Photo: Flickr / silent7seven
Happiness comes in a million different packages, as does unhappiness. Here are some tips and tools I’ve found over the years that will help keep you even-keeled — and happy — during a rough storm:1. Never compare yourself to others. Each man is an island unto himself, contrary to the famous Donne poem. If you absolutely must compare yourself to others, make a habit of comparing yourself to those who have LESS, to those who have greater PAIN. Selfish and awful, but it works — and luckily no one can read your thoughts yet. “It’s painful that I don’t have enough money this month to take my girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse on vacation as we had planned, but at least I’m not in a labour camp in North Korea as hundreds of thousands are at this very moment.”
2. Less TV. If you only follow one tip from this article, let it be this one. Few mediums promote unhappiness as brilliantly and constantly as modern television. Being online and reading articles is far less damaging to your soul. You’re learning, you’re evolving, and you feel a semi-satisfying numbness at the end of the day from all the new information you’ve gathered and the new connections you’ve made. That’s far better than TV, where it always feels like the world is closing in on you: toxic toys, political scandals, cars you can’t afford, you need to moisturize your face more often or you’ll look ancient, etc. Television doesn’t send healthy messages.
3. Subscribe to a couple magazines. This one follows on the last point. And don’t just get the beautiful iPad version. Actually subscribe to the magazine — the print version that randomly arrives in your mailbox when you least expect it, when you’ve forgotten you subscribe to Esquire and GQ. Few experiences are as pleasurable as reading a good aspirational men’s (or women’s) magazine on your day off. It’s sophisticated, relaxed, and necessary.
4. Less sarcasm, less humour. I have found I’m much happier now that I don’t speak in sarcastic riddles or one-liners. I’m no longer the funniest person in the room — OK, I never was — but past the age of 20 publicly showing off your wit is not a winning virtue. Be concise, be true, be honest. No room for misunderstanding, hurt feelings, confusion.
5. Collect writers. I started doing this about six months ago. Whenever I stumble across an interesting article or blog post on the Internet, I make a point of “adding” or following that writer on Twitter. Even, and especially, complete strangers. Dating experts. Psychology experts. Business executives. Motivators. The result is a rich Twitter account I can turn to whenever I’m bored or feeling unhappy or uninspired. Inspiration strikes in the strangest places, and often it’s a tweet from one of these people that gets my mind revved up again — and my heart back on the right track!
6. Exercise. It pains me to mention this one; there are few activities throughout my day as tedious, boring, and annoying as exercise time. But even 40 minutes on the treadmill or a brisk walk through the city has a noticeable, consistent impact on my happiness level for the rest of the day. Your body simply needs a level of exertion each day. When you don’t get that bare minimum of movement, your mind gets agitated. It’s as simple as that.
7. Believe in something. We should always have a goal we are consciously working toward. It can be “I want to be 50% wealthier within the next year,” or “I plan to improve my relationship,” or “I’m going to cut alcohol/fast food/[insert vice here] out of my life entirely within three months.” The goal should be attainable, yet difficult. It should be a goal that is easy to gauge (it’s easy, for ex., to figure out if you have more money, also easy to figure out if you’ve stopped drinking).
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