How to Be Happy
by Mark Manson
Look, I know you probably came here thinking happiness is about frolicking under rainbows and eating those really nice chocolate mints that hotels leave on your pillow, but I’m here to tell you that happiness doesn’t work that way.
Most people just think that to be happy, they need to feel good all the time. Not only is this not true, but it’s actually part of the problem. It’s part of what’s holding you back.
Happiness is not something you achieve. It’s not something you do or some place you get to. Happiness is something you inhabit. Everything you need to be happy is within you today, right now. Therefore, being happy is more about removing and letting go of the messed up beliefs you have about happiness, rather than adding some something rad or impressive to your life.
I’ve come up with a few ideas below on what happiness really is and the steps you can take in your own life to be happier—or, at least be a little less miserable all the time, which is a good start for some people.
Three Ways to Be Happier in Life
1. Define What Happiness Is (And What It Isn’t) to You
Again, people want to believe that happiness is some end goal that can be achieved if you just try hard enough. It’s like they think all they have to do is figure out the secret password to the secret happy people club and they’ll get to go to the all secret happy parties and their lives will be not-so-secretly happy—all the time, no matter what.
But this sort of thinking is exactly the problem. Happiness not a delusional sense of contentment all the time, no matter what, simply by believing hard enough that you will be happy. It’s not a feeling or even a single emotion—and it’s definitely not the same thing as pleasure.
In fact, being genuinely happy actually requires you to go through a fair amount of pain and struggle. And how you react to that pain and struggle will define your happiness. And that’s what happiness really is—struggling through and solving problems for yourself and others. And the more problems you solve, the better your problems become, and the happier you are.
So what problems can you solve, right now, to put on your way to a happier life?
2. Define Your Own Values
The first and perhaps most important thing to realize about being happier in life is to stop trying to be so happy in life. We try to get more money and more love and more sex and more everything outside of ourselves when really, we actually have everything we need to be happy right now, within ourselves. A lot of the problems you have are just the normal problems of life, and you’ll be okay.
You also have to accept that for the vast majority of things you do, you’re not going to be that good at them. But you should find at least one thing that you can be great at it and ride it to your deathbed. Along the way—as cliche as it sounds—you have to be able to enjoy the simple pleasures in life. If you can’t do that, you’ll never be happy.
3. Be More Intentional
By now, most people realize that comparing yourself to others will ultimately only make you miserable. But few people think much beyond that and consciously decide what they’re own values are and how they’re going to use them to measure their own life. We get stuck in feedback loops in our minds, become attached or even addicted to thought patterns, and start to think that life is just a series of self-improvement steps, only to end up dragging ourselves through a miserable existence along the way.
The solution is to start paying more attention to how your thoughts and feelings affect you. Meditate. Keep a journal, talk to your friends/family, and really get to know yourself, the good and the bad.
And be more intentional with other areas of your life as well. Do more of the things that bring you happiness and less of the things that don’t. Don’t work a job you hate just to buy a bunch of shit you don’t need. Don’t hang out with a bunch of people who drag you down when you can hang out with one person who makes you feel good. Don’t say yes to things you want to say no to.
Now, I’m no saying if you start to do all of these things today, you’ll magically be a happier person tomorrow. Like anything worth doing in life, happiness takes time and patience and consistency.
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