This is probably the most important day of my Less Things, More Happiness challenge.
Why? Because I have discovered some deep, profound insights on happiness that will help me and help you. You may be wondering how I was able to do that in such a short time, but these days are not happening sequentially in the challenge. I do it when I have time.
And therefore, I have had a ton of time in between each day to reflect on my experiences and on life.
Let’s get started.
I need to remove resentment from my life (and maybe you do too)
I realized I hold resentment and frustration when I am not moving towards my goals, feel delayed by others or life, or especially f there is no sign that I will never achieve them. Despite consuming so much content from successful people on the power of persistence, that’s how I was still behaving. It took a while to figure this out.
After a lot of reflecting on my behavior over the years, it was clear. Any type of unexpected family event that I was forced to go to created resentment and frustration because I felt “my biological clock” was ticking and the activity was a waste of time. Because of this, I get into fights and was in a noticeably worse mood. Since my realization, I have corrected and have noticed, slowly but surely, a sense of patience and feeling of ease.
How did I achieve this state of being okay with everything and non-urgency? More on this later, but here’s a hint: a lot of reflecting on my hypocrisy, logic, and meditation.
Talking with people my age and younger can be a bit of shock. You jump out of your bubble and realize that most other people waste a ton of time and are much easier going in life; it’s a reminder to chill. I had gone overboard with the personal development techniques and my life was a calendar of productivity and bigger goals.
Our cultures and society (especially Asian ones) unfortunately reinforce these beliefs. Your parents and relatives go crazy if you do not marry by a certain age or achieve a certain job title. And like with most false beliefs, there is a grain of truth that makes them believable. Especially for women, there is a real biological time limit before your youth and beauty start to fade and dating gets harder.
I have identified the issue and want to eliminate it. It’s not healthy or productive towards my happiness (or other people’s happiness) because it creates negative emotions, deep anger, resentment, and frustration.
Learn To Be Okay With Not Achieving Your Goals. Here’s Why
I have to learn to be okay and happy with the idea of not achieving my goals, knowing that I can be as happy as possible right now even if I do not achieve them. This will:
- help me stop taking life so seriously, beating myself up, and spreading frustrated, negative energy to others.
- help me enjoy the journey, and not just the end destination. It’s a flawed belief that you have to “suffer in pain for 50 years to enjoy happiness from the money you earned.”
The Dalai Lama is a great example of this in action. He has spent his whole life meditating, laughing, and eating minimal food. Yet you can tell he is so happy and has made such an impact on the world in any of his interviews.
So why exactly should you act like the world is over if you do not get the mansion, girlfriend, or tropical resort you are after? Is it really necessary for your happiness to the point of getting into a tantrum if something delays you from achieving it?
There are people who naturally do not take life too seriously. Maybe it’s genetics or how they were raised. For whatever reason, I am definitely more in the group of people who take their life too seriously at times to the point of causing damage. I have noticed this over the years and ask if you fall into this camp as well. If so, take action on fixing this.
You Don’t Have To Stop Working Towards Your Goals. It Just Means You Can Be Happy Right Now.
Being okay with not achieving your goals is different from not trying your best to achieve them. You can still be ambitious. You can still work as hard as you can. You can still push your limits.
It just means having a healthier perspective so that you do not lash out in anger or frustration if unexpected events or people come up. You can still work just as hard as Michael Jordan or Will Smith, but you do not have to be the whiny baby when events out of your control delay your progress.
If I had to guess, Michael and Will probably have this healthy mindset too.
Successful People Follow This Rule of “Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously”
I recently was watching this video interview of an Indian billionaire and he said, “We don’t take ourselves too seriously, but we do take the business seriously.” I realized that a lot of successful people are like that: Richard Branson, Warren Buffett, etc.
Why get so uptight and mad when life gets in your way? The fact is that you are often still healthy and your loved ones are still alive. We need to stop fussing over the small obstacles in our life (a rude stranger you meet, a unexpected two week set back, losing a business deal, etc.) and appreciate more the bigger picture (impacting others, enjoying life, appreciating our youth and healthy body).
Richard Branson is always doing fun crazy activities (kite surfing, dancing on tables, jumping in pools in a suit). He has the mindset that will let him laugh it off when he gets sued for millions of dollars unexpectedly. That keeps him resilient.
Have More Fun When You Work
The issue was I had failed a key part of success, which I knew about because other entrepreneurs like Gary Vaynerchuk have mentioned this: You need to find work that is truly fun for yourself or you will burn yourself out.
I have been writing a ton of exciting blog posts (and YouTube videos) for you (that you will see in the near future). But it’s gotten a lot less fun as I put more and more scheduled time into it.
I realized that I was not enjoying myself. I felt burned out. And I was reminded that other people my age were relaxing, watching Netflix, going to sports games, drinking, and fooling around. Yes, it’s unproductive. Yes, they are probably unaware of how much time they waste. Yes, I can get ahead in the long run if I work during that time. But they are having tons of fun and I am not.
Working yourself to death isn’t always the right answer. Even if it means making a lot more money than everyone else.
It’s not like I have not tried to have fun. I spent the last couple days watching tons of cool magic tricks on YouTube by David Blaine. I spent some good time outside playing Pokemon Go. But after overhearing another conversation of how others my age live their weekends, I realized something was not right. I wanted more fun in my life.
And it’s not like I do not have fun writing these articles or making these videos. But it seems like it’s not 100% fun and the percentage that is not fun slowly burns me out the more time I spend on it. I am slowly learning what types of articles and videos I enjoy making most.
I was watching an Oprah Winfrey speak at the Stanford Business School on YouTube, and she said that it took time to find her passion. She spent years as a radio reader, moved to be a news reporter, and eventually found her way to talk show host (which felt right when she tried it out). So be patient.
Oprah said she listened to her instinct and kept adjusting. There were parts of her job that she liked, but she kept listening to her gut when it told her that it “wasn’t quite right yet.”
The entrepeneur Gary Vaynerchuk has said this as well. He went so far as to say that he changed his whole business and life around when he found that there was 1% of his life that was not fun enough. Now, that may be an extreme approach, but there is some truth to that small percent of your life you don’t enjoy burning you out over time as you work harder.
A lot of us may feel overwhelmed by that extreme approach. We are still struggling with changing that 45% that’s not fun. But we can slowly and steadily improve.
Ideally, it would be great if there was something that made tons of money that was pure fun for me, but if it was that easy to find, everyone would be millionaires. I will probably do an article solely on the topic of how to have more fun because that is another obstacle. Stay tuned for that because I will need to do some research on it.
Here’s the takeaway: Have more fun today. I did this by getting on a table and dancing for a half second. It was awkward and no one was around. I did kind of have fun but I will have to work on “not caring what others think” more. Find out what you enjoy most and do more of that. What actually makes you have more fun? For me, I realized I like singing to crazy pop songs out loud when no one is around.
For me, I realized that I often care about having fun more than being more happy. I cannot say if that everyone is like this but maybe we are looking for “fun” more than “happiness.”
Everyone Needs Some Voluntary Deprivation. Here’s What It Is And Why You Need It
Have you ever wished for something so badly? But when you got it, within months (sometimes weeks or days), you take it for granted?
You should because it’s a biological phenomenon called hedonic treadmill that makes you take for granted materialistic items you receive (whether it’s an expensive car, mansion, or new video game). Although money is important, science has shown that money alone cannot guarantee happiness.
The last time this happened to me was when I went out for a run in I was parched 100+ degree heat. Within minutes I was so parched but there was not a water fountain in sight. Water felt like the most sacred item out there. Nothing else mattered. And when I finally drank some, it felt like liquid gold pouring down my throat.
Yet what’s funny is a day later, I walked past a fountain with infinite water and I just took it for granted and did not drink much.
I noticed this also happens a lot to me with food. Going out to eat food was a special occasion growing up since I was poor. I would save up and and look forward to meals from Chipotle, Five Guys, or Chic Fil A like a holiday. I would literally fantasize about the taste because I really enjoyed food.
But when I was able to order out often, it got old. There was no excitement. The same meal tasted boring and bland in my mouth.
It’s kind of like a cocaine addict who gets needs increasingly higher doses of the drug to get the same high. He keeps increasing it until he dies or gets no feeling from it but becomes dependent on it.
So here’s the takeaway: Try out voluntary deprivation.
This is when you “deprive” yourself from time to time of a high quality of living that you take for granted so that you appreciate it once again. It can also mean adding variety into your life to increase to experience something new and take a break from what you have been doing.
People are different and you may take different things for granted based on what you value more. Some people do not appreciate food as much as me. For them, it could be the obsessive desire for more money, clothes, or sex.
I have heard the same process of taking things for granted happens when you date more attractive women or buy increasingly flashy and expensive cars. For these more superficial items, try visiting a third world country once in a while to keep everything in perspective. One day, I will probably live in a neighborhood where the average person is a lot poorer than me so I do not fall into the trap of trying to keep up with the neighbors’ expensive toys or feeling less happy from constant social comparison.
Note: volunary deprivation does not necessarily mean to starve yourself. It can be as simple as going on a two week break from eating out so the food tastes special again.
Listening to Stand-up Comedy
As I mentioned in previous days of the challenge, I want to make sure I laugh for at least 10 minutes everyday. I read a story about a man who cured himself of an illness that should have killed him by watching nothing but comedy during his time in the hospital.
I do not know if laughter is truly the best medicine, but I know I feel a lot better, more cheerful, and happier when I do laugh. And some days, I don’t if I don’t make it a point to.
Today, I spent around 20 to 30 minutes listening to stand-up comedy. As mentioned in the previous day of the challenge, it’s tough to get me to laugh. I did get one chuckle in. I used Pandora and have been skipping and down voting comedy tracks I do not like with hopes that their algorithm will find something funny for me. I will keep at it.
A Gratitude Journal and Daily 10 Minute Meditation
Science has shown (see the article I link in the Conclusion) that gratitude and meditation help with happiness. I’ve been semi-consistent with these on a daily basis (2 to 4 times a week). Exercise is a third driver of happiness, and I’ve been even more consistent with that.
You may be able to become more self-aware of your own problems and where you can improve if you do something similar. I recommend something as simple as:
- Writing out some things you are grateful for in a journal daily (2 minutes). Try to be detailed.
- Fundamental meditation. Just focus on your breath (5 minutes). Once you get really good at it (it could take months), you can switch to mindfulness meditation.
- A few moments to reflect on your stumbling blocks and what you can do to get over them (5 minutes or less).
Conclusion and In the Future
In the future, I will be saving a day of this challenge for volunteering. Science shows giving back time or money to others (even strangers) is a great way of improving happiness. I am more of a selfish person (based on personality tests) so it’s been tough to stop procrastinating on this.
I found an interesting pet volunteer opportunity and it will be one of my first volunteering events ever. Hopefully, I will not procrastinate any longer and will actually follow through. If so, stay tuned for news on what I did and if it improved my happiness.
Let me know in the comments below: Do you have similar issues with getting a good laugh? What do you think about voluntary deprivation? What is the one lesson you learned from this that you can take action on immediately?
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