Ted Nicholas, Russ Dalbey, and other success writers have in
numerous publications identified – accurately, in my opinion –
the 4 elements needed to attain a happy life:
1-Relationships … you need to have family and friends – people
you love and people you like.
John Donne said “No man is an island.” Even introverts, loners,
and recluses need people in their lives — and interaction with
Having friends not only makes people happy but can even improve
mental health: A study from the Harvard School of Public Health
found that people with the most active social lives had the
slowest rate of memory decline.
I have a few good friends, but I am not very social, and I don’t
see them much. We communicate mainly by phone and e-mail.
My wife and I both feel that our two sons, Alex and Stephen, are
the center of our life.
2-Money … Mark Twain did NOT, as many people believe, say that
money is the root of all evil. What Twain really said was: “Lack
of money is the root of all evil.”
Many people erroneously believe that rich people think of
nothing but money.
The fact is that those who think constantly about money are
those who do not have enough of it. I’ve seen this up close: I
have relatives who are bankrupt, and every discussion comes
around to lack of money and how it hamstrings them in daily life.
Like many people, I grew up without much money. We were not
poor, but many others we knew obviously had more than we did.
But I never had to worry where my next meal would come from –
literally, because my mother is a great cook.
3-Work … next to my family, there is nothing as key to my
happiness than loving the work I do.
In my early life I held corporate jobs. I did not like working
in a corporation, and the days passed with glacial speed.
I have been a full-time freelance copywriter since 1982, and it
is still loads of fun to me every day I do it. What could be
better than that? Conversely, to me there are few things worse
in life than hating your job.
Thomas Carlyle: “Blessed is he who has found his work; let him
ask no other blessedness.”
Noel Coward: “Work is more fun than fun.”
4-Health … it is impossible to fully enjoy life if you are
seriously ill or even sick a lot of the time.
There is more health advice out there today than at any time in
human history. The trick is evaluating the source and knowing
what to listen to.
I have said in other e-mails that if you wake up in the morning,
and you are in good health and have a roof over your head, it’s
a good day.
I know this from having several health scares with my wife,
including the time she was misdiagnosed with stage 4 ovarian
cancer and told (erroneously) that she had only months to live.
Our whole world was destroyed by that one sentence until, many
weeks later, we found out she was OK.
I find that enjoying the 4 conditions listed above is not a
given. Most of us have to work for them, me included. Here’s
what I recommend:
>> Family – treasure your spouse and your children. Spend lots
of time with your children when they are young and still want
>> Friends – don’t let lack of time make friendships disappear.
Make a proactive effort to reach out to and stay in touch with
friends. In this I often fail.
>> Money – make it a goal to become financially comfortable. I
suggest you create a plan to amass a $2 million net worth by age
55. That is made easier by earning an annual income of $200,000
>> Work – find the intersection of your passion and the needs of
the marketplace. As Aristotle said, “Therein lies your
vocation.” In other words, find something you love that others
will pay you handsomely for. Dr. Seuss points out: “You have
brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer
yourself in any direction you choose.”
>> Health – guys especially, don’t avoid going to the doctor
because you’re afraid or you are being macho. When in his 60s,
my father waited too long to have a lump on his leg examined.
When he finally went to the doctor, it turned out to be sarcoma,
and he died 18 months later after a prolonged and painful
illness. During my dad’s long decline, no one in our immediate
family was very happy.