👋 Hi, I'm James.


I occasionally write about lessons learned on the journey to live a healthier, happier and more intentional life. 


📍 Austin, TX 

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  • James von der Lieth

The 10 Essentials I Need For Happiness

When I reflect on the happiest times in my 27 years of life there are usually most of the 10 essentials that are present. These essentials are in no particular order because they're all important. I guess you could call it my own flattened version of the Maslow Hierarchy of Needs:

  • Time with family

  • Time with fun and intellectually stimulating friends

  • Time Alone

  • Regular Exercise

  • A backpack of clean clothes

  • A clean bed for the night

  • Clean Water

  • Clean Food (I.e grass fed meat and organic vegetables)

  • Challenging work or educational pursuit that will eventually make a positive contribution to society

  • Sunshine

Going back to the basics

“Back to the basics” is one of my favorite phrases. It’s easy to get wrapped up in acquiring your next material possession or superficial status symbol, while sacrificing a “basic,” foundational item. I’ve made this mistake several times before, and have regretted it every time.

Going "Back to the basics" is easier said than done. It usually means giving up materialistic objects or status symbols that society values to get back to what truly makes you happy. Different people value different things, so if you don't have an unwavering belief in your 10 basics it will feel even harder to make a change.

I’ve made a promise to myself that I will never go after something if it involves sacrificing any of those 10 things I need on a regular basis. Everything else in my life is up for negotiation.

Thought Exercise: What are your 10 essentials for happiness?

The reason I like thought exercises like this one is because they force you to ruthlessly evaluate your priorities. For example, I had “black coffee and green juice” on the original list. As I tried to narrow the list down to 10 essentials, it forced me to cut those two. They aren’t keys to happiness — I could do without them if I had to and be fine. If I only get 10 items, clean water is much more important.

This is only an exercise. It's just impossible to have all 10 items at first, but its important to at least know what you are working towards. For me a restorative beach vacation seeing friends and family checks most of these boxes

Maybe this Up in the Air clip will help:

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