How To Be Happy: Why Health Is Essential In The Pursuit Of Happiness

Blog Post Summary:

Many people are striving towards accumulating ever more possessions - hoping that material wealth will make them happy. These people also think that success brings happiness.

Reality shows that the relationship between happiness and income works the other way around:

Happiness makes you successful. The question then becomes: "how to be happy?"

Health plays a major role in realizing that happiness. Improving your health will thus make you both happier and more successful.

This blog post claims that a signaling substance in your brain - called "dopamine" - plays an essential causal role in health, success, social relationships, and happiness. Dopamine allows you to "have it all". 

If you have high dopamine levels in your body, you'll experience improved critical thinking, more well-being, better health, an improved ability to generate income, and superior social functioning.

Without dopamine, it becomes progressively harder to maintain your health, income, and happiness.

High dopamine levels go hand in hand with optimal health. An absence of health, inversely, directly makes you poorer and more unhappy.

The key strategy is to develop a sustainable lifestyle focus on maintaining your dopamine levels while simultaneously keeping yourself happy. A focus on dopamine means moving away from accumulating more income and possessions--an increased income becomes a mere but fortunate side-effect. 

Focusing your attention on the small thing in life - such as sunshine or friendships - allows you to experience happiness on a daily basis.

These activities also improve your dopamine levels. Because small moments of happiness occur frequently, you can re-program through these moments.

To re-program your brain towards happiness, be consciously present for 10-20 seconds when you feel good. Envision that positive experience - such as a meeting with friends - becoming a permanent part of you. Over time, you will become permanently happier.

Finding happiness in the activities that make you healthy is the most sustainable way of pursuing happiness.

In the end, activities that raise your dopamine levels become sufficient for maintaining happiness. Happiness, dopamine, and health, mutually begin to support each other - which result in success.

Finally, not trying to own too many possessions - called "minimalism" - allow you to give your life more meaning, pursue more experiences (instead of collecting possessions), and build better friendships.

Read the entire blog post below to see how you can specifically increase your happiness levels.

By the way, I've also created an infographic PDF that gives you new insight into how dopamine, health and happiness relate:




How To Be Happy: Why Health Makes You Happier, And Happiness Makes You Successful - Mastering the Pursuit Of Happiness.


Table Of Contents



Modern Society's Misunderstanding Of Happiness

You're spending all day in the office. You're working extremely hard to afford a new car or a bigger house. Your friends and family even compliment you on your new furniture and the latest gadgets you've bought.

Yet, something is missing.

You might be a multi-millionaire who's getting up every morning at 5 AM to make more money. Or you might be just as poor as me, and thinking that once's you're a millionaire you'll be happy (not that I think that!)

Let me be clear: there's nothing wrong with money. I'm a big fan of financial independence and having enough money to get by.

However, you should never equate the pursuit of money with achieving happiness.

That equation is a big mistake. 

After a certain level of income, however, money won't make you happier.[3] The same is true for possessions.

More often than not, adding possessions will not move you closer to happiness. The happy feeling after buying a new car only lasts a few weeks at most.

And yet, the behavior of people in modern societies directly tells us that they believe that income and possessions equate happiness.


If people did not think possessions would improve their happiness, they would not continue that behavior...

Let's look at the most expensive possession that most people have: their house.

In 2013, the average US house was 1.000 feet larger than in 1973.[1] During the same period, Americans doubled their individual living space. 

huge mansion exemplifying materialism
A big house: dream or nightmare
that you have yet to wake up from?


Their overall happiness levels, on the contrary, barely budged over that same 1973-2013 period.[216; 253]

But the problem of happiness runs even deeper. Most people are also addicted to the wrong things in modern society.

What's the most often used drug in our society? Cigarettes? Alcohol? Coffee?

Perhaps "television" is that drug. As it turns out, television does not add to your happiness at all.

During the Cold War, the famous mathematician Paul Erdős joked that:

"Television is something the Russians invented to destroy American education."[6]

There's an essence of truth to that statement. Many good arguments can be made against watching television. 

Television:[4; 215]

  • makes you more prone to accept messages uncritically. In other words, you're more likely to succumb to (arguments of) authority. Television also lowers your critical thinking skills.
  • enslaves you as a consumer for mass-marketed good - many goods you do not need. Television is one of the main avenues of mass-marketed goods.
  • is addictive, and drug-like. Don't believe me? In 2010, the average American watched 4,5 hours of television each day. That's more than a third of a 40-hour workweek of time.
  • opens your mind up to oversimplified arguments. Many complex issues cannot be explicated in a one-hour documentary, let alone a two-minute news message. Do you really want to understand the Israel-Palestine conflict, or American history? Sell your television, and start reading books on these subjects.
  • makes you fat and ruins your sleep. Blue and green light that is emitted by television screens increases your blood sugar levels.[9] The light from your television also lowers a hormone called "melatonin". You need melatonin to sleep quickly, for deep sleep, and to stay asleep.

Think about it. How many people will wish on their deathbed that they would have watched more television? Almost none, I bet. And yet, many people are wasting lots of time on their TV.

Since a decade, social media use has also exploded.

Social media are another common addiction. We're now spending 2 hours each day on social media.[7] That figure is probably higher for developed countries, as that 2-hour number was calculated on a worldwide basis.

And yet, not spending time on social media can improve happiness. Quitting Facebook, for example, leads to an increase in well-being.[228] The more you use Facebook, the lower your happiness level becomes.[229] 

Social media are especially damaging if you frequently compare yourself to other people.[211; 213]

And then there are drugs...

Take the recent "opioid epidemic". The opioid epidemic is a health crisis, wherein many people became addicted to prescription painkillers and heroin.[38] These drugs are used for "recreational" purposes.

That epidemic is mainly problematic in developed countries.

In the US alone, opioids kill 20 times as many people as died on 9/11 every year. The number of families and bystanders who are hurt because of addiction, is far greater.

Most addicts don't die because of the drug--but still have their lives, and those of their loved ones ruined.

(Note: just to be clear, I'm not against all drugs in all circumstances. Let me give some examples: MDMA can be a great treatment for psychological traumas, ayahuasca can be used for psychiatric disorders and addictions, and mushrooms (psilocybin) can be beneficial for improving your overall life.[39; 40; 41; 42; 43] The issue with drugs is that your happiness should not depend on them. I  consider drugs useful tool in a toolbox, instead of a necessary precondition for happiness.) 

Of course, addiction is not just an opioid issue. Many people in developed societies are addicted to alcohol, tobacco, coffee, cannabis, cocaine, gambling, pain, sex, food, pornography, working, exercise, and shopping. I probably forgot a few addictions as well.

Why are so many people addicted? 

Again: something must be missing. 

What's a clue to the solution?

All these previous activities are replacing our time outdoors. We're moving further and further away from nature.

On weekdays, we're spending 1 hour each day outdoors. During weekends, that number is increased to almost 2 hours.[8]

Before civilization, however, humans spent all their daytime outside. 

Why does that matter?

Well, from an evolutionary perspective we're still (mostly) the same being we were back when we evolved in Africa. The difference between today's humans and human beings 250.000 years ago is pretty small.

We're not meant to spend all day indoors - we're not meant be separated from the sun.

Sadly enough, our environment is increasingly becoming unnatural. First, civilization slowly moved us indoors. in the 19th century, electric artificial light was added, which allowed us to stay indoors 24-7. And right now, modern technology is changing our environment even more radically - leading to new health problems.

Our natural environment in Africa made us feel great. Now we have addictions to make up for the loss of that great feeling.

We're having more material possessions than ever before, and yet, we're not becoming happier. So what can you do to become happier?

It turns out that you don't need a big house, new car, smartphone, gadget, or drugs to be happy. 

You don't to own much to feel happy.

The first step in my argument is to look at how health and happiness intrinsically intertwined.

We'll also look at how health and happiness lead to success, not the other way around. 

Health and happiness thus come first, and success (usually) comes second. Many people thus misinterpret the answer to the question "how to be happy".



Dopamine Makes You Happy And Successful 

In this section, we'll explore "dopamine". Dopamine is a signaling substance in your brain. 

Dopamine helps the cells in your nervous system communicate. Your brain is part of that nervous system. Through your nervous system, dopamine influences your actions.

Let's look at what dopamine does in your body:

On the one hand, dopamine makes you feel happy.[214] But on the other hand, dopamine also plays an essential role in making you successful.

Different people have different dopamine levels. 

Although I'm oversimplifying here, I'll distinguish between "low" and "high" dopamine levels in this blog post:

  • If you have low dopamine levels, your brain does not have much dopamine available, or cannot use that dopamine effectively.
  • If you have high dopamine levels, you have more dopamine available and you're using that dopamine better in your brain. 

Lower dopamine levels lead to lower happiness, and higher dopamine levels lead to higher happiness.[214]

(Note: before you think I'm contradicting myself here, I want to point out that success and income are two different things. Success can give your life meaning - meaning is added later as a key ingredient of a fulfilling life. When dopamine makes you more successful, it will increase your income levels while also making you feel happy. 

Nevertheless, never use your high dopamine levels to just pursue income--use dopamine to pursue projects of meaning where income is not the sole incentive. High dopamine levels will also make you happy before you are successful. Happiness thus precedes success.) 


So let's look at the link between dopamine and success. Dopamine:

  • intrinsically motivates you and makes you feel rewarded after (successfully) taking certain actions.[10; 11; 50
  • aids in analyzing the benefits and costs any action you take.[72; 73; 197] Phrased differently, dopamine helps you figure out which action will give you the biggest reward for the lowest energy exertion on your part.
  • helps you avoid stress, pain, social irritations, agitation, and loss of self-control.[13; 14; 15; 16;17] Without dopamine, you'll turn into both a victim and an asshole.
  • makes you optimistic and confident.[23; 45Confidence increases both your income and social relationships.[254; 255]
  • causes you to act as if you're placed higher on the social ladder.[61; 62; 63] Low dopamine levels, on the contrary, make you more anxious.[64; 65; 66
  • improves your thinking ability, makes you more spontaneous, and less risk-averse.[18; 19; 20; 63] Dopamine makes you more willing to exert effort.[260; 261]
  • gives you more cognitive flexibility.[21; 22217]
  • improves your memory, the capability to think outside the box, and learning ability.[49; 50; 76; 77; 78; 79; 80; 81; 82; 83; 84]
  • makes you more self-aware and increases your ability for controlling impulses.[85; 86; 87; 88] 

High dopamine levels become a self-fulfilling prophecy over time:

victorious person celebrating

Low dopamine levels, on the contrary, make you more prone to engage in self-destructive behavior:

  • you'll seek dangerous novelties to compensate for your low-dopamine levels.[68; 69; 70; 71Examples are gambling, trying new drugs, or unsafe sex.[74; 250]
  • you're also more likely to exhibit addictive behavior, such as foods, sex, porn, and other imaginable vices.[12] 
  • you'll no longer adequately assess the risks and rewards of different actions. Remember that dopamine is fundamentally concerned with risks and rewards. You'll be more irrational in your life's planning.
  • Gives you higher chances for getting social phobias and depression.[249; 268]
  • More prone to be obese.[270]
  • Sexual dysfunction in males.[271; 272]

With low dopamine levels, you'll also have difficulty focusing, experience fatigue, lack of motivation, procrastination, and poorer memory. Your brain nevertheless always strives to keep your dopamine levels high.

In other words, if you have low dopamine levels, your brain will do anything to feel good.[15; 270Drugs, porn, or gambling become coping mechanisms for your brain to feel great.

It turns out, however, that there are good and bad methods to increase your dopamine levels.

Of course, drugs and alcohol can give you very high dopamine levels. But using these substances cannot keep your dopamine levels high long-term. In other words, drugs are not a sustainable way to increase your dopamine levels. 

You'll thus want to create high dopamine levels without resorting to long-term destructive behavior.

(Note: in reality, of course, our happiness, action, addiction, feelings are not exclusively regulated by dopamine. Many other neurotransmitters and hormones, such as GABA, serotonin, endorphins, cortisol, testosterone, acetylcholine, oxytocin, and endorphins, play an essential role too. It can nevertheless be argued that dopamine is the culmination of this biochemical process. In other words, dopamine is the "pot of gold" that lies at the end of the process of becoming optimally healthy.[11]

Secondly, dopamine also plays a minor role outside the nervous system. This role has not been accentuated in this article.[256; 257; 258; 259])


Why do some behaviors - such as binging on junkfood or drug use - not improve your dopamine levels permanently? These destructive activities consume your dopamine without leading to the formation of new dopamine.[24]

You need health to retain high dopamine levels and junk food and drugs fail in that regard.

If behave destructively long enough, your entire dopamine reward system breaks down. People who have broken reward systems will no longer find any pleasure in activities that would otherwise make them happy.[26

Regular walks or a healthy meals, for example, will no longer give you pleasure.

an analogy between sunlight exposure and dopamine
Bird: "you humans actually drink alcohol
and do drugs to feel good!?"


There can be instances where your dopamine levels get too high.


Let's say I use cocaine. In that instance my dopamine levels shoot through the roof, altering my behavior. The resulting excessively-high dopamine levels may make me more aggressive and impulsive.[89; 90]

Nevertheless, such unsustainable and unnaturally high dopamine levels can only be accomplished through abuse.

(Note: It's not very probable that high dopamine levels are problematic in themselves. Instead, unnaturally acquired extremely high dopamine levels are the problem. An unnatural stimulation of dopamine levels through cocaine use, for example, do not allow the increase of many other brain chemicals other than dopamine. The result is an imbalance.

Another oversimplification in this section are the different ways in which dopamine can influence action, such as dopamine receptor availability, and dopamine levels in different brain regions. I've not included these nuances to keep the article readable.)


Bottom line: you'll want to keep your dopamine levels naturally high.

That way, you can actually reap all of dopamine's benefits without side-effects. Let's, therefore, explore methods to keep your dopamine levels naturally high. 


How To Be Happy: Pursuing Health Is Pursuing Dopamine

Your dopamine levels are partially genetically determined.[25]


That means you can take certain actions that maximize the dopamine levels.

Fortunately, the actions you must take to keep your dopamine levels high, are the same actions you must take to remain healthy. Dopamine is a big clue to the question "how to be happy". 

Let's look at why I make that claim.

First, there's a strong connection between your 24-hour day and night rhythm and your dopamine levels.

Your body has an internal 24-hour clock that keeps track of which biological processes should be activated and deactivated. Phrased differently, that rhythm tells your body when certain hormones should be mobilized to keep you awake, and when it's time for your body to wind down for the night.

You can view that 24-hour rhythm below:

why the circadian rhythm is foundational to happiness

Don't worry if you don't fully understand everything on that picture. What's important to remember is that your body has a preferred 24-hour rhythm, under which you remain optimally healthy.

Having a good rhythm improves your dopamine levels and vice versa.[28] 

In other words, having a stable 24-hour rhythm will give you higher dopamine levels. And having higher dopamine levels will keep your rhythm more stable.

Disruptions of your 24-hour day and sleep cycle are related to all kinds of different diseases:[31; 32; 33; 34; 35; 36]

  • Diabetes and obesity
  • Gut function
  • Immune problems and allergies
  • Organ problems
  • Heart disease
  • Cancer

You thus have to follow your body's 24-hour clock to stay closer to optimal health.

If you're up at 3 AM during the weekends, or working shifts, you'll end up with poorer dopamine levels and worse health.

To keep your 24-hour rhythm healthy, make sure you're not exposed to bright light at night.

Modern electronic devices all emit bright light, specifically blue and green light. Smartphones, televisions, computer screens, and artificial light, are examples of such devices.

Blue and green light tell your brain that it's daytime, which ruins your sleep quality. Why? When blue and green light enter your eyes, your 24-hour rhythm thinks it's time to stay awake.

You consequently need to wear blue blocker glasses after sunset to prevent blue and green light from disrupting your 24-hour rhythm. 

The worse your 24-hour day and night cycle becomes, the poorer your dopamine levels get.[46; 49]

And remember: the poorer your dopamine levels become, the less happy and successful you will be in life.

Let's now consider some other strategies to keep your dopamine levels high.

Additionally, sunlight improves your dopamine levels.

sunlight builds dopamine

Are you spending 8 hours or more in an office each day, and even working overtime on Saturdays? 

I've got a message for you: even if you make all the money in the world by working from 9-5, (or 5-9), that job is no good if you never see the sun. 

Sunlight directly increases your dopamine levels.[26] To be more precise: when your eyes get exposed to the ultraviolet light of the sun, dopamine is created in your eyes and brain.

Without sunlight, your dopamine levels will never be as high as they can be. Sunlight exposure improves your 24-hour rhythm as well, further increasing your dopamine levels.

If you want more information about sunlight, read the sunlight exposure guide I've written in the past. 

Rule: Don't let your job make it impossible to get sunlight exposure.

If you can change anything about your job, make sunlight exposure be that first change.

Go outside during every break you have.

Don't worry if you work an hour less to get some sunlight during the daytime. Sunlight will increase your income over time, which is the goal of working in the first place. Why? Sunlight creates dopamine, which helps your cognition and social abilities.

You should see sunlight exposure as "charging your battery". Without charging your battery, you can never even work optimally. Sunlight adds energy to your body, which helps you perform better.

Without charging your battery, your performance breaks down over time. But there's another problem with avoiding the sun:

If you avoid the sun completely, your body will compensate for your low dopamine levels.

Alcohol during the evenings, sex addictions, or gambling will be natural consequences. Remember: your body will do anything to keep your dopamine levels high, even though these vices make it harder to keep your dopamine levels elevated long-term. 

Alcohol or gambling are a great quick fixes for your body to temporary feel good

Next, there's meditation. Meditation also gives you free dopamine.

Well, meditation is not fully free - taking classes does take an initial investment. After you've learned to meditate, you can nevertheless use meditation anytime to increase your dopamine levels.[220; 221]

Don't want to learn to meditate? Take a walk on the beach, or through the forest.[251; 262] Both activities bring dopamine and happiness. 

Let's look at other actions you can take to increase your dopamine levels:

  • Take calculated risks.[54; 55]  Taking calculated risks that optimize your long-term rewards, and that turn out successful is a sign of proper dopamine functioning. Taking risks that give you poor long-term rewards, however, is a sign of dopamine dysfunction. Through dopamine, success will get you into a virtuous cycle. In that virtuous cycle, higher dopamine levels will let you take new calculated risks, which further boosts your dopamine levels.
  • Lose weight. If you're overweight, your dopamine levels will be lower.[51; 52; 53]
  • Listen to pleasurable music.[56; 57; 58; 59; 60] Music also improves your focus and motivation.
  • Drink coffee.[226; 227] Coffee is especially recommended in the early morning because it stays in your system for a very long time. Human perception generally assumes that the effects of coffee only last a few hours--however, coffee affects your day and night rhythm for up to 15 hours.
  • Have a purpose in your life, and achieve your goals. Without purpose, your dopamine levels will be lower. If your life's purpose or meaning does not increase your dopamine levels, your body will find other ways to raise your dopamine levels.[91; 92; 93]
  • Cold exposure. I've previously written a long guide about cold exposure. You can include cold showers, swim in a lake, or just simple face dunks in cold water into your routine. Watch out not to overdo the cold exposure at first - overexposure can lead to stress.[94; 95]
  • Sex.[97; 98] Very simple: have sex. Don't make sex the primary pursuit of your life though.
  • Fasting, especially if you fast for short periods of time.[223; 224] One, or a few days of fasting are recommended. Fasting very long does not seem to improve your dopamine levels.[225] 
  • Exercise--but only if you're not chronically stressed. Exercise should never be the first option you choose for increasing your dopamine levels (or health).[99] Take care of your sleep and recovery first, before you start exercising.
  • Eat some raw meat and raw seafood from high-quality sources. Both foods contain "creatine" and "taurine". Either substance increases your dopamine levels. If you do not want to eat raw seafood or meat, then supplement with creatine and taurine. Before we entered civilization, humans consumed ample raw seafood and meat.[100; 101; 102; 103; 104]
  • Include some bone broth, gelatin, or collagen protein in your diet.[105; 106; 107] These proteins are made from the bones, skin, or connective tissues of different animals. Cows, fish, and chicken sourced bone broth, gelatin, and collagen can all be included. Read more on bone broth HERE.

    Watch how well you tolerate bone broth - some people react poorly to this food.


What's amazing about this list? Building dopamine in your brain makes you both happy and healthy.

In other words, everything that builds your dopamine makes you healthy, and vice versa. Why? Because high dopamine levels are the culmination of optimal health. There's thus no categorical difference between health and happiness. 

Before you pursue a big house, become a world traveler, or buy a new car, care for your health first. 


People who have better health report higher happiness levels.[198; 199; 200; 201] The reverse is also true: happiness improves your health. Planning for your health is just as important as planning for your financial future.

If your health is poor, and you're living in a big house, downsize. Prioritize health. Only after you're healthy, make sure you're financially independent. 

Why do I prioritize health above financial success? 

Once you've got a chronic disease - such as diabetes or an autoimmune disease - it becomes exponentially harder to regain your health. With health, however, your financial situation can be improved on later in life.

Managing health also becomes harder once you age.

It's thus essential to acquire good health habits early in life. Only buy that big house if you've got money to spare and if you're in optimal health.

Furthermore, there's another dopamine benefit:

Prioritizing dopamine "creates more time" in your life.[263; 264]


Higher dopamine levels are associated with better health. Better health means that you're further removed from death. Being removed further removed from death means that you can experience more happiness in your life.

Moreover, with high dopamine levels any experience you have will be of higher quality. Dopamine makes you feel better on a day to day basis. Getting exposed to sunlight, and prioritizing your sleep will thus eventually save you time.[46; 48] 

Low dopamine levels, on the other hand, mean that you're in poorer health. Poorer health moves you closer to death. Moving closer to death means you'll have less time. Low dopamine makes life also less worthy of living - because you're less confident and feel worse.

the human eye and creating dopamine
Sunlight that enters your eye programs your
24-hour day and night rhythm, which 
improves your dopamine levels.


Of course, there's far more to happiness than just having high dopamine levels.

There are additional strategies that you can use to become happier. The next section explores these strategies. 

I've also created an infographic PDF that gives you new insight into how dopamine, health and happiness relate:


Completing The Pursuit Of Happiness 

In this section, I'll tell you how you can be happy without needing many possessions in your life. In other words: becoming happy with a high-dopamine lifestyle...

Contrary to popular belief, happiness can and should be found in the small things in life.[108; 109; 110; 111]

Consider a cup of coffee with your best friend, 10 minutes of sunlight exposure, or having the day off from work. We tend to forget the positive feelings stemming from these activities within a few seconds. Or even worse: we might not be consciously present with the happy feeling of these activities at all.

I'm very much guilty of all of that error as well.

What to do instead?

When you're drinking that coffee with your amazing friend, make sure to stay present with that happy feeling for 10 or 20 seconds.

That's all you need. 

Those seconds might not seem very long. In the long term, nevertheless, this strategy allows you to re-program your brain to be happier and experience more positive emotions. 

Over time, that happiness will become a permanent part of your brain.[117; 118; 119] 

Just like your brain can learn a new dance, or get acquainted with a new scientific theory, your brain can also learn to experience happiness more continuously.

Happiness is not fully genetically determined.[112] Up to two-thirds of the happiness you experience on a daily basis can be reprogrammed.

Of course, you'll want to reprogram your mind to experience happiness during the right activities.

You don't want to habituate your brain to only feeling positive emotions if you buy an expensive car or a bigger house.

Instead, meeting your friends or taking a 30-minute break in the sunlight should be celebrated, and permanently solidified in your mind. 

How do you solidify positive feelings? Again, just let yourself experience these feelings for 10 - 20 seconds. Imagine that happiness becoming a permanent part of you.

You absolutely need to do this.


Because your human brain is biased towards negative experiences.[108]

Before we entered civilization, human beings needed to be constantly on the lookout for potential threats.[120; 121; 122]

Not scanning our environment for threats or negative experiences would cost you dearly: missing a predator often leads to death. Today your brain is still constantly on the lookout for new possible negative experiences it may encounter.

That strategy is very counterproductive for living in modern society. You no longer find predators around every corner. If you're focusing on negative experiences that can happen all of the time, that pattern will be ingrained into your brain. 

The result? You'll develop anxiety, be on the lookout about social interactions to go wrong, you'll start neurotically watching your health, or cannot think straight or outside the box. Moments of happiness will be far and few between.

How to break free from that negativity?

Develop a habit of applying the 10 - 20-second exercise I described before. Use that exercise multiple times every day.


Maybe you've learned a small new thing that may pay off massively over time. Maybe you've received a nice compliment. Maybe a presentation did not turn out as bad as you thought it would be - even that's a positive!

All these instances are opportunities to re-program your brain.

Another strategy is to add writing in a 5-minute journal on a daily basis. That journal forces you to write down what you're grateful for, create affirmations, and to reflect on your life. The 5-minute journal will move you towards more permanent happiness as well.

You might be asking: "what if there's nothing positive about my life?"

Find something to be positive about. If necessary, create something to be positive about. If you have negative experiences, try to learn from them. Consciously trying to learn lessons from your negative experience can turn them into a force for good.[108]

Why should happiness depend on the small things in life?

That's simple...

Let's say that you're just consciously happy when big events happen in your life: the birth of your child, a 3-week holiday to Bali, or buying your first house.

Those big events are few and far between, and cannot really build your happiness. In other words, big events happen so infrequently in most of our lives, that they are not a stable basis to solidify happiness. 

If you would just do the 10-20 second happiness exercise during these big events, nothing would change in your brain.

Your brain needs to focus on happiness often to be reprogrammed. Big events do not occur often enough to reprogram your brain towards more positivity. The best way to create happiness? Savor the high dopamine moments in your life.

When you learn to be happy with high-dopamine activities, you'll need less in life. You'll no longer be chasing after the newest smartphone or the latest fashion.

Creating happiness around dopamine will also make you more successful in the long run. Happiness, dopamine, health, and success begin to mutually reinforce each other.

Even though you are more successful, your happiness no longer depends on the final outcome. You'll become more outcome-independent.

(More on outcome independence later.)

With high dopamine levels, you begin to see opportunities for what they really are.

Dopamine can only be maximally activated when you're not in a state of continual fear, anger, or running away from problems. You're not wasting your energy with useless fights that bring nothing in return, such as emotionally toxic people or anger in traffic.

play essential to being happy
Playful exploration. 
High dopamine, low stress...
Cats: masters of life


Having low dopamine levels, on the contrary, emphasizes our primal negativity bias.

Let me explain:

There's also a relationship between stress and your dopamine levels.

Have you ever heard of a "fight or flight" response? When we're stressed, we can either fight that stressor or take flight from that stressor. 

An example of a stressor that humans encountered before we ended up in civilization would be an aggressive bear. In that instance, you could either fight the bear head-on, flee from that bear. 

In addition, there's a third option that's rarely mentioned: freezing.[123; 124Freezing means that you would be motionless in response to the bear, out of fear.

These primitive responses towards stress are still part of you today. In our modern society, that fight or flight response is activated way too frequently.

What could trigger a fight or flight response?

An angry phone call of a disappointed client, or being 10 minutes late because of traffic, is sufficient for most people to experience a fight or flight response. 98% of the time, these fight and flight responses are unnecessary.

In the long-run that stress lowers your dopamine levels.[125; 126; 127; 134; 135]

Lowering stress is another reason to re-program your brain towards experiencing positive emotions.

More happiness with small things in life cause your dopamine levels to rise. Reprogramming your brain towards happiness thus lowers stress, which increases dopamine.

Of course, you'll still want to be stressed in some situations. If there's a real threat, you'll want stress to cope with that danger. 

Don't worry, you'll be able to.

Let's return to dopamine.

High dopamine levels give you greater resilience.[128] I define resilience as the ability to deal with setbacks in life.

Resilience improves your immune system, lowers your chances for disease, and increases your ability to handle stress.[111; 113; 114; 116] Over time, promoting a high dopamine lifestyle will make you less stressed, fearful, and anxious.[130; 131; 132]

Most people in modern society, however, experience low dopamine levels together with moderate stress all the time. You don't have to. The combination of continuous moderate stress and low dopamine levels is a recipe for disaster.

Fortunately, you can build more resilience towards negative occurrences in your life.

How to promote resilience?[115; 265; 266]

  • develop the belief that you can continue to grow and develop yourself
  • start to believe that life is meaningful and that life has a purpose
  • create meaningful relationships with other people
  • cultivate your ability for self-determination


To be clear: I'm not saying that you cannot grief, or experience any negative emotions.

What I'm saying instead, is that it's usually not productive to stay in these negative emotions. 

So there's no problem with grieving--but grieving for many years is counterproductive. Likewise, there's nothing wrong with feeling terrible--feeling depressed for months or even years on end, however, is completely unnecessary.

Dopamine thus protects you against setbacks. But my message goes even deeper than that: with dopamine, you're also more prone to desire the right things in life.

High dopamine levels oppose our modern materialist consumer culture.

That materialist consumer culture continually tells you that you need the new bigger house, a new gadget, or expensive clothing.

In essence, that culture convinces you that you're continuously lacking and needing something. In other words, that culture programs your brain to focus on what you're lacking, instead of focusing on what you can be happy with.[133]

High dopamine activities, and deriving happiness from these activities, allow you to focus on what you have in life.[181; 182]

Deriving happiness from high dopamine activities thus counters our modern materialist consumer culture.

You'll start to become happy with little, and become more grateful.

Make sure to really feel that you're deserving of what you're grateful for. Do not promote gratitude through indebtedness or guilt. Be grateful for what you have accomplished and you're experiencing. 

If you do experience failure, see that failure as a stepping stone to greater accomplishment.

The key to improving your dopamine levels, happiness, and health over time, is to focus on the right things in life. Almost all high-dopamine activities are free.

Sunlight is free. Meditation is free. High-quality food is almost free. The price of these activities stands in stark contrast to the two million dollar house you're looking for.

The "how to be happy" question is thus easily answered...

When you focus on dopamine, your happiness begins to depend less on external circumstances (such as your house, job, or money). 

(Note: it's my personal opinion that strategies might even aid in depression, trauma, Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD), and addiction, although I'm not qualified to diagnose, treat, or cure these diseases.  For example, promoting dopamine can even put the brake on extreme types of stress, such as PSTD .[129Always consult a medical doctor before applying these strategies.)


What also counters our consumer culture? Never postponing happiness. Many people postpone happiness until they're successful in life.

Instead, aim to become happy before you are successful. There's no need to wait with being happy until you've got a big car or big house. 


Do you want to know something mind-blowing?

Happiness is one of the most important keys to success.[150] 

Your brain performs best when you are happy.[156; 157] Happiness increases your reasoning capacity.[158; 174; 175] In the long term, happiness promotes fewer sick days, higher pay, a stronger immune system, greater longevity, and better overall health.[150]

Happiness has other advantages as well: being happy stimulate play, creativity, and novelty seeking.[173; 176]

Our materialist consumer culture understands happiness fully backward: it tells you that you'll only become happy once you fulfill all your needs and wants.

That mentality is a recipe for disaster. That strategy is plain stupid.

Let's look at what makes you really happy. Finding happiness in the small stuff in life is one. 

Great social relationships are another reason why people become really happy:[151; 152; 153; 154]

Friendships and other social relationships are essential to (mental) health and longevity.[140; 143] For example, if your relationships are poorer, your sleep becomes worse as well.[141]

Poor social skills literally make you lonely and stressed.[144] Social interactions, on the other hand, give you a sense that life has meaning.[144; 145]

You need to socialize to be happy - even if you're an introvert.[142] That outcome is bad news for introverts like me: I love staying home for weeks on end, writing blog articles like these. I'll thus have to force myself to socialize more often.

Fortunately, connecting to people doesn't cost you anything. Socializing is another free activity that counters our materialist consumer culture.

Guess what helps you improve social interactions? Dopamine.[147; 149] Moreover, what builds dopamine in your brain? Social interactions.[252]

Happiness, dopamine, and social interactions, and health, stand in another virtuous circle - they mutually reinforce each other.

What, on the contrary, what contributes to social anxiety? Low dopamine levels.[148]

The solution? Build your mood with sunlight and meditation first, so that you experience higher dopamine levels. Dopamine then allows you to socialize with less fear, and to further improve your dopamine levels through socializing.

Let's look at what else increases your happiness:

  • Watch your body language. A closed posture can make you feel more helpless and stressed withing minutes. Opening up your posture makes you become more confident, and decreases the stress hormones in your body within minutes.[137; 138] Your body language - the way you carry yourself in life - makes you more of an assertive person or a victim of circumstance. Your body language tells the world who you are at a very fundamental level.
  • Don't worry about short-term stress. If you think short-term stress is debilitating to your health, stress will have that effect. If you think that stress helps you perform at your highest level instead, stress will exhibit that specific effect.[139] In the short-term, stress is not necessarily bad. Use stress as a tool, but don't succumb to believing that you need stress in the long-run to perform better.
  • Giving to others.[159; 267; 268] Spending money on those who are near and dear to you also increases your happiness most.[236] In other words, the closer the person is to your social group, the bigger the happiness payoff. Make sure you're not overwhelmed by your helping tasks - being overwhelmed can decrease your happiness levels. 
  • Make sure your occupation gives your life meaning. If you think yourself having a "job", or a "career" - career signifying a succession of jobs - then they won't maximize your happiness. People who understand their occupation as a "calling" instead, had the biggest life satisfaction.[160] In essence, the way you make money in life should give your life meaning.


That last point brings us to yet another mind-boggling thought:

Should the pursuit of happiness be your end-goal of life at all?

Not necessarily.

First, let's take a step back, and distinguish two basic understandings of happiness:[161; 162; 163]

  • According to the first understanding, happiness equals the promotion of pleasure and absence of pain.
  • According to the second understanding, happiness equals meaning in life.

To have the most life satisfaction, you need both pleasure and meaning. So happiness is not complete if you only pursue pleasure.

But how to give your life meaning? 

Cultivate your abilities, become more autonomous, accept yourself, and have (or find) a purpose in day-to-day activities.[161] Just pursuing pleasure, by playing computer games, shopping, and going on holidays will not give your life meaning nor satisfaction.[170]

The problem of pleasure gets even bigger:

Exclusively pursuing pleasure can even negatively affect the meaning you ascribe to your life.[172]

Your life having meaning is very important. The presence of meaning influences your life in many areas:

Only by having a purpose in your life, will you really positively influence the well-being of your social circle.[165] Having a purpose in life also increases your health, even into old age.[166; 167; 230]

Here comes another shocker:

Higher dopamine levels are associated with a greater appreciation of meaning in life.[169]

Pursuing activities that help others as well gives more satisfaction than just pursuing pleasure.[171] 

What's a method to bring more meaning and happiness to your work and life?

Try not to think in terms of "deadlines" or "needing to be present until 5". That terminology is very negative, and contrary to promoting a life of meaning.

Instead, see deadlines as playful challenges.[150] A purposeful but playful mindset will benefit your productivity most.

To me, the concept of play helps us understand how dopamine can lead to outcome independence. In play it doesn't matter if you fail a few times. You're happy during play, and will eventually succeed, even though the specific route you're taking might not (yet) be the final key to your success. 

Play at work signifies to me how you can have fun and be successful at the same time.

Dopamine allows you to achieve that playful state. Play is fun and makes your occupation fun. In play, success will come as an eventual by-product.

You thus engage in play for its own sake, in activities that give you life meaning.

Do you want to know something crazy?

Working for money is the opposite of play:

The quickest way for your productivity to go down is to just work for money's sake.[212]

In other words, people who just work a certain job because of just the income, become more unproductive over time. Working just for money directly counters a life of meaning.

Working for money's sake thus decreases both your bank account and your happiness levels over time.

What's the alternative?

Finding meaning in your work, and valuing the activity of your work for its own sake. 

I often like to think about the blog articles I write as "play". I often imagine how crazy and detailed I can make a blog post, even though, in a sense, my income depends on these blog posts.

Play makes your occupation give you more happiness and meaning. Through play, you'll leverage both dopamine and happiness to your advantage while simultaneously lowering stress.

The link between happiness and performance becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.[177] Finding meaning in your job increases your productivity.

The result?

Success further improves your dopamine levels.[178; 179; 180; 92]

In a sense, dopamine steers you towards taking calculated risks. Risks may not always turn out great. Dopamine thus promotes a form of optimism, because you're presupposing success.

The process of developing optimism needs to be checked by reality though. Simply believing that can accomplish impossible tasks won't help you.[190] There should be no self-delusion. 

Instead, you should see this process as an approximation of your potential: becoming the best version of you.

Set small goals to envision which direction you want to go with your life.[231] Don't worry too much about whether you achieve these goals.

Make small steps in improving your dopamine levels over time. The first successes in taking calculated risks will allow you to further improve your dopamine levels, which allow you to take bigger calculated risks.

High dopamine levels equal more happiness. Being unhappy, on the contrary, places an artificial limitation on yourself. Being unhappy is a negative pattern by which you see the world. 

Without those artificial limitations, you're better able to see opportunities. Dopamine helps you see these opportunities.

No matter how mundane your job is, finding meaning in that job will make you better off. By keeping your eyes on the price, you'll avoid "learned helplessness". 

If you hate your current job, use that job to catapult you to better conditions. By keeping your eyes on the prize, your current job you will confer meaning to your life - the current job helps you as a stepping stone to a better place.

As a means, even a bad job can thus supply you with meaning and fulfillment.

The bottom line of this section is this:

Happiness is a productive habit that makes you feel great. Being unhappy is an unproductive habit, that leads to failure.

(Note: I'm not advocating new age bullshit such as "the secret". I'm very well aware that some people are very badly off in their lives, for which they have no responsibility of their own. Phrased differently, some people have lost the "natural lottery".

Nevertheless, people who are badly off will often still gain improvements by integrating happiness and meaning into their lives. Moreover, I'm also not saying that you can turn around a clinical depression like a light switch. Depressions can be very serious conditions. But I do believe that nature is your safest bet to counter a depression: sunlight, cold, an optimal diet, and sleeping well at night. Again, always consult a medical doctor.)


So: set up a life where you don't have to run away from.

If you find yourself looking towards the next weekend or the next holiday, you're making a mistake.

You're not pursuing a life of meaning. If you have a life you're running away from, you cannot live in the moment.

Now, if you're thinking: "I'm going to start a band and become a singer, so I can be happy every day", then you're probably mistaken as well.

Just doing what you love is a recipe for disaster for most people.

In fact, in choosing an occupation, skill may be even more important than love or passion.

Let's say that you deeply love music and want to start a band. By pursuing life as a band member, you're going to have to compete with thousands of other artists. Only a few people in the music industry will become a financial success. 99,9% of bands will fail in the long-run.

Don't believe me?

Take a quick look at a talent show on TV (if you hadn't thrown that TV out yet!). Most people there love music, but cannot convert that love into a career.

Love is not the only thing that matters for success.

Don't worry too much either if you don't yet know what you love, or do not love your occupation.

Many people develop a love - as in a "calling" - for their occupation over time. Even if you're working as a janitor or a secretary, you'll probably think that activity is your calling once you've been doing that for 10 years.[232]

Competence breeds passion. Skill most often causes love for an occupation, not the other way around.

This advice is a bit speculative, but I think you should pursue a career that stays close to your personality type. 

Extroverts, for example, should not choose an occupation where they're sitting alone in an office all day long. Introverts should not choose an occupation that demand socializing 24-7. 

You also need a career in which you're able to exploit a skill you can develop in the long-term.

The next section of this article will look at how to manage your income and possessions. We've already concluded that just pursuing income and possessions is counterproductive for your happiness levels and the meaning you experience in life.

The question then becomes: what role should possessions play?


Materialism In Context: Managing Your Possessions 

Do you want to become wealthier? Then there's another reason to prioritize health before wealth:

Even from a financial point of view, health will give you an enormous return on investment.

Health massively increases your productivity.[202; 203; 206] Just one chronic disease, on the other hand, can make you lose 30% of your net income and 35% less productive.[205; 207; 208] 

Avoid getting chronically ill if you want to stay affluent. 

And yet, many people promote unhealthy habits as "money-saving"

Take two examples:

Billionaire Warren Buffet eats McDonald's every day because it's cheap. Another billionaire, Elon Musk, admitted to spending $2 on food each day during his college period. 

Even though I consider both brilliant in some regards, both are also absolutely stupid in managing their health.


There's an immediate payoff in energy levels if you eat healthy food compared to junk food:

  • Junkfood immediately lowers your productivity levels. Just go eat some crap, and consider how you feel and perform in the following hours.
  • Sunlight immediately increases your productivity. Taking a 20-minute mediation session when you're tired achieves the same thing. Eating healthy food too - immediately makes you more productive.

It's thus an illusion to think that eating on two dollars a day saves you money. In fact, that strategy is plain stupid:

Spending money on eating healthier even directly increases your happiness levels.[194]

meat as a basis of building health
An entrepreneurial wet dream:
Investments that financially pay off today!


Next, let's take a closer look at the relationship between money and happiness.

Increasing your income does improve your happiness, but this effect of money on happiness is very small.[233; 234]

Moreover, it's not necessarily increasing income that makes us happy, but income inequality is making us unhappy.[238; 239] Comparing yourself to other people is what's most likely causing you to be happier once your income levels increase.

Making more money thus makes us happier because we're placed higher on the social ladder.

There's one upside to increasing income:

More income does decrease the amount of sadness that you experience on a daily basis. A higher-income lowers your need to worry about the future.[240]

In some instances, money even buys happiness...

If you spend your money on services that save you time, that time-saving can make you notably happier. If you spend money on more material acquisitions, on the contrary, no happiness is gained.[193]


Once you reach a certain income level, outsource tasks that you hate. De-cluttering your life makes being happy easier.

Spending money on experiences, moreover, yield bigger happiness improvements than spending money on material possessions.[235; 237]

Go on a sun-lit holiday to Mexico, instead of buying a bigger car.

Visit a museum. Go to the beach. Go to festivals in the summertime.

Just don't buy the bigger house.

Next, avoid debt, and pay off debt quickly

Bad debt (such as for consumption reasons) has extremely negative effects on your life.[241

Debt lowers your health significantly.[242; 243] Debt also makes you more prone to experience depressions, stress, and anger. You'll additionally be at higher risk for obesity, back pain, and cardiovascular disease. 

People with debt use more drugs, alcohol, and have more suicidal thoughts. Debt lowers your self-esteem, lowers the perception of control over your life, and even makes you more prone to become a criminal.

In essence: debt leads to disease, and disease leads to debt.

One of the legitimate reasons to make (a lot) of money is to pay off any financial debt you have.

Staying out of debt is yet another reason to prioritize health. Prioritizing health counters the negative consequences of debt, and makes you far more productive in the long term - so that you can indeed pay off your debt. Health also helps you avoid disease, which often leads to debt.

Debt is not normal, even though our society is debt-ridden and has normalized debt.

Always pay off high-interest credit card debt first. After that, pay off other low-interest types of debt, such as your mortgage.

In the process of becoming financially independent, avoid compulsive buying and consumerism.

Emotional buying of products, or "compulsive buying", is a sure way to get your happiness levels in trouble. Compulsive buying negatively affects your quality of life.[210] 

If have more than 100 pairs of shoes, or looking for your 5th car, you're destroying your happiness levels.

I know buying more and more new products is expected in our society. But, that expectation is plain stupid.

I currently wear clothing with holes in it. I've become accustomed to those clothes, and they don't make me any more unhappy then when I was wearing much more expensive clothing.

Just remember that 99,9999% of you can never keep up with billionaires. Society makes you believe you have to keep up with others, which is a dangerous illusion.

You don't have to keep up with others.

We now arrive at the end-point of increasing happiness: minimalism

"Minimalism" signifies having minimal possessions. Minimalism is on the motto:

"The things you own end up owning you" -- Tyler Durden, Fight Club 

Not only does minimalism save money, but minimalism also gives less clutter in your life. You'll gain more time for important things in life, such as activities that give your life meaning, friends, and experiences. 

Every possession you own, you have to manage. Almost every possession you have, you have worked for, and each possession thus reduces the time on this planet. Manage your possessions carefully.

Move to a smaller house, or even better: an RV. I'm dead serious. While an RV is more expensive than many people believe, an RV is still far less expensive than owning a high-end home.

minimalist living

An RV lets you travel everywhere. In modern society where it becomes more and more acceptable to work from home, an RV might allow you to combine work, travel, and nature. 

Minimalism also works because it allows you to work fewer hours in the long-term.

Long working-hours will make you more stressed, more prone to get a depression, and poorer overall health, especially if you do not like your job.[246; 247; 248]  

Not buying stuff you don't need also allows you to build savings over time. Savings directly increase happiness.

Having a positive cash balance will literally give you higher life satisfaction.[35]

And yet, the average American only has $1.000 of savings in savings...

It doesn't even matter whether you've invested a lot of money, are debt-free, or earn a very high salary.

You need cash on hand as well.


(Note: I consider some of the more stable cryptocurrencies and physical gold bullion the best types of "cash", together with paper cash deposits kept at safe locations in more stable currencies. Bank deposits are almost never recommended in quantities - you don't really own the money in the bank, because that money is an IOU, and the money is inflated away over time.)


Don't be like those people who increase their income without increasing their savings. Eight out of ten Americans currently live from paycheck to paycheck, even though the US is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. 

How to stop doing living from paycheck to paycheck?

  • Budget your finances if you don't have insight into your spending levels.
  • Stop spending money on things you do not need. Cancel your cable and Netflix accounts.
  • Use an older smartphone model (I still have an Iphone 4 or 5, I don't even know which one). Don't spend more than $20 per month on your cellphone.
  • Avoid spending money on the gym, and do your workouts in nature.
  • Don't spend more than 10% of your yearly income on a car. Alternatively, downgrade your car, or carpool with colleagues.
  • Start saving, preferably, by the same amount every month.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Lower the temperature in your house.
  • Live in a tiny house. Smaller houses also save you precious cleaning time.
  • Don't eat out. You can even save money by buying food that's both highly nutritious and affordable. Bone broth and organ meats are examples.
  • Fast one day a week if your health is good.
  • Instead of visiting the cinema or going on a holiday, rely more on fun that's affordable. Go for a walk in the forest or get some sunlight. Both are free, and have been working for humans for millions of years.

The bottom line to live minimalist and be happy: get out of debt, save money, don't buy stuff you don't need, and pursue a life of meaning.

I've also created an infographic PDF that gives you new insight into how dopamine, health and happiness relate:



Lastly, let's evaluate my pursuit of happiness. 

My Own Pursuit Of Happiness Evaluated

Let's shortly consider how did I fare in the first few decades of my life.

I'm 31 years old right now...

Let's begin with the bad. I've made mistakes in "managing" my happiness.

In the past, I've accumulated more and more material possessions, because I assumed that possessions would bring me happiness. I was wrong.

For example:

  • I've worn more expensive clothes than I've should in the past. There's no need to ever buy expensive clothes if you're not fully financially independent
  • I've built a very big perfume collection of hundreds of bottles in the past. With some luck, I was able to sell that collection. I've used the money to pay for college - the money was thus well spent by accident.
  • In my twenties, I often went clubbing until 3 AM or 4 AM. Clubbing destroys your 24-hour day and night cycle, which lowers your dopamine levels. Clubbing was often accompanied by booze, another activity that kills my long-term dopamine levels.

I also did some things right:

  • I never followed very stupid societal trends, such as buying the latest expensive smartphone, or expensive cars.
  • I've taken great care of my health since I was 16-17 and always have been getting sunlight on my body and into my eyes during all that time.
  • I never thought working to maximize money was a worthy end goal to adapt in life. Yes, I know I'm working almost all the time right now to start this business. But working is only a strategy to be able to work less in the future.
  • I've aggressively dealt with any fears that I've had. Since my mid-20s, I've jumped towards fear, instead of choosing avoidance. 
  • I've specifically chosen to work on blogging because it allows me to avoid a 9-5 job, where I cannot get much sunlight. Remember that you need sunlight in your eyes to create more dopamine.
  • I had already decided I do not need a big house in the future. The only thing I need is a garden with lots of sunlight and a healthy living environment.

Nevertheless, while doing research for this blog post, I also found out I was making  mistakes right now:

  • I'm postponing happiness until later moments. I will start doing the 10-20 second happiness exercise consistently.
  • Even though I'm an introvert, I need to socialize more often. It's not that I'm anxious or non-confident, but I just don't feel like socializing most of the time. I need to let that erroneous feeling go.
  • I still need to see my occupation more as "play", instead of as a job with deadlines.

Of course, I will change my ways. Now, let's conclude...


Conclusion: How To Be Happy - Happiness Is Almost Free

Remember: a new car or house will not make you happy in the long-term. Material possessions will just give you a buzz for a few days. The buzz may last a week or 2, and then the happiness lift will die off.

Then you're back at one.

Happiness can and should be found in the small things in life. 

Surprisingly, actions that you can take to improve dopamine levels are also the small things in life that you should use to build your happiness levels. Coffee, sunlight, and friendships can be used to both increase dopamine and happiness levels.

Consciously appreciate these activities on a daily basis, and you're set.

That happiness subsequently increases your income, which completes the circle.

Before you spend money on anything else, invest in health first and foremost.

Every dollar invested into your health today, gives a return on investment today and in the long-term. Eating healthy food makes you more productive immediately, and saves cost in the future.

Health also makes you happier. Take care of your health now.


Update: My Thoughts On This Topic A Few Years After Creating This Blog Post

A couple of years after publishing this blog post on another site, I've now changed my mind slightly about this topic but also have a couple of new observations.

First of all, practice in happiness is paramount - there's no need to know all these things if you don't implement them on a daily basis. Running a business during most of the time of these last few years, that practice has been hard.

Secondly, I think the argument in this blog post is a little bit less nuanced than I'd like to see as a 33-year-old right now. If I re-wrote the article, I'd focus a bit less on dopamine for instance and more on other neurotransmitters. I'd also be more open to seeing different paths to happiness. And yet, I do still think that dopamine is the "highest" most humanly-characteristic of all neurotransmitters, and thus, very important.

Thirdly, "becoming successful" is a loaded-term. Not everyone wants to be successful nor is the definition of "success" the same for everyone. For me, at least, success has never been a monetary issue, and yet, the notion of success does imply a viewpoint where excellence should be pursued, which is partially illogical I now find.

Fourth, I do still like the links between health, happiness, dopamine, and minimalism, a connection that I haven't seen in many if any blog posts out there. The focus on friendships, which is very much supported by the science, I also still love.

Fifthly, I do think there's somewhat of an "anti-materialistic" bias in my piece that I would counter. Owning stuff is not wrong, it's just the excesses of consumer culture that make materialism a problem for both happiness and many other pursuits in life.

Lastly, some health recommendations I made I don't fully support anymore, such as near-universal cold exposure recommendations. Most people should not expose themselves to cold before improving many other areas of their lives.

Oh yeah, and I still like this blog post as one of my best ever!


Found This Interesting? Then You Might Like: 



This is a post by Bart Wolbers. Bart finished degrees in Physical Therapy (B), Philosophy (BA and MA), Philosophy of Science and Technology (MS - Cum Laude), and Clinical Health Science (MS), and is currently the chief science writer at 

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