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Why you don’t really know when you were at your happiest

I had an interesting conversation with a client recently. She was advocating the practice of sitting quietly and asking yourself to think back to when you were at your happiest. The idea is that when you find that moment, you should plan your life to go forward in that direction.

While this is a nice idea in principle, I think it’s fundamentally flawed because we can’t reliably determine when we were at our happiest.

At any given moment, our thoughts and decisions are coloured by what is going on, or what has recently gone on around us. This uncontrollable mental filter changes the way we think, so with such grand questions it’s highly likely we will come to different answers on different days.

The only way to reliably determine when we are/were at our happiest is to engage third parties for triangulation. Yes, we can come to a decision on our own, but would independent observers reach the same decision?

Keeping a journal or blog can help, but our interpretation of what we have written can again be coloured by recent events.

An independent viewpoint is key. The difficult part is finding the observer who has known you long enough, and well enough, to be objective and honest.

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What’s this blog about?

Let’s just say it’s multi-purpose.

Keeping a journal over a period of time is useful for reflection on how we behave. Reviewing a series of entries looking for recurring themes, common feelings, consistently helpful or problematic thoughts, ideas, and action-tendencies can reveal a lot about us, and provide input to a roadmap for modifying our behaviour.

That’s one of the reasons for starting this blog. The self-reflection parts are not meant to be of much interest to anyone but myself, but I suppose there are some curious types (like me) who will read it because they like to observe.

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Another reason for the blog is for keeping notes about what I’m doing and where I’m going with some of the things I’m working on or thinking about – like a public notebook I suppose.

Cultivating a regular writing habit is a good thing. I have been exercising my body regularly for several years now, and am trying to think of this blog as a kind of exercise for the mind.

I also simply want to record some of my personal experiences in words and pictures, so that when I’m an old man, I can look back and remember some of the things I’d long forgotten, what I’ve done, where I’ve been, who I met. (Assuming I get the chance, of course.)

I’ll try to add one of my own archive photographs along with each post to keep things visually interesting and add a bit of variety!