You don’t have to like the Pharrell Williams song “Happy” to be happy. If Motorhead or Mozart is more your speed, so be it. But if you find yourself not giving a sh**, well then maybe you — yes, you — should keep reading on, because after all, which one of us couldn’t use a little more happiness?
In fact, making an effort to be happy is the first and best thing all happy men do. Few are happy because of their circumstances – it’s how they respond to their circumstances, both good and bad, that gets the ball rolling.
So the good news, funny enough, is that happiness isn’t inherent. It’s about being a little proactive by making small changes all of us guys can implement today.
2. Look after yourself
No man can be happy if he’s unhealthy. Like happiness, an unhealthy life is fuelled by the choices we make, be it by working 18-hour days, eating the wrong foods, or never getting your heart rate up. Indeed, excess body weight and insomnia are two traits unhappy men share. Their happy counterparts, on the other hand, value their lives and want to keep the party going for as long as possible by making healthy choices.
3. Pursue your passion
That thing that makes you happy? Whether it’s time with your kids or a Jamaican beach or python wrangling (it’s surprisingly popular), your efforts to keep those people, places or things in your life can actually be more rewarding than the goals themselves. Getting there is half the fun, as the saying goes, and if your goal makes you happy then the process will always seem worthwhile. If one of your passions can be parlayed into your career, then success – however you choose to define it – is all the more likely to follow.
4. Be happy with yourself
Nobody’s perfect, and you don’t even have to be close to be happy. Your quirks, shortcomings and foibles define you as a person, and if you value these idiosyncrasies then you not only value your uniqueness, but also know how to look after, and even improve, yourself on your terms.
5. Live in the present
Reminisce and anticipation are all well and good, but don’t get stuck in the past or future. As John Lennon said, “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans,” and even if those other plans are happy ones you don’t want to miss any unscheduled happiness in the here and now. You can’t savour the here and now if you’re distracted by the next challenge – cellphone addicts, we’re looking at you here. In short, you can’t find happiness if it can’t find you.
6. Be part of the solution
Who says pessimists can’t be happy? Life is full of challenges – that’s why many pessimists say they are “realists” – but what really matters is how you handle them. Instead of always pointing out problems, as negative men do, and then waiting for someone else to solve them, as negative, lazy, “victims” do, take an active role in dealing with issues head on. If you have outside help, fantastic. If you don’t, however, knowing that you have the power to make a difference will put you on the positive path that leads to happiness.
Adam Bisby is a Toronto-based freelance journalist and father of two. His award-winning stories have appeared in The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star and National Post newspapers, in magazines like Explore, Reader’s Digest, International Traveller and Canadian Family, and on websites including MSN, MSN Canada, and DontChangeMuch.ca. Visit Adam’s website for more details on his award winning work.