I have written on this a bunch. Basically, for me, as a Humanist, it comes down to these three rules:
- Live life to the fullest
- Love other People
- Leave the World a better place
This has been my motto for life since I was 11. It has worked for 37 ish years now (and please don’t do the math to find out how old I am!) My point is that despite setbacks, losses and tragedy, I feel like I am doing pretty well and I am, for the most part, happy.
When I share this motto with Humanist during talks, they are amazed that I wrote a code of conduct for myself that so well expresses the Humanist approach at such a young age. It really does encompass a Humanist prescription to life a happy life.
- Be engaged with life – the good and the bad.
- Be compassionate, and
- Be responsible.
Now, I know what you are thinking. But Jen – where is the critical thinking and the rationality? That’s important to Humanists too! And it is. Because it is through rationality that we figure out what is good so that we can actually leave the world a better place. But notice, it my formulation – rationality and critical thinking are tools to accomplish my goal of living life well and fully and leaving the world a better place. Critical thinking isn't a stand-alone goal. It’s not something that will inherently make me happier. It’s just an effective way to think better about morality and decision making – which impacts my ultimate goals.
When we teach or promote critical thinking – to get people to understand WHY it’s important - we need to explain to them how it helps them to live happier more fulfilling lives. Because that is the goal. Isn’t it?
For more – check out the fabulous Stephen Fry on How to be Happy! By the British Humanist Association.