Thought Catalog
January 15, 2015

The Only Thing You Need To Do To Be Happy Is This

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What is the issue?
Flickr / Leo Hidalgo
Flickr / Leo Hidalgo

There’s a trick, a hack, to being happy for the entire rest of your life. Whether you’re in full health or get sick, whether you publish your book or forever dream about people knowing your name. If you’re single or married or have twelve different partners. Live in your home town or travel the world, have thousands in the bank or deal only cash-in-hand, consider your mother your best friend or are estranged from your family.

You can be happy – proud of yourself, in your imperfect, confused, trying-ness – by doing just this one thing.

Suspend judgment.

More specifically, you have to suspend judgment on yourself.

Sound corny? Maybe. But I can, hand-on-heart, say that I am, in so very many ways, the happiest person I know – on a genuine, molecular level. I vibe on high as a default setting. Even when I’m sad – it didn’t work out with the guy, I didn’t make enough money last month, I said the wrong thing to my friend and now she’s mad at me even though she says she isn’t – I’m still relentlessly optimistic. And if only because of this, hear me out. Because isn’t that what we all want? To go to bed at the night feeling like, yes. I did good. I *am* good.

I reckon this is how.

Quit judging yourself.

If you ate the pint of ice cream, or shagged the girl you swore off, or don’t call your dad enough, it’s okay. If you beat yourself up about doing the things you self-assess you “shouldn’t” have done, you feel shitty. And when you feel shitty, you’re more inclined towards further shitty decisions.

We’re funny like that. Humans. The worse we feel the worse we are to ourselves. It’s like there’s a chip inside of us somehow programmed to have us believe we’re not worthy of feeling good about ourselves, and it feeds off of the smack talk we put on loop in our own imaginations.

I’m such a bad fucking son. I’m fat. I’m fucking stupid for ever thinking she’d change. I’ll never get the job they have. Why can’t I stop eating peanut butter form the jar? Of course I failed the test, I always fail.

You are what you are, and what you are is everything you’ll ever need to be, and so stop talking to yourself like that.

Be your own best cheerleader. Talk to yourself how you’d talk to your child.

Good job!

You tried!

That’s okay, you learned a bunch!

Well, if it makes you feel bad maybe do it a bit differently next time?

Do you want a hug?

I’ll always love you, no matter what you do, you know.

There it is: love yourself no matter what you do. And whilst that sounds like the soppiest, easiest thing in the world, if you try it: genuinely, 100% commit to loving yourself no matter what happens, to changing the dialogue you have with yourself, you’ll learn pretty fast – it’s hard as fuck.

You fight for the guy or girl that you love, right? Day after day, pledge, over and over, to stand by them? That’s the exact same attention you have to give yourself. It’s an ongoing relationship with yourself that takes blood, sweat and tears, every damned day. You don’t just “make peace with yourself” and then happily get on with the rest of your life.

Every single action you make, every decision you take, every action you execute, you judge yourself on. Automatically. Your brain is an organized, well-oiled machine, and files everything you do. And to be happy – really, truly operate from a place of love and self-acceptance – you have to tell your brain, consciously, where to file what just happened. Every time.

So tell your brain to file everything under I did that, and I still like myself.

It takes practice. It won’t work every time. You’ll get frustrated.

But if what you want is to be free from your own self-limiting bullshit, it’s the key. It’s the purposeful, deliberate road to self-acceptance.

Suspend judgment.

See what happens. TC mark

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