The One Thing You Need to Know About How to Be a Happier Man
There are a hundred and one articles that offer a 5 step process that will claim to help you learn how to be a happier man, but in reality in this article I suggest that actually there’s nothing to do.
Psychologists believe we each have our own unique happiness set point, which suggests your level of subjective well-being is determined primarily by heredity and by personality traits ingrained in early in life and as a result remains relatively constant throughout your life.
But that’s not my experience of change or is it the results of studies such as this German research, which saw the set point of it’s participants rise over a 20 year period by 14-30%.
The trait it found most strongly associated with long-term increases in life satisfaction, is a commitment to pursuing altruistic goals. That is, the more we focus on compassionate action, on helping others, the happier we seem to become in the long run.
It could be something as simple as helping your kids with their homework, when you’re in a space of undistracted connection with your child, you’re not thinking of how shitty your days been or how you’re going to pay the mortgage. There’s no space for your own perceived problems, because you can only ever have one thought at a time.
How Unhappiness Happens
When you’re feeling unhappy it’s because you’re innocently misunderstanding how happiness works. Happiness is your default setting.
It’s been with you all along, but it’s hard to see when you’re believing you need something you don’t have (anymore) or there’s something in your life you’ve decided you want rid of.
Obviously you don’t do it on purpose, it looks natural that more money, a new woman, finding your life’s purpose, a new job, losing weight, having a hair transplant is the answer to your unhappiness.
I am not suggesting you give up wanting any of those things, but thinking they’re the source of happiness means you defer the feeling you want until something external to you changes.
What if it things don’t? You’re screwed.
The idea that anything external to you can REALLY create happiness is one of the biggest misconceptions in life. Your experience of the world is your creation.
That said in my experience, it can be really tricky to see, because whilst it’s an illusion, it can be a very convincing one at times.
The thing is, if you never question it, where does this journey end? Life becomes one big game of addition, because as you may have found out, there’s always something else to add.
The next thing providing a short burst of pleasure, like a drug addicts quick fix, but it soon wears off and you’re back to square one.
All the time the happiness you seek, is being hidden by a perceived, illusory void, created by the absence of the thing you believe will make you happy (replace with any word you want such as fulfilled, content, satisfied etc).
This is why it’s so tricky.
But if you believe happiness is created from the outside, like the best drug in the world, it won’t last. You’ll be forever on the hamster wheel of life, looking for that next thing whether it’s a pay raise, a new car or a new wife.
There’s no contentment here. I’m sure you get this intellectually and yet it can be so deceptive.
Can Money Bring Happiness?
I’ve made it no secret that my cash flow has been erratic since leaving the corporate world. I’ve struggled and found contentment hard to come by at times.
I have been caught out time and time again, believing the struggle had something to do with my perceived lack of money, it’s paralysed me.
This is what happens when we perceive something’s missing from our lives which we think will provide the one common, yet often elusive thing everyone on this planet is looking for…happiness.
Personally it’s hard admitting, but we all have our own area of life where we don’t see things so clearly.
I share this to illustrate how we ring fence certain external things such as money (people, places or events) as our salvation, because we wrongly attribute them as being the source of our happiness, security and well being (it works both ways!).
Money in particular is a common place to get caught out, because it’s so misunderstood. This is why it becomes a big driver in life for many people.
Psychologists in numerous studies have proven that money does not provide happiness, in fact in some cases those with lower incomes were happier, because they said they had more ‘leisure time’.
In other words they just had less to think about.
The pursuit of money becomes a trap when we attribute our sense of security, increases or decreases depending on the size of our bank balance.
It doesn’t matter the number, it could be £50 or £10,000,000. The number is relative, but by innocently attributing the feelings of security to how much money you have, you give power to money, when in REALITY money has no power over you.
Don’t get me wrong money is great to have, it makes life easier to an extent, it helps you do more stuff and if you have plenty of the stuff, give it away which offers more satisfaction than keeping it.
I’ll be the first to admit I want more in my life and I certainly don’t advocate being broke, but when you have more, it can sneakily appear like it’s the source of your security.
Why? Simply because ‘money’ is taking up less of your thinking – you’re not stressing about it so much. This is why it looks like money offers an escape from the feelings of insecurity.
But money has no power over you.
Money is nothing more than an agreed unit of value, used as a purpose of exchange. It is a tool to make the exchange of goods and services easier than it was when chickens, cows, ducks etc were the unit of currency.
That’s it. Like a hammer or a hairdryer it has only one purpose. Money has no power to make you feel anything emotionally.
You possess the power.
And yet I know it doesn’t always look this way, but if you’re feeling insecure about money, I assure you it has nothing to do with pound notes, dollars, ruppees or whatever your currency.
The struggle lies in innocently attributing the feeling of insecurity to an external source.
Problems are man made and can be unmade.
If you want to take back your power, find out where you’re attributing power to something outside yourself that you don’t have or wish was absent from your life.
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