Thursday, April 15, 2010

Is it really that simple?

Tuesday I posted a list, created by my Dad quite a few years ago, about secrets to a happy life.  Today, I'm saying what I think of his list and how it relates to happiness.

Health.  Exercising, eating right, drinking in moderation, not smoking.  All of those contribute to health and when one of them falls away, health can decline and certainly lead to unhappiness.  Or a more challenging life, at least.
Teach your Children.  He's coming at this from the angle of "being finished."  His children either have their values now as adults or they don't.  There's little, if anything, he can do to "fix" them now.
Follow a sound financial plan.  Again, coming from the "last half of life" phase.  A favorite quote of his has always been, "If youth but knew what age would crave, many a penny youth would save."

These three principles are important in life and they are broad statements, under which many other things can fall.  And I believe, for the most part, they are good, sound principles that will add to your unhappiness if you don't follow them.

But I think they can be boiled down even farther to one concept:  do you practice delayed gratification?  All of his principles rely on the ability to delay gratification.  If you can delay gratification, then your life will be less difficult, less filled with obstacles.

And I don't mean to say life will be easy.  Life is hard.  There's no ifs, ands or buts about it.  But if you are a person who lives by instant gratification, then you're going to make it much, much harder on yourself and those around you.

Delayed gratification isn't fun, really.  It doesn't make you whoop it up with its excitement.  But it will make you feel more fulfilled in life.  It will, hopefully, help you look back and say, "I made good choices that I can be proud of throughout my life."
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