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October 21, 2018 - Welcome Guest!

Advice » Personality

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Help with Being Happy


Why can't I be happy? No matter what, I can't be happy. Help!

Renee, 30-year-old woman


Renee, you did not give much information. How can I or anyone else understand your situation from one sentence? So, all I can do is to give a general answer.

You can be happy. I am sure that often you are happy. But you are looking through a filter that makes you blind to these times, and focuses your attention on the bad things, whatever they are, and twists everything to look bad, and makes you forget the good times as soon as they are past.

Thinking like this is a habit.

It is there because you are focusing on it. Suppose I asked you to NOT think of the word "hippopotamus." Could you do it? No because wanting to not think of it is a way of focusing on it. So, you feel as if you couldn't be happy because you are focusing on wanting to be happy.

All truth is paradox. If you want to be happy, forget about wanting to be happy. Forget about yourself, and focus on things and people outside yourself. Look for people who need help, and do acts of kindness. Do things to help animals or children or old people who need it. Become a volunteer.

Look for beauty in the world, and create beauty, whether it's a garden, or a meal, or a tidy room. Study up on jokes, there are plenty on the internet. Then find people who need cheering up, and make them laugh.

Learn something new. This could be a new recipe, or how to take better photographs, or a 5-year university course. Doesn't matter, but expand your mind, and then put your new knowledge to the service of others.

Whatever you are doing, wherever you are, whoever you are with, focus on things outside yourself. You are not here to be happy, but to give happiness to others. And you know what? The more you give, the more you get. Happiness is a byproduct of living a purposeful, productive life. Live well, and you will be happy. Focus on yourself, trying to grasp happiness, and you'll find there is none.

Give this a go and let me know how successful it is.


This question was answered by Dr. Bob Rich. Dr. Rich has 30+ years of experience as a psychotherapist. Dr. Rich is also a writer and a "mudsmith". Bob is now retired from psychological practice, but still works with people as a counselor.

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