Many of us have heard of the 7 deadly sins. It’s safe to say that everyone has had some experience with each of these negative traits. Ask anyone – a neighbor, co-worker, stranger on the street, or even your spouse, and they will tell you they’ve had some personal struggle with at least one of these unfavorable offenses.
What are the 7 Deadly Sins?
- Lust, an uncontrollable and inappropriate desire, usually for sex, but can also include a desire for power, money, or fame.
- Gluttony, a need to consume excess amounts of food and drink, and wasting what others need.
- Greed, a great desire for wealth or material possessions.
- Sloth, an avoidance of work, excessive laziness, and a failure to use one’s natural gifts and talents.
- Wrath, an uncontrollable anger and hatred towards another person that can result in an unwillingness to forgive.
- Envy, a strong wrongful desire of what someone else has, including possessions, status, and advantages.
- Pride, a superior opinion of oneself, an “I’m better than you” attitude, which places one-self above all others.
These deadly sins represent all that is negative and offensive with the human race. It seems impossible that anyone can use these as a way to bring happiness into their lives. Let’s take a look at each deadly sin, and see how we can create our own “Happiness Strategies” to boost productivity.
1. Self-Control vs. Lust
Self-control helps to keep our wildest desires in check. When we practice self-control, we use that unbridled energy to benefit others, rather than spending all of that energy on ourselves. It’s about being on a selfless mission rather than a selfish mission. To be honest, self-control is not easy, especially when you have a habit of not reigning in those primitive desires. It needs to be practiced on a daily basis until it becomes your new normal.
When you find yourself desiring a passionate night with a beautiful woman or handsome man who you hardly know, turn that into a desire to find out more about that person. Ask them about their career, their family, their favorite places to visit. Make it your personal mission to learn what it is that makes this person beautiful on the inside.
Happiness Strategy #1 – Choose one of these strategies to practice the next time you are faced with a situation where you need to practice some major self-control.
“If you lose self-control everything will fall.” – John Wooden
2. Temperance vs. Gluttony
Temperance involves self-discipline and moderation, typically when it comes to food and alcohol. It teaches us to use food and drink as a way to be healthy. It’s not that we can’t enjoy food, with all of its flavors and textures and delicious aromas. If we are unhealthy due to the amount of food or drink we consume, then we physically and mentally cannot be at our personal best nor can we be available for the important people in our lives. Being healthy not only gives us an advantage in our own life, but also allows us to be healthy enough to serve others.
Happiness Strategy #2 – Find one way to make a healthy choice.
3. Charity vs Greed
Charity is about placing others above yourself, making sure others are taken care of first, and using your own resources to accomplish both of these things. This is a great example of how doing for others is a key to happiness for yourself.
Giving, in any form, creates a sense of inward happiness. “I am happy because I have the resources available to make someone else happy.” The more often you give of yourself, the more happiness you will find. It becomes a circular pattern. I’m not talking about giving out of guilt or obligation. The attitude with which you do practice charity will have lasting effects on your own personal happiness.
Happiness Strategy #3 – Find an opportunity to give of your time or resources to someone in need.
4. Diligence vs. Sloth
Diligence is a desire to use our energy, our talents, and our gifts to serve others rather than live a life of ease and laziness. Energetic and hardworking is a great way to describe a diligent person. They are working towards a purpose, not simply working to check a task off of a list. Being diligent, though, is more than being a hard-worker. It’s also about responsibility and reliability. Others need to know they can rely on you to do what you said you would and be responsible enough to complete it to the best of your ability.
Having a goal outside of yourself is often what keeps us going until the end. Knowing we’ve accomplished that goal despite our desire to quit, give up, or only do what needs to be done, gives you a sense of pride and accomplishment, and inevitably a sense of happiness. People without a vision or objective in life that they can diligently throw themselves into are inevitably unhappy.
Happiness Strategy #4 – Find a purpose bigger than yourself to use your time and talents to benefit others.
5. Patience vs. Wrath
Patience is taking the time to understand others and being willing to forgive when mistakes or offenses are made. This is not an easy task whatsoever. It is so easy to be upset or criticize the person who offended you, rather than being willing to forgive them.
Forgiveness and understanding are not the norm in our modern culture. There is an underlying attitude of “Eye for an Eye”, or “They got what’s coming to them!”. This will not bring you peace, joy, and least of all any type of happiness.
Living in anger and unforgiveness will destroy you from the inside out. A popular quote about refusing to forgive describes perfectly what living like this truly does to you. “Refusing to forgive is like taking poison but expecting someone else to die.”
Happiness Strategy #5 – Practice patience and forgiveness daily.
6. Kindness vs. Envy
Kindness is a desire to help others, rather than the need to be better than them. We are envious of our neighbors because they have a brand new car. We are envious of our friends because they went on a tropical vacation. We are envious of our brother-in-law because he received a promotion at work. Envy does nothing but cause major rifts between you and the people you are close to. Does this sound like something that can bring you true happiness?
Kindness, especially in spite of the way we feel, will cut you free from the chains of envy and jealousy. It can be practiced daily in simple ways. Kindness can come in many forms. Text your wife a love note while she’s at work. Bring in the mail for your neighbor. Make cookies for your child’s teacher. Smiling at those you pass by will brighten not only your day but theirs as well.
Happiness Strategy #6 – Find one way to practice kindness each and every day.
“Our envy of others devours us most of all.” – Alexander Solzhenitsyn
7. Humility vs. Pride
Humility is actively letting go of your own false ego and replacing it with an attitude of service. This is definitely not an easy task. Pride allows us to believe we are not in need of help, we are better than everyone else, and we know everything there is to know. Pride also has an uncanny ability to demonstrate in our own lives, the need for humility.
Humility places the emphasis on someone else, besides myself, and their needs. What can I do to help them through this time of struggle? How can I best use my co-workers talents to improve on this presentation? When we practice humility, we begin to see the positive aspects of another person’s life, which in turn helps us see the positive aspects of our own lives.
Happiness Strategy #7 – Practice humility by living a life with an attitude of “others first”.
Now you have seven strategies you can practically implement and use each and every day. Practicing these strategies will create long-lasting habits of self-control, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness, and humility.
Looking at all of these in its entirety can make you feel very overwhelmed. To best implement these strategies, choose one to follow each week. Begin by focusing on the one that you struggle with the most.
Steady and consistent practice of these seven happiness strategies will have you feeling better. Those around you will take notice that you are now a happier and more contented human being.