The Most Important Factor in Being Happy
The other day I woke up angry.
I was remembering all of the people who I felt I did many good things for and now they don’t like me.
I started to list all of the reasons they hate me. I started to think about arguments I would tell them to SHOW them how wrong they are.
Sometimes this takes up the first ten minutes of my day until I stop myself and say “this is unhealthy.”
I try to replace these unhealthy thoughts with at least three positive actions I can take that will help others.
Maybe the only thing I know in life: the more I help people, the more I have to give. It’s like a barrel of infinite water.
I wrote to one friend today and told her how something she said to me about how to create a beautiful work of art really inspired me. I thanked her for that. She told me to “deliberately differentiate.”
I wrote to another friend about how his reconnection with me after so many years really touched me. It reminded me of the many thousands of moments we shared together.
And I wrote to another friend how, despite all our troubles, I was looking at a photograph of us together where she just so happy to be happy that it reminded me of all the special times we had together instead of some of the horrible times later.
We’re all just trying to survive. We all have our insecurities. We can sink in them or try very hard to rise above them.
For a brief moment, despite the sea of fire she and I traveled through and ultimately died in, we were together again. And that made me happy.
One time I was having a big problem in my life. A problem so big I thought it would kill me and cause my kids to live in agony for the rest of their lives.
And then I ran into some friends of mine in a restaurant. They were playing chess. They invited me to sit and play with them. It was two in the morning and I had been walking around due to anxious insomnia.
We played for an hour and I was happy. I was laughing. We were joking around. We were playing games.
I forgot completely what I was anxious about.
It was not so much the play or the laughter, but the community.
These were my friends. Friends, on and off, for almost 15 years. And here they were at 2 in the morning, and we were enjoying each other’s company.
There was JP. There was Russian Paul. There was SweetPea. There was Falafel. It was like the Justice League of America. Only they were all homeless chess players.
I can’t remember whether I won or lost. I just remember that I loved them. And I loved that moment. And I love thinking about it now. Fifteen years later.
Sharing and community makes us a tribe. Makes us human. Makes us happy.
When I give a piece of myself to you, I know that the world has changed. That the world has been made better.
Happiness is not about politics. Or about success. Or about improving my life.
Happiness is about you and me and what we will do together.
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James Altucher is the author of the bestselling book Choose Yourself, editor at The Altucher Report and host of the popular podcast, The James Altucher Show, which takes you beyond business and entrepreneurship by exploring what it means to be human and achieve well-being in a world that is increasingly complicated.