The 13 Principles of Happiness, Redux

What It Means To Be A Mindful Leadership Coach
A few weeks ago I delivered one of my core talks, “Five Prescriptions for Living and Leading in a Turbulent World” to an enthusiastic audience. One of the participants approached me after the program to say, “Jim, I’ve been a subscriber for over a year, and I’ve never read anything about these 13 Principles of Happiness that you refer to in the handout. Can I learn more?”
Her request led me to review my archives. About 18 months ago, a minor format change deleted a longstanding link from my template, so nearly 1/3 of my subscribers have never seen reference to this essential document around which I launched this newsletter.
I have to fix that! This month we revisit the principles that started it all (see below for a link to a pdf version):


The 13 Principles of Happiness

  1. Become Positively Self-ish
    When you take care of yourself first, you build a foundation for stronger relationships with others, increase your capacity, and reduce doubt.
  2. Live Your Values Clearly
    Identify and proclaim your personal values through the way you live and work. You are more likely to spot opportunities when you know what they look like.
  3. Live for Life, not Stuff
    Let go of possessions, roles, lifestyles that others and a marketing-hyped society impose on you; focus instead on what truly brings you Joy.
  4. Be Early
    Whether it is project deadlines, appointments, or learning opportunities, get there before you are expected, and watch your stress load decrease exponentially.
  5. Build Reserves
    Identify what worries you, and work to create extra in your life, whether that is money, personal space, or extra toilet paper in the cabinet.
  6. Tolerate Nothing
    Continually identify and eliminate all the little “stuff” which causes you friction and drains your energy.
  7. Choose to Respond
    What happens is going to happen, regardless. Accept constant, discontinuous change as reality and instead of reacting, respond with curiosity.
  8. Stimulate Your Development
    Surround yourself with environments and people that continually challenge you, energize you, and literally pull you forward. Have adventures.
  9. Pay Attention
    When we are on auto-pilot, life just happens around us. Look. Listen. Notice. The sunset in your own backyard can be just as wondrous as the one at the beach.
  10. Simplify
    Automate, delegate, or eliminate tasks or goals that complicate your life. Being content with simpler pleasures increases your opportunity for awe.
  11. Speak the Truth
    Stop playing games. Recognize that though the truth may sometimes sting, it is the starting place for all progress. Challenge others to see the truth.
  12. Focus on Today
    Waiting for something to happen “tomorrow” in order for you to be happy is like watching yourself in the mirror and saying “You go first.”
  13. Be Authentic
    Be yourself, not somebody else. Happiness is a Decision, not an Event. How will you choose today?


If Happiness is a Choice, these are some of the Tools
A common theme in my writing is Practice. To become a better leader or coach, you must practice the skills of conversation, listening, letting go, and many more. To live a happier life, you must exercise the positive emotional “muscles” such as gratitude, joy, mercy, forgiveness, optimism, zest, calm, contentment, and many more. And Happiness, of course!
The 13 Principles offer you tangible practices that encourage that muscle-building and make it easier for you to make the choice to be happy, right now.


The 13 Principles of Happiness will remind you, every day, of things you can start, stop, and do more of to live a healthier, happier life. Download a copy today and post it on your cubicle wall or fridge at home. Think happy.

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