By Boyd Matheson

Politics has been important from the founding of our nation – but strong individuals and community-driven solutions regularly serve us better than our political parties.

With both political parties holding their conventions over the next two weeks there will be an overload of analysis in the media. So this week’s Principle Matters is going to take a little journey off of the beaten path. Rather than focus on the government-driven solutions, we are going to focus on a set of principles that will create change, improvement and happiness – beginning with each of us as individuals.

The road to happiness and prosperity is never as difficult as we try to make it. In the late 1800s an unknown author penned a set of principles titled “The Road to Happiness.” The years have flown, the centuries have turned, times have changed, and technology has transformed the world, yet the road to real happiness remains unchanged. It is never to be found in the halls of Congress or emanating from some central government agency for happiness. It is found by following a set of simple principles.

Here is “The Road to Happiness”:

  • Keep skid-chains on your tongue; always say less than you think. How you say things often counts far more than what you say.
  • Make promises sparingly and keep them faithfully, no matter what it costs you.
  • Never let an opportunity pass to say a kind and encouraging thing to or about somebody. Praise good work done, regardless of who did it. If criticism is merited, criticize helpfully and never spitefully.
  • Be interested in others: interested in their pursuits, their welfare, their homes, and families. Make merry with those who rejoice and mourn with those who weep. Let everyone you meet, however humble, feel that you regard them as a person of importance.
  • Be cheerful. Keep the corners of your mouth turned up. Laugh at good stories and learn to tell them.
  • Preserve an open mind on all debatable questions. Discuss, but don’t argue. It is the mark of a superior mind to disagree and yet be friendly.
  • Let your virtues, if you have any, speak for themselves, and refuse to talk of another’s vices. Discourage gossip. Make it a point to say nothing to another unless it is something good.
  • Be careful of others’ feelings. Wit at the other fellow’s expense is rarely worth the effort and may hurt where least expected.
  • Pay no attention to ill-natured remarks about you. Simply live so that nobody will believe them.
  • Don’t be too anxious about getting your just dues. Do your work, be patient, keep your disposition sweet, forget self, and you will be respected and rewarded – on the road to Happiness!

Simple, powerful principles to build a better individual, family, neighborhood and nation. Imagine what could happen if everyone, especially our political leaders, pursued such a path?

For Sutherland Institute, this is Boyd Matheson. Thanks for engaging – because principle matters.

This post is an edited transcript of Principle Matters, a weekly radio commentary aired on several radio stations. The podcast can be found below.

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Boyd Matheson is president of Sutherland Institute. Boyd, who served as chief of staff for Utah Senator Mike Lee in Washington, D.C., has a wealth of experience as a coach, executive adviser and business consultant. In addition to his service as Sen. Lee’s chief of staff, Boyd most recently built a successful political consulting firm advising national and state elected officials and candidates. From 2005 to 2012, he served as president of Trillium Strategies, a consulting firm focused on branding, business transformation and operational excellence. Boyd and his wife, Debbie, have five children and four grandchildren.


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