How to be Happy

Someone asked me if I was “happy” the other day and I said that, on the whole, I was genuinely happy about my life; satisfied is another useful word that seems to “fit” snugly; neatly perhaps.

But, as you imagine I tried to make a list of things that have helped me become more happy over the years — hopefully it’s helpful:

  1. Be clear on your “Yes” and your “No” and your “Not anymore!”
  2. You cannot escape your “Default Settings”; the more quickly you learn to love yourself in a comprehensive way, the more happier you’ll become.
  3. Goals are useful but only if they are actually yours; not someone else’s.
  4. Productivity “looks” and “feels” different for every single person. Find the right look / feel and then optimize.
  5. Simple systems work best; Occam’s razor is very useful. This simplifies decision making which makes me happy because I don’t waste time.
  6. Self-care is important; prioritizing this has taken nearly 4 decades, but, I am more happy now with my systems than I was when I was younger.
  7. Having a few friends who really know me has made me happier than being “widely known” or sub-culturally famous; the latter has a true hollowness to it.
  8. Your physical environment dramatically improves happiness; iterate daily.
  9. Having an authentic, personal mission has made me more happy; I definitely recommend spending intentional time trying to “land” this plane.
  10. There are no real rules to becoming sustainably happy.

What about you?

  1. 3

    Great list. Another one could be: surround yourself with positive or happy people.

    1. 2

      +1 to this. that's a very, very good one.

  2. 2

    Good list. I would also add "being true to yourself". If something does not make you happy - admit it to yourself and change it.

    1. 1

      that is a good one.

  3. 2

    Something for founders in particular: Beware chasing status, money, success, fame, or other things that society tells you are valuable. These reach the point of diminishing returns surprisingly early, beyond which they stop bringing you anything more than temporary jolts of happiness, followed by acclimation.

    The trap is that dreaming about having these things typically feels better than reaching them. It's like the fish who appreciates the swim toward some juicy bait much more than he appreciates biting down on the hook.

    This isn't to say that hitting goals isn't worthwhile. Rather, it's a reminder that the journey will last much longer than the fleeting happiness you'll get at the destination. So make sure your journey itself a good one, and don't sacrifice too much for the goal.

    1. 1

      i like the "beware"...

      ... but i also know that some folks start there and then graduate / mature out of it... each journey is different. and there are some where... honestly, this is the only thing that (apparently) matters... i no longer judge it... i just ask why (and see if we can dig in).

      i disagree with you on the last part... i am willing to sacrifice pretty much everything for my projects. this is stupid and unhealthy; i'll admit, but, i won't lie.

      1. 2

        I actually think that some of what I'd now see as misguided chasing of money, status and the like actually pushed me harder in my early 20s and resulted in bankable skills, experience, a level of security that I might not have if I'd started out with the mindset I have now. Also gave me first hand experience of a way of living that whilst not bad, in the end wasn't for me - without that I might risk feeling the grass is greener during the hard times on the path I've chosen.

        1. 2

          it’s an honest take; i also just needed money cause i had none and had a pregnant wife.

  4. 2

    I would add gratitude to the list -- it sounds super trivial but honestly, this is a game changer.

    1. 1

      YES! omg. that's a lifestyle!

  5. 2

    To best honest, I am a web developer and have created two SaaS products but I still, feel like my life is missing something. I haven't had much luck getting customers, but that's not quite what my life is missing. It's more along the lines of the fact that I still feel like my website development skills are underdeveloped for being in the industry for over three years. Like it might not seem that way until you realize how I design my websites if that makes any sense. Like, take a look at my site https://twayobiz.com. It seems nice until you realize that I use a little hack I came up with to build these sites. And the reason I say this is because I use a tool called Editor X (https://editorx.com) to build these sites. The reason I say hack is because I build the site in a way that makes it look like It was made more professionally. First I go and I use code to build some of the elements instead of using the regular elements. What I mean by that is that I stay away from using certain elements that make the site look more generic in my opinion. I also used a little hack I made to add the Google social sign-in element to the log-in and sign-up pages but more into that another time. I even used a CSS code hack to add that custom border/shadow effect to the input elements in the dashboard. The reason I'm calling them hacks is that the fact that the average person using the platform wouldn't know any of these techniques I use. The point I'm trying to make is that I didn't design these sites the same way that you thought I did and it may sound less cool now unfortunately now that you know I didn't design these sites with my brain the same way you probably had hoped I had. Anyway, it's unfortunate but I have to go now ok so bye and have a good day.

    1. 1

      thanks for the comment friend! i really appreciate that.

      keep doing what you're doing. it's YOUR style; own it.

  6. 2

    Thank you for your post ☺️

    For me, happiness is mostly an attitude. If you want to be happy, you can work hard to make it happen, let things go, and smile more. Even when things are getting difficult, most of the times you can choose between feeling down or just shrug, smile and move forward.

    1. 1

      yes. thank you for that. i feel as if reducing it to just "attitude" isn't entirely fair b/c life is much more than just about what you think about life. right?

      1. 2

        Yes, the point is that you cannot control what surrounds you, but you can control how you react to it.

        But yes, sure, isn't 100% fair, I agree with you :)

        1. 1

          frankel. love it.

  7. 2

    I love #7, this is so true (and #6 too, of course). I am constantly reminding myself to double-down on my IRL-connections (and - more broadly - living my actual life 'in real life' (away from a laptop), vs anything I do online/for work. This is so important.

    1. 1

      i've reduced my friend-count over time and it keeps getting smaller... at least physically. i have a lot of friends on the internet!

  8. 2

    This post immediately catches my attention in the long list of topics. Thanks for your lovely advice. I'm learning to make myself happy every day. I spend time with my family, never think about those who don't like me, and work with energetic and positive people.

  9. 2

    I don't know, man...The theory behind being happy is overcomplicated as f*. Part of this is because money are involved (the self-help industry has never been more powerful and wealthy). And they want you to believe it's not simple.

    For me it all comes down to being selfish.

    Everything else is BS.

    People should be journaling more. Why? Cuz they don't know themselves well. Me included. People just don't know who they are. And you cannot be happy if you don't reflect on your ego. On your feelings. On your needs. On your goals, dreams and plans.

    I see the altruistic trend getting traction these days. The philosophy of being ego-less.

    Take care of your friends. Be there when they need you. Make sure you're doing something for the world. Help others. Reduce your CO2 emissions. Use the bus, instead of your own car - this way you help the entire WORLD. You're not important, your ego kills you.

    That's absolute, outrageous BS.

    It's exactly the opposite of what one should do to be happy!

    Make sure you take care of yourself and then the entire world will become a better place. By helping yourself you help the people around you, by letting them be around a happy, successful person.

    So, yeah, people are just not selfish enough. And it's the only thing that matters when it comes to happiness for me.

    1. 1

      oh, i'm super-fucking selfish... all writers are. that's me. lol.

      thank you for your comment!

  10. 2

    Lovely post! Are you comfortable sharing your authentic, personal mission?

    1. 2


      i exist to build the #metaverse as a #metacreator; i love sharing / teaching everything that i know.


      1. 2

        Thanks for sharing!

  11. 2

    For me, happiness is trying to link as many sources of "joy" (or happiness) as possible.

    There are many, and if you pay attention you'll find them everywhere, but sometimes we get too distracted to notice them.

    Furthermore I think this is the actual meaning of life, to live it and enjoy every moment of it.

    More about this:

    1. 1

      joy vs happiness is a really interesting topic; joy seems to be "permanent"; outside of events while happiness is temporal.

  12. 2

    lovely post and great list, i appreciate your sincerity, need more of that on the internet.

    at the moment i'm working on enjoying the process and not being focused on end results. i find that it becomes a great filter and clarifies things: if i didn't earn money, followers, x tangible result, would i keep doing this? gets you more connected to point number 8 . this might not be the ideal community for thinking about that as 'i achieved X' is a popular format here.

    also 7 is very underrated and i'm working on that too: cultivating more meaningful relationships online and offline.

    1. 1

      ... would i keep doing this?

      this is profoundly true and important.

      i ONLY work on things where i'd STILL do them even if i wasn't getting paid.


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