Happiness can be learned.
About 10 years ago I started to notice how unhappy I was. I couldn’t grasp the concept, I had no idea what I wanted. I went with the flow and did things because I didn’t know what else to do.
I was approaching the age of 30 and was working for 5 years by then. I worked in a bar as the manager. But that title only meant that I had to take care of pretty much everything AND work behind a bar in the evenings.
I drank a lot, partied like crazy and entertained people on their days off. Society would say that I was successful. I had a title, and responsibility and had people visit the bar for me. I was always smiling and making fun. Yet, when I came home I cried in the shower. I was always tired and ran out of money by the end of the month.
Today I am writing this chapter at a local coffee place. In the sun. It’s pretty much my routine every single day. I love to start the day by reading articles or a book and writing down my thoughts. I love it.
Many people have no idea what I do in life. And they don’t bother to ask. I don’t have money problems at all. And I’m not working hard. Because I love what I do.
It all started with a mental switch.
People are always looking for purpose. They are trying to figure out what they want to do in life. What study to follow, what career to enrol in. How strange it may sound, this pulls us further into a downward spiral.
For me it wasn’t what I wanted, it was realizing what I didn’t want. And that was my previous life. So I flipped the switch and decided: no more.
If you self-assess and find that you’re unhappy, it’s exactly this realization that can help you. Don’t stay in a toxic place because you don’t know what you want. Most people choose unhappiness over uncertainty.
I resigned and took a similar job at a bar in a different city. This time I went down the hierarchy. No more responsibilities, just the work behind a bar.
This transition was pretty easy for me. It still wasn’t my dream job, but it gave me a lot of room to think. I still made money but this time my shift ended when the bar closed. It took me about 6 months to find a new career I wanted to pursue.
I turned this mental switch 5 years ago. A lot has happened and I could have never guessed what work I’m currently doing.
The biggest lesson is that I decided to only engage in work that made me happy. Work that could provide for the life I wanted. Whenever I felt annoyed or unhappy I cut the source from my life. Don’t confuse this with doing tasks that you don’t like once in a while. I still hate paperwork but it’s a necessary evil. I’m talking about working with and for toxic, short-sighted and ungrateful people.
Happiness equals low wants.
Looking at my current state of happiness and that of the happy people I meet in life I see one similarity. We all have little expectations from life. We know what’s important, and everything more than that is considered a luxury.
As soon as you escape social pressure and leave expectations behind happiness shows up.
In the Almanak of Naval Ravikant it’s described like this:
“I believe happiness is really a default state. Happiness is there when you remove the sense of something missing in your life.”Naval Ravikant
People confuse positive thinking with happiness. Positive thinking, however, suggests that there is negativity as well.
If you find something beautiful, that means that something else is ugly. If you’re feeling happy, you felt unhappy before.
This is best illustrated with the concept of buying goods. If the endorphins released in your brain make you happy when you buy an expensive sweater it means that you were unhappy without it. This anchors a certain behaviour. Try to break loose from concepts like these. A sweater is a sweater. It’s not going to make you a better person.
Learning to be happy is like getting fit. Like training different muscles train to let go of elements that cause unhappiness.
“The first step toward being happy is to stop trying so hard,” says Dr. Phil. “You’ve got to let go of all those things that aren’t working for you.”
- Lower your identity (You’re just a monkey with dreams)
- Recognise and then lower your monkey brain
- Don’t care about things that don’t matter. (A car is just that, a car)
- Don’t get involved in politics
- Do not compare yourself to others (We all got our own skills and pace)
- Don’t hang out with unhappy people
- Do hang out with happy people
- Acknowledge and value your time on earth (Be grateful)
- Read Philosophy (Different perspectives)
- Meditate (learn to breathe)
Acknowledge unhappiness in your life and recognise the things that cause it. Then start to cut them.