3 Simple and Surefire Ways to Be Happier (with Rebuttals to All Your Silly Objections)

If you don’t want to be happier, go ahead and stop reading. I don’t want to waste your time.

If you do want to be happier . . . well, I still don’t want to waste your time. So here they are—my three simple ways to be happier:

  1. Get Off Social Media
  2. Stop Watching the News
  3. Read this Article

Pretty simple, right? But, wait. What’s this? You have objections? Okay, then! Let’s talk about all those silly excuses that cause you to resist happiness.

1. Get Off Social Media

As an older millennial (though I identify as a Gen-Xer), I know the risks of disparaging social media. My pronouncement of “Get off the Instagram!” will sound more like an irrelevant old curmudgeon’s cry of “Get off my lawn!” But I don’t care. Get off the Instagram! And . . . you know what? Stay off my lawn!

If you want to change the world, get off your phone, go outside, and change the world!

For years we’ve known there is an association between social media and depression. But there was always that nagging little voice of dissension saying, “Correlation doesn’t mean causation!” Well, sometimes it does. And this is one of those times. A recent study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology doesn’t just reaffirm the link between the two. It definitely shows that people are actually happier when they are not using social media.

With that said, let’s hear those excuses.

Silly Objection #1: But it’s how I keep up with old friends . . .

One of my biggest issues with social media is what it has done to the word friend. When I was using Facebook many moons ago, I had a “Friends List,” at its peak, of about 670 people. What a farce! I didn’t have 670 friends—not even close!

This word has been so watered down by social media, I posit we need a new word for a real friend. A person that will help you at the drop of a hat, at two o’clock in the morning no questions asked. How about . . . uberfreund?

You aren’t getting on social media to keep up with old friends. At best, you’re clinging to nostalgia and the glory days (I can empathize with this, but life moves on—you should move on with it). At worst, you want to peek in on former acquaintances to see how much weight they’ve gained since college.

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When I was growing up, before cell phones, it was easy to know who your real friends were. They were the people whose home phone numbers you had memorized. Today, I don’t know what it would be. But if you want to keep up with these people, I suggest you stop showing your friendship by clicking a thumbs-up icon and pick up the phone instead!

Silly Objection #2: But I hardly ever get on there anyway . . .

Good. If you rarely use it, then it should be pretty easy to stop completely. (Also, you probably use it more than you think!)

Silly Objection #3: But I won’t be able to debate politics . . .

I can vividly remember the post that did it. The post that changed my mind. It was eloquently written and deeply profound. It went against everything I believed in but was expressed with so much passion and clarity that I had to take a personal day off work to reflect upon all its meaning and nuance—to reflect upon my own life and decisions. That Facebook post was a mirror, and I did not like what I saw. It changed my life.

Oh . . . wait. No, it didn’t. This has never happened once in the history of ever.

If you want to change the world, get off your phone, go outside, and change the world!

Silly Objection #4: But it’s a great way to share photos of my kids with my family . . .

First of all, how big is your family that a simple email won’t get this done?

Second of all, from my experience, when it comes to photos on social media, people fall into one of two camps:

  1. People who post photos to show the world how amazing their life is.
  2. People who look at photos to compare their own lives to the fake lives presented on social media by the people in the first camp.

Neither camp is all that great. My advice: get off the hamster wheel of jealousy—there are better ways to burn calories.

Silly Objection #5: But memes and gifs and cat videos and stuff . . .

I get it. There’s a lot of funny, inspiring, amazing content shared on social media. Maybe you even found this very article linked in your Facebook feed. If you weren’t using social media, you wouldn’t be reading this now.

I am oddly okay with this. If the price of you being happier my wit and wisdom going unread, I will gladly pay for it. If my wit and wisdom not being read is the price of you being happier, I will gladly pay it. Maybe you’ve visited this site before, maybe this is your first time . . . but take a look around. Notice anything different about this site compared to ones like it? No ads. You aren’t an impression here. You aren’t a view nor a click. You are a human being. You deserve to be happy. And that’s all I really want for you.

Just because you like something, doesn’t mean it doesn’t make you miserable. Oddly enough, the things we like most are often the things that bring us the most pain.

Plus, you can bookmark this site and come back whenever you want, without going through the middle man. Or sign up at the bottom of the page to receive more articles via email. We’d love to have you!

2. Stop Watching the News

News platforms are desperate for your attention. So desperate, in fact, they will do anything for it. Anything! Even convert three feet of molehills into an entire mountain range—twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

But once again, studies are discovering that watching the news regularly can have a negative impact on your mental health. People who see negative images or stories regularly (that is to say, anyone who watches cable news regularly) experience higher levels of stress, anxiety, and mood swings.

Why put yourself through that?

Silly Objection #1: But I need to know what’s going on in the world . . .

Why?

How does knowing what terrible thing happened in New York make you a happier person in New Mexico? They didn’t need to know these things one hundred years ago. Or five hundred years ago.

Now get this. The brain is actually wired to want to hear bad news. We seek out these perceived dangers because—as far as our brains are concerned—we need to know where danger is coming from in order to survive. It wants to detect threats, not ignore them. This is why it’s so tempting to watch the news. This is also why—along with a dash of schadenfreude—we like to seek out juicy, horrifying gossip.

You don’t need that kind of negativity! Plus, there’s nothing you’ll hear in the news that you can’t find in War and Peace or the Bible or The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or Shakespeare or The Great Gatsby.

Silly Objection #2: But I really, really like it . . .

Gonna be honest. You might have me on this one. If you can say you genuinely enjoy watching the news and it doesn’t cause stress or anxiety, then go for it.

However, I will say this: “But I really, really like it . . .” is the same excuse every addict in the history of the world has and will use. Just because you like something, doesn’t mean it doesn’t make you miserable. In fact, oddly enough, the things we like most are often the things that bring us the most pain. Don’t ask me. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Silly Objection #3: But I won’t be able to debate politics . . .

This again?! Did everyone take a debate course while I was in my second gym class senior year? Sheesh.

Look. I love a good debate. I will play devil’s advocate in any situation. In fact, in the Herbert Family, we can argue for hours before we realize we are all in agreement and arguing the same point. We even have a family motto: “He who is loudest is rightest!”

But what I don’t like about political debates is that 1) they are very shallow, and people don’t change their minds (and things get very personal, very quickly), and 2) we tend to condense beautiful, complex, lovely people into two camps (like I did just a few points ago in the social media section)—in this case, Left or Right.

Try having a real conversation with someone. Get to know them beyond Blue or Red. The news won’t tell you that your neighbor is a veteran who did two tours in Iraq, loves reading Harry Potter, breeds Guinea pigs, and is afraid of spiders. But a real conversation will.

Silly Objection #4: But I really only read or listen to the news . . .

Are we splitting hairs here? Fine. Instead of watching the news, just pretend I originally said consuming the news. Watching, listening to, reading, imbibing through osmosis, download it straight into your brain like in The Matrix, whatever!

Silly Objection #5: But, but, but . . .

Well, now you’re just embarrassing yourself.

3. Read this Article

Hey! You already did this one. Neat.

Be honest. You feel a little happier, don’t you?

Silly Objection #1: But I didn’t want to read this article . . .

Too late!

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