Stop Trying to Be Happy So You Can Be Happy

It’s easy to confuse happiness with pleasure and wreck your happiness by pursuing pleasure. You end up constantly chasing and never finding. A key to happiness is to stop trying to be happy.

stop trying to be happy


“If only we’d stop trying to be happy, we could have a pretty good time.”

― Edith Wharton

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Err. wait. Isn’t that what your whole blog is about?

Yes! But do I ever say “eat some ice cream while watching your favorite tv show and smelling flowers!” Do I ever say, “Play it safe,” or “Take the easy way.”

I don’t say that. I say things like:

  • “hit the gym.”
  • “Get up early and write.”
  • “Eat your F#%$X@g greens.”
  • “Save your money.”

I’m the guy who said to Create Resistance on Purpose!

I don’t say strive for perfection. I say Embrace Imperfections and Better Bad Times, and how bad times increase happiness in the long run.

You link to your own work a lot too!

Yes, I do do that.

Huh huh, you said–

We all saw it!

The Easy Way is the Hard Way

It’s easy to confuse happiness and pleasure, so many of us wreck our happiness by pursuing pleasure. Always chasing that euphoria (that dopamine rush) might give you the frequent fix, but it will only leave you wanting more. You’ll never be satisfied, thankful or content.

Happiness can be tricky like that. It’s why I advise Don’t Take Happiness too seriously.

“The easy way is the hard way.”


Like Mindfulness

The best mindfulness is when you’re being mindful without realizing you’re being mindful.

You can look back later and go, “Wow. I was really in the moment! Time flew. That felt great.

The best happiness is when you’re happy without realizing you’re being happy.

Meditation is just practice. It’s not the mindfulness during meditation that counts. What counts is–after the consistent practice every morning–when you slip into mindfulness performing a task without trying to be mindful.

When I take care of my Mom, we frequently work puzzles. It keeps her brain working, which is what she needs. I scan for the colors and the shapes, thinking of nothing else. With complete focus on the pieces, I ease farther and farther into the moment without purposely trying to be mindful.

Of course, with me, I often slip into. “This is the hardest puzzle ever! We’ll never finish it!

But just like focusing back on the breathe when my mind wanders during meditation, I focus back on the colors and the shapes.

“The best happiness is when you’re happy without realizing you’re being happy.”


stop trying to be happy

Sometimes You Have to be Mindful on Purpose

I’ve had great results lately with realising that I’m stressed. Most of the past few weeks have been extremely stressful at work. Even more than usual.

I was able to calm down when I stopped and realized:

Wow. This is really stressful. My heart is pounding. This is scary! We’re all going to die!!! Oh. Right. We’re not going to die. It’s just software.

Stop Trying to Be Happy

Chasing the comfort, the relaxed and the easy will just make you soft. It will provide moments that you don’t relish and look back on as fond memories, but just another fix to chase. That leads to frustration, not happiness.

It’s why I mention work so often. Not your job work, unless you’re lucky enough to do what you love. I’m talking about your work:

  • Your reps in the gym
  • The books you read
  • Playing with your kids
  • Gardening.

Those actions require deliberate focus and energy.

Focus on actions that keep you in the moment of the action, not just what you’re going to get out of the action.

Don’t be the owl counting licks to the end of the lollipop. Enjoy each lick.

Was that a double entendre?

I don’t know what that means or what you’re talking about.

Are you telling us to eat candy?

I’m telling you to enjoy the moment, the journey, the path. Don’t save all the happiness for the summit.

Yeah, that’s definitely a double ent–

Stop trying to be happy. Don’t take happiness too seriously.

What work or activities do you do to stay in the moment?

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