new habits.” ~ Marci Shimoff from Happy for No Reason

Aha! So we don’t have the right to “pursue” happiness. We have the right to PRACTICE it. I love that.

Marci continues: “People with high happiness set-points are human just like the rest of us. They don’t have special powers, an extra heart, or X-ray vision. They just have different habits. It’s that simple. Psychologists say that at least 90 percent of all behavior is habitual. So, to become happier, you need to look at your habits.”

Aristotle taught us the same thing. He said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

How about this from Maxwell Maltz’ great book Psycho-Cybernetics (see Notes): “Our self-image and our habits tend to go together. Change one and you will automatically change the other. The word “habit” originally meant a garment or clothing... Our habits are literally garments worn by our personalities. They are not accidental, or happenstance. We have them because they fit us. They are consistent with our self-image and our entire personality pattern. When we consciously and deliberately develop new and better habits, our self-image tends to outgrow the old habits and grow into the new pattern.”

So, how’s your “PRACTICE” of Happiness? Ready to learn some new habits and rock a sweet new wardrobe? :)

Before we get into some more Ideas from the book, how about this:

This is the #1 habit I can develop in my life that’ll have the greatest positive impact:

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This is the #1 habit I can remove from my life that’ll have the greatest positive impact:

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Brian Johnson,

Chief Philosopher

This is one of the 1,000+ Big Ideas we share in our 6-page PDF and 20-minute MP3 PhilosophersNotes on 100 of the greatest self-development books. Get 100 Notes for only 47 bucks!