What You Have To Do In Order To Be Truly Happy

Being truly happy means refusing to surrender yourself to every bad mood. You recognize your behavioral patterns, right? You should know by now that you have triggers, which can send you off to a gnarly shame spiral. We ARE old enough to know better. It’s not like we’re sixteen and putting our fingers into light sockets just to see how it will feel. When we were in high school, it felt good to hurt because our lives were usually so dull that at least it meant something was happening. Being depressed was preferable to being bored. Now things have changed. Life is too busy and, quite frankly, too real for us to fall and not get up.

You know those blessed days when you wake up feeling high on life… and nothing else for once? You wake up one day with the stars aligned and all of sudden you’re that asshole who’s skipping down the street listening to LCD Soundsystem on your iPod grinning ear-to-ear. Your life seriously feels like the beginning of some horrible upbeat Hollywood movie and you are O B S E S S E D with it. You are on that Kate Hudson opening montage of a rom-com tip. Guess what though? This kind of moment can be fleeting. Before you know it, you’re experiencing the sad part of the rom-com, listening to Adele and crying in some diner. In order to avoid everything Adele-related though, we have to realize that happiness is not a given. We can’t be living la vida rom-com every second, so when we DO wake up happy for no particular reason, you gotta grab it and hold on for dear life. Keep the momentum going. I feel like when people are in a good mood, they are always expecting some sort of crash. Because you can’t be in a good mood for a long period of time, right?! In a few days, you have to go to your Sad appointment with Adele. You have no choice! To experience any kind of high, we have to hang with the lows. Um, yeah, this is BS. No you don’t.

Something I’ve come to recognize in myself is that I LOVE to feel melancholy for no reason. Sometimes I want nothing more than just to turn on some Broken Social Scene (Feel Good Lost era because it is such an appropriate title) and just OD on my vague sadness. I don’t know why I like to do this so much. I mean, it was cute when I was 19 and suffering from severe cystic acne and hated all my friends but it honestly makes no sense now that I’m in my mid-twenties. When I do it now, it feels like I’m playing with fire. I used to be able to bounce back from my bad moods in a hot minute and be like “OMG JK, I love life again!” but that doesn’t happen anymore. Now when I go into that Broken Social Scene #dark place, I can get stuck there for days. And you know what sucks? It’s all my fault! I opened that door, so I can’t act shocked when I’m unable to get out.

I know this all sounds super self help-y. You have to forgive me. I just read Bethenny Frankel’s HILARIOUS (in a bad way obvi) book, A Place Of Yes and I think she’s momentarily possessing my mind, body and spirit. Ew, sick. GET OUT! Anyway, I say all of this now and I’ll probably be googling Sylvia Plath quotes in a week but whatever, just bear with me for a second. Being truly happy, to me, is a choice you have to make. I wasn’t aware of this before. I thought happiness, like dying, was a guarantee but, oops, it’s not. It involves hard work and not succumbing to the attractive lure of melancholy. This is no easy feat though. Telling your friends that you’re in a bad place and falling into a Netflix k-hole feels like the BEST thing sometimes but it will eventually catch up with you. Years will pass and you’ll find yourself in a perma k-hole, which is not chic. Get out now! Be more proactive with managing your moods and for the love of god, burn that stupid Adele CD. TC mark

Ryan O'Connell

I'm a brat.


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  • kkas

    lol. broken social scene takes you to a dark place? it makes me happy.

  • Kwong04

    Truth. But I will never throw away my Adele. Neverrrrr.

  • God

    Be quiet.

  • macgyver51

    You might be confusing being in a good mood with actual happiness.

  • ashley

    oh man, i know that netflix k-hole.

  • http://twitter.com/jadika Jade Thompson

    Regardless of whether or not you choose to be happy, burn the Adele CD.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=553623063 Deb Hwan

    Oh my God! It’s like you’re in my head. Gahh… Hate this quarter life crisis!

  • Anonymous

    Stuck in my #dark place. It’s a consuming vortex and only Adele understands me.

    Happiness. Sigh. *Cries*

  • Guest

    If you were truly happy, you would stop writing the same exact article about happiness over and over and over

    • http://twitter.com/Connor_FinishIT Connor Bennette

      Because it is easy to fall off the path, and more difficult to get back on it.  He is recognizing some of the triggers that cause him to trip and is simply choosing to step over them instead.  It is also a slow process that doesn’t happen overnight.  It requires constant readjustment, and every single choice along the way either brings us closer to it or farther away.

    • Kait

      Agreed. No one likes a Debbie Downer. Once in a while, sure. Every day, no.

  • http://www.facebook.com/grc15r Gregory Costa

    Obi-wan has taught you well.  Now, release your
    anger! Only your hatred can destroy me!

    • Julia

      yes, gregory costa. yes.

  • Kim

    Don’t shoot me, BUTTTTT… this quote from “Eat Pray Love” sums it up nicely: “Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it… You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings.” I understand Ryan’s disdain for the book, but this message really spoke to me when I was in a relationship with someone drowning in grief and unwilling to seek help. Happiness is a choice, and a hard one to make sometimes.

    • BONER

      happiness is a choice, but you can also make the argument that all of our choices are caused by purely external forces. dave grohl said something to this effect in an interview once. 

  • rgar

    Ten minutes ago I was lying on the floor surrounded by books about post-modern identity and listening to Emily Haines, staring aimlessly out the window and watching the sun set, feeling sorry for myself for some vague reason.. And then I read this and was like, Yeah. I’m fu*king 22 years old. Snap out of it. So . . . Thanks, Ryan. A lot. :)

  • Bboyamir

    i was hoping the article’s advice would be something like “Stop pursuing vague and meaningless concepts like ‘true happiness’ ”

    cuz thats what i did and it works

  • Hry

    The best article I ever read about happiness made the point that any society  with an obsession about finding happiness in life must be a bloody miserable society. Therefore, stop reading articles about how to be happy and get busy finding some purpose in your life.

  • Hry

    I’d urge anyone who’s interested in reading the last article they’ll ever need on happiness to google “stuart jefferies: happiness is always a delusion”.

    • SusanDerkins

      Can’t find the actual article. 

  • Leen

    Is it just me, or is this article just state the obvious? And it doesn’t name one thing I can do to be truly happy. It pretty much just says happiness is a choice. Well thanks. But I can’t get over my subconscious neurosis long enough to choose happiness.  But at least now I know the choice is there….

    • Jake

      What a bummer comment. Holy Shit.

    • http://twitter.com/scruzz Shawn

      Then that might suggest a chemical imbalance. 

      … look it up. *takes a sip of water*

  • Guest

    Just told my friend that it’s “one of those days” and I’ve been sitting and streaming movies for the past few hours. Living up to 18 year old expectations. Hurray autonomy. 

  • Guy

    Mad props on the Azelia Banks pic.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1427250002 Scott Bunner

    Another touching one Ryan. Im proud that you continue in your voice. 
    I had cystic acne too, the few of us boys who had it understand that extreme shame and embarrassment. That is how I learned the true feeling of shame, but light was viable at the end of my acutane tunnel.  Love ya man.


  • http://www.twitter.com/mexifrida Frida

    So true with the #dark Broken Social Scene. And with sad music in general. I can sit there and cry for hours then wonder why I feel so sad, when I knew beforehand exactly what would happen. 
    It’s hard to not go to the ‘melancholy’ phase when you have been doing the things that send you there, for so long!

  • Garance

    You can say whatever you want about Adele, but her CD came out at the same time as my first heartbreak, and I’m really, really thankful to her for giving a soundtrack to my daily breakdowns.

  • Tigger

    ELISE BENITO KUNG BINABASA MO ‘TONG ARTICLE NA TO. BURN THAT ADELE DVD. OH WAIT, YOU CAN’T, IT’S WITH ME. Naaah just lessen listening to her. Even she’s happy now. :)

    • Melissa


      • Jan

        The first sentence is in Filipino. LOL. “ELISE BENITO, IF YOU’RE READING THIS ARTICLE, BURN THAT ADELE DVD.”

  • http://twitter.com/scruzz Shawn

     “When we were in high school, it felt good to hurt because our lives were usually so dull that at least it meant something was happening. Being depressed was preferable to being bored. Now things have changed. Life is too busy and, quite frankly, too real for us to fall and not get up.” <—- Too true.

  • http://www.facebook.com/samonser Samantha Monserrate

    Maybe Ryan does need to write an article about happiness again and again, regardless if it’s a self help-y kind of article or an article full of metaphors we wished we could write for us to be reminded of these things/and maybe he needs to constantly remind himself of this truth, too. Cause sometimes, I actually forget I am in control of my mood. Oops there comes Bon Iver on my iPod and I walk with a cigarette on one hand feeling the song Emma or Skinny Love. So….Even if there are external forces that I can’t control, I can always control my mood/how I react to it. mmmkay so stop hatin’ on Ryan. 

  • Emerald_25892

    What does BS mean?

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