How to be happy
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When I was doing a lot of TV, I would take questions from viewers. Literally 99% of questions would fall into the same 5 categories:
- I’m in debt. How do I pay it off?
- My credit card company did X to me. What should I do?
- I want to buy X. Can I afford it?
- I just had kids. How should I save for them?
- I want to retire. Do I have enough?
Here’s the funny thing: To them, their questions were unique. They actually believed they had a special question that applied to just them!
But to anyone else, they were formulaic and easy to answer.
We all nod and smile, saying Ha Ha Those Funny People Who Call In To TV/Radio Shows…yet we do the same thing!
How many of us believe our situations are truly unique?
Take one of the most popular areas of psychology in the last 10 years: happiness.
How many of us have turned 30, thinking we should be flying around on jets, living in a penthouse, only to realize we’re stuck doing yet another Excel model?
What do we do? We think, “If only I got X, I’d be happy.” Another promotion, a bigger apartment, that vacation so we could post our pictures on FB.
Funny that I mention FB. How many of us have feeds FULL of pictures of friends in exotic locations? Posted on a Tuesday or Wednesday? We start to say, wait a second. How are they taking vacations ALL THE TIME? What do they know that I don’t? How come I’m not doing that?
We keep it to ourselves. Sometimes, we just stay in over a weekend. It’s not that we’re depressed…but we wonder, “How come my friends don’t call me to hang out? Why am I doing all the work?”
And on the rare occasions where we share how we feel with friends, there’s always one presumptuous jackass who says, “You should be happy! Do you know how many kids are starving in Africa?”
It’s true, nobody expects to be happy ALL the time. And it’s not that we’re depressed. In fact, rationally, we live in the best time in history. But happiness isn’t rational. It’s a different feeling…a feeling of wondering if we should be doing more…traveling more….having more…even living a different life. We wonder: Am I happy? Should I be happy?
We go through the motions. How many of these sound familiar?
- Having too many choices and, as a result, being unsatisfied with every one because of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)
- Going to a blah job, through the motions, then realizing the guy who’s 30 years older than us has been here for decades…doing the same thing we’re doing!
- Making a bunch of resolutions each year, pumping ourselves up, then rationalizing why we didn’t do them — again
- Hitting the snooze button several times every morning
- Feeling lonely and socially awkward but thinking we can’t improve — that somehow, social “skills” are only for people who were blessed with them when they were born
Overall, it’s not a sharp pain — it’s a nagging feeling in the back of our mind that we’re not living up to our full potential.
So what do we do? In the midst of this cognitive dissonance, we have two real options:
- Admit that we want MORE, and change our behavior
- Rationalize, rationalize, rationalize
Which do you think we do? Check out these rationalization phrases we use:
- “I should just be happy to have _____”
- “I’ll work on this later”
- “I’m tired. I earned the right to veg out this weekend”
- “I’m just not that type of person” (fit, starts a business, works from home on Fridays, etc)
- “Rich people are scam artists and cheaters”
- “Everybody else is unhappy, too”
Honestly, I find these haunting. And I’ve used every one of these phrases myself!
The fact is, it’s easier to rationalize our behavior — changing nothing — than to change our BEHAVIOR.
It’s scary to admit that we’re not happy…especially because everyone in society tells us we SHOULD be happy…ALL THE TIME!
How happy are you? 1-10?
Out of curiosity…on a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your happiness?
If you’re not happy with your response — or you know you can improve — then I’d like to introduce you to Gretchen Rubin. Gretchen is the author of The Happiness Project and Happier at Home, and she’s one of the sharpest minds on the psychology of happiness.
I like her because she is incredibly relatable — yet she also presents an incredibly strong framework to view happiness through. How happy am I? How do I get happier? Should I even pursue happiness?
Recently, I invited her to be a guest in my Brain Trust program, where I interview my mentors, confidants, and the most interesting people I know.
I brought her into my studio and asked her my toughest questions on happiness. Now, as you know, I’m not the most “woo woo” guy — so I didn’t want to get someone who spent an hour talking about the meditation practice + tea ritual she does every morning.
That’s why I LOVE this interview. It’s a non-judgmental way to figure out (1) WHAT makes you happy, guilt-free, and (2) HOW to get it.
In this new video, you’ll learn:
- How to differentiate between a real passion and “I should like _____” so you can focus on what really matters to you
- How you can make new friends as an adult
- The simple test to determine what your real joys are
- The powerful “lie detector” that instantly demonstrates the gap between your values and your daily actions
- The hidden value of ENVY — and how it can show you when to focus your efforts
- The trouble with spontaneity and how it can reduce your overall happiness (plus what to do about it)
- Gretchen’s strategies for keeping work and leisure time separate so you can enjoy each, guilt-free
- What to do when “what feels good” and “what feels right” conflict
- The alarm you should set everyday and why. (Hint: it’s not to get up early)
This is an excerpt of the full interview from my “Brain Trust” program, where each month I unveil a new interview with my personal mentors, advisors, and confidants each month. Each month, you get access to these private interviews.
This program is closed right now. If you’re interested in getting on the wait list, you can add yourself here: www.ramitsbraintrust.com
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