What makes life worthwhile?

What makes life worthwhile? What matters to you? What counts in your life?

In this fascinating TED2010 talk, Chip Conley, CEO, author and founder of Joie de Vivre Hospitality, makes a persuasive case for the reconsideration of the metrics used to guide our companies and our nation.

At what point do we get off of the “treadmill of aspiration,” as Conley so cleverly put it? For most Americans the idea exists that the treadmill ride ends at retirement. “You’ve gotten as far as you’ll go and now it’s time to sit back and enjoy it,” they say, and rare is the individual who manages to move beyond the confines of that thinking earlier in life.

Why not create the conditions in our companies and in our great nation that are conducive to the generation and maintenance of the intangibles, such as happiness? Sure we have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but how often do we really exercise that right?

Life matters. People matter. Goodness counts. I, for one, am concerned to make a difference while I am here and I love to see evidence of others who are not only dreaming of transforming the world, but who are also doing tangible, catalytic work to get the ball rolling.

Thank you Chip Conley!

13 thoughts on “What makes life worthwhile?

  1. Colin

    I will put some thought into these metrics. Things like GNH are the metrics for the modern world, but think about the strife we could have avoided if they had been the metrics all along. Thanks.


  2. Chuck Reddick

    There are so many great starting points in finding some great meaning in this presentation Gregg. One thing that I have noted over the years is what the form of measurement does to employee morale and esteem in the marketplace, and what that does to production.

    For example, I have noted that when employees are focused on just more profits and in meeting imposed deadlines that have little or nothing to do with making a positive difference than they are basically unhappy in all aspects of their lives. Interesting to note with this direction is that the end results are them being unhappy as the job is being done with an element of resentment which spills over to the quality of the products and services provided which spills over to unhappy customers which spills over to reduced profits.

    On the other hand, when Gross National Happiness is acknowledged as being of importance and value, or when employees are doing what they are doing ‘voluntarily’ (with the pride in themselves to focus on contribution), taking the responsibility to at all times perform at their best, then they are happier, the products and services are better prepared and presented, which leads to happier customers, which leads to repeat business which leads to higher profits!

    Go figure! But it is so true that people are happiest when they are contributing to something that has meaning and value to the world and knowing that their life stands for something of meaning and value to others


  3. Isabelle kearney

    Excellent video! I particularly loved the emphasis on the intangible difference that we make and creating a habitat for happiness. It is crucial to see the intangible along with the tangible – there is no need to separate the two as they are inextricably linked.

    It really doesn’t matter whether you’re a king or a maid – we are all human beings and can make a difference. I’m excited with this new perspective and am already seeing life through new eyes.

    Thanks for sharing!


  4. Josh Cannen

    A system which measures success based on tangible production and consumption may have made sense in a previous era, but in the current era there are more intangibles (take Mr. Conley’s industry which is service based, for example) which requires a holistic view and holistic method of evaluating success. It’s interesting, because it does apply to the personal level as well as the national and international levels. You have said before to the effect that in order to live effectively (or successfully) you must view your world holistically. With that comes some definite responsibility as to the direction one takes when the interrelatedness of everything becomes apparent. I’m all for it – thanks for opening up the consideration today.


  5. J.J.Mc

    I am grateful that with each new day there is the chance to change. Presentations like this one are so valuable for my personal journey. I’ve realized personal happiness is a daily option not a random reprieve when “things go my way”. Thanks Gregg for finding a new way almost every day to inspire my G.P.G.,”gross personal gratitude”. When I measure it, my gross personal happiness goes up, with no extra effort! Magic!!


  6. Mark

    I enjoyed hearing about his process in dealing with the economic downturn in his industry. He definitely took an innovative approach worthy of consideration.


  7. Mitch Webb

    Most of us would agree with the adage that “money can’t buy happiness,” yet how many actually make their life choices in accordance with this principle? It is an innate right, let alone a constitutional one (in our country at least), to pursue a life of freedom and happiness. We’ve had some measuring systems in place that may be arbitrary and outdated, so it is always good to question that. And it is definitely good to realize we aren’t at the mercy of entire industries built with the intent to convince us we are not content with what we have and we need to buy this, acquire this, pursue this, etc. It’s a good day to wake up and say “I’m not content being not content, and I DO have a choice (moreover a responsibility) in the matter!” I appreciate Chris Conley’s balanced take that it isn’t an either/or approach but that happiness and profit can work hand in hand to everyone’s benefit. Great food for thought yet again Mr. Hake!


  8. Janis T.

    One of my favorite TED talks so far! I’m not involved in politics or working at a management level, but from my perspective it is a great privilege to look forward to any and every day we can make a difference, no matter what our circumstances.


  9. E.C.

    Our governmental, corporate and personal means for measuring and assessing these things could use serious updating. We definitely need to strive above and beyond the seriously low bar most have had set for themselves.


  10. Taylor Woods

    Interesting… At the very least I appreciate Mr. Conley’s talk and your comments in that they offer an opportunity to expand our outlook in life and refocus our perspectives in probably useful ways. I look forward to checking out your blog further.


  11. Leni

    Thank for sharing this Gregg! Isn’t it interesting how much can change the results of what we do by a simple change of context in order to get off the ‘treadmill’. It brings to mind a strategy I heard years ago in order to get or have something you must be that first. For example, happiness is first a state of being…you must be happy, then do happiness, and then you are or have happiness, rather than the other way around (Have/Do/Be)! Just think how crazy it was that Patch Adams in medical school was written up for excessive happiness! So let us make the world in which we all live increase the gains to the gross world happiness quotient!


    1. Brad

      Thanks for your contribution – sparked something in me – be/do/have is the correct order not have/do/be.
      Patch Adams is a great example


  12. Marianne

    I think his question “Do we pursue happiness with hostility?” is a very interesting one. He noted that many dictionaries define “pursuit” as “chasing with hostility”. The definitions I found related to striving or being engaged in the activity of. Question is, which of these approaches do we take?
    Life, liberty, and the ‘activity’ of happiness. I like the sound of that – there is a starting point for happiness and meaning to be experienced right here and now, and an increased experience and influence begets from that. Nice presentation – it inspired some new thinking for me today!


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