The Power of a Personal Manifesto

Frank Lloyd Wright had a 10-point statement of values

Wright House
APNew Jersey house designed in the 1950s by architect Frank Lloyd Wright

I love personal manifestos.

I recently read Frank Lloyd Wright's Autobiography - a very thought-provoking work. In it, he includes a list of the "Fellowship Assets" that he outlined for the architecture apprentices he worked with at Taliesen, his summer home, studio, and school.

1. An honest ego in a healthy body.
2. An eye to see nature
3. A heart to feel nature
4. Courage to follow nature
5. The sense of proportion (humor)
6. Appreciation of work as idea and idea as work
7. Fertility of imagination
8. Capacity for faith and rebellion
9. Disregard for commonplace (inorganic) elegance
10. Instinctive cooperation

This list was interesting to me, because although it's quite short, it packs in a lot of big ideas and strongly held views. It really started me thinking -- to ask, "What does Wright mean by 'inorganic' or even 'nature'?" "What's an 'honest ego'?" I particularly loved #5 - the inclusion of humor on this list, and the tying of humor to a sense of proportion. I'd never thought of humor as an expression of a sense of proportion, but I think that's one reason that humor can be so helpful at difficult moments.

Writing a personal manifesto is a very interesting exercise; it really forces you to articulate your values. Have you ever written a manifesto for yourself? Was it a useful exercise? I wrote my manifesto, though I should probably update it.

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Gretchen Rubin

Gretchen Rubin

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Gretchen Rubin is the author of the blockbuster New York Times bestsellers, Happier at Home and The Happiness Project--accounts of her experiences test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific studies, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier. On her popular blog, The Happiness Project, www.happiness-project.com, she reports on her daily adventures in pursuit of happiness. Gretchen Rubin is one of the most thought-provoking and influential writers on happiness to have emerged from the recent explosion of interest in the subject. Though her conclusions are sometimes counter-intuitive—for example, she finds that true simplicity is far from simple to attain—her insights resonate with readers of all backgrounds. Response to Rubin’s practical approach to happiness has been overwhelming. Psychiatrists suggest these books to their patients, professors assign them to their students, book groups read them, families pass them around, and groups have sprung up across the world where people do Happiness Projects together. Exhausted parents and college students, senior citizens and professionals, clergy and social workers, and people facing divorce, illness, and drift have written to tell Gretchen Rubin how she’s influenced them. A graduate of Yale and Yale Law School, Rubin started her career in law, and was clerking for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor when she realized she wanted to be a writer. She has written several books, including three novels safely locked in a desk drawer. But of everything she’s ever written, she says that her one-minute video, The Years Are Short, is the thing that resonates most with people. Rubin is an enthusiastic proponent of using technology to engage with readers about ideas, and she has a wide, active following on social media. “The Happiness Project” was even an answer on the game-show Jeopardy! She loves to connect with readers on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and YouTube—and on her popular daily blog, of course. Gretchen Rubin has a free monthly newsletter which features highlights from the blog and Facebook Page (sign up here) and the free daily “Moment of Happiness” email with a happiness quote every morning (sign up here). If you’re interested in launching a happiness project group, for people doing happiness projects together, you can get the “starter kit” here.

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