In his CreativeMornings presentation in Seattle this morning, Lee LeFever, founder of Common Craft and author of The Art of Explanation, broached the subject of constraints. Constraints generally have a negative connotation. For champions of free thinking and unbridled creativity, constraints appear to be the things holding you back, the things keeping your imagination in check. But constraints can also be incredibly liberating. In the context of Lee LeFever’s presentation, this set of constraints helped to shape the direction of his company and its product. But what if we apply this same process to our day-to-day lives?
It is okay to make your happiness a priority. And sometimes, this means saying, “No.” A set of constraints can be a set of rules to live by. It can be a set of goals and values. Defining what will make you happy allows you to say, “No” to the things that will diminish that happiness. It’s not about holding yourself back, it’s about having a set of guidelines to create accountability, a set of guidelines that will directly contribute to your happiness. Happiness is made up of a series of choices, of thousands of micro decisions over time. In creating positive constraints, you can create freedom. You develop the power to say, “No.” You optimize for happiness.