“Aim above morality.

Be not simply good, be good for something. “

Henry David Thoreau


Well. Its New Year’s Eve and I thought I would take a minute and discuss happiness. Generally speaking, I am an optimist (maybe really a skeptical optimist), believe we should do more utopian thinking and believe, for the most part, humans are kind and like to coexist in a healthy collaborative way.

Which leads me to say If I read one more “how to be happy” article to guide someone into the New Year I am gonna not only be unhappy, but pretty grumpy.

First. I have a feeling that anyone who has to be told how to be happy is unlikely ever to actually be happy.

Second. I am fairly sure happiness is not a task; it is an outcome of actions not an action in and of itself.

Anyway. I would suggest the perfect formula for just about anything good in life, and business, is when you can inextricably tie strategy to tactics and tactics to strategy within a healthy mindset. Basically, if you can embed your strategy into each and every task or action that means everything you do is contributing to the objective you aspire to and provide some tangible substance to your mindset.

The problem with most new year resolutions or ‘things to do’ lists are (a) the objective is so frickin’ big that it makes the success probability % so low it’s depressing to even think about <after the initial elation of ‘thinking big’> (b) the tactics are so pedantic and uninspiring <declutter your Life, call a friend, make time for yourself, etc.> it diminishes the bigness goals, dreams & objectives could, and should, be.

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that if you go into all of this with a positive, hopeful, mindset both A & B deflate optimism and inflate pessimism bit by bit.

Which leads me to where Thoreau offers us the perfect New Year’s resolution.

  • The objective is to aim above morality.
  • The strategy is to be the best you can be <all the time>.
  • The tactic, the task, is doing the right thing <all the time>.

These are real actions someone can take. No ‘steps to success’, but rather simply steps which embrace and embody your objective AND mindset.


If you are aspiring to be happy or happier then you surely should, maybe even need, to ask yourself some very serious questions about your Life and what steps you are taking each and every day.

Once again, not milestones, but actual behavioral type steps.

But maybe even more importantly is to better understand WHY we are taking the steps. In other words, reflect upon your mindset and how it fits into not just a ‘better you’, but a ‘better us world.’ I imagine I suggest this because it is the mindset that will keep you going on those days that things aren’t going so well. And, I promise you, not all days will go well.

Oddly, I think of something Nixon said in one of his speeches in 1970 as I think about HOW we should meet the challenges of a new year.

He said that the United States could no longer “conceive all the plans, design all the programs, execute all the decisions, and undertake all the defense of the free nations of the world”.

He noted that other nations had to do more too.

He also noted that we needed to “discipline our occasional impetuosity.”

You just cannot conceive all plans, design all the programs and undertake all the actions and be successful. Unfortunately, its not that simple. Not only is it not possible for the ‘self’ in that many things are dependent upon context and environment and others, but it certainly isn’t possible as a ‘grand strategy’, i.e., the world in totality.

That said. Life offers us a very difficult assignment, but rarely a unique one. In carrying out our assignments we will do some things well, others not so well, and, well, others just badly. In addition, we sometimes encounter some occasional impetuosity <which requires discipline>.

And even if you do get some things right, later on in Life, years after this year passes, with the perspective that time affords, both the calamity of the bad and the praise we drown ourselves in for the things done well will inevitably seem obviously excessive and extreme.

I can guarantee in the next year we will all sometimes be brilliant, sometimes be foolish, sometimes be lucky and sometimes be terribly unlucky.

But all of the things I just typed are things. Tactics implemented in everyday Life which will be successful & unsuccessful in and of itself.

Which brings me back to suggest if we were to aim above morality within each tactic we will be successful.


I would also suggest to aim above morality means you set aside the societal norms of measurement of success & failure. Maybe even set aside measurement at all. This means you no longer hesitate with prejudice, ignorance, selfishness or any societal pressure placed upon you. You, all alone, take actions with the objective to aim above morality. And in taking actions with this objective in mind we are capable of our best each & every moment. We become a powerful force for what is good & right.

And I also imagine you become a powerful force with regard to your own health & wellbeing.

All I know is that once I saw Thoreau’s quote I knew what I would be doing in 2023 – aiming above morality in all that I do. Generally speaking, this seems like a good objective. And, to end where I began, I imagine happiness can be found within this particular objective and more likely to be found if you, well, pursue happiness as an objective. Ponder.


“In spite of the prejudice, ignorance, selfishness and all the other impediments that drag us downwards, there are billions of people who want a better, brighter life for themselves and their descendants – who want to be free from fear and want.

When combined with the foresight and ingenuity we’re capable of in our best moments, this is a powerful force for good that congenital pessimists are far too hasty to dismiss.”

Adam Lee


Written by Bruce