A Prescription for Happiness: Seven Steps...

If you could change your life for the better in seven weeks by following seven steps, wouldn’t you want to do so?  Here, for those of you who haven’t already discovered these, are seven things that you can do to experience more happiness in your life. Do these for seven weeks, and see how your life changes for the better. Better yet, let me know how your life changes—I would love to hear your stories.

Go on a TV-Diet. 

No, not the kind with the trays (if you’re old enough to remember), but a real TV-diet, in which you limit your television viewing to seven hours or less per week. If you have not already discovered the wonders of life outside the box, this is a wonderful way to free your time for more important things. While you're at it, consider limiting your recreational screen time too.

Let the Dishes Sit. 

Yup, that’s right. Life is too short to spend cleaning your home, so if you’re like me—fond of a clean home, but without a maid—relax your standards. Do no more than seven hours of housework per week. Anyone who matters will forgive the dishes in the sink, and the occasional dust-bunnies underfoot. 

Exercise Your Body. 

In one of the many marvelous passages in Coming to Our Senses, Jon Kabat-Zinn, remarks that many of us take better care of our cars than we do our bodies even though each of us has only this one vehicle for life. Take care of your body—exercise no less than seven hours per week, preferably one hour per day. And while you’re at it, drink some water and eat some healthy, home-cooked food.

Exercise Your Heart. 

We all need to give and receive love. Yet, sometimes we forget to pay attention to the people who matter to us. Spend seven hours or more per week with people you love, especially those who inspire you to be at your best. Ignore the phones, computers, and all the other things competing for your attention, and give the people you love your undivided attention. 

Exercise Your Mind. 

If you are not learning, you are wasting your mind and under-appreciating life. Spend seven hours or more per week intentionally learning. If you don’t know where to begin, hang out with a child for a day and remember what it is to be alive with learning. Ask yourself a question about something that matters to you for which you don’t already have an answer. Wonder aloud or in writing. Read an article or a book that inspires you. Have a curious conversation. There are so many ways to learn.

Do What Matters. 

Many of us short-change ourselves, spending more time attending to others—fulfilling commitments to clients, friends, and family while forgetting to attend to ourselves. Take the time to take care of yourself and spend no less than seven hours per week alone doing things that matter to you. Make some commitments to yourself, and honor these as much as you honor your commitments to others.

Be Quiet. Pause. Breathe.

Each day, most of us are bombarded with stimuli competing for, if not demanding, our attention. This sensory overload can overwhelm us, and over time, erode our health with dis-ease. Remember to restore yourself with silence. Spend at least seven hours or more per week in silence. 

Here’s the seven-week prescription for happiness in a nutshell:

  1. Watch no more than 7 hours of television per week.
  2. Do no more than 7 hours of housework per week.
  3. Exercise no fewer than 7 hours per week.
  4. Spend 7 hours or more per week with people you love, especially those who inspire you to be at your best.
  5. Spend sever hours or more per week by yourself doing things that matter to you.
  6. Spend seven hours or more per week intentionally learning.
  7. Spend seven hours or more per week in silence.

Do all seven steps for seven weeks (and the rest of your life). Go ahead. Enjoy your life.