It was 5:30pm and my wife was in tears. She couldn’t find some important work files that were due that night. She was a complete mess.
I tried to console her and help look for the files, but they were gone. Totally and irreversibly deleted. She had to redo all of the work at the end of the day, when all she wanted was to get off the computer and relax.
I wanted to help but I couldn’t do the work for her. So I made dinner. And I walked the dog. I tried to make the rest of her night as easy as possible. And if I’m being honest, doing those things made me happy too.
During my walk I started asking myself “Why am I so happy all the time?”. Even when things go horribly wrong, I seem to have this uncanny ability to just brush it off and move on.
I strongly believe that we should structure our lives to maximize happiness. I think we as humans are meant to find happiness for ourselves and to bring happiness to those around us.
Here’s a few things I’ve done to increase my happiness.
Get off Facebook and Instagram
Seriously, delete that shit.
When was the last time you got something joyful out of Facebook? Where you came away significantly better after scrolling by a post that really spoke to you. Chances are you can’t remember.
That’s exactly what drove me to delete Facebook last year. It didn’t bring joy to my life.
Instagram was worse than Facebook for me. I was never happier after scrolling through Instagram.
There’s one guy I followed on Instagram that specifically drove me to delete it. He’s someone I met in my professional working career. He’s a year or two younger than me but he’s dating an instagram model. He owns a McLaren.
A fucking McLaren.
Don’t get me wrong, he’s hustled to get where he is today. He’s put in the work and earned it. I’m happy for him, I really am. But seeing that shit in my feed does not bring me joy. It makes me angry, jealous, and resentful.
It’s not him, it’s me. So I chose not to consume it.
I tried less extreme measures to curb social media’s negative impact on my life. I asked my wife to change my facebook password to something random, and to not tell me. I tried logging out after every session, and not saving my password in the browser, to make it more difficult to login.
Nothing worked until I deleted it completely.
Verbalize What You’re Grateful For Today
Positive affirmations help transform thoughts and ideas into reality. You might be amazed the difference in saying something positive out loud instead of just thinking it.
Start verbalizing the things you’re grateful for in life. Say what you’re grateful for today. It’s really easy to think happiness can come after you do something in the future. After you get that cool new phone or that brand new car. After that amazing, life changing vacation.
The reality is that happiness surrounds you right now. There are things in your life that bring you joy today. Think about what they are, and verbalize them.
Say them to your spouse or significant other. Call up a friend and tell them you’re grateful to have them in your life. Tell the wall what you’re grateful for. Sing a song in the shower about your favorite things.
Putting those words out there helps reinforce the good things we have going on in our life. Here’s a few simple things that bring me joy every day.
- Having dinner with my wife every day.
- A comfy couch to write on.
- My dog
- Watching my body transform after I started working out consistently
Your list is certainly different than mine. The important part is to focus on the things that make you happy today.
Introduce friction into your life
Hold up. My idea of increasing happiness is to deliberately make something more difficult?
Let me tell you a story about cheeseburgers.
I love In-n-Out. Even as a lifelong Texan I feel that In-n-Out is miles better than Whataburger. It’s not even a close competition in my mind.
But I can’t go there all the time otherwise I wouldn’t be happy with how my body would look. So I make myself earn it.
My new rule is I can only have In n Out on Sundays if I go to the gym 4 times that week. Having In n Out is my cheat day meal. I have to earn that delicious cheeseburger, and as a result I enjoy it so much more.
I built a rule that prevents me from just getting in my car and driving over there right now. That would be too easy.
Even The Rock has cheat days.
Find a way to take something you enjoy, but isn’t exactly great for you, and put a wall in front of it. Make it so you can’t have it without doing something good for you instead.
I promise getting through that barrier will make it so much more enjoyable. Get that double-double, because you fucking earned it.
My wife loves walking around stores, especially Target. Something about casually browsing the shelves while music quietly plays in the background helps put her at ease.
There’s even a growing YouTube community around #ShopWithMe - a movement where people record themselves shopping. One of the more popular ones has over 150,000 subscribers.
During our shopping trips I’ll often find something I like. A pair of pants. A dope sweater with a bear on it.
My wife will encourage me to buy it.
I rarely do.
She thinks I’m insane for finding things I like and then never actually buying them. But I don’t get joy from buying those things. I get joy from spending time with her. I get joy when she she’s happy, which sometimes mean buying cute things from Target.
In that moment when I’m considering buying something I ask myself a few questions.
- Will this continue to make me happy in 1 month, 3 months, and a year?
- How much do I have to work to pay for this? If you want to buy something for $100, and you make $10/hr, you’ll have to work 10 hours to make that money back. Is that thing worth 10 hours of your time?
If you decide you really want something, wait a week. Set a reminder on your phone.
When that 7 days comes up you might be surprised how much your desire for that thing has changed.
Or maybe you still want it. So go get it.
But be mindful of it’s true cost to you.
These are 4 of my strategies to live a happier life. If I had to pick one thing that is easiest to implement, it’s deleting Facebook and Instagram. Start there