Don't PanicIts 4:00 AM and the last day of 2012. I was in bed, but an earlier conversation with my wife was keeping me awake, so I jumped out of bed to put my thoughts down in paper. I’m hoping right after I finish my brain can rest and go back to sleep. We have a long day tomorrow (today?) to celebrate New Year’s Eve with friends in Miami, and I need to rest a little before the drinking and go crazy with my Cuban crew. Earlier today (or rather yesterday) my wife and I were recapitulating the year 2012 in events, the pros and cons, etc., just like many of us do every year. Well, it turns out 2012 hasn't been a great year for me, or for us both in general. But why, we were asking ourselves. After so many good things that happened and so many accomplishments, and stories of growth? Why did it feel as such when we looked at the overall picture?

We were trying to figure this out together, and I after I went on a rant about how things could be better if I had done X or Y or Z, it hit me in the face like a sack of bricks; then I said it, out loud, and clear as a crystal for the first time in my life, I felt I had the formula for living. It turns out it is quite a simple thing we all already know, but only the thought of giving it shape and structure made me feel great. So, I decided to put a framework around it for myself, and I’ll live by this framework on 2013 and see what I have to say a year from now.

Some people call this self-improvement theory Personal Development, I just call it my Hitchhiker's Guide to Life. And my own theory goes something like this: Happiness and fulfillment are better realized when you balance time, dedication and apply the scientific method to these seven categories in life:

  1. Health
  2. Love
  3. Family
  4. Relationships
  5. Individuality
  6. Wealth
  7. Dreams

I've been taking good care of some of them, but not all of them, and not with the same balance I consider necessary for my complete happiness.

Some people may think “What about travel, or having fun?”… and what I realized is that traveling or having “fun” can fall into different buckets depending on each individual. Someone that loves to travel with friends will put it into the Relationships bucket, while someone who enjoys traveling alone will put it in the Individuality bucket. Meanwhile someone who doesn't like to travel at all, doesn't need to classify this, just because it works for other people. The same idea applies to all things susceptible to personal taste or believe system, such as religion or spirituality. Other important things such as laughter and learning are more of a practice within each category.

Having friends from different countries to whom I talk regularly, forces me to have to explain things with an international and intercultural perspective quite often. I find myself helping people mostly through advise about how to find a job when they come to the US (Wealth and Individuality), or how to brand themselves and sell their abilities and characters with a positive spin (Individuality and Relationships), or even how to aim for the impossible if that is what really makes them happy (Dreams). I also find myself learning from people every day, from life tips, to lessons and methods that I try out incessantly.  These practices and methods that surround us and aid our growth in life, fit rather nicely into these simple categories.

The survival of the fittest may not directly dictate death to the lesser established in a civilized society, but it surely widens the distance between those in with high and low doses of happiness. Note I didn't say upper class vs. lower class. Economic class and status, although for many does play an important role in their happiness, it is never measured with the same rule. Instead, I’m talking about happiness and balance in life, ergo the important categories, since they do not dictate what makes each individual happy or not, but only a skeleton to classify those things that do.

I’ll make an effort to publish some tips that have worked for me on some of these categories. I’m also thinking in developing a method to keep track of conscious progress done on each, to help me keep a balance so 2012 doesn't repeat again in 2013. Who knows, if this Hitchhiker’s Guide to Life turns out a good learning journey, I'll make a conscious effort to share more about my voyage and adjustments as it develops.

All the best for 2013!!!