I used to keep an Excel list of everything I wanted to do every day. Read three chapters of War and Peace, watch chess Youtube videos, become an Excel power user. I thought that adding more to my life would make me happier.

After a while, I felt I didn’t have enough time to do these things, and so I made another list, a list of things that make me unhappy. Talking to toxic people. Checking my email too often. Procrastinating. Worrying.

This second list was way more useful. I realized how much time I was wasting doing things I hated and didn’t even need to do. Maybe if I stopped doing everything I hated I would have time to actually live my life.

Do things you like, don’t do things you don’t like. Be around people who make you happy. Don’t bother yourself with people who make you unhappy.

Is it really that simple? But how do we deal with worry?

You can make a flow chart.
(1) You can’t do anything about a situation ->  Find something else to think about.
(2) You’re might be able to do something -> Think about it for a little bit. Is there a way to do something or get more information? Think up a plan. Cool. Now you’re at (1) where you can’d do anything more. Either more information will come to you or it will solve itself.

Something that people worry most about are relationships and friendships. How do you deal with those?

Sometimes relationships are incredibly complicated. Sometimes you are in a very difficult situation that is tricky to navigate or escape. These situations tend to be rare, and when they exist, they are incredibly situation-dependent.

Most situations are not so hard.

1) If you are not in a relationship, then do what you need to do or want to do. There nothing else for you to do.

2) If you are in a relationship, then do what you need to do or want to do. Don’t do what you think other people expect of you. Living your own life will add a spark to the relationship, it will destroy inertia and ennui, and if your partner cares about you at all they will be very happy to just watch you do things.

3) If you are unsure if you are in a relationship, then do what you need to do or want to do. You are in transition to either 1 or 2. The situation will work itself out without you thinking about it. But if you think you might be in a negative feedback loop, then you may want to try to break out of it. If you are in a loop, the only way to get out is either by (1) waiting and hoping that the universe fixes it or (2) thinking long and hard about it. This will be a painful process. This will be time-consuming. You will not want to do it. Make a document where you write out exactly what you are feeling and what your thoughts are, without judgment. Leave space for where you don’t have enough information, and brainstorm ways to get that information.

Emotional problems are problems. Some cannot be solved. Some can. Figure out which one it is.

Just do you. A flower doesn’t look at what the other flowers are doing. That would not make any sense. A flower just blooms.

One last ingredient to be happy:
Have boundaries. Do not do things that you cannot live with yourself doing. Take the time to really figure out your principles. If this comes easily, chances are you haven’t actually figured them out, and chances are you’ll screw them up anyway.

 

Written by Natalia Dashan

I studied psychology and computer science at Yale. Graduated in 2016 B.S. Psychology. Wingwoman by assertion.

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