One of the most asked questions (with no correct answer) is:
“Whats the meaning of life?”
Here’s my take on this question.
We’re here for a short time, and why not be happy while we’re here. I don’t get why people complicate this shit.
First, what is it:
“Happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being defined by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.”
Thanks dictionary for that definition…
But I’m sure we can all agree happiness is not static. It’s always going up and down. Something like this.
We can never be truly happy. Or… can we..?
Short Term vs. Long-Term Happiness
You have that one pizza slice and it tastes oh so good.
You have that one slice of chocolate brownie. Damm that shit is good.
We hear it all the time, but it’s so true. “Think long term. long term”
When I started my civil engineer job, I was not happy. BUT, the pay was fantastic. The end result: I got super depressed.
When you focus on the short term, sure, the benefits are pretty good, but in the long run, it’s going to bite you in the ass, or in my case, bite my health.
When I decided to work online, forgo my civil engineering degree just so that I could travel and make money online, I felt like crap. I didn’t know if I was making the right move. I was giving up 4 years of education from a very “high level” degree. People around me thought I was crazy. I was making peanuts when I apprenticed under my first marketing mentor.
But, the thing that kept me going was the long-term benefits.
Now, fast forward to 1.5 years after that hardship, I’ve done a lot of fantastic shit just because I sacrificed my happiness in the short run. I’ve done things like:
- Meet very successful entrepreneurs
- Built my own website making $1K+/month passive income
- Apprentice under one of the world’s best affiliate marketers
- Traveled, lived and visited multiple countries (mainly in Asia)
- Income is the same as my salary as when I was a Civil Engineer
Now look, this was not easy. It took a lot of discipline and mental endurance to pave through the lows – there were A LOT of lows. But that’s why you surround yourself with like-minded people. They will pick you up when you fall.
When you change your life to think in the long term, you will sustain long-term happiness.
Let me say this. Long-term happiness, the “happiness” value is so much more potent and dense than short term.
It’s then possible to achieve this type of happiness.
Why You’re Unhappy (If You Have Everything)
A lot of people these days are really unhappy. So I’ve been meeting quite a few people lately that are just unhappy with life.
I think I can explain why people are unhappy with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
The model is pretty simple.
Maslow (1943, 1954) stated that people are motivated to achieve certain “needs” and that some needs take precedence over others. Our most basic need is for physical survival, and this will be the first thing that motivates our behavior. Once that level is fulfilled the next level up is what motivates us, and so on.
Though this hierarchy is showing the priority of our human needs, if we remove the “priority” and look at each one in equal value, we could view that we need each sector to be fully happy in life. Everyone has each sector but the “level” of each sector is different.
The main question is that how can people that have it all be are depressed.
How can you get people that have all the money in the world, no job, completely free and travel all the time time to be depressed.
My main reason I would say is motivation or self-actualization.
Everything is pointing towards self-actualization or your “life’s purpose.”
Case 1 – When I had money
When I was in my engineering job, I had good money, good security, and good friends. But what I lacked was life’s purpose and freedom. But at the time, freedom was the most important thing for me. I hated being stuff in this set 9–5 schedule.
Case 2 – When you have everything
This girl I met, she has rich parents. She doesn’t have a job right now and is pretty free. Free to do what she wants and whatever she wants. But she’s unhappy. She’s unmotivated. I mean, shopping and traveling would eventually get bored. which is probably why most famous/successful people turn to drugs – it’s a whole new world.
Looking at Maslow’s hierarchy, all the areas in her life is “good” (good enough), but she doesn’t know what to do with her life.
If she finds her life purpose, she would be so much better off.
That’s why all these famous people say, once you find your life’s purposes, you will be so much happier.
Case 3 – when I found my purpose
Fast forward to where I am now, I’m pretty happy on the happiness scale. Why is that?
It’s the moment I found my “purpose.”
Everything just became so much clearer. I knew what I wanted.
This is why I, a nobody, a kid with a big vision but a kid with no dollars to his name, is happier than people making $100K+/year.
Here’s what I happened when I gave a “peep talk” about “purpose”.
Quick FACTS about Happiness
Some facts about happiness I stole from my friend from satisfiedman.com
- People overestimate the impact of money on their happiness by quite a lot. It does have some influence, but not nearly as much as we might think, so focusing less on attaining wealth will likely make you happier (Aknin, Norton, & Dunn, 2009).
- Spending money on experiences provides a bigger boost to happiness than spending money on material possessions (Howell & Hill, 2009).
- Gratitude is a big contributor to happiness in life, suggesting that the more we cultivate gratitude, the happier we will be (Seligman, Steen, Park, & Peterson, 2005).
- Oxytocin may provoke greater trust, empathy, and morality in humans, meaning that giving hugs or other shows of physical affection may give you a big boost to your overall well-being (and the well-being of others; Barraza & Zak, 2009).
- Those who intentionally cultivate a positive mood to match the outward emotion they need to display (i.e., in emotional labor) benefit by more genuinely experiencing the positive mood. In other words, “putting on a happy face” won’t necessary make you feel happier, but putting in a little bit of effort likely will (Scott & Barnes, 2011).
- Happiness is contagious; those with happy friends and significant others are more likely to be happy in the future (Fowler & Christakis, 2008).
- People who perform acts of kindness towards others not only get a boost in well-being, they are also more accepted by their peers (Layous, Nelson, Oberle, Schonert-Reichl, & Lyubomirsky, 2012).
- Volunteering time to a cause you believe in improves your well-being and life satisfaction and may even reduce symptoms of depression (Jenkinson et al., 2013).
- Spending money on other people results in greater happiness for the giver (Dunn, Aknin, & Norton, 2008).
Look, happiness is a big topic. You cannot fit it all on one blog post – you need a freaking website for this topic, but this is just 2 keys to happiness from my experience.
Long-term happiness and finding your purpose.
There’s some practical stuff you can employ to reach a higher state of happiness – more specifically: A Lifestyle Design.
This includes things like:
- Leveraging your currency in another country to 5x its value.
- Complete freedom to live anywhere and work whenever you like
- Employ 80/20 and eliminate
But… I think I’ll save that for another blog post