Changing Our Way of Thinking About How to Be Happy

two yellow plushtoy on brown bench
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I started listening to The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson on Audible and I’m hooked.  This book has made me think about all the messages we receive about how to be happy.  In our society, people are constantly told that happiness will come from something that they do or something that happens to them.  Manson explains, “There is a premise that underlies a lot of our assumptions and beliefs.  The premise is that happiness is algorithmic, that it can be worked for and earned and achieved as if it were getting accepted to law school or building a really complicated Lego set.  If I achieve X, then I can be happy.  If I look like Y, then I can be happy.  If I can be with a person like Z, then I can be happy…The secret sauce is in the solving of problems, not in not having problems in the first place.”  I have never thought about happiness as coming from solving the problems we face in life.  This idea is really intriguing to me.

As someone who enjoys being productive, I now understand that some of my happiness does come from solving problems.  Checking things off my to-do list is my way of minimizing some of my problems.  For example, today I didn’t have the best day at work.  I drove home and had a plan to eat junk food while curled up on the couch watching Shameless.  When I got home, I made some chocolate chip cookies, but I immediately started grading a stack of assessments.  In the middle of grading, I turned on some music.  By the time I was done grading, I got ready to go to the gym.  When I came back from the gym, I was in a great mood.  I went from feeling pretty awful to feeling great in just a few hours.  I have realized that sometimes the best way to fight off a bad mood is to work to make tomorrow a better day.  I chose to do some grading so that I would have less to do tomorrow, hoping that it would make tomorrow a better day.  Now I have set myself up for a better tomorrow and in return, today ended up alright.  If you’re having a rough day, do one thing today that will make tomorrow a better day.

While my advice about turning a bad mood around is simple compared to the advice in Manson’s book, I believe little things can make all the difference.  As far as the “big things” related to happiness, I believe meaningful relationships are the key to happiness and that you should do what you love to do on a daily basis.

What do you believe is the key to happiness?  Please comment with your thoughts!


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