William Liao

April 1, 2021

The condition for happiness

“The punch line of life really is that you can’t become happy, you can only be happy” — Sam Harris, Neuroscientist

You are probably familiar with what it’s like to think if only:

I would happy if only I got that job.

I would be able to relax if only I solved this particular problem.

I would be at peace if only my colleague and I saw eye-to-eye on this issue.

The logic of if only is that if only certain conditions were true, then the present would finally become good enough for you to be happy.

This if only frame of mind is a trap in the sense that it limits the possibility of happiness to only a handful of moments in your life.

Alternatively you could decide that present conditions are good enough and give yourself the permission you’ve always had to be happy right now.

This doesn’t mean you throw away your ambitions or you stop caring deeply about problems, it just means that you’re choosing to be happy instead of miserable while pursuing and solving them.

No matter where you are in life, you will always be the sole gatekeeper to your happiness:

You are happy when you choose to be.

Neuroscientist and philosopher Sam Harris said it best: “the punchline of life really is that you can’t become happy, you can only be happy.”