What gets you out of bed, excited to begin the day?
I’m willing to bet it isn’t a new outfit or doodad for your home, or even a new car. Isn’t it more likely to be a long-anticipated event, such as a trip you’ve planned? Or an exhilarating challenge, such as the opening night of a play you’re in? Maybe you’re eager for the beginning of a new project, or for its satisfying completion. Or you could be looking forward to a visit with a much-missed loved one.
Bertrand Russell, one of the most influential philosophers of the 20th century, struggled with depression – even contemplated suicide – as a teen. As an adult, he sought to discover the root causes of happiness and unhappiness – the factors that would either make you excited to get out of bed in the morning or not.
In his 1930 classic, The Conquest of Happiness, Russell wrote that “zest” was the common attribute of happy people. “Zest” is synonymous with enthusiasm, eagerness, and energy. To Russell, having zest for life meant being active, creative, interested in the world around you, and ready to learn new things. A sense of wonder and appreciation would add zest to a person’s life.
When you remove the things that don’t matter, you maximize the things that are important to you.
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