2 secrets to the good life; backed by ancient wisdom

2 secrets to the good life; backed by ancient wisdom

Happiness isn’t just feeling good.

Positive emotions are definitely pleasurable and useful; but real happiness is also doing good; and living good (excuse the poor grammar).

But seriously, in short, real and meaningful happiness is really about living a good life; a life with meaning and pleasure and good quality relationships and more. If this is something in which you’re interested then please keep reading…

via the Ladders by Eric Barker

On the first day of his class on ancient Chinese philosophy, professor Michael Puett makes a promise to all the students:

If you take the ideas in these texts seriously, they will change your life.

Big words. But he may not be crazy — his class is currently the third most popular one at Harvard. Luckily, you don’t have to brave winter in Cambridge to hear what he has to say…

Most people in the West assume Chinese philosophy is all profound maxims about balance and harmony… and they’re wrong. A lot of it actually says that life is messy.

From The Path: What Chinese Philosophers Can Teach Us About the Good Life:

…the truth is that many Chinese philosophers actually saw the world very differently: as consisting of an endless series of fragmented, messy encounters. This worldview emerged from the notion that all aspects of human life are governed by emotions, including the endless human interactions that take place.

So this is looking both pretty useful and quite realistic because many of us are wondering how we can find fulfillment, happiness, and the good life in today’s very messy world.

Well, Confucius and his bros have two insights that are worth learning about that also jive with the latest findings by modern research. Alright, let’s get to it…

It’s The Little Things

When you think about Confucius, you probably think wise sayings that are big picture and, frankly, kinda vague. Wrong.

His classic book, The Analects, is often the exact opposite. The guy wrote about how high he preferred to position his elbows and the intricacies of how he acted at dinnertime. You’re probably thinking what I’m thinking: Huh?

Here’s the deal: Confucius wasn’t into the big metaphysical questions. He was practical. He believed living the good life was bottom up, not top down. And to him, the focus was on the little rituals of life.

And he wasn’t crazy. Research shows 40% of what you do every day is done out of habit. If you get the little rituals down — if you get rid of bad habits and build good ones — then nearly half of your life will be lived well. Sounds like a good deal.

You often label yourself as this kind of person or that kind of person. “I’m emotional. That’s just how I am.” or “I have no attention span. It’s the way I’m wired.” These days we try to “know our authentic self.”

But Confucius and other ancient Chinese philosophers weren’t on board with that. They thought that you are what you do. Your temperament doesn’t shape your behavior as much as your behavior shapes your temperament.

From The Path: What Chinese Philosophers Can Teach Us About the Good Life:

Every person has many different and often contradictory emotional dispositions, desires, and ways of responding to the world. Our emotional dispositions develop by looking outward, not inward. They are not cultivated when you retreat from the world to meditate or go on a vacation. They are formed, in practice, through the things you do in your everyday life: the ways you interact with others and the activities you pursue. In other words, we aren’t just who we are: we can actively make ourselves into better people all the time.

And a lot of science agrees. UVA professor Tim Wilson has shown that often it’s not thinking you’re a good person that makes you altruistic. It’s the reverse. When we force ourselves to do good, we see ourselves as good.

UCLA neuroscientist Alex Korb has written about how happiness and depression aren’t as hardwired as you may think. Little things you do habitually can create an upward spiral of positive feelings in the brain.

From The Upward Spiral:

Everything is interconnected. Gratitude improves sleep. Sleep reduces pain. Reduced pain improves your mood. Improved mood reduces anxiety, which improves focus and planning. Focus and planning help with decision making. Decision making further reduces anxiety and improves enjoyment. Enjoyment gives you more to be grateful for, which keeps that loop of the upward spiral going. Enjoyment also makes it more likely you’ll exercise and be social, which, in turn, will make you happier.

Confucius knew that the little rituals we choose to engage in have the power to snap us out of negative patterns or the influence of our surroundings…

…keep reading the full & original article HERE