“The most valuable things in life are not measured in monetary terms. The really important things are not houses and lands, stocks and bonds, automobiles and real estate, but friendships, trust, confidence, empathy, mercy, love and faith.” Bertrand Russell.

In this week’s blog I’m going to explore Bertrand Russell’s quote above. I want to look at how first we need to show empathy, mercy, and love to ourselves before we can show it to others.

Then I want to challenge us to move away from looking at goals as simply having more things. Lastly, I’ll explore the difference between pleasure and happiness, and ask what do you value?

On aeroplanes and equally in self-development courses, we are taught that we must fit our own oxygen mask before attending to others.

This means that we are useless to others if we do not help ourselves first. But sometimes there is a belief that spending time, energy, and money on self-care is selfish. The opposite is true. 

If we want to build friendships, and express empathy and love, it is important to fill our tank first. 

That might mean spending some time working on your own goals, developing plans, and creating a positive outlook with positive habits.

Or it could mean dedicating time each day on your own happiness. People who work in creative jobs, for example, might want to have their own creative endeavours – writing in journals, sketching, or flower arranging (whatever works).

What is important is realising that taking positive steps for yourself will have a positive effect on your life and the life of others.

What if we saw investing in ourselves and investing in others in the same way that we see investing in cars and real estate? What if we turned our focus or thoughts away from ambitions of acquiring more towards meaningful goals and meaningful interactions?

Sometimes this can be scary. Really scary. Working on ourselves, developing resilience, and changing habits that hold us back, takes time and energy, and can push us outside of our comfort zone.

Building relationships, creating bonds of trust and love takes time and vulnerability.

But ask yourself, what is on the other side of this? What could your life be like if you looked beyond your fears?

Remember in previous blogs we talked about different types of goals?

“A” goals are not really goals because they are about getting more of what you already have.

“C” goals are the goals that you don’t know how you are going to achieve, but they are your dream. They are scary but after achieving them you always come out the other side feeling you have grown.

If we look deeper into Bertrand Russell’s comments we see that he talks about value. We place a lot of value on happiness. Dr Robert Lustig, a professor at the University of California who specialises in clinical medical practice and research, argues that we need to differentiate between the value we place on happiness as opposed to pleasure.

He argues that pleasure is about “rewards” – the short-term response that we may feel from eating something sugary, or checking Facebook, or winning a bet, or taking drugs, or buying the latest gadget or car.

But the reward is short-lived, and can lead to addictive behaviours and feelings of depression as we try and fail to replicate the feeling of pleasure, instead growing in dependence to that substance or behaviour.

Pleasure is about sensory stimulation and is dependent on things outside of you (remember how in last week’s blog we talked about living from the outside in?) Happiness, on the other hand, is about contentment and a sense of peace with what you have (living from the inside out).

Happiness is an attitude and a way of being. It doesn’t rely on external stimuli (except from meaningful social interactions).

Pleasure always seeks more. Happiness is ok with what we have. The bonus is that if you are happy with yourself, you have more capacity to show empathy, mercy, trust and love.

So pursuing happiness is a meaningful goal – for both yourself and others. Ask yourself what do you value? And what habits or thought patterns do you need to shift to lead a life that pursues long-term contentment over short-term pleasure?

Terri Newman-Hodge

Having pursued personal growth, consulting, and development throughout my life, I am now thrilled to be able to turn that passion into a business, by working with and facilitating Proctor Gallagher Institute’s “Thinking Into Results” program, that helps people live happier, healthier, more abundant lives.

© 2018 Terri Newman-Hodge