Vinod Kurup

Hospitalist/programmer in search of the meaning of life

Mar 14, 2024 - 2 minute read - Comments - happiness

The key to happiness is to do things that don't make you happy

I’m not sure that title is an exact quote, but I thought I heard Arthur Brooks say something like that as he was interviewed on a Peter Attia podcast. At least that’s what I took from whatever he said. His point was that the common advice to “follow your bliss” is misguided. When faced with choices, you shouldn’t choose the easy thing, you should choose the hard thing. I’m not sure that any of this is revolutionary, but that title sure is kinda surprising to me, and I think it makes a lot of sense.

What would have made me happy this evening? Certainly way low on that list is writing this blog post. As you can tell if you follow my blogging (ha!), I clearly don’t like to write in public. The easy thing, the thing that my brain was telling me to do because it promised me happiness, was to sit down and scroll through my phone, or pick up my Kindle and read a novel, or basically do anything that was not me trying to create something. The hard thing, the thing I knew would be painful, was to scribble down this post because I know it will never be as good as the post that is in my brain. Taking this idea in my brain, which is perfect because nobody else can see it, and trying to put it on the page here… well that is scary and painful and I know people will wonder why I’d even think this was worth thinking, let alone sharing with the world. But in the long run, doing this activity of taking ideas in my brain, and working with them on the page, especially in public is clearly going to be better for me than leaving them in my brain. It will lead to me being a happier person.

Doing the thing that won’t make me happy is the key to happiness.

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