Life & Business

How To Be Happier

by Adam J. Kurtz

How To Be Happier
Sometimes the hardest thing in life (other than that whole “being alive” thing) is being happy. Everyone is trying to find happiness or stay happy in any way they can. We all have some idea of what it feels like, and yet, if we’re such experts on being happy why are we not just doing it constantly?

There is no BIG SECRET THAT EVERYONE EXCEPT FOR YOU KNOWS, although it can sometimes feel like that. Lately I’ve been forgetting these basic, common truths, so this post is me telling myself what I already know. Hopefully you’ll find the reminder equally useful. –Adam J. Kurtz

how to be happy happier: embrace yourself, acknowledge the sad, create & meet goals, find fresh inspiration, sunshine & rainbows, celebrate everything, feel content, forget the destination
embrace yourself: life is constantly reminding us about what we dont have, but what about all that we do have? what makes you special? what do you have to offer the world around you? what do you enjoy? find the things that you do love about yourself. theyre enough.
acknowledge the sad: hiding your darkest feelings from strangers is probably smart??? hiding them from yourself is not. recognize what is hurting you. take steps to address it. this might mean talking to somebody who understands. this might mean taking real time to process.
create and meet goals: having something positive to look forward to is important. we no longer have the structure of childhood to keep us motivated and subsequently rewarded. so set goals for yourself, big or small. then meet them. then set new ones & keep on going (forever).
find fresh inspiration: your thing can start to feel like the only thing, but theres just so much to experience, learn or invest in. this doesnt mean a career change, its just nice to remember the world has plenty to offer. travel more, read more, learn new skills & try new things.
sunshine & rainbows: its not all sunshine and rainbows, but a lot of it actually is! sunshine is literally good for you, so go soak up that vitamin D. the sun is a massive star that will outlive all of us. as for rainbows, well, youve got to weather the storm first. hang in there.
celebrate everything: the things you take for granted are likely major accomplishments for someone else. paying rent on time is an accomplishment. getting errands done is an accomplishment. even just waking up is an accomplishment worth celebrating (possibly with coffee).
feel content: nobody gets everything they want. there will always be something. new problems arise. instead of striving for perfection, strive for contentedness. find a way to be happy with what you already have and youll always have exactly what you need.
forget the destination: you dont even need this one but here it goes anyway!!!!!! happiness is not a place, it is a journey. you do not arrive at joy, but you can strive to create it in small & enjoyable ways. stop searching for the end or itll find you before you ever find it.


If you have other tips or advice on being happy, let me know in the comments. Sorry, does this sound desperate?? I just feel like I could use a little extra help this month and maybe I’m not the only one.


THINGS ARE WHAT YOU MAKE OF THEM: Life Advice For Creatives by Adam J. Kurtz
Things Are What You Make of Them: Life Advice for Creatives


Adam J. Kurtz Adam J. Kurtz is a Brooklyn-based artist and author of several books including the international-bestselling 1 Page at a Time journal. His dark (but optimistic) humor comes to life in an offbeat line of gifts and small trinkets. Follow @ADAMJK for more.


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  • Savor. When something is good — the breeze on your cheek, the sunshine on a flower, the pattern of a brick sidewalk, a smile — deliberately stop and be there and savor. If you let it roll off your back, like water off a duck, it’s gone. But if you stop, and take it in, it makes a difference. Hmm, water rolling off a duck, that’s something to savor………………

  • We try to set aside time in the morning for *remembering* these things. Pairing the reflection with a walk or a specific chore is helpful, something that allows for a moment of quiet, which has to (or should be) done before anything else gets started. How easy it is to forget…

  • I appreciate the comment about not having the structure of childhood to keep us motivated. Setting small goals as an adult is so important! Thank you for bringing this idea to light. I would also say to not take everything too seriously. Be a little silly. Laugh a lot more.

  • You’re not alone everyone in this world have those moments no matter how you are.. you make my day better after reading this.. Thank you.. Hope that it helps a bit.. =))

  • I totally agree… it ‘s sometimes difficult to accept your own happyness. A long hard mental struggle with yourself !

  • I think happiness is a by-product of other things: paying attention, being engaged by your work, taking responsibility for your choices and letting things go. I think it can be a mistake to focus on “being happy”–focus on other things and let it come to you.

  • These are all good suggestions, but i think there is too much emphasis on personal happiness. This is probably one of the first generations that has had the luxury to focus on happiness, and while that isn’t unimportant, there are other considerations to think about. Maybe it would be more productive to focus on how to be more empathetic and/or more charitable.

    • Isabel

      I think happiness comes with being more empathetic, compassionate and charitable- for me, those things go hand in hand. I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive. I think a lot of those more charitable and world-focused behaviors are more possible when you take care of yourself, get in the right frame of mind and then are able to have the energy to put out into the world.


  • As a writer, it’s my hope that something I write as basically a balm for my own soul might somehow, somewhere help someone else. Adam, you’ve done it — This piece is spot-on for me, and thank you so much for creating it. Sorry to hear May was rough for you; as a creative community, it’s so important for us to share encouraging thoughts with one another like you’ve done here rather than lamenting and commiserating.

    Thanks, Adam! Cheering you on from Nashville. Here’s to June.

  • “I actually attack the concept of happiness. The idea that—I don’t mind people being happy—but the idea that everything we do is part of the pursuit of happiness seems to me a really dangerous idea and has led to a contemporary disease in Western society, which is fear of sadness. It’s a really odd thing that we’re now seeing people saying “write down three things that made you happy today before you go to sleep” and “cheer up” and “happiness is our birthright” and so on. We’re kind of teaching our kids that happiness is the default position. It’s rubbish. Wholeness is what we ought to be striving for and part of that is sadness, disappointment, frustration, failure; all of those things which make us who we are. Happiness and victory and fulfillment are nice little things that also happen to us, but they don’t teach us much. Everyone says we grow through pain and then as soon as they experience pain they say, “Quick! Move on! Cheer up!” I’d like just for a year to have a moratorium on the word “happiness” and to replace it with the word “wholeness.” Ask yourself, “Is this contributing to my wholeness?” and if you’re having a bad day, it is.”
    —Hugh MacKay

  • I think when our goal is not happiness but being happier, it’s more achievable. Also, it gives us something on which we can focus and measure on a daily basis. Being happier is easier to quantify than happiness.Being happier is a moment-by-moment decision. It’s easier to answer the question “what can I do to make myself happier right now” than it is to answer the question “how can I achieve happiness.”

  • Totally agree with Grace. Take care of yourself so you can better take care of someone else. It’s not selfish. It’s responsible.

    Thanks for the sweet reminders Adam.

  • Thank you for this. I especially love the part about celebrating everything — it makes a huge difference. I’d also add “look ahead”. Having things planned to look forward to always makes me happier, whether it’s a weekend trip or dessert after dinner.

  • I don’t really have any tips, except letting people know that happiness could be biological to some degree. Some people are simply born with being more happy as people than others. So while there are ways to try and become more happy, people shouldn’t feel bad if it’s not really working. It’s could be biological. With that said, it’s never a bad thing to try and do your best to feel better though :)

  • “Find Fresh Inspiration” is a pretty vague goal. “Finding fresh inspiration” is pretty impossible when you’re depressed.

    • Noy B

      I’ve dealt with depression on and off in my life and I agree, it can feel pretty impossible when you’re in the depths of things. But some of the ideas that Adam shared for finding inspiration (reading a new book, traveling, etc.) aren’t so vague that you can’t use them as a general guideline when you find yourself in that place before. A good book (especially anything by Pema Chodron) has saved me from a dark place on more than one occasion.


  • One thing I have learned is that happinesss is more of an aquired skill than a chance occurrence. The more you practice making yourself happy, the easier it gets.
    Creativity (Crochet!) is my chosen path to happiness.

  • Moving your body helps. Some days curling up into the fetal position counts as movement. Tipping your head to look at something different definitely does.

  • Definitely needed to read this today. Saved this months ago to read later and glad I did. Thanks for sharing.
    As for my own tip, I try to jot down 2 good things about my day every night. It helps me shift my focus from the negative onto something positive…even if it is super tiny.