So why don't I give a frack?
Since the gist of Oliver Segovia’s Harvard Business Journal article “To Find Happiness, Forget About Passion” conflicts with my beliefs on thriving, I was interested in this brainiac’s (HBS ’10) ideas. He argues we have to be solutionists – find a problem and solve it in order to be happy.
Putting problems at the center of our decision-making changes everything. It’s not about the self anymore. It’s about what you can do and how you can be a valuable contributor. People working on the biggest problems are compensated in the biggest ways. I don’t mean this in a strict financial sense, but in a deeply human sense.
What he fails to mention is that we aren’t going to be effective or even enjoy solving problems that we aren’t passionate about. I’ll use myself as an example. Fracking is a big deal right now in El Paso County. It’s has been linked to water pollution and earthquakes. But it offers opportunity to reduce unemployment and increase school budgets. According to Segovia, I should be eager to get educated on the local issue of fracking since it deals with two areas I care about: the environment and economic opportunity. So why doesn’t fracking push my happiness button?
Grant Crowell answers my question in his comment, “Segovia is short-sighted when he says for happiness, we should not rely on passion and instead focus on solving problems.” Crowell instead offers 5 P’s to focus our efforts in thriving:
1) Passion: the emotional drive and sense of self
2) Purpose: our need to be connected to something bigger than ourselves
3) Profit: because we need reward for motivation
4) People: because our network and relationship skills make us truly powerful
5) Push: giving as much as we have even when no one but us is paying attention
How Do You Thrive?
Fracking issues don’t fulfill the Ps for me: I’m ambivalent because I don’t see tangible or intangible reward to finding solutions – I have neither the network nor skill set to effect positive change. Thus, I can’t push myself to get going on the solutions. To thrive, I must focus in areas where I have the 5P’s.
What about you? Does your work fulfill the 5P’s?
Iconoculture, a global consumer research and advisory firm, has conducted research ranking the most important values shared across life stages in North America, Europe, South America and Asia/Pacific global regions.
Some key insights they identify are:
- Loyalty, success, honesty, courtesy and equality are top ranking values of North Americans, regardless of age. Meanwhile Latin Americans most value loyalty, authenticity, equality, sustainability and reliability.
- Europeans’ top value set includes loyalty, courtesy, authenticity, honesty, and sustainability. Consumers in Asia/Pacific regions value success, health, authenticity, comfort, and sustainability.
- Authenticity and sustainability are among the top values for everyone except for North Americans.
Given the Occupy movement across the US, I found it interesting those who valued equality the least are the very young, those in middle age and seniors.
Research shows we’re not good at determining what will make us happy in the future, yet setting and achieving goals is critical to our well-being. Life coach Martha Beck offers a method for setting future goals but shows you how to experience the joy that achieving them brings today. I liked that this exercise brings me back to the present and helps me identify the elements of my life I’m happy with now. These serve as the foundation for all I strive for in the future.
Step 1: Pick your most ambitious goal. Write a sentence for it. My example (please don’t laugh!): I make a living as a writer.
Step 2: Project into the future a few years. Imagine what your life looks like after you’ve achieved that goal. I’m writing in my home office, a simple house filled with light, love, and the soothing sound of waves. I look out my office window. Jack catches a perfect little wave on his favorite longboard. At my feet, a black lab naps in a pool of sunshine.
3. Write at least three adjectives to describe how you feel in this scenario. I came up with content, secure, creative, joyful, loved, strong, humble, grateful, and purposeful.
4. Here’s the interesting part. Beck says to find something you’re doing now that makes you feel those adjectives. My projects to support low-income women achieve economic independence help me purposeful. Yoga gives me contentment and humility. When I do something unexpectedly kind for Jack or take a walk with Hobie I feel grateful and loved. Writing this blog feeds my creativity. Running the gorgeous Colorado trails gives me joy.
Try it and and let me know what you think!