Change Something – Have Another Go At Happiness

I was staggered yesterday whilst in the pub with a group of men and not one of them said they were happy with life. These blokes weren’t in their twenties, no, they were in their thirties and forties. They’d been through all of the rapid changes that naturally occur in life these days and they’d come out the other side in a place they didn’t want to be.

Hardly any of them were happy with their occupation and all of them were dreaming about escaping for a weekend, or a week, just to get out of it temporarily and remember their carefree youthful years. Escaping the grind of day-to-day for a short-term fix. This just perpetuates the problem though and slowly the desire to escape takes over the day-to-day and then you’re forced to make a change. So, what can these chaps do about it?

The obvious answer would be to see me with my other hat on and I’d design a specific coaching programme for them but, assuming they’re all shy, what else can they do?

1. What do you want to do?

I’ll let you in on a secret. Go on the internet and you’ll see people taking money hand over fist for this little nugget of wisdom. Are you ready? It’s pretty obvious.

“You’re never going to be happy unless you know what you want.”

I told you it was straightforward but when you look at that again, how many people can honestly say they do know what they want. I bet that most of you will say you know what you don’t want, but that’s easy. There’s a whole bunch of reasons why it’s important to flip that question around and concentrate on the positive but I won’t go in to that now. Just believe me.

It’s straightforward but cheapen it at your peril. Once you know it, you can do all sorts of good stuff like, work back from whatever it is to realise what you need to do to achieve it, you can visualise it, you can motivate yourself with it, get excited about it, prepare for it.

It’s the biggest and most important thing you could do in your whole life.

2. Smell the roses

How many of you live in a war torn village where your mum and sister have just been raped, and you live in daily fear of getting killed? Exactly. Things can be a lot worse in this world. Get over yourself and cheer up.

You have so many things to be thankful for in your life that it’s kind of a waste when you concentrate on the 2 or 3 things that aren’t quite right. Start enjoying the good parts and really appreciate them, don’t let the negative stuff ruin the positives.

Do you honestly think that happy people only have good things happen to them? Of course not, but they don’t let it affect their mood. Life is made up of good and bad, it’s bitter sweet, ying and yang, to every action is an equal and opposite reaction, that’s just the way it goes but you can control the way that you respond to it. In other words, choose happiness.

3. Minimise 

Cut all of the crap out of your life. All that stuff that just gets in the way of you being able to enjoy the simple pleasures. The more stuff you have the more you worry about losing it, or breaking it, or not being able to pay for it, or updating it, or getting the value out of it. Self-made strife that you can do without.

Again find what it is that makes you happy but then ensure that you have what you need to be able to do that. All other stuff – get rid. Why do you care?

One of the best things I ever did was get rid of the clutter from my life. This can refer to material things, or people, or anything that creates negativity for no reason.


So, there you go. It’s not easy to find true happiness but on the other hand it’s the easiest thing you could ever do. Nothing is stopping you feeling happy immediately but you have to make a change for that to happen. No excuses anymore, do you want to wait until you’re sixty before you start thinking about it? Get on with it.

Do you have any good reason why you can’t be happy?



6 responses to “Change Something – Have Another Go At Happiness

  1. I think the biggest difficulty most people (including myself) face with this is forming a habit. Most of us can take some time out, re-evaluate things and a plan forward, but then we go back to “real life” and nothing ever changes. It seems like the ability to quickly form new habits (or replace old bad habits with better ones) is the key to making progress.

    The sad reality for most of us is that we’ve fallen into our current circumstance rather than engineered it. We’re often trapped by finances and obligations. How much of that entrapment is real or in our heads is difficult to unravel ourselves.

    The other thing is that we could break out of that entrapment if we did as you say, minimise. We’re so hung up on wordly possessions and our idea of what a comfortable life is that money is the single biggest thing that traps us. An alternate, more streamlined lifestyle may actually allow us to break out and live a happier life. But when we can’t commit to doing that, you have to question how much of that is because you don’t really believe the dream or you’re not prepared to suffer “pain” to achieve it. So it becomes easier to wallow in our relative comfort instead.

    Chipping away to achieve your dream is a big and a hard job and I often feel a million miles away. At the same time, I’m a million miles closer than I was when I just thought anything more was impossible.

    • I agree with all of the reasons (excuses) that you give but so what? You are where you are, and whatever reasons or circumstances that are responsible for that are kind of irrelevant. Always remember that happiness is a journey not a destination. You will feel immediately better if you start on the path to your eventual goals because you’re doing something about them. Don’t beat yourself up though, if it was easy everyone would be skipping around you. Like any journey it begins with one step, and then another, and then some more. Keep your eye on the prize but focus on the steps and you’ll get there.

      As for habits. You’re changing all the time, you’re a different person than you were ten years ago and you’ll be different again in ten years time. If you’re focussed on what you want to achieve then you’ll spend time getting there, if you lose that focus then you’re more likely to coast and forget all about our little chat. So it’s down to your responsibility on how much you want it. The only habit you need to press home is the daily reminder of what it is that you want. Let it consume you and become obsessed with it. Bore people with it, let it become the first thing that you think of in the morning and the last thing you think of at night. While it’s in your mind you’ll keep taking steps towards it. When you do that, you’ll be happy.

      Stop concentrating on why you’re in the trap. That is the trap. Think about what’s outside it. That’s not a change of habit, it’s a change of focus. You know that all the ‘comfort’ you’re talking about isn’t real, so stop talking about it. You’re so close, closer than you even know, and the last bit of popping through is the real kahuna’s bit. It’s not ‘a big and a hard job’ to achieve your dream, it’s the best thing in the world, you’re only going to work like a bitch for someone else otherwise.

      You can do it mate. Keep going.

      • Mike, in some ways I was playing devil’s advocate and I completely agree with what you’re saying. What I’m saying is that it’s not as easy (at least for some of us) as having the realisation for change, our fears and and our experiences are so deeply engrained that to turn that on its head is like becoming a completely different person.

        It may not be a “habit”, call it focus or what you will but I think we both agree that it takes a conscious (and yes, perhaps difficult) effort to change the way you think about things, approach life and achieve your dreams. You need to remind yourself daily of your goal and your steps towards it, and being mindful in working towards it. I think most of us end up where we do because we do the opposite – life happens to us, we don’t make mindul decision and action inline with our goals.

        You’re totally right that you can choose today to “be happy” and you’re right about the journey, I think you just need to know that you’re going in vaguely the right direction!

        When I say I’m a million miles away, I mean from my dream (of not working at my desk for someone else instead working outside making a living from photography) and the reality is that until someone starts buying my art* then that can’t come true! Not gonna stop me trying though 🙂

        Thought you might like this post:

        * the other thing there is that we always seem to focus on “income” when it comes to life change, “I need at least £X to live” but we rarely focus on expenditure. How much do you really love Sky Sports, trips to the pub, iPhones, etc when your dreams could be the alternative. Food for thought I think. Ok, I’ll stop now! 🙂

  2. Whilst agreeing with all these sage words, making change in life IS tricky. We have become what we are due to life experience and need to build on that experience rather than chuck it away. Life is evolution not revolution.
    We need to always learn from our mistakes. I once read, (not in The Times this time,) that whatever we experience in life, good or bad, if we learn ONE thing, and then move on, all experiences will become positive ones.
    Sometimes we’re lucky………for example if you look at it positively redundancy is positive as it can free us to take the risk in the direction we truly wish to go. Not everyone is THAT lucky or can be THAT positive in facing calamity. It’s difficult to make the leap into the unknown when there’s a mortgage round your neck and a family to feed!
    HOWEVER, making life changes can be simple, as you say,Mike, form your true goal and work towards it. One step at a time in the direction towards the goal is the way………then you’ll get there, you’ll pay the mortgage and do both long before your 60……….trust me!

    • Thank you for clarifying my words. I don’t mean to suggest that it’s easy to achieve your goals, far from it, but it’s easy to work towards them step-by-step.

      Luck is an interesting phenomenon. Do we make our own or is it randomly allocated? I personally think it’s a bit of both but you tend to get always lucky, and always unlucky, people. This would suggest the former.

      I agree about experience by the way but you naturally bring experience into future decisions. I’ve changed my life and yet I still use the experience I gained from accountancy in my life now. You can’t help that, it’s banked.

  3. Don’t mention bankers!

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