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The Link Between Happiness And Personal Missions

The intersection of the secret of happiness, how you don’t get to choose your mission and how different missions call different people different ways leads to some people being happier than others at any given moment. This is why it’s so important to latch on to an unmet need or a new way of connecting with people’s hearts, minds or souls.
The Secret of Happiness
Happiness is good. We learned from a Harvard study that it’s three goods: Doing good for others; Doing things you are good at and; Doing good for yourself. Thus, cherish your most important relationships and be a contribution. Do more of what you’re good at and less of what you’re not so good at. Take care of yourself, your health and well-being, your financial security and your work/life balance.
You Don’t Get to Choose Your Mission
The lesson from Kate’s Farms and others is that mission is not a choice. It’s dictated by others’ needs. Sometimes those others give you a mission or sometimes it hits you over the head so hard you can’t miss it. At other times you have to figure it out yourself whether it’s a quiet voice struggling to be heard or a fleeting image crying to be seen. Either way, it’s there, trying to get you mad enough to do something and this is a journey of discovery, not creation.
Different Missions Call In Different Ways
This past weekend I was privileged to attend HATCH at Moonlight Basin in Montana, part of cross-pollinating diverse creative minds in service of HATCHing a better world. I was struck by the difference between people that were deeply engaged with their personal missions and those that were searching.
Photo by HATCH's Yarrow Kraner of HATCH16 arranged by John Quigley
Photo by Yarrow Kraner of HATCH16 arranged by John Quigley
Those like art activist John Quigley, stem cell researcher Katharina Sophia Volz and music teacher extraordinaire John Zirkle don’t do what they do because they can. They do what they do because they must. Listening to them it is clear they would rather be cut off from oxygen than from their chosen endeavors. These are wonderful, accessible people, eager to learn about others – and absolutely incapable of considering that there could be any use of their time better for the world or for themselves than exactly what they are doing. These are happy people.
Others were at crossroads, trying to choose the next stage of their journeys. At HATCH, these were also amazing people who had accomplished amazing things. They felt good about what they had done so far and were simply asking “what next?” It’s not that these people were unhappy, just that they thought they could be happier than they were. They generally weren’t worried about doing good for themselves and knew what they were good at. The gap was in how good they felt about the good they were doing for others.
To be clear, this is not about how people look or what they say. It’s about they feel. All sorts of people that look like they have everything going for them or tell you everything is fine are just going through the motions, doing what they are good and reaping the rewards without a commitment to a personal mission. Others who look like they are struggling or out of their comfort zones are doing exactly what they should be doing in line with their missions.
Implications
Latch on to an injustice that bothers you, an unmet need or something that’s not working right. Depending upon which of the three types of leaders the world needs you are, open yourself to new ways of connecting with peoples’ minds, hearts or souls. Then, invest yourself in making it right or better.
If you get mad enough about something that matters enough you inevitably will do good for others. If you’re doing things you’re good at and doing good for yourself along the way, you will be happy.
Click here for an overall summary of and links to my articles on Forbes, The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan book, and the 100-Day Plan for Interviews tool.
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