Jim Westergren
About me, my projects, SEO, Web Development and Personal Development since 2005
"If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves." - Thomas A. Edison

My Recommendations for a Happy Life

An essay by Jim Westergren
My personal thoughts on the matter and what has worked for me.
Not a scientific article

This essay is advice for myself (follow this Jim!) but also for others to benefit.

Most of my advice is so obvious it almost sounds stupid but don't let that fool you - most often the most simple and obvious advice can have a profound positive effect on one's life.

There is a difference between pleasure (short term temporary feeling) and happiness (long term stable feeling).

Examples of pleasure (negative if done in excess):

Examples of happiness:

Stop unhappiness

4 simple words, “Don’t do bad things”, but with a great meaning and a big game changer. Probably the most important sentence in this essay.

If somebody tells you they don’t like that you do or don’t do a certain thing, then that is probably a bad thing. Or if you don’t feel good about doing something, then that is also a sign. Everybody does some bad things, some more frequently than others. This can include lying, looking at porn, coming late, drinking alcohol, not keeping your word, wasting your time, staying up late, not doing the dishes and so forth. Easy to say but difficult to do well. Resist the urges of your brain - inside you know what is right and wrong, good and bad. Do the right things. Don’t listen to the justifications of your mind. Resist the urges.

Remove negativity from your life

Take care of your body

Very important advice here:

Don’t do anything excessively

Stop wasting your time (life)

Average phone screen time for American teens is now 6-8 hours PER DAY (source), that is just insane.

Personally I spend more than 2 hours per week reading Hacker News and have done so for at least 10 years so I should probably decrease that but I have learned a huge amount of things from there as well so I am not sure if I regret it.

Many people will tell you that they don’t have time ..., it is almost a joke. What they mean is either that they are not able to manage their time properly, they are not interested or some other real reason.

I have 3 kids, a dog, a day job half time, 2 startup companies and 4 games that I am regularly working on and yes I actually have extra time, because I try to not waste my time. Not easy, but doable.

Instead of TV try to suggest to your family to sit down together and play an amazing modern board game instead? These are my favorites - I can highly recommend this.

There were certain years when I was young when I had very limited time but I still had time to write interesting sci-fi short stories. That sounded underwhelming but let me provide some more details: I worked around 100 hours per week in a religious organization and had access to between 2 to 3 hours of free time per week. During the week I mentally created my short story in my mind and when I finally had time, I sat down and typed up the whole short story in one go in around one hour. Years later, after I left the organization I published my writings on the internet and one of the stories was discovered and then published in a textbook for the benefit of Indian students learning English, still read by many students today. I was 21 when I wrote it. Interesting anecdote and my message with it is that yes you can have time to do something even if you feel you don’t have time.

Remove things that hijacks your mind

Focus is important. Distractions are bad.

Do constructive things that makes you feel happy

Remember: nothing in excess.

At this time tomorrow you could do something amazing. Drink tea in Venice, Italy? Why not.

Or why not put on some great music and dance with your children in your living room?

Meet people, get friends

It can be very fulfilling to be with friends and getting in contact with new people. Especially like minded people with the same interest as you have.

Don’t be afraid to meet new people or to contact people.

Do good things

Assume a right frame of mind

Your life goals

Which are your goals this year? The next 5 years? The next 10 years?

Work on your life goals

Control the information you are getting

There is unlimited information on the internet, social media, television etc. Accept right now that you cannot catch up with it, it is endless and will never stop.

Most of this information is useless to you, it is just junk food for the mind and is bad for your mental focus. Some of the information might even be destructive (putting you in a bad mood for example). 

But some of it is very important and vital for you, to help you achieve your goals. There are for example great books written about mastering almost any topic, great tutorials on youtube, pages with good guides, people that you can contact on social media and so forth.

Don’t confuse interesting information and useful information, they are not the same. If I open Hacker News, Reddit or Twitter I immediately see a massive amount of new very interesting information in areas I am interested in but only a fraction of it is actually really useful to me.

Reduce the amount of junk information you are processing to useful information instead. It will have a great impact on your mind and mental power.

Appreciate what you have

Be grateful for the good things that you have in life. Don't take them for granted. Take a moment to think about all the good things you have.

Spending your time on the right things

Your time is limited and maybe you also like me have a list of amazing projects and opportunities you want to do right now. So you have to choose, and it is really difficult.

For many years I used to think that what is important is doing things very well to a very good result. I no longer think like that, because it is wrong.

What is much more important is doing the right thing. In other words it is actually better doing something mediocre but it is the right thing to do than doing something really good but it is the wrong thing to do. This idea was a game changer for me and something I apply to new projects I do. For example I release code or new projects more early and see what people like or have interest in. I put my things early on Reddit and ask for feedback and should not be afraid if they dislike it.

I of course keep improving the projects I build but getting something done is much more valuable than spending years on something that never gets done.

Related:

Discipline is more important than motivation

Super interesting and valuable. Read this and this.

Help others

My latest project

If you liked my writing, you should take a look at my latest project. The free browser game Advinsula, The Adventure Island MMO RPG.

Appendix

I did not use ChatGPT when writing my essay but I now asked GPT-4 if there was any things missed to mention in this essay and I got the reply below:

And then I asked GPT-4: "What do you think is the 5 most common errors humans do if they want to live a happy life?"

While it's challenging to pinpoint just five common errors, the following mistakes are often made by people seeking happiness:

  1. Chasing material possessions: Many people mistakenly believe that acquiring more material things will lead to happiness. However, research has shown that experiences, relationships, and personal growth contribute more significantly to long-term happiness than material possessions.

  2. Neglecting self-care: In the pursuit of happiness, people often overlook the importance of taking care of their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Ignoring self-care can lead to burnout, stress, and decreased overall happiness.

  3. Comparing oneself to others: The habit of comparing oneself to others can lead to feelings of inadequacy and dissatisfaction. Focusing on personal growth and appreciating one's unique qualities and achievements is a healthier approach to cultivating happiness.

  4. Failing to cultivate meaningful relationships: Humans are social creatures, and strong, supportive relationships are crucial for happiness. People sometimes prioritize work, material success, or other pursuits over nurturing and maintaining meaningful connections with others.

  5. Overlooking the power of gratitude: Practicing gratitude regularly helps people appreciate what they have and cultivate a positive mindset. Failing to recognize and appreciate the good aspects of life can prevent individuals from fully experiencing happiness.

 

18 Mar 2023

About the Author Jim Westergren Jim Westergren is a Swedish web entrepreneur currently living in Spain. He is happily married and has three lovely children. Some of his interests are web development, SEO and writing.
He is the Founder of DomainStats and N.nu. Read his .