Notes: Solve for Happy


  • You can never get to happiness as long as you have the idea that “As soon as I do this or get that or reach a benchmark I become happy”
  • Happiness is just the absence of unhappiness. By default you are happy, it’s only when you pile on social pressures, false beliefs, made up illusions and expectations that you become unhappy.
  • Success is not an essential prerequisite to happiness.
  • Subjective well-being increases proportionally up to a certain point ($70k/year), and then it plateaus.
  • Happiness >= Your perception of reality – Your expectations of life
    • It’s not reality that makes us unhappy, it’s the way we think about it that does. A slight change in how we think about events can drastically impact our happiness.
    • If events remain as they are, but changing the way we think about them changes our experience of them… could we simply become happy by changing our thoughts? Of course, this is what happens all the time already.
      • When a rude person apologizes, the apology doesn’t erase the event, but it does make you feel better, simply because the gesture changes the way you think about what happened.
  • All the thinking in the world, until converted into action, has no impact on the reality of our lives. It does not change the events in any way. The only impact it has is inside us, in the form of needless suffering and sadness.
  • We can miss the distinction between happiness and fun/pleasure. We swap out true happiness for weapons of mass distraction: partying, drinking, eating, excessive shopping, or compulsive sex. It distracts us for a while but once its over our negative thoughts will take over again, so we keep going back for more pleasure without truly being happy.
  • The voice in your head is not you. When you believe you are your thoughts, you identify with them. If you have bad thoughts you might think you are bad, but that’s not the case. The brain just presents things to you, you choose if you want to obey them or not.
  • Observe the dialogue, don’t resist thoughts – just let them roll on through. Remind yourself that those thoughts are not you and don’t have power over what you do unless you let them.
  • Reframing a thought reframes the emotion.
  • Your brain can be primed. The effects of this secret back door are extremely predictable. Every single time your brain is tempted with a thought it will take the bait. It can’t help itself! We can put this to very good use. You can prime your brain to focus on anything you want (e.g. happy thoughts) just by bringing it into consciousness.
  • Another way to avoid thinking useless and negative thoughts is to overload the brain with signals from the physical world, being present in your surroundings.
  • Happiness depends not on the conditions of the world around you, but primarily around the thoughts you create about them.
  • Sometimes when you stray off your past life nudges you hard with potentially traumatic events, but that’s not bad. It is necessary as through time something good usually comes out of it.
  • How many of the worst things that you’ve faced turned out, in time, to be the best things that ever happened to you? How many made you the person you are today? How many helped you meet someone you loved or taught you something you needed to know? I know that many of those experiences were harsh, and some still hurt, but how many were all bad, so bad that you’d be willing to erase them?
  • Every time you examine your thoughts you’ll notice that whatever you’re upset about is rooted in a past you cannot change or a future that may turn out to be completely different from what you expect. You may as well let the past or the future go and do your best at whatever you’re doing now. In this very moment, there is nothing wrong at all.
  • The only things under your control – your actions and attitude.
  • Once you know what your fear is, commit to facing it. Questions to ask:
    • What’s the worst that can happen?
    • So what?
    • How likely is it?
    • Is there anything I can do now to prevent the scenario?
    • Can I recover if it happens?
    • What will happen if I do nothing?
    • What is the best-case scenario?
  • “To die before you die”: To live life knowing that because one day it’ll all be gone, there’s really nothing you have, and so nothing you have to lose.
  • Being fully aware of the present moment considerably increaes your chances of being happy. Be crazy about finding out everything happening around you and inside you. Be curious.
    • Do one thing at a time, don’t watch TV while you eat dinner. Be fully present. Whatever you do, give it your undivided attention.
    • Live your life in the here and now, not in your head.
  • The Path of balance: Every time you examine your thoughts you’ll notice that whatever you’re upset about is rooted in a past you cannot change or a future that may turn out to be completely different from what you expect. You may as well let the past or the future go and do your best at whatever you’re doing now.
  • Look down, not up
    • If you focus on any specific part of your life, there will always be someone who has “more” than you. We forget the flip side of this distribution curve: each of them has “less” than you in at least one other thing. It’s just how the game of life is designed.
    • Instead of looking at the few who appear to have more than you, look instead at the billions who have less. Yes—billions! If you can afford to buy a coffee for a couple of dollars, be grateful, because more than three billion people live on less than $2.50 a day, and more than 1.3 billion people live on less the $1.25 a day. If you can drink a glass of water, be grateful, because 783 million people do not have access to clean water. If you have a home, be grateful, because there are close to 750,000 homeless people freezing on the streets of big cities just in the United States.
    • Only when we look down do we realize how fortunate we really are! And gratitude is a sure path to happiness.
  • Understand that when the time finally comes, you will leave everything behind: material wealth, the people you love, and everything you hold so dear. This raises the most important question of all: Why do we hold on so tight when sooner or later it will all be gone? If you know for certain that you will leave all your money behind, why are you so absorbed in collecting more than you need? If someone else will sooner or later take your job, why are you so afraid to lose it? Why do we accumulate material possessions that we don’t need today when tomorrow may never come?


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