In this post, I share my ideas to live a happy life by following some simple, realistic & statistically valid ways.
The Uncomfortable Truth
A thought from Mark Manson’s famous book,
One day, you and everyone you love will die. And beyond a small group of people for an extremely brief period of time, little of what you say or do will ever matter. This is the Uncomfortable Truth of life. And everything you think or do is but an elaborate avoidance of it. We are inconsequential cosmic dust, bumping and milling about on a tiny blue speck. We imagine our own importance. We invent our purpose — we are nothing.
So what? Should we all give up whatever we are doing as nothing matters anyway? Surely NO. Nihilism can sometimes make us question the meaning of life & our existence in this universe.
This leads to the idea of minimalism. We’ll discuss that in a while.
Why is our generation so stressed & unhappy?
Because of modern technology & social media, we have become accustomed to instant gratification. We give damn about almost everything that is not in our control. Therefor we tie our happiness with stuff which we can’t control.
For example, People care about who wins the IPL, how many followers their friends have, why people don’t reply instantly on WhatsApp, why people love/hate Modi etc. We can’t control these things.
Does that mean we shouldn’t care about anything? Become a saint? Again, surely NO. Then what should we do?
Solution is simple. Give your damn to only 4–5 things. Like your goals, career, family & very close friends, your idols. That’s it. It’s that simple. Why do you need to care about other things when you have a limited amount of days to live?
In other words, only care about things which you can control.
That does not mean to be cruel to other people/things you don’t care about. Be kind; but up to a certain limit.
If you do this, you & only you have your key to happiness. As your future lies in your hands. If you do well, you achieve your goals, and become happy. If you don’t do well, you fail, you try again with a different approach.
Does that mean, once you achieve a goal you become happy? No.
You become more eager to achieve the next one. There’s nothing wrong with expecting more. But it’s an endless loop. Casinos in Las Vegas run on this simple human behavior.
So, what’s the solution now?
You need to be satisfied with what you have.
Now does that mean we should never expect more? In that way, humanity will never achieve higher standards. No.
The thing is, we attach ourselves & our own happiness with that expectation (or goals). If we fail to achieve that for some reason, we’ll again feel sad no matter how much we have already. We are giving our key to happiness to something else. So, what to do now?
So, with what should we attach our happiness? The process. That’s the only thing we can control. Achieving that goal also has other factors which you can’t control.
Almost all things (or your goals) follow this simple realistic fact.
Outcome = Result of ( Things you can control + Things you can’t control )
That outcome can be anything. Your goal or something else.
For example, you want to reach the bus station on time. Thing you can control is leaving 20 minutes earlier from home. Things you can’t control are car punctures in the car, huge traffic jams etc.
If you attach your happiness with the left part of the equation(i.e., outcome), you may or may not be happy as there are factors you can’t control. But if you attach happiness with the 1st part of the right side of the equation(i.e., things you can control), you’ll always be happy as only you control it. You gave your 100% or not? If yes, then no worries. If not, try again next time.
Idea of minimalism also works here. Steve Jobs has applied this in his life successfully.
One more thing
Don’t lie to yourself. Don’t pretend that you always give your best then also you almost never achieve my goals.
Statistically speaking, if you gave your best in 10 shots and only 1–2 worked out, there’s a high probability that something wrong is going on with so-called “your best”. Assuming things you can’t control (i.e. 2nd part of the equation), follow the normal distribution, theoretically, your success rate should be more than 49% if you always gave your best.
Be realistic. No one is perfect. You need to constantly improve yourself by learning more & more till your last breath. Almost no one can achieve goals (and become “happy”) in a short time. Exceptions are always there. But ignoring those outliers, you need to do a lot of practice to become a master at something.
Real world doesn’t give instant gratification as modern technology & social media give.
A thought on Comparison
People say, don’t compare yourself with others, you’ll end up sad. That’s not true. Comparison is not bad. Unhealthy comparison is bad.
Messi is getting better everyday because of Ronaldo; Ronaldo is getting better everyday because of Messi. Same is true for Google & Microsoft, Pepsi & Coca-cola, Adidas & Nike. They do healthy comparisons. If they can do it better why can’t we?
But they know the limit. They don’t attach themselves with the outcome. If they do, they will burn out soon. They accept the result & learn from it. So, do a healthy comparison if you want to get better in the long term. Healthy comparison is a win-win condition. Both parties get better.
To be happy in long term,
Give your damns to things only you can control & don’t lie to yourself. Be realistic & optimistic.
FYI, If you have food, clothes & a home to live in, you are already far happier than billions of people in the world. Think this way.
Since the evolution of mankind, 100 billion human beings have walked the Earth. If you are reading this, you are likely in the top 1% by any measure: opportunity, security, happiness. In fact, you might be in the top 0.1% or even 0.01%. What an amazing opportunity. You’re truly among the blessed.
Happiness is all that matters at the end of the day.