Why you need to stop doing what makes you happy

Alex Mathers


Just do what makes you happy.

If everyone followed this advice, we’d all be continually happy, all the time.

But are we?

The reason many of us are not is that we make the honest mistake of thinking that ‘happiness’ is a ‘thing.’

I struggled recently in a group meeting because I wanted to do well and be happy to be there and come across cool and awesome. But I didn’t. I felt uncomfortable and anxious. And this made me feel bad.

The conditions that my happiness depended on (me looking cool) were not quite right.

What I forgot at the time was that this isn’t about being happy. Our egos want us to be happy and look good, but our egos don’t know best.

We think we can experience happiness for long stretches of time, as long as the circumstances are right. As long as the porridge isn’t too cold and not too hot.

But happiness is not a thing. It is an illusion. It is not real.

Humans have been kidding each other since the dawn of time into believing that happiness is real.

I miss the time I spent living in the Algarve; It was a happy time for me.

Uh…I call bullshit.

When somebody describes a time in their life when they were happy, what they are describing is a period in which they felt all kinds of ways. Sad, happy, miserable, lonely, frustrated, bored and elated. They just took ‘happiness’ as the dominating vibe of the time, even though it wasn’t.

Happiness is only ever a thought. It is always transient. It is based on whatever our state of mind is in the moment. We feel our thoughts, one thought at a time.

We can have a happy thought about becoming rich and feel good in that thought. And then we might have another thought of our dog dying. And then we don’t feel so good. The happy thought and the happiness was here. And then it was gone.