Henry Miller’s “Happiness Project”

I was inspired by Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project to develop my own personal commandments two years ago. (Hers are in the sidebar of her website and include things like “do it now” and “be polite and be fair.”)

It was a useful exercise… though it also felt very self-helpish. But it turns out other people were developing personal commandments way before the personal development craze of the 1980s and beyond. Benjamin Franklin, for one. Here are Henry Miller’s, which I ran across last week on the Improvised Life website:

I especially like #3 and #7, and am intrigued by #6. What does that mean to you?

For what it’s worth, here are mine, which I call intentions.

  1. Live MaryAnn’s story.
  2. Love God * Love Others * Love Yourself.
  3. If it’s not working, reframe it.
  4. Spend it all.
  5. Practice “yes-and.”
  6. Do small things with great love.
  7. Laugh, sing, breathe.
  8. Love what is.
  9. Show up * listen * tell the truth * let go.
  10. Hold fast to what is good.
  11. Today is their childhood.
  12. Make friends with time.

Do you have personal commandments, guiding principles, or intentions? I would love to hear them and/or reasons why such statements are not meaningful or helpful for you.


4 thoughts on “Henry Miller’s “Happiness Project”

  1. Verb intransitive: join together or unite; cohere
    In the denomination church “fights” where great effort, seemingly, is expended to emphasize divergences, it is most interesting to me that for some (all?) being right is most important and ignoring the Biblical injunctions to be “as one” (One Body). So #6 to me (right now) means that I will (a little more?) cohere each day that goes by. This can be taken as a mystical quest (I am a bubble make me the sea make me the sea make me the sea I am a bubble) as well as unifying all of humanity (culture, world) and creation (“nature” – grandchild asked a couple of days ago, “Grand*a B, what is Natural?” just after I finished reading H Richard Niebuhr, Christ and Culture. Enough to make a grandparent philosopher proud …

  2. rocky says:

    love this. it reads like it could have been written for the Facebook age

  3. Rachel Heslin says:

    I can see two ways of interpreting “cement vs. fertilize.” For myself, I love ideas and can spin them forever, but I feel most fulfilled when I actually create something from those ideas.

    The second interpretation is to keep it real: do something of lasting impact rather than just spreading around, um, fertilizer.

  4. […] Byron Katie wrote a book by this title and I found it to be flakiest thing I’ve ever read. Which is a shame, because I love that phrase—it’s even become one of my twelve intentions. […]

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