How To Be Happy

Nov 25 / 2017 Comments
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I have been wanting to write this blog post for a while in order to help as many people as possible to discover a new approach to be happier during your day to day life.

I really hope this helps. I will try to present several ideas for you to consider, as well as few reasons why we can make ourselves unhappy without meaning to.

What is happiness?

Some people put happiness as a goal; they think that it is something they can arrive at or get. But happiness is not something that you get to, it is actually the way in which you view and interact with everything happening in the world around you, as well as the type of internal thoughts in your head that you generate while having your internal dialogues.

Put simply: Happiness is the way in which you form your opinion about things that happen and situations.

The dichotomy of humans

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines "dichotomy" as being:

"A division into two especially mutually exclusive or contradictory groups or entities or thoughts."

Merriam-Webster dictionary


It is about the formation of two opposites, such as dark & light, man & woman, sunny & cloudy weather, sweet & sour, long & short.

Life is full of opposites, like water & oil that do not mix. Those opposites & differences between us can make us unique or tear us apart. The beauty of humans resides in their differences.

Ironically, we give meaning to the world by contrasting what it is against what it isn't. Darkness is not light; light is not darkness; A man is not a woman; A woman is not a man. We like to divide things into two contradictory groups in order to simplify and make sense of them and their differences.

But why do we do this? We are a condensed mix of cultures struggling to understand each other and our differences. We construct meanings based on our own life experience.

Our dichotomic meaning construction leads us to cognitive dissonance and being lost & undefined. One minute we are satisfied, the other we are angry; One minute we hate on the police, the other we call for their protection; One minute we hate something, the next minute we love it.

We are in a constant dichotomy of ideas, we jump from one extreme to the other in short periods of time.
But where there are humans, there is hope, and where there is hope there is love. If we are able to just see this, we can get past our differences and use them to strengthen our relationships and how we interact and see one another.

This dichotomy will never go away, it is part of life, so rather than it meddling with our life, we have to find the way to appreciate our differences and remove one reason that is often cause to unhappiness.

The dichotomy of control: It is in your control, and nobody else.

Some things are within our control, while others are not. Within our full control are our opinion, motivation, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever is of our own doing; not within our full control are our body, our property, reputation, career, other people's behavior, and, in a word, whatever is not of our own doing.

The above is easy to understand, but difficult to practice consistently.

If you think that what is not in your control is in your control, you will have many reasons to complain and lament, you will have a troubled mind and days, and you will find fault with other human beings and events.

If you try to control things which we can't guarantee are fully controllable by you, you will find unhappiness.
Using the dichotomy of control, you have to learn to be able to distinguish in which bucket each thing falls. Is it all your own, or does someone else control it? And thus expect that it might and probably will not always turn how you like it to turn out and accept this fact of life. This will guarantee you more happiness every day.

Humans are good based on what they know

"No one who either knows or believes that there is another course of action better than the one he is following will ever continue on his present course when he might choose the better one."



No one does what is bad if he knows that it is bad, and knows what the good is. Sometimes, however, people act against their best judgement, knowing that something is bad or harmful, possibly even being ashamed of it, but still doing it due to lack of self-control or out of passion; but it is NEVER through deliberately meaning to cause harm and knowing how to avoid the harm.

By nature, human beings put themselves first, and if possible, do good to others, if they know how and are able to. Bad actions are a result of misguided motivation and lack of understanding of what is the greatest good or the better action.

If you find someone that is doing bad, and you know what the good is, rather than complaining about the situation or about them, you should help them see that what they are doing is bad, and work on slowly showing them what is good. As Epictetus said thousands of years ago:

"A guide, on finding a man who has lost his way, brings him back to the right path—he does not mock and jeer at him and then take himself off. You also must show the unlearned man the truth, and you will see that he will follow. But so long as you do not show it him, you should not mock, but rather feel your own incapacity."



If you do know what is good and choose to not show that other person what that good is, you should be laughing at yourself for expecting him to behave correctly without any guidance or introspection.


Expectations are when you imagine the future in some way, and expect it to unfold that way. This is a double-edge sword however.
It can be a good thing, because you are able to imagine the near-future, however, it can be a very bad thing when you base your happiness on your expectations being met; because very very often they will not be met.

If you make your happiness dependant on your expectations being met, you are deciding and putting conditions that will make you unhappy, and you are guaranteeing that they will happen, at least some of the times. So making your happiness depend on your expectations is a way to plan for recurring unhappiness, and nobody should ever want that.

You should only set expectations for the things that are in your full control, as mentioned above, in order to remove this source of unhappiness.

Obtaining what we desire

Most people think that if they obtain what they desire, that they will be happy and that will be the end of it.
This is never the case, as those people have a constant desire of what they do not have. They are never satisfied because there will always be something they want that they don't have, and if they choose to be unhappy because they do not have it, they are deliberately choosing to be unhappy all the time, and have defined the reasons and conditions for that.

In most cases, for a certain desirable thing, when people obtain it, they no longer get the satisfaction or happiness from it. This is because they think that when they obtain that thing they will be happy, but when they obtain it, they desire a new thing and become unhappy again shortly after. The only way to get past that is to notice that there is nothing you can obtain that will make you happy forever, as happiness resides not in obtaining what we desire, but in removing the dependency on the desire and noticing that this way of looking at things is never satisfactory.

As Epictetus said:

"There is no profit from the things which are valued and eagerly sought to those who have obtained them; and to those who have not yet obtained them there is an imagination, that when these things do come, all that is good will come with them; then, when they do come, the feverish feeling is the same, the tossing to and from is the same, the satiety, the desire of things which are not present; for freedom is acquired not by the full possession of the things which are desired, but by removing the dependency on the desire."




Some people are weak against adversity; when things seem to be coming their way and battling them, and they will always be coming, they get discouraged by them rather than talking to themselves to build up the courage to face them and win against those obstacles. As Henry Ford said:

"When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it."

Henry Ford


You should embrace all the obstacles that come your way, because they will always be coming, and are the only way for you to train yourself against them and go one level higher to happiness.

Bad habits

Habits are what drives most human behavior. Thought habits & action habits guide our emotions, perception, opinions, and behavior. Habits emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort in order to be able to better focus on what is it consciously doing or thinking about.

Charles Duhigg says:

"Habits are powerful, but delicate. They can emerge outside our consciousness, or can be deliberately designed. They often occur without our permission, but can be reshaped by fiddling with their parts. They shape our lives far more than we realize—they are so strong, in fact, that they cause our brains to cling to them at the exclusion of all else, including common sense.

Change might not be fast and it isn’t always easy. But with time and effort, almost any habit can be reshaped."

Charles Duhigg


If you analyze your actions and thoughts, you can uncover some of your habits that cause you to become or feel unhappy. You must put an action plan on how to override those habits and learn contradictory habits to balance out the negative one. If you want to get information on how to be able to change any habit, you should read the book The Power Of Habit.

Most habits are built without any planning, but they can be deliberately overwritten by a better habit.
Good habits have the power to drive out bad habits.

Negative conditioning by society

Unfortunately, most of our interactions in society are built on negative things rather than positive ones. People will unconsciously teach you to try to avoid bad things, rather than seeking good things.

A couple of examples:

  • Your mother will warn you about the bad things that will happen to you if you don't listen to her
  • Your teacher tells you about the bad things that you will get if you make a mistake
  • Your university professor warns you about the miseries of not finding a job or building a career

That's all nice and all, but none of those tells you what to actually do, or show you what the good is; rather, they focus on the bad and point you to it, then tell you to avoid it and build fear in you, not courage.

You have to be able to build confidence and courage, and aim at what you want to get done, rather than be operating in fight or flight mode and running away from what you're afraid of.

It is up to us

One important thing to realize is that no one will do this work for you. It is your life; most people are taken by their own commitments and life and do not have the interest or time to make sure your life turns out better or to actually focus on helping you and giving you the time needed for it.

It is up to you, you are the most powerful person in being able to improve your life and happiness. Realize this and you will find strength.

Cumulative practice

Getting to the place I am describing is not easy; In fact, getting anywhere that is far from where you are can always seem like a daunting task.
But what is important is not where you are, but where you are going, to what & where are you progressing?

Let us say that where you want to get to is 100 steps away from you: The losing mentality is to think that "100 steps is too far away" and get discouraged and do nothing about it; The winning mentality is to think that "if I take 1 step closer, I will only be 99 steps away, which is closer to the goal".

If you take the winning approach, you would be living like an adult that is making progress, and over time, patiently, you will reach all your goals. The other alternative will actually get you nowhere and build you more unhappiness over time.

Man gets happy when he gets what he desires, so the winning mentality described above is the only way to actually build happiness over time.

Get closer to what you want, patiently, one step at a time; The cumulative effect of these actions will result in a lot of good things for you. Do not be afraid or complain about how far you are, instead, make progress and rejoice in each step closer you take.

That is how weight loss is achieved for example. Not "I have this much weight to lose" but "If I lose 1 kg, I will be 1kg closer to my goal" then focus on that 1kg.

Organize your commitments & write them down

Our brain is a horrible organizer. It is a great thought machine but it has very bad organizing, reminding and processing capabilities.

If you use your brain to organize what your life is, you will feel constant stress, even from the simplest and smallest things.

Imagine how much stress you would have if you had to memorize the phone numbers of all the people you know. You would be spending your entire day thinking about them and being afraid to forget a number, should you need it one day. Phones solved that with Contacts applications so that you would no longer need to think about memorizing phone numbers and not stress about them.

You should do the same with your life commitments and goals, write all the details down. You will always have a ton of things to do, or think about, or move on. If you keep it all in your head, you are creating a stressful environment for you that will follow you every single second of your life, no matter where you are, and most of the times cause you to lose sleep, and think about things in moments where you can't do anything about them.

It is a big shame that schools do not teach this skill; In my opinion, it is the most important life skill one needs to practice.

If you do not do this, the constant stress you will live in will create other problems, and not allow you to be happy and relaxed; But if you do, you will be able to be fully focused and available for whatever you are doing any moment.


All of this is good & nice, but the willingness to start with any of them is the first step to a happy life & days.
This is the internal war you have to win against yourself, the thing you have to work at first.

When you were reading any of the points above, you may have felt or thought any of the following:

  • But I am not like that
  • This is too hard or impossible
  • Easy for you to say
  • This is too much

The point is not to instantly learn or solve any of the issues I mentioned above, but the starting point is to be willing to start with one and put a plan on how to improve and come one step closer to any of them. Once you start, you will feel it becoming easier and by taking one step closer every day, soon enough, you will notice you got there.

Willing to start is the most important thing.
Building up the will is the first step to happiness.

And remember: Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do.

Wishing you a happy life.

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