This is part 2 of the series; part 1 is here.
Ideally, a constitution is based on a few guiding principles. For example, the US constitution considers "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" as a basic human right, which in turn guides many other aspects of the constitution such as the amendment guaranteeing freedom of speech.
So when I was designing my own constitution, I had to define its guiding principles. To do this, I spent some time reflecting on my life and what has made me happy.
In general, the happiest times have been when I've lived according to my values.
For example, I have always enjoyed composing music, writing software, reading books and learning new things. When I moved to Texas back in 1983, there was a 2-year period where I did all of these things consistently, and I was extremely happy. Conversely, some of the least happy times in my life were when I neglected these activities.
Of course, living according to your values is more than just doing things you enjoy; it's also about the way you relate to people you like, people you don't like, and people you have never met. For example, I derive great enjoyment from supporting charities whose values I support, and spending time with people whose values are similar to my own. Conversely, I am very tolerant of people with different values from me, and while I don't particularly enjoy their company, I don't attempt to prevent them from living according to their values.
Last but not least, I'm happiest living in places that encourage freethinkers and are tolerant of a variety of values; hence my recent relocation to the fantastic city of San Francisco.
So after recognizing the common thread that connects my sources of happiness, I chose the following guiding principle for my constitution:
The right for each person to live according to their own values.
To be sure, it has a lot of similarities with the guiding principle of the US constitution, but if you take it to its logical conclusion, you end with something that's very different.
In the next part of this series, I'll discuss conflict resolution.