Science shows behaviors that lead to happiness and success
The corpses near me, crawling with lice, did not bother me.
Only the steps of passing guards could rouse me from my dreams; or perhaps it would be a call to the sick-bay or to collect a newly arrived supply of medicine for my hut consisting of perhaps five or ten tablets of aspirin, to last for several days for fifty patients. I collected them and then did my rounds, feeling the patients’ pulses and giving half-tablets to the serious cases.
To survive in the camps, Frankl practiced his doctoring, he thought of his
wife, and he tried to reconstruct his scientific manuscript the
This book concerns natural morality, universal principles present in all societies and religions. Frankl’s experience and writing illustrate one he quotes from Friedrich Nietzsche:
[The person] who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how.
To survive and live life to its fullest, we need meaning and purpose. Can we generalize Frankl’s observations to a lesson about life for everyone?
Science provides an answer. When absorbed in an activity and unaware of ourselves – when we garden, sew, construct a model airplane, play the piano, paint, or a myriad other things – we experience "flow." Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi arrived at the idea of flow when he studied artists who spent many hours immersed in their painting or sculpting. They worked as if nothing mattered except their creation. They labored for reward that lay intrinsically in the work itself, not for external marks of praise, promotion, or money. When we flow in an activity that fully engages our skills, we feel exhilarated and endued with meaning and purpose. We become less self-conscious and less aware of time passing. Flow allows us to bear almost anything else going on in their lives, including the horrors of a concentration camp.
Research on flow supports the principle proposed by Frankl, but this book discusses several others in a collection of twenty-eight chapters. They show what behaviors in what circumstances will usually and naturally lead to success and happiness. The studies that support such principles also show, however, that many require modification and apply only in specific circumstances. Some principles start as anecdotes but, with scientific support and modification, emerge as universally germane and therefore sure to work with each of us.
Science and spiritual wisdom come together in this work to produce both a handbook for living and a treatise on the nature of human existence.
Chapter 1: Introduction: Anecdotes to Truthfulness
Chapter 2: Happy with Whys
Chapter 3: Motivated to Achieve
Chapter 4: Reward or Punishment
Chapter 5: Believe then Confirm
Chapter 6: Self-Believe then Self-Confirm
Chapter 7: Doubt and Hope
Chapter 8: Succeed and Self-Feed
Chapter 9: Achieving with Goals
Chapter 10: Self-Control then Succeed
Chapter 11: Act and Be
Chapter 12: Give and Receive
Chapter 13: Friendship and Selfishness
Chapter 14: Blame and Benevolence
Chapter 15: Spread and Enjoy
Chapter 16: Positive and Liked
Chapter 17: Actions to Attitudes
Chapter 18: Down to/from Up
Chapter 19: Dander and Destruction
Chapter 20: Health in Stress
Chapter 21: Money and Spirit
Chapter 22: Recall and Recover
Chapter 23: Conciliation or Escalation
Chapter 24: Friend or Individualist
Chapter 25: Contagion from Emotions
Chapter 26: In versus Out
Chapter 27: Erring and Forgetting
Chapter 28: Living for Happiness
Submitted for publication. Copyright © 2000 by Kevin Sharpe.