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How to be Happy

Prime advice I've found, copied, and pasted for your viewing pleasure, and it will save you the therapy/self-help book money.

1. Stop Being a Dick

Seriously. Just stop. Even when other people are being dicks. Just stop.

When you get a reaction from strangers, they’re not actually reacting to you. They’re reacting to some stereotype and set of assumptions about who you are based on how you look, how you carry yourself, and the kind of person they are expecting to bump into in their current situation. So whatever it is they just did, whatever it is that you think was some great offense to your person, just let it go. It’s not worth escalating the situation, because you aren’t going to get anything positive out of the situation, and you’re just ruining everyone’s time. So leave strangers alone.

As for everyone else, you’ve got even more reason to stop being a dick. If someone says something that you don’t like, yelling isn’t going to accomplish anything except grating on everyone else around you. Oh, sure, you may get them to shut up. You may even intimidate them to admitting you’re right or taking back what they said. But they didn’t mean it, and if they cared or had the guts, they’d still be standing up to you. And as soon as you leave the room or they think you won’t notice, they’ll go back to being exactly they way they were before you yelled at them. Congratulations, you’ve done nothing by being a dick except make everyone regret that you were invited to the party. So how about you stop being a dick?

2. Stop Whining

Look, everything you might want to whine about falls into one of two camps: either you can do something about it, or you can’t. If you can do something about it, then put the energy you were going to put into whining into actually fixing it. If you can’t do anything about it, then your whining isn’t going to do anything except continue your cycle of self-loathing and make you a general downer. Reality isn’t going to change because you whined at it, so deal with the life you have, not the one you want. Whining is counter-productive to everything you want to accomplish. Save your energy and use it to find a hobby instead.

3. Get Out, Get Some Exercise, Unplug, and Deal with Real People

If you’re in your house all the time, surrounded by your own hand-picked decorations and designs, and you go out only when insulated by your iPod’s earphones and something to be burying your eyes in, the it’s no surprise you’re unhappy. Human beings are social creatures. That means you will be a lot happier if you socialize. And, y’know what’s really weird? Most people won’t think you’re anything other than friendly if you strike up a conversation.

We’re also creatures of nature and built for movement. Being surrounded by neon and advertisements has been scientifically proven to make you unhappy, so get into nature and go for a walk. Discover a local park. It’s a bigger deal than most people give it credit for.

4. If People Are Treating You Like Crap, Then Let Them Go

There are lots of people out there who aren’t listening to #1 (”Don’t be a Dick”). They, for some reason or another, are out to bully you, to passive-aggressively control you, to tell you that you are wrong, to use you as a punching bag (verbally or otherwise) and to generally be a problem. So let them go. Stop hanging out with them, and put plenty of distance between you and them. No matter what that person might say, you know that you don’t deserve what they’re dishing out, so pick up your dignity and hit the road.

There are 7 billion people on the world. You can afford to not hang out with that one again.

5. Your Critics Are Always Right

If someone seriously says that you are some way — if they tell you you’re embarrassing to be around, or if they compare you to someone you hate, or if they say you’re not a very nice person, or whatever — then you are that way. You may not be that way in the core of your being, and you may not want to be that way, and it may be a surprise that you have come off that way, but their perception of you is valid, and you need to accept and deal with that. What did you do that made them think that was true? Where are they coming from with their experience of you that made it seem accurate? Ask yourself (and them) these questions, and see if you can take it as an opportunity for self-improvement.

Don’t do what most people do, which is to take it as an attack that needs to be responded to with anger and yelling. Then you’re just taking an opportunity to make yourself better and replacing it with an opportunity to hurt a your relationship with them.

Now, of course, you need to be sure they’re serious: something said in the middle of a fight or said flippantly doesn’t really qualify. So you need to be sure they’re serious. But if your critic is serious, then your critic is right.

6. Do Hard Stuff for a Change

For some reason, our society tries to ask as little as possible from you. Don’t let it.

It’s hard to make a new friend. It’s hard to vest yourself in a job, or in a project, and to really start to care about it. It’s hard to fight for your career, and to do what needs to be done to advance it. It’s hard to get out of your comfort zone and experience things or listen to people that are totally foreign. It’s hard to demand your dignity, it’s hard to submit to humility, and it’s hard to focus on self-improvement instead of self-destruction.

But, if you do those things, you’ll be happier for it. Take the hard road: that’s where the good stuff is.

7. Let Stuff Go/Suck It Up

Most things aren’t worth the effort we put into them. We get angrier about them than they’re worth, we worry more about them than they’re worth, and we generally ruin ourselves over pittances. Let it go. Not a huge fan of where people are going to lunch? Suck it up and go with them anyway. Try something different. Still angry about something someone said to you years ago? Let it go: the reality is that they probably don’t even remember it. Whatever it is that you’re all hung up on that’s been ruining your decade, just let it go. It’s seriously not worth the effort you’re putting into it.

Along this same vein: you can’t control everything, so don’t try. Let it go. Have some confidence in yourself: you’ll find a way to deal with it — whatever “it” is — when you get to it. Human beings are wonderfully adaptable creatures, and there have been others who have found ways to deal with worse than you will ever see.

There ya go. Hope you're happy.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Jul. 2nd, 2008 10:16 am (UTC)
Ha. I'm always astounded that people can be offended by strangers. Or that sportsmen can get into brawls because somebody says something about their mother. Logic dictates that unless somebody really knows you they can't say anything of any weight about you or your extended family. It seems so bizarre to me. Surely our inner "You don't know me" Jerry Springer guest narcissism would protect us from slights by people we don't care for? I truly don't get it.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )