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25 Simple Realizations That Have Made Me A Lot Happier This Year
A year’s worth of revelations — simplified.
On the surface, the only thing that is different about me today from me a year ago is that today, I have a slightly different haircut and my body is a little less broken.
Below the surface, however, I feel like a changed man.
I guess it’s corny and cliche and some people might see this as a generic self-help article, but when I look at my life today from my life a year ago, the proof is in the pudding. My life has completely changed in the last 12 months, despite my day-to-day activities not changing much at all.
This change wasn’t magic, either. It’s taken me a lot of hard work, writing, and deep thought to get to where I am today.
Here are 25 realizations that impacted my happiness the most.
Life is not about you (like, at all).
Existence is personal, but life is collaborative. A happier life begins when you step outside yourself and help others.
Collaboration is beautiful, even if you’re introverted.
Your actions in the past do not define your present character.
You are not what you’ve done. You are what you repeatedly do.
Knowing what you want is the first half of happiness.
Happy people are more selective. More selective people are happier.
People with low standards have low self-esteem. People with low self-esteem have low standards.
You can’t change someone’s mind if they don’t respect you.
If someone doesn’t respect you and your ideas, they will not accept them no matter how “good” they are.
Influencing thought is a game of leveraging and establishing credibility.
You can learn from everyone.
Default to cautious respect (see above) so that you do not get caught in the same traps as the people who refuse to learn from you.
Have an open mind so you can continue to grow. This is the essence of “kaizen” — a Japanese business philosophy that essentially means “continuous improvement”.
Your existence is what you choose to make it.
Existential confirmation bias will determine the quality of your life.
If you want to see the world as a good place, you will have a better life than if you see it as an evil one.
Just because you don’t fit in somewhere doesn’t mean it’s a bad place.
It was beautiful, the food was great, and the culture fascinated me.
However, I couldn’t live there. I just couldn’t. There’s nothing wrong with Italy, I just wouldn’t be happy if I lived there.
A lot of people fail to different places that they belong to from places they like.
Don’t do that.
If you don’t feel at home anywhere, make your own.
If you want to feel at home, you probably are going to have to make your own home.
That’s okay though. That’s a good thing.
Misery loves company. Happy people enjoy solitude.
I never learned to like my “alone time” until this year.
I don’t really know what happened, but I reached a point where I cared about “company” and more about peace.
If your company violates your peace, it’s not a company worth keeping.
Traveling the world doesn’t help you find yourself,
Traveling helps you distance yourself.
“Finding yourself” is up to you. Most people spend their time traveling drunk and hungover or looking at old buildings.
They leave more broken than when they left (not to mention broke).
An exciting life is not necessarily a good one.
If you’re happy with something that other people find boring, good on you.
Exciting stuff gets clicks or likes on Instagram, but it doesn’t necessarily make you happy.
Stuff that happens doesn’t “make you” unhappy.
Things happen and you make yourself unhappy in accordance with outcomes.
Romantic relationships alone can’t make you happy, but they alone can make you unhappy.
I’ve heard the saying “happy wife, happy life” from a lot of guys I know.
I think this is an oversimplification.
The saying should be more like “unhappy marriage, unhappy life”. A good relationship solves your relationship problems, but not much else.
Lovers are also fighters.
Their weapons are actions and words, and their fight is for peace.
If you’re “a lover, not a fighter”, you are weak. If you’re a fighter, not a lover, you are insecure.
Social problems are not the same as skill-related problems.
Social problems have simple solutions that most people over-complicate. Skill-related problems have complex solutions that most people oversimplify.
Change the way you approach both kinds of problems.
If you allow yourself to look stupid in front of people you will make yourself smarter.
By publishing writing, speaking publicly, or doing anything where there’s an audience, you are putting your thoughts on trial not only for yourself but everyone who’s listening.
There’s no better judge for quality ideas than your peers.
“The man who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything.” — E.J. Phelps
Even if you’re friendly, you won’t be friends with everyone.
If someone is particularly difficult to deal with, that says more about them than you. This doesn’t mean you have to be enemies.
Assume that other people aren’t thinking as much as you.
Get out of your head and try to match them for a more collaborative experience.
You attract what you put out.
You attract the people who you have in your life. Most people aren’t aware of what they’re putting out.
Thinking is a double-edged sword.
The more you think, the more unique your thoughts become. This can be beautiful but also isolating.
Become a tough person to get close to.
The easiest way to upgrade your life is to elevate the requirements of the screening process for people you add to your life.
Anxiety frequently leads to incorrect social judgment.
Open communication rarely leads to misunderstanding — unless you’re being lied to.
Avoid people who are proven to be liars, and be honest when you communicate.
You don’t need more goals to live a better life.
You need goals to drive you to accomplish goals. You need love to be happy. You need both for fulfillment.
Self-belief is underrated.
Believing you will do something is an outrageously powerful factor in getting it done.
Not everyone gets to be happy.
This might be controversial (this idea pissed off a few folks on Quora), but the hard truth is that not everyone will end up happy in their lives.
I guess that everyone could, in theory, be happy, but not everyone ends up that way.
Happiness is a privilege. If you’re happy, you have a responsibility to also be intensely grateful for that happiness.
This week in the premium section of the newsletter, I wrote a little preview for this weekend’s No-Gi Pans which is happening down in Texas.
You can read it here: