“Are you always this happy?” She asked.

“I wish!” I exclaimed, laughing out loud. “I mean…thanks. I guess.” I corrected myself. I paused, trying to collect my thoughts. I was feeling like an impostor. I’m not always happy. I get down on my luck, and myself.

She went on, “Well, if you’re not happy all of the time, how happy are you?”

How happy am I? What kind of question is that? A loaded one. That’s for sure. I was mulling it over. Framing a response. Somehow words escaped my mouth.

“I’m happy 90ish percent of the time.” She was surprised. Apparently that’s high. “Wow, how do you do that?” she asked. Now it was my turn to be surprised. It seemed straightforward to me. I wanted to be happy 100 percent of the time. So I worked really hard at it.

Happiness is hard work

I think that piece of the puzzle gets overlooked. Or underestimated. Or ignored. We all want to be happy. We’re not willing to work at it. We might work at it for a little while. But we give up way too easily. We accept someone else’s definition of happiness. We settle for their standard, not our own.

Trust me. I know. I did it. At 22 years old I was in the process of switching off my ambition. I was attempting to silence my dreams. I was “happy” by all traditional measures. Time to put down roots. It was time to settle.

Just as I prepared to pack it in for good, life happened. My world came crashing down around me. I had to forget everything I thought I knew. I had to start all over again.

Risky business

Not everyone get’s to start all over again. That’s a risk I wish I hadn’t taken. Leaving my happiness up to chance. It was a bad idea.

That’s not to say that you can’t start over. You can. You can press the reset button any time you’d like. But know it gets more difficult as time goes on. The longer we chase someone else’s standard of happiness the further we get from our own. We accumulate stuff. We get comfortable. We get trapped. We have responsibilities and relationships to tend to. We’re in too deep. We can’t bail. Can’t start fresh and rebuild.

The 1 percent rule

Stop doing shit you hate”, he said. Or something like that.

The “he” I am referring to is Gary Vaynerchuk. He’s an entrepreneur and investor. Above all else, he’s a hustler (in the best sense of the word).

That’s a line from one of his talks. I watched it a few years ago. I’ve watched it, and others, a few hundred times since. I took it to heart when he said this —

I became one percent unhappy…and that’s when I changed my life. You have to care about everything and it starts with yourself. Look yourself in the mirror and ask, what do I want to do everyday for the rest of my life. Do that. Whatever you need to do, do it.

Stop crying and start hustling!

What is happiness?

Happiness is a subjective thing. Scientists can’t even explain how to be happy. They think that it has something to do with genetics and environmental factors (Gee thanks!). Their equation includes well being, a sense of belonging and purpose, financial security, and positive social interactions. Still, no one knows for sure.

The bad thing about happiness is there’s no right way to be happy.

The good thing about happiness is there’s no right way to be happy.

That’s the best news ever! It means you can define it, and go about achieving happiness any way you’d like. It’s up to you. If something makes you happy, it’s the right answer. So all you have to do is find YOUR answer. Ask the hard questions. Figure out what you want. Commit to making it happen.

Now it’s your turn. How happy are you, really? And a better question – what are you going to do about it?