What is happiness? Are You Happy?

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Here is a picture of me looking happy. Truth is that when this photo was taken, I had been fighting depression for about 7 months. I was feeling particularly down that day because I felt like I was making little progress toward defeating depression. It took me a while, but I did end up getting out of depression for good (and 100% naturally) by mid 2013. I can confidently say that I will never fall back into depression again. 🙂

This is an excerpt from my upcoming book, The Truth About High School. Although I wrote this book for people in high school, there is a lot of valuable information in the book for anyone of any age. So without further ado, let’s get into it! 🙂


…What is happiness and are you happy?

Happiness is an “inside job” many people say. Which is true, of course. You don’t find lasting happiness in objects, places, or tons of friends. It all must start with you. Happiness is the end result of having positive emotions like inner peace, love, compassion, joy, etc. You come to these emotions by doing what fulfills you, what excites you, and what you are passionate about. You also can get these emotions from spending time with the people who are closest to you and who you really care about. These are the ones who will always be there for you no matter what. Who are these people in your life?

If you are unhappy or constantly negative it is time to reconnect with your happy and positive side. The happy life is one where positive emotions dominate. So by simply enhancing positive emotions, or experiencing them more frequently, you can become a happier person. BUT you need to get these frequent positive emotions through the things and people that fulfill you, or your happiness will be short lived and inauthentic.

Even life circumstances only contribute about 10% to your life’s happiness. This includes getting what you want in life, such as becoming a billionaire or getting married. So if getting what you want doesn’t give you that much lasting happiness, then what does? The answer: appreciating what you really have and being happy within yourself. If you want to be truly happy, a major part of happiness is gratitude and positivity. The happiest people:

  • feel and express gratitude even during tough times in life
  • stay in the moment as much as possible
  • enjoy the simple pleasures of life
  • don’t let unavoidable ups and downs disturb their inner peace

How happy are you? Stop right now and seriously ask yourself this question. If you aren’t sure how happy you are, don’t worry. Happiness is pretty tough to measure. It may help to rate your happiness level on a scale of 1 to 10. Try out this set of questions that can also help you determine how happy you are.

1. In general, I am:

Not happy 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Very Happy

2. Compared to others, I am:

Less happy 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 More Happy

3. Some people are generally happy regardless of what’s happening in life. To what extent does this describe you?   

Not at all 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Totally

4. Some people are generally not very happy. Although they aren’t depressed, they never seem to be as happy as they could be. To what extent does this describe you?

Not at all 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Totally

5. I smile:

Hardly ever 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Very often

If you look at the numbers you circled, it will give you a very broad understanding of your happiness level. You could always average these numbers too if you want another way to look at it.

If you got a low score on these questions, then you may be depressed. Take this quiz to find out. This quiz was created by Carol Landau, who has a Ph.D. in Depression. I don’t know if I would have ever realized that I was depressed or gotten out of depression if I hadn’t stumbled upon this quiz during my sophomore year of high school. I wanted to include it in this book because I hope that it helps you like it helped me. Even if it only helps one person, I’ll be happy. So let’s take the quiz!

To be diagnosed with depression, you have to feel extremely sad or have lost interest in life, and you must experience 4 out of the 7 following symptoms every day and for at least two consecutive weeks:

– Increase or decrease in weight or appetite without conscious dieting

– Insomnia or excessive sleepiness

– Agitation or lethargy and difficulty getting out of bed

– Loss of energy and fatigue nearly every day

– Feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt

– Difficulties concentrating, thinking or making decisions

– Recurrent thoughts of suicide.

Scientifically, if your mood is constant and lasts more than two weeks, that’s a sign that you might be slipping into depression.

According to Lifescript, which operates the leading website for healthy living, more warning signs for depression include:

  • Loss of interest in things you once enjoyed
  • Sleep problems
  • Appetite changes
  • Lack of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness or self blame
  • Trouble concentrating or making decisions
  • Thoughts of suicide

Now, there is a difference between grief and depression. Mourning the death of someone close to you is an exception to the two-week rule. For the first month or two, it is typical to have symptoms similar to depression, such as unrelenting sadness, frequent crying, trouble sleeping, poor appetite, and weight loss. But if it continues for longer than this, with no signs of improvement, then the grieving may have turned into depression.

If you are depressed, or if you would like to know more about depression, don’t wait to get help. Your condition will only get worse. But be careful when getting help. It always amazes me how many people think they know what depression is, and that they can solve it for others when they haven’t even been through it themselves! If they haven’t gone through it personally, then they don’t understand. I promise you this. I learned this the hard way when I was getting out of depression myself. If you think you are depressed, even if you aren’t completely sure, please please please do not wait. It is important to take action and start getting out of depression as soon as possible. The sooner you realize it, the sooner you can get out of it!

Trust me, I have been there. It is a dark place, and it is very difficult to see the light. But when you get a glimpse of light, hold onto it and don’t let it go. Build on it until there is no more darkness. You can do it! If I can do it, then you can too. I believe in you. I know that you have what it takes to be happy again and to get out of depression for good. And, strangely enough, once you have completely overcome the challenge of depression for good, never to fall back into it again… your past depression becomes a gift. How? That is a discussion for another book which I am currently writing, so stay tuned. 🙂

If you would like to be happier, you must take time to consistently develop your inner qualities. Every minute you have a choice of where you focus your attention. The more you relax, try your best, and allow life to unfold, the more you will get out of life and the happier you will be. When your mind starts spiraling into negativity, stop yourself. The more you do this, the easier it will be and the more control you will have over your own thoughts. Eventually, you will be able to decide what you want to think about and what thoughts you want to let pass through your mind. Notice the good things in life. Pay attention to the positive things and be an optimist. Understand what makes you happy, and appreciate yourself. Choose to be happy!

“As long as there is a lack of the inner discipline that brings calmness of mind, external facilities or conditions will never give you the feeling of joy and happiness that you are seeking. On the other hand, if you possess this inner quality, a calmness of mind, a degree of stability within, then even if you lack various external facilities that you would normally consider necessary for happiness, it is still possible to live a happy and joyful life. Achieving a genuine sense of happiness may require bringing about a transformation in your outlook, your way of thinking, and this is not a simple matter. In taking care of your physical body, you need a variety of vitamins and nutrients, not just one or two. In the same way, in order to achieve happiness, you need a variety of approaches and methods to deal with and overcome the varied and complex negative mental states… It is not possible to accomplish that simply by adopting a particular thought or practicing a technique once or twice. Change takes time.”

–Dalai Lama

So, what about you…

How happy are you?

Did you just find out that you are depressed?

Do you have a success story?

Feel free to share in the comments. We are a community here and we support each other. 🙂

To your greatest happiness,

-Alex 🙂


Odds & Ends:

  • There is now an Instagram page for this blog’s lifestyle! If you would like to  surround yourself with happy, healthy, and wealthy aspects of your dream life then don’t hesitate to follow @lifetools_official  I promise it will be worth it! 🙂
  • If any of you would like to contact me directly there are two ways:
    • One: Leave a comment on this blog. I will see it 🙂
    • Two: Contact me via Instagram: @lifetools_official . 

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