The more I think about it, the more I realize that in order to be happy, you just need to understand what fills you up. And structure your life in such a way that you do more of what fills you up and do close to nothing of what takes away from you.
That’s what happiness is: the state of having your cup full.
You can start by adding things that fill you up. Sooner or later, they will naturally take place of things that don’t. (After all, you have so many hours in a day.) That’s the highway to a good life.
Here are ten things that fill me up:
1. Writing. Not anything specific, more just the act of typing words and seeing them appear on the screen. It’s like meditation but better.
2. Following my curiosity – having so-called “Google sessions” when I search for random stuff and see where it takes me. What are stars made of? What do whales eat? Who created the pencil? You never know where your curiosity will lead you.
3. Spending quality time with my family. Especially my wife.
4. Spending time in nature: parks, water, with animals, etc.
5. Traveling. Ideally: without a plan or agenda. Just coming to the airport and asking yourself, “Alright, where can I go in the nearest hour?”
6. Cooking. And not just cooking, but going shopping first, picking and choosing groceries, unpacking them at home, and making something you’d very much like to eat.
7. Reading good fiction. Preferably, in English.
8. Listening to my favorite music. Even if it’s something weird and something only I like.
9. Being creative. Playing music. Writing stories. Writing poems. Coming up with new ideas. Planning. Strategizing. Asking myself, “What if…” and watching where it takes me.
10. Taking care of myself physically and aesthetically. Exercising, walking, swimming, running, buying new clothes, putting cream on my face, clipping my nails, eating good food.
Filling yourself up is nothing but taking care of yourself and your inner child. It’s being a good parent to yourself. Nobody – with rare exceptions – had a perfect childhood but we can be the sort of parents to ourselves that we never had.
You can do everything – even the stuff you don’t enjoy but must do – when you’re filled up. It’s like having a superpower.
You can do nothing – and everything turns to shit – when you’re empty inside. Depression is a perpetual state of having your cup empty.
When you’re empty, you resort to external stimulants: sex, drugs, alcohol. Your body and mind need emotional fuel. And if you don’t provide the high-quality fuel, you’ll naturally start looking for it elsewhere, in the “bad areas” of life…
Depression is nothing but self-neglect. You can do it for a while, pushing and disciplining yourself as if you were training for the Olympics, but it always comes with a price.
If you’re feeling down, stressed, sad, ask yourself whether you’ve been doing enough of the things that fill you up.
Take care of yourself. Love yourself. Fill your cup. Treat it like a job. Like a duty.
The most important one, indeed.