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The miscellaneous writings of Mark Bridgeman

Is it a valid argument that you should be happy with your life because there are people who are much worse off than you?

No, this is because the act of comparing yourself with another will not lead to happiness.

There are people worse off than you, there are people who might seem to have it all when you don’t, either way, the act of comparing will not lead to an increase in happiness.

This is because externalising happiness always fails, whether it’s the new house you’ve always wanted, the new car, the dream job or that special person who caught your eye. You can rest assured that whilst pleasurable, none of these things can lead to lasting happiness.

Happiness is a mental condition, it’s all in the mind. The line that divides reality is mind vs matter, so material things cannot make you happy, only mental conditions can make you happy.

This is what is meant when philosophers say that ‘true happiness comes from within,’ and whilst it pays to be sympathetic to those worse of than you, helping them out is the only way to generate lasting happiness out of the people you see as being less fortunate than you.

Epicurus said that in order to be happy you need three things.

  1. Good friends that share your interests
  2. A job that is of positive benefit to your fellow man.
  3. Time to think and reflect so that you can enjoy a rich mental life.

It’s s simple formula and still holds water today. It’s also worth pointing out that you can choose to be happy in any circumstance whatsoever. The causes of unhappiness are all mental attachments to the ego, whether it’s the fear of losing your job or your home these are just facets of the ego that do not serve you.

Whilst it is wise to try and avoid job loss, loss of love and loss of home, do not mistake any of these external activities for happiness, do not fall into the trap of thinking that saving any of the above will make you happy or increase your happiness. You can simply choose to be happy right now regardless of circumstances.

The trick is to master the art of stoic indifference to whatever life throws at you, life is unpredictable, it twists and turns in random directions, your good fortune today may be lost tomorrow, don’t be attached to it, be indifferent and take comfort in the fact that you are equipped to cope with these changes when they come. The world might go to hell in a handcart, but do you know what? You’ll always be alright, you’ll always find a way to cope with it, so it’s best not to worry about it too much, pay no attention to it. Set yourself free and simply be happy!

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