Make happiness a priority

You might agree that Richard Branson has made a pretty fair job of being successful. He’s led a remarkably full life. Having long been a fan, I guess like many I’ve always been fascinated to learn more about what makes him tick, including how he operates from day to day.

He blogs pretty regularly on his company’s website – at Virgin.com – and although it could be that he gets a little support from others to write his posts, I’m sure that what gets published are authentically his own thoughts.

I know Richard Branson is an inveterate list-maker, so one of his posts on this subject made interesting reading recently. The first of his top ten tips? ‘Write down every single idea you have, no matter how big or small.’

It’s great advice. Which I must confess I don’t adhere to nearly enough.

What’s more, though, I’m sure the same principle – of writing down everything – can apply to assembling a To-Do list. It’s tempting to rush through this act, listing only those items which are top of mind, then diving in headlong to get started, way before some tasks even make it onto paper.

Getting going quickly has its advantages of course, but what happens to the stuff you neglected to itemise? Yep, it gets forgotten.

And this makes it all the more important to prioritise – to know what’s important to you, to know what you really want, as you set out to plan another day’s activities.

So what is important to you? What do you really want? Maybe there’s an item you’d love to check off every day, but perhaps rarely do, largely because you didn’t even put it on your list.

That item? Happiness.

Maybe, like me, you’re not always the happiest of bunnies? Perhaps you struggle through patches of low mood from time to time? I’m sure you’d love this not to be so. I’m sure you’d love to be happier.

Frankly, though, I wonder if by failing to actually make happiness a priority, we create a situation in which it’s unlikely to be achieved?

It may seem strange to you to put ‘being happy’ on today’s To-Do list. It may seem self-indulgent. But I beg to differ.

For we often only achieve what we set out to do, and without being happy ourselves how can we spread the good feeling to others?

So what will you place at the very top of your list next time you make one? You know, I honestly think it should be Happiness.

You deserve it.

6 thoughts on “Make happiness a priority

  1. I am so glad to get your daily emails – you write so well and I have missed your thoughts since you left moodscope
    All the best
    Thanks Andrew

  2. Greetings, Moodnudgers …

    Maybe you already know that Sir Richard Branson is one of us unique people who have managed to survive our entire adult life in spite of being ADHD. Even though I am half again as old as Sir Richard, I have never started an airline or a record company or sold tickets for travel in space. What Richard and I have in common, in addition to loving fish and chips and pints of real Guinness Extra Stout, is that in addition to being ADHD, we are both dyslexic, he more than I, and there was a time when we both carried a spiral bound notebook in our shirt pocket. Neither of us would ever leave home without it. For us, the notebook is/was a survival tool. I think that by now Sir Richard has probably moved up to an iPad. Hell, he has a secretary! I still struggle with the note book. But, I do write everything down, and I have for years. At least, I record as much as I can of the things that I suspect are going to be important for me to remember later on.

    Just in the last few days, I found myself paging through the MAY/JUNE notebook that I kept on my desk, next to my computer keyboard. Let me give you an example of the things I have looked up over the last few days that actually saved me hours and hours of searching.
    1. My auto insurance policy number and expiration date.
    2. The measurements for a set of shelves that I was thinking maybe I would build in the garage.
    3. My brother’s zip code. (After looking for things up for 70+ years, finding it in my notes is quicker than getting it from the USPS online. If I write it in the notebook, I know where to look to find what I want! Google is great for things I don’t know yet. But, for things I already know … it’s the notebook.)
    4. Step by step instructions on how to install an mega video card in my computer and get the drivers loaded so it will work.
    5. My grocery shopping list from Memorial Day weekend. (I want more of those Sheboygan bratwurst.)

    I have done quite a bit of study in the area of Undiagnosed Adult ADHD over the last 15 years and I know that Sir Richard and I have even more in common. By nature of our ADHD, we tend to be risk takers, are highly creative, have very short memories, either a ticking clock means we can’t sleep at all or we can work right through a tornado. We are clever, artistic, highly creative, work our butt off on something we like, tend to run out of steam before anything is finished and are prone to depression. Really. How many times can a man loose his car keys in his own house before he becomes depressed? And, frustrated and angry to boot.

    It helped me greatly in my middle life to have married a woman who loved 19th century antiques and who subconsciously wanted to live in a museum. Her passion for “a place for everything and everything in its place” helped me keep my sanity, instead of the other way around. Sometimes she would say to me, “Did you move the red bowl?” My response was usually, “Why would I move it? I know where it is!” If I had $10 for every time she called to me as I was going out the door, “Do you have your secretary with you?”, I would buy Richard Branson. Many times she would turn away and mutter something about being my mother and pinning the damn notebook to my shirt.

    This is already much longer than I intended it to be, but, … you know …. I’m ADHD. Hey, look a chicken!

    About 15 years ago I visited the Auburn Car Museum in Auburn, Indiana. I realized that those magnificently beautiful cars were mostly built by little old men beating on sheets of metal with wooden hand tools. I decided I wanted to know how to do that. (Not crazy, just ADHD.) I took classes, attended seminars, watched videos and bought a bunch of really neat tools. I made a weird looking gas tank for my motorcycle. It all led to me attending an International Convention of Metalshapers. There were men and women there who created custom cars, repaired vintage aircraft, made beautiful outdoor sculpture and one guy said he made a lot of bowls. During an afternoon break, five of us guys and one wonderful lady from St. Louis were were standing in a circle chatting away. I heard the man next to me say, “Oh, that is a GREAT idea. Let me write it down.” As he took his spiral bound notebook out of his shirt pocket, he grinned and said, “If I don’t write it down, sure as hell, I’ll forget it.” We all broke out in laughter as we each pulled our spiral bound notebook out of our pockets. We decided to call it the Metal Shaper’s Most Important Tool. The coincidence was just too great, and so I had to ask, “Is any one besides me ADHD?” Sure enough, all six of us were. What a relief! I thought I was the only one who had to live like that. It so empowered me that to this day, I am now 74, I have a very nice leather bound spiral notebook with 14 ct gold embossing that I carry everywhere I go. I decided that if I am going to haul the thing out in front of my friends, the least I can do is have one that looks good.

    Life is awesome. It is even more awesome if we don’t forget to think about that from time to time. So, first thing tomorrow, have someone remind you to get a notebook and then write down …

    John

    1. Wow, John, thank you so much for sharing your story. Sounds like you have had some great adventures with your notebook, and it’s been a helpful friend along the way too. Thanks for the reminders that life is awesome, that we are more alike than we all think, and that simple, beautiful things can make a big difference. Wishing you a wonderful day! 🙂

  3. Thank you so much Jon, probably one of the best messages for me. Yes, I have never put happiness on my “to-do”list.
    I send you every happy thought I can muster.
    Eileen

  4. I used to put ‘sort life’ on my to do list however realising this is an impossible task and it changes daily I will now focus on ‘be happy’ Thanks for your blog missed you at moodscope and really glad you are sharing your thoughts with us again

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