How to Be Happy
If you want to be happy, you must first realize that happiness isn’t something you find or get. You can’t give it to someone else. You have to earn it. They have to earn it.
Maybe I should call this “How to Not Be Happy?” Nobody is going to Google How to Not Be Happy. if you want to figure out how to do something, it makes sense to also learn what not to do too.
The First Things You Need to Know to Be Happy
Here are our stops along the way:
- Happiness isn’t something you can find.
- Happiness isn’t something you can get.
- Happiness isn’t something you can give.
- Your happiness is your responsibility.
- Happiness is earned.
- How happiness is like nutrition.
- How happiness is like a puppy.
- Don’t take happiness too seriously.
- Three resolutions.
What a trip!
This is the trip, the best part
I really like
What’d he say?”
– Jim Morrison, The Soft Parade
I never had any clue what Jim was talking about there. I just thought it was funny.
Mary Poppins also has great advice.
Happiness Isn’t Something You Can Find
You’ve heard the tales of the hero (or maybe the villain or victim) setting off on a journey to find happiness.
Usually, in the story, they find happiness.
After they fight the dragon.
After they save the villages.
After they meet the love of their life.
That’s the subtly of the story.
The hero doesn’t find happiness. The hero leaps, journeys, fights, saves and meets it.
The hero builds it. Creates it.
Maybe it is just a figure of speech, but how many times have you heard of someone setting off to find happiness? We’ve heard it many times. What George Bernard Shaw said about “finding yourself” applies to finding happiness. Happiness isn’t something you find.
“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
– George Bernard Shaw
Life Isn’t About Finding Happiness
The lady’s unhappy, so she leaves her family and strays to greener pastures to find happiness. The guy’s unhappy, so he starts flirting with a co-worker hoping to find a little boost to his ego. The kid looking for a distraction and decides to experiment with some substances.
Or the guy quits his job of 20 years so he can make money online and travel the world! I mean that guy didn’t even get his online business going first, so he’d have a little money to feed his family. I’m so glad I’m not that guy!
It’s precisely the same as finding yourself. You don’t find yourself; you create yourself.
Wait. Wait. George, how was it you put it?
Yes, that’s exactly l what I was thinking!
Life is About Creating Happiness
You don’t find happiness; you create happiness.
Two semicolons in a post? Take that Kurt Vonnegut! Unless I didn’t use them correctly. In that case, I should have listened to Kurt.
But don’t take my word for it, let’s ask a famous person everyone loves and respects.
Dr. King, what do you think about finding happiness?
I agree completely, Dr. King!
There’s searching and there’s running. Are people venturing out to find happiness, or are they running from something? Do they think they’ll be happier if they can get out of the trap they think they’re stuck in?
The point is that we don’t find happiness. It’s not this magical thing in a hidden place through a maze behind a wall through a door protected by a giant three-headed dog and a lock with a code and when you grab it the floor falls away and arrows shoot out of the wall and a giant bowling ball chases you out of the cave only to have it stolen by your nemesis from college.
Isn’t that Raiders of the Lost Ark with a little Harry Potter and Philosopher’s Stone mixed in?
Check out Do Happiness for some ideas!
One more quote:
We can create happiness anywhere we are.
But Shayne, don’t you want to travel for happiness?
Excellent question! I really, really want to travel more. And I never use really!
Travel is a source of happiness for me. That sentence contains two key words.
- Not relocating
- Not running
- Not escaping
- Not hiding. Travel
- Not seeking anything, but an adventure
- Go somewhere
- Growing from getting out of your comfort zone
- Embracing a new and different culture
- Meeting new people
- The anticipation of the trip
- Memories of the trip
Shortest subtitle ever!
It is a source, not the source. It’s just one thing to do.
Happiness Isn’t Something You Can Get
You’ve seen the spoiled ones, right? They expect everything will be given to them. Somebody owes them.
A sense of entitlement is a recipe for unhappiness.
It’s not our partner’s job or our parents’ job to make us happy.
Arguably, it’s not their job to make us unhappy.
We must realize that happiness is up to us. Don’t waste time waiting to get happiness.
Happiness is Something We Have to Create and Build
It takes some effort. Getting happiness from someone else won’t give you lasting happiness. It won’t make you Independently Happy. Happiness isn’t something you can get.
Do you know anyone who just isn’t happy unless she has a boyfriend? Or, you know, whatever type of friend they prefer? Or that person who blames their spouse, because the spouse doesn’t make them happy? Or blames their parents for not making them happy?
There is no getting Happiness. Happiness takes some effort.
What do you think about that Plato?
Let’s not dogpile Plato for the sexist language. He meant all genders, biological and identity. He died before trending Tweets could enlighten him.
Do you know somebody who’s miserable because they hate their job and they won’t do anything for themselves because they’re job makes them too depressed to have the energy to search for another job or start a business?
I’m going to say that I don’t know anybody like that just in case that person happens to stumble across this blog or click any of the links I send. No, I’m not talking about you. I’m making a low-key reference to this obscure book I read that’s only printed in Spanish that my wife’s cousin told me about.
Do you know anyone who’s miserable because of their health and appearance but won’t do anything about it because … Actually, I have no clue why on this one. Also, I don’t know anybody like this.
There is no getting happiness.
Don’t wait around for that special person to come around and give you happiness or make you happy. That’s not how Happiness works, Finn.
Okay, I can’t resist.
Have you checked out Do Happiness yet?
We Are Not Entitled to Happiness
Yes, gratitude and mindfulness are vital ingredients. They’re like the chocolate in chocolate milk. Finding appreciation and gratitude for what you have right now might take some effort, but that’s the point. It helps us not take things for granted and most importantly helps us not develop a sense of entitlement.
But you also need the milk.
If you want to be happy, the first step is to realize it’s on you to develop it (build it, create it) that Your happiness is Your responsibility.
What do you think? Can anyone give you happiness? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
Let’s help others realize that getting happiness from someone else won’t give them lasting happiness. It won’t make them Independently Happy.
It’s something you have to do. You have to work for it, suffer for it. If you know someone with that sense of entitlement, that key ingredient for unhappiness, share this with them.
Happiness Isn’t Something You Can Give.
Giving is awesome! It feels great to give. It also feels great to receive gifts. Gifts can give you a few minutes, hours or even days of joy, but it’s not lasting happiness.
Remember the spoiled ones from the previous section? Don’t contribute to their unhappiness and yours by trying to give them happiness. Don’t try to take on the responsibility of another’s happiness. I know it’s tough watching a loved one who is unhappy but trying to give them happiness will only make it worse.
It is Better to Give Than to Receive!
Giving is Great!
Giving makes both giver and givee (word!) feel great. If you’ve watched enough Hallmark channel during October, November, and December, you already know that giving makes you happier than getting. I’ll leave that for you to check out. Incidentally, A Golden Christmas II is one of our faves. Giving happiness doesn’t work, though. You can’t make someone else happy. Happiness isn’t something you can give.
It Feels Good to Give
…and it probably even helps the givee fulfill some basic needs.
However, regardless of how amazing the gift is, you can’t give someone else happiness. Don’t feel bad when your amazing wonderful gift doesn’t make them happy. It might give them a few hours or days of pleasure and joy, but that will wear off.
Yes, I’m even talking about a trip to Disney’s Magic Kingdom.
Their Happiness is Not Your Responsibility
Don’t try to take that responsibility. You’ll only frustrate yourself. You might even become a little resentful of the person to whom you keep giving things only for them to remain unhappy. Plus you’re contributing to that person’s mistaken impression that happiness is something they can be given. See Happiness isn’t something you can get.
No matter how affluential, influential, thoughtful or determined you are, you can’t make someone else happy over the long term. You can’t make them Independently Happy.
At best, they just become dependent on you to make them feel good. That eventually makes both of you miserable and resentful. You resent them for not appreciating what you’ve given, and they resent you for not giving enough.
The Only Way to Give Happiness
…is to teach others–especially our children–that happiness can’t be given or got. Model giving to others, then encourage others to build, contribute, deposit and give.
Giving is good, just don’t give with the expectation that you’re going to give lasting happiness. Give to make someone feel loved, to feel good giving and to model giving.
Let’s model, not spoil.
In fact, let’s segue into the next section. One possible way to help someone become happy is to help them realize that…
Your Happiness is Your Responsibility
It’s all on you. Others can help. You can help others. Helping helps happiness.
But happiness requires a little more.
Each person can only make themselves Independently Happy.
Nobody else can do it for you. No one can make it for you, buy it for you, or take you there.
It doesn’t matter how awesome somebody is, how intelligent they are or how much they love you, they can’t give you happiness. Each person can only make themselves Independently Happy. Your happiness is your responsibility.
Worst subheading ever for the internet.
We might get into a religious debate here. Somebody might suggest that God can give us happiness. Remember this though, God is smart. Omni-smart from what I understand. He doesn’t rain down happiness like Manna in Exodus 16. He merely gave us suggestions (and hearts and brains and nature).
All that work we do, all those kinds things we do for others, all those rituals we perform the prayer (meditation), those are all things that contribute to Happiness.
Have you heard the hypothetical question, could God create a rock that He can’t lift? It’s an attempt to disprove God with logic. If He’s not powerful enough to create such a rock, then He’s not all-powerful. And if there’s a rock He can’t lift then he’s not all-powerful.
Well, can God create a being that He can’t make happy?
Or did He just create the beings and give them all the tools, methods and advice they’d need and then leave it up to them to do it for themselves?
Also Free Will.
Happiness isn’t something you can get. No one can give it to you, so your happiness isn’t anyone else’s responsibility. Your happiness is your responsibility.
Have a listen to Jim Rohn’s humorous advice on responsibility.
Happiness isn’t something you can give. No matter how affluent, influent, thoughtful or determined you are, you can’t make someone else happy over the long term. You can’t make them Independently Happy. You’ll end up with someone who depends on your for their brief interludes of joy, who doesn’t know they can and who doesn’t know they have to generate their own happiness.
That person that you desperately want to be happy, that you’re willing to do anything and everything you can to make happy…
They need to know that their happiness is their responsibility.
That’s one of the greatest gifts we can give, the gift of knowing our own happiness is our own responsibility.
Now I’m not saying that I’m giving you the greatest gift that there is to give or anything. I’m far too humble for that.
I’m extraordinarily humble!
I’m just trying to help up the happiness responsibility game.
Have you ever tried making someone else happy? How did that go?
Happiness is Earned
The webs are full of advice on presence and living in the moment. It is absolutely true, but it is potentially bad advice. You need to build something for later.
No financial advisor in the world is going to say, “live it up. Spend it all now. Nobody lives forever. Live for the present moment.”
Sure we need to be present now. Presence and mindfulness are essential for the mental brain and the physical brain. But if we spend all our money now, we’re going to be broke later. We will never be independently wealthy.
The same goes for happiness. If we don’t build something for later, we will never be Independently Happy.
Presence for now and presents for later.
Welcome to the State of Happiness!
Happiness isn’t something you can find, get or give. Happiness isn’t a physical thing, and it doesn’t come from things. It’s a state of well-being and contentment according to Merriam-Webster.
Happiness is something
by what you do
(and don’t do)
and it’s something you maintain, nurture and preserve
with your attitude and gratitude.
Happiness is Earned
Yes, earned as in work. It doesn’t fall from the sky like manna.
Happiness doesn’t fall from the sky, it’s more like you have to:
-Dig for it.
-Run for it.
-Meditate for it.
(not meditate on it, Grammarly! That would be taking happiness too seriously.)
-Thank for it
-Think for it.
(not think about it, Grammarly! That would also be taking happiness too seriously.)
-Experiment with it
Thanks, King Julien!
From the outside, it may look to others like your happiness rains down on you from the heavens.
You know what you do and what you’ve done, though.
You know you live it. You Do Happiness.
Presence for Now
There is a lot of advice about enjoying life in the present and being grateful for what you have. That is absolutely correct, but it is only half of it. It’s 40 – 60% of it.
It’s what I’ve done for most of my life. I’ve enjoyed all the things I’ve done. They have given me great memories and lots of happiness.
Presents for Later
Then 20 years later, I found myself with lots of memories and happiness built up but stuck in a job I couldn’t afford to leave and that was becoming a drain on all that happiness I’d built up.
I was focused so much on the present moment that I didn’t notice I was drifting.
(Like Jon Acuff says, though, “This too shall post.”)
And herein is a happiness lesson.
Rather than getting stressed and depressed that happiness was suddenly getting harder, I saw the opportunity in the obstacle. It was a learning opportunity, and now I can share what I’ve learned to hopefully help others from drifting to a similar place.
So I keep up lots of those its above.
And I’m trying to share what I’ve learned.
How Happiness is Like Nutrition
We should know by now that fad diets don’t work. Fads and diversions don’t help build sustaining happiness either.
Next, we pay a little visit to How Happiness is Like Nutrition.
We want to eat food now that is delicious and enjoyable, but we also want food that will contribute to our long-term health. We want a Lifestyle that is sustainable and healthy.
Then let’s see if we can get a Lyft over to…
How Happiness is Like a Puppy
Puppies can be a pain in the ass.
They poop and pee everywhere.
They eat bugs and poop, lick themselves, then they want to lick you.
They get fleas and ticks. They need to be groomed and brushed.
They get sick. They need shots and trips to vets.
They chew up toys and clothes.
I once had a puppy chew up my glasses. I’ve seen puppies chew up phones.
Still, we love them. They bring us so much happiness.
Let’s take a brief stop for adorableness at How Happiness is Like a Puppy.
Then lets air up the tires, hop on our bikes and pedal on over to…
Don’t Take Happiness Too Seriously
I take happiness seriously.
So you don’t have to.
It’s a little too easy to try too hard to be happy.
In fact, one of the best ways to not be happy is to try too hard being happy.
Let’s go look at another dog pic and learn some very valuable happiness advice at Don’t Take Happiness Too Seriously.
Just have fun where you are. Don’t go thinking that you can’t have fun unless you’re someplace awesome.
Have fun where you are. Laugh where you are. Make others laugh. Play games. Toss a ball in the office or a Frisbee in the yard. Simple stuff. As Bruce Lee said:
We’ve got one, last stop, so let’s put on our best shoes, climb on to that Bigwheel and pedal ourselves over to…
Don’t wait for New Years Day!
Let’s go learn the Three Resolutions that will lead to enduring happiness!
These aren’t goals. These are resolutions.
These aren’t great things to set goals to do. These are philosophies on how to live a happy life.
But don’t just take my word for it! Click that link and see what I have to say about it!
That’s basically the skeleton of Independently Happy.
The rest is frosting.
So you’re saying it’s the frosting on the skeleton? You totally mixed metaphors.
I hope you enjoyed the tour and the mixed metaphors!
What’s a metaphor?
For building happiness!
Please let me know what you think by sharing in the comment sections below. I’m offering you Facebook comments and/or Disqus comments. Pick the one you like best. Or pick both.
If you’ve enjoyed this journey, please share either by Pinning some photos or clicking some the ClickToTweets.
If you didn’t enjoy the journey, tell everyone you’ve been down a YouTube rabbit hole. Speaking YouTube. If I were Google, I would have called it GooTube.
But that’s just me.