How I (try) and Stay Happy

It is not always obvious how to be happy but I don’t think worrying about it all the time is not how to get there. Plus, what makes me happy does not make you happy. Where you end up in life is made up of thousands of little actions making it your own path. Be careful trying to follow someone else’s path because you probably will not end up in the exact same place.

Maybe unhappy from expecting an exact outcome and not getting it.

Here are some of the things I do to try and stay happy:

  • To borrow from Seth Godin I brainwash myself by consuming as much positive information as I can handle and avoid negative things (I don’t watch the news).
  • I try really hard to only read social media about 1 time per week and review my personal email about 2 times per week. I had to do this becasue I am an obsessive person and I started to believe that I was letting someone down when I was not able to see their posts or answer their email immediately.
  • I constantly prune my social media feeds. I eliminate anything that is not informative enough, funny enough, or too negative.
  • I leave my laptop in my office so I am not tempted to use it when I am not in my office and if I want to use it I have to separate myself from the rest of the house and my family to get work done. This makes it where I give my family more attention than my computer and when I am away working on it I have the urge to go spend time with my family so I am focused so I can finish sooner.
  • Every 2-3 months I throw a party with a silly theme with all of my friends. This allows me to get my fix of connecting with people.
  • When I am home I leave my phone on vibrate and set it away from me. This allows me to focus on my family and anyone around me.
  • I talk to people of all ages and background that seem happy to see what I can take away.
  • I am always looking for fun things to do.
  • I create. For instance last week I installed a storm door on our house and a couple of weeks before that I created a website (with the help of a developer) and now I am writing.
  • I go along for the ride. There are so many situations that I can get frustrated at but I act like I am riding in a car and am just observing. This allows me to avoid getting caught up in the situation and just observing.

Just a note: I like to use writing to help flesh out my thoughts and looking back at what I have written here I stay happy by enjoying the trip and not making the goal my source of happiness.

Hating Work is Not a New Problem

Photo Credit:  jcorrius
Photo Credit: jcorrius

Recently I had a discussion with my friends about the “new” problem of people hating their work. The question which was raised was “have we grown soft or is hating work a new problem?

Through our discussion I now believe that people have always wanted more contentment in their work. Think about it, nothing in our biology has changed over the last 200 years and I am pretty sure we have the same wants and needs. We are designed to want things to be better than they are, no matter our position. For instance, I am pretty sure our grandparents wanted more meaning in their work even if the work environment was different than it is now. Also, who really likes hard labor?

The want for more meaning has always been there.

Now we are more connected. It is easier for us to find others who are also unhappy with their work. In addition it is easier to find people who are finding contentment in their work showing us it is possible. This makes us believe there is more discontentment in our work.

Even though I believe this has always been a concern it does not mean we should keep doing things like we always have. With this new ability to connect through technology we have more opportunity to find meaning in our work and our lives.

Unhappy Trying to be Happy

Photo Credit:  georgikeith
Photo Credit: georgikeith

I wanted to dig into the subject of striving for a goal verses being happy with what you have. I have touched on this topic in the past but I want to expand on it a bit more. This is a balance is difficult and different for everyone.

Ron Morriss used to say that a lot of discontent comes from a person seeing what others have and then comparing themselves to that person (I don’t remember his exact words so I am paraphrasing).

In the self improvement arena we encounter a different type of monster than most people encounter. We are constantly trying to improve ourselves, so we read about people who have achieved what we want to achieve. One example is the Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris. This book is a great resource of information but we must remember that this book is to teach you a path, not the exact actions to follow to reach a specific goal.

If we get too caught up in following the exact actions of a “successful” person with the goal to reach the same height of achievement, we are setting ourselves up for failure. We are all different and it takes millions of small decisions to achieve a goal. If you don’t make the same decisions as the successful person then you may not reach the same heights they did.

So there are 3 take-aways from this.

  1. The overall arching principle is to improve yourself.
  2. When striving for a goal, be willing to accept that you may not reach the exact same point of achievement as the person you have modeled yourself after
  3. Sometimes reaching a goal takes longer than you hoped so enjoy the ride.