Notes on Happiness

Notes on Happiness

Over the past few months I’ve been, for one reason or another, coming across the concept of happiness. I’ve not been searching for how to be happy, or the study of happiness, nevertheless the philosophy of attaining it seems to be coming up again.

There is one common thread amongst all the best advice on how to be happy and that is  

1) stop trying to be happy.

2) stop focusing on yourself

Stop trying to be happy

The best way to achieve happiness is to not strive for it at all. Once you begin to reflect on whether you are happy or are not, do you have a chance to answer that with a “No”.

One key to happiness is to not look for it. The paradox of the most important things in life, happiness, love, success, is the tyou can’t look for it. If you’re looking for happiness you’re not doing what you need to do to be happy, I you’re looking for love, you’re not being lovable, if you’re looking for success, you’re not doing whatever is it you need to do to be successful.
- Adam Robinson Knowledge Project

The most common theme when I’m feeling stuck, frustrated, or generally “unhappy”, is that I’m focused mostly on myself. Next time you are in this mode, change your focus to your family, friends, or projects.

Stop focusing on yourself

The most common theme when I’m feeling stuck, frustrated, or generally “unhappy”, is that I’m focused mostly on myself. I’m thinking about my needs, my goals, my shortcomings. The best treatment for this is to change your focus to something other than yourself: your friends, family, projects.

Here’s a great quote from John Stuart Mill, reflecting on his realization after going into a bout of depression 1825

Those only are happy (I thought) who have their minds fixed on some object other than their own happiness; on the happiness of others, on the improvement of mankind, even on some art or pursuit, followed not as a means, but as itself an ideal end. Aiming thus at something else, they find happiness by the way.

The path to happiness is similar to the path to a great career, a great love. Not to go and search for them directly, but instead focus on being lovable, on being valuable, on the activities and people to whom you can direct your efforts.