How To Be Happy


You know I like to read, right? Well, I was reading Skeptic magazine last week when I ran across this paragraph, which blew my mind:

Sonja Lyubomrisky is a social psychologist who has compiled extensive data on what makes people happy: expressing gratitude, cultivating optimism, avoiding overthinking and social comparison, practicing acts of kindness, nurturing social relationships, developing strategies for coping, learning to forgive, increasing flow experiences where one is absorbed in activity, savoring life’s joys, committing to your goals, practicing religion and taking care of your body through physical activity.

Read that again.

Do you go out of your way to make sure that each man who goes out with you has a positive experience? Do you make men feel good about themselves when they take you out?

It’s like a one-paragraph blueprint on how to be happy. I swear.

And if you filter this thru the prism of dating and relationships, you can see for yourself whether you’re doing your part to maximize your own happiness:

Cultivating optimism: Do you dread the entire dating process because it takes time and frustrates you? Do you take long breaks between dates and boyfriends because you just can’t handle another heartbreak? Do you believe the worst in men instead of the best in men?

Avoiding overthinking: Do you agonize about “what it means” when he calls/doesn’t call/texts/doesn’t text/says he loves you/doesn’t say he loves you/commits/doesn’t commit? Do you obsess about the status of a new relationship? Dissect his every move with your girlfriends? Worry about the future before there’s a present?

Avoiding social comparison: Are you concerned what other people will say about your partner? Do you think about what others will say about you if you remain single? Do you envy friends who have what you don’t?

Practicing acts of kindness: Do you go out of your way to make sure that each man who goes out with you has a positive experience? Do you make men feel good about themselves when they take you out?

We can go on, but this list is masterful. I would highly encourage you to look at each and every thing on it and ask yourself if you’re effectively practicing happiness.

Because if there’s one thing I know about happiness, it’s this:

If there’s one thing I know about happiness, it’s this:

People fall in love with happy people.

People fall in love with happy people.

I had one girlfriend dump me in 2004 because I wasn’t happy enough.

I’ve broken up with a number of women who, despite being attractive and intelligent, were fundamentally negative people who didn’t like their parents, their work, their friends, themselves, or, frankly, me.

My wife is a happy person. It’s probably her greatest characteristic, one that comes to her effortlessly.

She doesn’t need a promotion or a raise or a fancier car. She doesn’t care about status symbols or name-dropping. She’s largely apolitical. She has faith in a higher power but doesn’t fault those who don’t. She loves meeting new people, traveling, eating, drinking, laughing, and spending time with friends and family.

As long as we do those very basic things, she’s happy. And, as the saying goes, “Happy wife, happy life.”

Last year was the happiest year of my life for a number of reasons, but mostly because I was able to share it with the best person I know, a woman who makes me smile every day, a woman who has taught me more about kindness than everyone else I’ve ever met. Of course, I’m also talking about a woman I easily might have overlooked because she didn’t fit my paradigm of what I was looking for. I’ve shared this story with you 100 times before.

So please, take a look at that list and ask yourself if you’re a happy person and if you generally choose to date happy people.

You may not be able to make yourself happy if that’s not your disposition, but then, finding a partner who IS happy should be all the more imperative to you.

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  1. 21

    I’m really glad this is a blog about dating; that stopped me from going into Christian apologetics mode.   Think I’ll see what’s happening on The Poached Egg now.

  2. 22
    Karl R

    Zaq said:  (#11)
    “Optimists can be manipulated. Just think Dodo.”
    Your assertion makes no sense. Animals are neither optimists nor pessimists.
    Optimists can be manipulated, but so can pessimists. That’s because people can be manipulated. Anything with enough brainpower can be manipulated (including animals, excluding the dead ones).
    Zaq said: (#11)
    “Those that are rich, are far more likely to have been those that were very unhappy being poor.”
    People like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet?
    Your rags-to-riches theory might sound nice, but successful people usually had the advantages of educated parents … and parents who were successful enough to provide educations for their children.
    Zaq said:  (#11)
    “Those that are attached are far more likely to have been unhappy being single.
    That is because these are the people who are highly motivated to change their condition.
    Those that are ever aware of the dangers that lie ahead, are the ones most likely to avoid them.”
    Both pessimism and optimism can be motivating factors. Dating requires a mix of both … each in the appropriate situations.
    You’re standing next to a woman at the DMV. What are your chances of striking up a conversation, getting her phone number, getting a first date, getting a long-term relationship, getting engaged and getting married?
    Realism says your chances are rather low. Because your chances are so low, pessimism says you shouldn’t bother trying. But optimism says that you only need to succeed once, so a small chance of success is good enough.
    Which motivates you to take action?
    Unhappiness can provide a motivator to seek change, but only if you believe that you can make yourself happier … and that brings us back to optimism.
    I was happily single. But I also believed that I could be even happier in the right relationship. And that’s optimism. My happiness as a single didn’t prevent me from getting married.
    Pessimism has a place in dating:
    If your boyfriend/girlfriend is abusive or neglectful, pessimism suggest that the situation will not improve and will potentially get worse. That is certainly a great motivating tool to get you out of a bad situation. Optimistically hoping that things will change back into the magic of the first weeks of the relationship … that’s just a recipe for disaster.
    You get the best outcome if you use both optimism and pessimism … and you use each in the appropriate circumstances.
    This is one situation where happiness worked in my favor. I was happy being single. I was unwilling to accept a relationship that made me less happy than being single. That provided a lot of incentive to leave mediocre relationships and keep looking for a good one.
    Zaq said:  (#11)
    “I used to believe women were gentle, beautiful creatures.”
    That’s not optimism. That’s foolish naivete. Women are people, just like me. They will be flawed, just like me.
    If you want to make intelligent decisions, you’ll have to actually apply some intelligence to the decision-making process. That’s going to be more important than optimism or pessimism.
    Zaq said:  (#17)
    “I read somewhere that 93% of the members of the National Academy of Sciences are atheists.
    97% of the members of the Royal Society (the British science organisation formally headed by Sir Issac Newton) do not believe in God.
    Those people whose job it is to question how things work, overwhelmingly reject religion”
    I strongly suspect that I have studied far more science than you. Furthermore, I’m absolutely certain that I have studied far more religions than you have.
    And your statement is what I’ve come to expect from people who don’t believe in religion, but can’t be bothered to learn enough (about religion or science) to know what they’re talking about.
    A scientist is seeking the truth that leads to great knowledge. A theologian or spiritual-seeker is seeking the truth that leads to great wisdom. A person is unlikely to discover scientific knowledge by studying religion. A person is equally unlikely to discover wisdom by studying science.
    Implying that either religion or science is false because you can’t learn it by studying the other? That’s just as ignorant as believing all women are gentle, beautiful creatures.

  3. 23

    Karl 23 – Hi, lovely to see you on here and I so enjoy your comments.  
    On Zaq 11 – I reckon that a person who gets on far in life is perhaps the child of educated parents, OR, the child of at least one optimistic parent, an encourager.   Maybe also, contact with a teacher??
    For me, religion and science help in the respect that religion (not necessarily organised religion) CAN open the mind.   Ditto science.   Both can lead to the truth.   The way of looking isn’t necessarily the same, but it doesn’t mean that either are wrong (or right).   Both can show at least one way of finding happiness.
    Zaq 20
    If “x” exists then you would expect to see “y”.
    That is why science is so successful.
    Ah, but a scientist will not just stop because he found one answer, now will he/she????   If “x” exists, you would expect to see “y” and you might just end up finding c,  a and b or whatever, or a combination thereof.
    You might expect the guy “x” to behave like this and end up finding that you’re………….totally mistaken or…..partly right/wrong.   Substitute the word “woman” and you’ve got yet another factor.   (We women are gentle creatures…..kind and sweet…….unless you get on our nerves……which is where both sexes might just surprise you (there’s another factor for you).
    It’s called……………………………………the unknown factor.   Atheist, scientist or believer.

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