People often ask me, "Come on, what's the key to happiness? If you had to pick one thing, what would you say?"
I think that question can be answered in several ways, depending on what framework you use.
But one answer would certainly be--self-knowledge. It's the Fifth Splendid Truth: We can build a happy life only on the foundation of our own nature.
But it's surprisingly hard to know yourself! So how can you sneak a glimpse into your own nature?
You can ask yourself: Whom do I envy? What do I lie about? The answers to these questions reveal the way in which your life doesn't reflect your values.
You can ask yourself: What did I do for fun when I was ten years old? You'd probably enjoy as an adult a version of what you enjoyed as a ten-year-old.
You can ask yourself: What do I actually DO?
You can ask yourself: Who are my patron saints? (A “patron saint” is a saint who has a special connection to a person, place, profession, or activity, or in more casual terms, a person who serves as a particular leader or example.)
I have many patron saints, but here are six of them:
Benjamin Franklin: practical, curious, inventive.
Julia Child: goofy yet masterly; light-hearted yet authoritative. For some reason, she's been on my mind lately.
Virginia Woolf: intensely attuned to the power of the passing moment.
When I look back on the pieces I've written about my patron saints, I see that they're among my favorite posts.
How about you? Who are your patron saints, and why?
One Last Thing
Interested in happiness, habits, and human nature?
Sign up to get my free weekly newsletter. I share ideas for being happier, healthier, more productive, and more creative.
Dive into The Blog
More Posts For You
Find out if you’re an Upholder, Obliger, Questioner, or a Rebel.
The Four Tendencies explain why we act and why we don’t act. Our Tendency shapes every aspect of our behavior, so understanding your Tendency lets us make better decisions, meet deadlines, suffer less stress and burnout, and engage more effectively.