Happiness is in Your Mind

Treat Thompson



This is a republishing of The Steady Fella Newsletter. Twice a month readers use the timeless insights on passion, productivity, philosophy, and happiness from this newsletter to build towards the life they want.

What we’ll learn (in 2 minutes):

👨‍🏫 Topic: You are the source of your happiness and unhappiness

🔍 Quote: Marcus Aurelius on outside events

📜 Passage: Morgan Housel on how no one is impressed with your possessions

Happiness is in Your Mind

Are you having a good day? Why?

Would you rather have a good day or a bad day tomorrow?

It’s safe to assume that everyone wants to have a good day every day. We have good days when we are happy, and there’s never a day when we don’t want to be happy.

But whether or not you have a good day depends on how you answered the second question: “Why?”

Gen Kelsang Nyema, a Buddhist nun, said, “Much of the time our mind is like a balloon in the wind, blown here and there by external circumstances.”

When things are going their way, most people feel happy, but if something goes wrong, then their happiness disappears.

As long as your reasons for having a good day is a list of external conditions, then you’re not going to have stable happiness.

If your happiness depends on people and circumstances you can’t control, then your happiness is at the whim of those people and circumstances.

Gen Kelsang Nyema said that if you want to have a good day, every day, you have to do two things:

1.Stop outsourcing your happiness and unhappiness onto people and circumstances.

As long as you make it the job of people and circumstances to make you happy and make it their fault when you’re unhappy, your happiness will be very unstable and elusive.

2. Actively cultivate a source of peace and happiness from inside the mind.

“Happiness and unhappiness are states of mind; therefore, their real causes cannot be found outside the mind.”

An event alone doesn’t make you happy or unhappy; it’s how you view it and respond to it. How you choose to see the world is what it becomes.

With an agitated, angry, and unpeaceful view of the world, you will be unhappy even in good circumstances.

For example, you can focus on the job you don’t have or focus on the opportunities your current job brings you. The latter brings happiness, the former doesn't.

Featured Quote

You have power over your mind—not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength. - Marcus Aurelius

We experience the world through our perceptions. So when you master your perceptions, you put the quality of your life in your hands.

Featured Passage

When you see someone driving a nice car, you rarely think, “Wow, the guy driving that car is cool.” Instead, you think, “Wow, if I had that car people would think I’m cool.” Subconscious or not, this is how people think. There is a paradox here: people tend to want wealth to signal to others that they should be liked and admired. But in reality those other people often bypass admiring you, not because they don’t think wealth is admirable, but because they use your wealth as a benchmark for their own desire to be liked and admired. The letter I wrote after my son was born said, “You might think you want an expensive car, a fancy watch, and a huge house. But I’m telling you, you don’t. What you want is respect and admiration from other people, and you think having expensive stuff will bring it. It almost never does-especially from the people you want to respect and admire you.