However difficult it is to find your way to a destination you have never traveled to before, finding happiness is exponentially more difficult. Especially since the advent of GPS. Why so? Mostly because happiness is a byproduct of a dynamic system. Systems have a tendency to be overly complex in that everything both pushes and pulls everything else in the system at once. Dynamic systems are that much more complicated because they change from day to day or even minute to minute.
It is best to think about a normal system first before delving into the complexities of a dynamic one. Systems are made of multiple interconnected components with certain boundaries, and interdependence on subsystems and super-systems.
If you think of your life in terms of a system and ask yourself the question, “what makes my system happy?” then you can begin to intuit some of the subsystems of the system that are important to achieving happiness. Some obvious ones: health, friends, purpose, and loved ones. Perhaps not immediately obvious, but hopefully intuitive after reflecting on your life as a system, all of these interact with one another. Every subsystem within your system is critical in terms of whether or not it is adding to or subtracting from your overall happiness, and a lot of that is dependent upon how you have arranged your system.
Moving on to more advanced ideas about systems we start to get into dynamic systems. When a system is dynamic we witness things like throughput, feedback loops, reciprocal transactions, and adaptation. The fun part about this is that it gives life to an otherwise inanimate idea, even if it does cause the mind to wobble with complexities. The important thing to remember is is that since so much of our life is interdependent on other parts of our life we need to take a broad approach to pursuing happiness. There is no single focus that will get us there but a variety of efforts that when done with purpose will yield what we seek.
So, with that said, where would a person start? Well, while I can’t say for certain, I do think a practical strategy is to start with the following:
- getting rid of those things that either make us unhappy or do not make us happy for long periods of time
- optimize for those things that are required
- Plan out major changes to increase happiness
- Execute on the aforementioned plans
- Rinse; Recycle; Repeat
Keeping things high level for now, but I’ll dive into each of these components in more detail in later posts. The general thought for now is to eliminate that which truly doesn’t matter, focus on that which does, plan to make things better, execute on your plans, and iterate.