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Strong Thinking

The Antidote

Self-help books aim to convince people that cheap tricks, making lots of goals or to-do lists, or getting rich are the keys to happiness. But most of these findings turn out to be false. Money doesn't make us happier past covering our basic needs. The Yale Study of Goals, which claimed goal-setting was a major factor in getting rich and successful, was never done.

Trying to force happiness also doesn't help. Just trying to feel happiness from nowhere, or giving yourself positive affirmations, can make you feel worse. Repressing feelings usually makes them come back stronger. Telling ourselves positive affirmations we don't believe has our mind rejecting them and reminding ourselves how little we think of ourselves. They ultimately just remind us how far away we are from this happiness goal we forced on ourselves.

There are lots of ways of being miserable, but there’s only one way of being comfortable, and that is to stop running around after happiness.

Stories of people who made it big or succeeded in big goals usually don't show how often they failed on the way there. Or the many more people who failed and gave up, since they rarely share these stories with others. Selection bias makes us extra vulnerable to this. Denying failure is like denying the idea that you'll ever die - it doesn't stop it from being inevitable.

Embrace Your Suffering #

Accepting suffering and mortality as part of your life can, funnily enough, bring us more joy. They remind us to savor happiness when we have it, not take our life for granted, and enjoy the little things. Imagining what it'd be like to lose something can go a long way in helping you get more joy from it.

It's also impossible to ever be certain in life. Trying to avoid uncertainty could freeze us in place, afraid of taking any risks. Embracing uncertainty means not trying to be perfect, letting our negative thoughts be, and always push forward. We can't stop hardships, but we can stop ourselves from letting it paralyze or drag us down. Doing this is called building a "negative capability."

We can also better manage fears by confronting them since it lets us see how much we've likely exaggerated them. This takes away much of their power over us, letting us take more risks and keep going forward.

Many events aren't too inherently negative, we just see them as such. Seeing them more as neutral "events" helps us see positive aspects to them, like losing a job becoming a chance to find a better passion for work. Reassurance can also backfire in this way - it doubles as a reminder that the event you're "reassuring" them won't happen would be terrible if it did happen.

We should also not get too attached to things, since this helps us better accept and manage change. This includes being too attached to life since it makes us fear death. Thoughts can be seen as passing weather, coming and going with time. A lack of motivation is like a passing cloud, not a reason to keep procrastinating, and detaching yourself from it can help you start your task.