Why I’ll Never Write Another Top 10 List About Happiness

Happiness cannot be broken down into 12 steps or a top 10 list.

I’ve tried to do it myself, here on this blog, because that’s what the experts say people want to read. But it’s bullshit.

Happiness is a process.

It’s ongoing.

It’s as unique as you are.

There’s no one way, right way, or easy way. There’s no checklist to follow, and there is no shortcut waiting to be revealed by some super enlightened expert.

Happiness is work.

Sometimes it’s hard work.

And your happiness is your work.

It’s something that you have to want for yourself, and something that you have to take responsibility for. It’s something that you have to practice, and something that will feel far away on some days.

I started this blog because I think happiness is important. Your happiness, my happiness, I think it matters. I think it’s worth the work and the long discussions. I think it’s worth reading whole paragraphs about. I think it’s more complicated than a skimmable post.

But the experts tell you to write lists, and so I do. I have.

And other people must be listening to those same experts, because my feed reader is full of lists. And they are easy to read, easy to share, easy to leave a “ooh, good post!” comment on. But they are bullshit.

Because you aren’t taking your happiness seriously if you need a top ten list. And that’s OK. There’s nothing wrong with being in a place where you take other stuff more seriously. Truly. Maybe you’re researching how to cure cancer, or raising six kids, or focusing all of your energy on putting food on the table this month. Those lists that make happiness seem like something you can slip in between appointments probably just piss you off anyway, and that’s OK.

But maybe you are at a point where happiness is important.

Maybe you’re restless, searching, and always feeling not quite right. I don’t know what that “OK, it’s time now” moment feels like for you; for me it felt like “screw it, let’s just blow up my entire life and start over.” Whatever it is, you know. And you know those shorthand missives about how to be happier are crap.

You know there’s more to it.

So do I.

And I’m promising you right now to stop pretending otherwise.

Let’s do this.

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  1. Nanna says:

    I love you to pieces. And you’re right. Happiness is too precious to trivialize with blips.
    Nanna’s most recent post: Beauty From Ashes

  2. Dory says:

    I agree whole-heartedly.

  3. “It’s as unique as you are.
    There’s no one way, right way, or easy way. There’s no checklist to follow, and there is no shortcut waiting to be revealed by some super enlightened expert.”
    SO glad you came to this conclusion. SO GLAD!
    :)
    hello haha harf’s most recent post: Adventure in Tahn

  4. Lisa says:

    It’s true that happiness can’t be found by following a set list of steps, but sometimes lists themselves make me happy. I get mad joy out of making lists and crossing things off of them. I know this isn’t what you were talking about, but I have drugs and my brain doesn’t go in straight lines right now ;)
    Lisa’s most recent post: This Isn’t Pink Floyd’s Wall

  5. Sam says:

    Love this! Kick ass Britt!

  6. Jb says:

    Loved LOVED this post. Hate those lists!! Love a good to-do list but happiness to do lists – it’s not that simple. Wouldn’t that be great? I’m in search of a site that I can visit every day for brief, useful happiness reminders. So far have found quotes that are too – fluffy – but nothing simple & straightforward. Suggestions?

  7. Megan says:

    Never mind that the advice is always the same – unlike your book. :)
    Megan’s most recent post: It’s My Body; I’ll Cry If I Want To

  8. Pooja says:

    Britt,
    You’re so right! People looking for shortcuts to everything also like reading tips for being happy, when happiness is something that only comes from within. I can’t define ten things that can make me happy, let alone someone else. I read somewhere that having a purpose in life is more important than being happy. Happiness is somewhat over-rated anyways.

  9. Jb says:

    Don’t love happier.com. Anything else out there?

  10. [...] reasons why figuring out what makes us happy is hard. Sorting through that is a process that takes longer than the few minutes it takes to read a blog post, but this can be a [...]

  11. Silver Price says:

    But it’s sounds so easy on paper – make yourself happy. In reality, it’s hard work. Sometimes it sucks, especially in the beginning. You need to figure out what you’ve been doing that keeps you unhappy – staying in a bad relationship, giving too much of yourself away, not focusing on what makes you feel good, etc – and get it under control. That’s where most people resist the hardest – they don’t want to do it. They don’t want to break up a bad relationship, they feel like they can’t, for one reason or another. And we’re fucking talented at creating bullshit reasons why we can’t do something that will severely mess up the status quo. “But this job that pays me shit wages will lead to better things!” exclaims the person who doesn’t have enough money to pay the bills, “And it’s fun, and it doesn’t feel like work to me, and I like the people I work with, and I don’t want to have to take a job that isn’t fun or convenient. So I can’t do it.” Yes you can. It will suck, and you’ll be unhappier in the short term, but when you go to sleep at night knowing that your bills are paid, you have better health insurance, and you don’t have to sweat out the next car repair, you’ll thank yourself. Not only that, but you’ll appreciate the hard work and sacrifice that you made to get to where you are – believe me.
    Silver Price’s most recent post: No last blog posts to return.

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