This morning I was very unhappy.
I couldn’t get things done. My mind was bouncing like in a pinball machine. And I hated people in my head.
First, I was thinking of at least two people who had wronged me in the past few months. I kept thinking, “But I did X, Y, and Z for them!”
How dare they!
And yet… they treated me horribly and I put up with it.
I kept thinking in my head of the scoreboard. I did this, they did that, I did this, but then they did THAT. And the scoreboard added up to me winning.
And that led me to four rules of happiness:
RULE #1: NO SCOREBOARD.
Catch yourself thinking of the scoreboard and then try to think of other ways to look at it.
Person #1: We moved in different directions. Everything happened for the best.
Person #2: I don’t really understand what happened but he is not the friend I thought he was so it’s all for the best.
The “scoreboard” is the enemy to happiness.
Then I was unhappy about something else. I wasn’t getting invited to speak at an event I’m usually invited to.
Why not? Why the hell not!?
I could ask. I could try to get invited. But I don’t really want to go anyway.
So it’s a status thing. I want people to like me. I want people to think I have enough status that they invite me to their events.
RULE #2: FIGURE OUT IF YOUR UNHAPPINESS IS DUE TO STATUS.
If yes, then focus on building skills and improving than trying to change someone’s opinion of you.
So I write. I have ideas. I read. I make calls that improve my opportunities.
I try to improve myself instead of improving someone’s image of me.
For the third time this morning I was unhappy.
I wanted to write but instead I got sidetracked. I tracked down a third cousin of mine via 23andMe. And then we both had fun linking up family trees to find out how we were fully related.
I had never done that before. I had always assumed all the genealogy stuff was BS and I still think it is.
And yet… it was fun to hear this woman’s stories about my great-grandfather from 1940.
Why should I care? I don’t know. But it made me happy.
RULE #3: IF PROCRASTINATING, FIND OUT THE REASON. IF IT MAKES YOU HAPPY, INDULGE.
Indulging in what you love = material for writing. Writing later about this will make me happy.
Procrastination is a basic human need. We didn’t have “to-do” lists 70,000 years ago. We did what our heart was pointing us towards.
If we were hungry, we ate. If we needed to hunt, we hunted. If we needed to run, we ran!
At one point when everything was whirring around in my head, I was most unhappy.
Sometimes things are going wrong in our mind and bodies FIRST, and then our minds build stories to fill that unhappiness in.
For me, last night I didn’t sleep as much as I used to. And my brain is a bit fried from non-stop work over the past few months.
So my brain started over-reacting to all of these slight insults and pains.
RULE #4: IT’S A CLICHE BUT IT’S REALLY TRUE. NOTHING MATTERS.
If you are unhappy and stressed then you certainly won’t be of use to the people around you who you love.
So I took a deep breath and I pictured that I was an alien from another dimension.
I close my eyes and then open them. Who is this body and this mind? Why is he thinking these meaningless thoughts that seem to be causing him some pain?
I have a mission. To calm this body down and do some good today. And then I am gone tomorrow. On another, intergalactic, interdimensional mission.
I am a multi-dimensional, multi-verse superhero, on missions for billions of years and this is just one of them.
Happiness is a bag of chemicals. Some serotonin, some endorphin, some dopamine, reduced cortisol, some oxytocin.
You don’t need to be happy every second. That’s just the meat computer in your head. Don’t be a software program. Be the programmer.
You’re on a mission. Get it done.
James Altucher is the author of the bestselling book Choose Yourself, editor at The Altucher Report and host of the popular podcast, The James Altucher Show, which takes you beyond business and entrepreneurship by exploring what it means to be human and achieve well-being in a world that is increasingly complicated. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
Image courtesy of Andre Hunter.