This is why you’re unhappy

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When I started hitting the clubbing scene in my early 20s, I was always amped up about the weekend. I finally had my own wolfpack, a bigger group of friends, and wanted to finally make up for the things movies told me I was supposed to be doing in high school.

So every Friday or Saturday, we’d make a plan to go out. And I always wanted things to go perfectly: grab some drinks, meet some people, hit the club, talk to some girls, and have an amazing night.

There was only one problem — my friends would always mess something up.

One of them would get way too drunk and have us babysitting him. We’d make plans to go to the club, but then they decided they want to go someplace else. They were supposed to bring more people with them, but then decided they don’t want to go out at all.

This made me FURIOUS. I waited all week for us to go out and have a “perfect night” and then, on most occasions, they would completely fuck everything up. So instead of living my life to the fullest, I’d spend my nights annoyed and disappointed.

It took me a long time to realize what the real problem was.

My own happiness and success were directly influenced by the actions of other people. I had no control. Whether my night would be good or bad relied on my friends “playing the role”. Are they going to stick to my plan? Or are they going to do something else? Are they going to keep their promises? Or change their minds at the last second?

Over time, I learned that the golden rule of happiness in life is accepting one simple fact: you cannot control other people.

You can manipulate them, sure. You can steer them in a way you want. You can hope and pray they will do what you want them to. But in the end, every person will do what they decide they will do and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Most of us have a hard time accepting this. So we say things like:

  • “I can’t believe some people still don’t wear a mask in public!”
  • “He is always late! It’s annoying that I’m always the one who is on time.”
  • “My boss is a jerk, he keeps promising things and never delivering.”

I’m sure you can think of a dozen examples when you said something similar just this week. When you put the blame on somebody else for not doing what you expected them to.

Assuming people will behave how you expect them to behave is a guaranteed way to constantly be unhappy and miserable. Seriously, it’s a fucking guarantee. There is no way you’re living like this and that you’re also not complaining all the time or criticizing the behaviors of others. I did this for a long time — hell, I still do it from time to time — and it makes me absolutely miserable. It feels like everybody else can control my level of focus of happiness without even knowing it.

You want to know how I started actually having fun when I’d go out?

I stopped relying on what my friends would or wouldn’t do. If they’re late, I’d go out by myself and meet up with them later. If they went somewhere I didn’t want to go, I’d accept it and try to have fun. If they were angry or had a bad day, I wouldn’t let it affect me and I’d still have fun.

In accepting that you can’t change or control other people, you will find more happiness than you ever thought possible.

There’s an excellent quote by the king of stoicism, Marcus Aurelius. He said that you should tell yourself every morning: “The people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous and surly. (…) But none of them can hurt me. No one can implicate me in ugliness.”

In other words, you need to accept that the people of this world are dicks. They will lie, cheat, be ungrateful, break promises, yell at you for no reason, and do stupid shit. And you will most surely meet some of these people today. But instead of letting them anger you or annoy you, accept that you cannot change them — you can only influence what you will do.

And if you want to learn how to open up and become social like I did, check out:

The Social Gladiator: Complete Guide to Building Social Skills

Stay strong,

Phil

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