Happiness research is one of the things that pop psychology has done a lot of the past generation or so. They measure happiness through things like physiology – fatigue, stress levels, that sort of thing – and asking questions. The other thing many of these studies ask is "What would make you more happy?" Frequently the answer is something like more money or more stuff or less debt or more education or something like that.
But what people really want is more time. When follow-up studies are done after people have more money or less debt or more stuff or whatever, they're not showing increased levels of happiness. But when you give people time to pursue their hobbies and spend time with their families and friends, they're much happier.
I spent a lot of my 20s and the first few years of my 30s taking on a lot. Work, school, volunteer work, networking events – I would be out four, five, six nights a week until midnight or after, only to get up at 5am and do it all over again.
I was frequently exhausted.
And I get that way now sometimes, still, but I've done some things to make changes. I go to bed early. I set aside time for hobbies like reading, writing and recreational sports leagues.
Toward the end of getting rid of some of the sense of being overwhelmed that still creeps in, I read a lot of manifesto-type stuff. Things like
One of my favorites of these is one I read recently called
One of the take-away quotes for me is this (emphasis mine):
Nobody has any right to tell you that you're going in the wrong direction or that you're not doing as much as you could do. It doesn't matter what you do or how much you do. What matters is that you do the best you can do relative to what you're able to do. This is not a game of money or material rewards or traditional definitions of success. It's a game of you vs. you, and only you have any business steering your own ship.
In other words, you decide what you're going to do and how much you're going to do, and fuck everybody else. You're the only one who can get in your own way, so stand back and let yourself rise.
I'm going to recommend this book for anyone feeling stuck, floundering, or looking to make some change. Also, it's free, so you may as well get the book and take a couple of hours of your time to make a difference in your own life.