Slowing Down to Understand the Real Purpose of Life
Bill Cottringer

“The purpose of life is not to be happy, successful and have peace of mind; but rather to learn how to be happy doing the few things that will result in a sense of progress at having greater happiness, success and peace of mind.” ~The author.

The above quote is not just a play on words; it exposes a very subtle but important distinction that tells us something important about the most common goal of life—to be happy. But the subtle distinction in this quote involves an important truth about something we all probably have a different definition of. Furthermore, how we define something has a strange way of determining how much of that “something” we have or don’t have.

Such is certainly the case with the main goal of life—having the desired amount of happiness, success and peace of mind by understanding how to get there and then getting there. It turns out that the challenge is to learn how to be happy by doing certain things and not doing other things which accumulate this undeniable sense of progress at increasing our happiness, becoming more successful and having more peace of mind. And this gives us a comforting sense of being closer to where we want to be.

Here are seven things people do in this pursuit, which consistently net this magical sense of progress at becoming happier, achieving more success and having more peace of mind:

1. Maintaining good friendships by being available to your friends for support, listening and giving advice when asked for. That way you will have their support, ear and advice when you need a good friend most.
2. Developing and using your knowledge and skills constructively and making your best effort to be a good team member in helping your employer achieve the organization’s mission and goals. Teams will always achieve more than the individuals can alone; the same is true in relationships.
3. Striving to become your best by competing against yourself as opposed to looking over your shoulder in comparing your own progress with that of others. Nobody has the same knowledge, skills and circumstances so that game can never really be fair or equal in any way, especially the outcomes.
4. Helping yourself to become happier, achieve more success and have more peace of mind by helping others to get more of those things first. Teaching is the best way to learn, just like writing. The lessons seem to sink in deeper.
5. Taking the time to appreciate the ordinary things in nature that really show great truth and beauty about your own life, even though these insights may not be readily visible to the naked eye so to speak. Things in nature seem to be much more able to adapt and cooperate effortlessly to get splendid results, all with an inside smile, than human beings do. Knowing it doesn’t have to be that way is an enabling change in the right direction.
6. Becoming sensitive to the point of no return before it comes and goes, with both moments of opportunity and moments of danger. If you study animals closely, they seem to be much better at using this sensitivity to their advantage.
7. Taking complete ownership for the holes you fall into whether you did most of the digging or somebody else did. More than anything, when in such a hole, you have to know when to quit digging in deeper and use that time to look for a way out.

On the flip side of this, there seem to be certain things people can do to not make any progress at getting this sense of progress at increasing their happiness, success and peace of mind:

1. Resisting not making needed but uncomfortable changes because of fear or failure. This is rather futile since what we resist usually just persists and failure often turns out to be our best teacher of how to be more successful.
2. Placing conditions on loving another person or trying to control them in any way to be what you want instead of who they are (even subtly). This never really gets the desired results but it isn’t an easy bad habit to give up.
3. Letting your values get out of whack like putting your career ahead of your family, material values ahead of love, or easy slippery strategies ahead of difficult high road ethics. None of us escape this trap at various times in our lives, but the results are always the same—empty handedness with no real sense of progress at increasing our happiness, success and peace of mind.
4. Continuing to play the losing game of you winning and the other person losing because everybody else does that and thinking that making the effort to use your creativity to look for ways in which everyone can win and no one lose isn’t worth it.
5. Not focusing on controlling the few controllables in life, work and relationships, while wasting time on worrying about things that are really not under your control, except maybe your approaches to understanding and dealing with these things.
6. Mixing up the quitting of things you should be persevering through and not quitting the things you should be quitting. The results of not figuring this out aren’t really that hard to figure out.
7. Getting too comfortable in resting at a plateau in your personal learning, growing and improving and then falling asleep there only to wake up to find yourself unmotivated and unable to move. These resting plateaus only serve the purpose of allowing us to catch our breath, not go comatose.

Think about the positive and negative lists in your own life and the results you are getting. If you want more happiness, success and peace of mind you already know what you need to do to get the needed sense of progress.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is Executive Vice-President for Employee Relations for Puget Sound Security, Inc. in Bellevue, WA, along with his hobbies in being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer living in the peaceful but invigorating mountains and rivers of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, “You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too” (Executive Excellence), “The Bow-Wow Secrets” (Wisdom Tree), “Do What Matters Most” and “P” Point Management” (Atlantic Book Publishers), “Reality Repair” (Global Vision Press), Reality Repair Rx (Authorsden), and “If Pictures Could Talk,” coming soon. Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (425) 454-5011 or