What is happiness?

Dear friend,

I want to write you this letter on discussing some personal thoughts on ‘happiness.’

1. Eudaimonia

In Greek times, they called ‘happiness’ as ‘Eudaimonia’. The concept is ‘Human flourishing’ — or ‘Good spirit.’

Happiness isn’t the pleasure we get when certain foods pass through our throats, and exit our bottoms.

Happiness isn’t having an orgy with a bunch of beautiful people, plugging every single orifice with an organ.

Happiness isn’t having a lot of 1’s and 0’s in your bank account. Because after a while— it is like Simcity where you just get bored— getting more ‘Simcity money’ is boring.

Happiness isn’t having a cow-skin bag with the letters “LV” stitched on the side.

Happiness isn’t owning a rectangular box, with 4 wheels, and a fast engine.

Happiness isn’t traveling to foreign countries and cities.

Happiness isn’t getting fucked up with drugs, alcohol, or substances.

2. What is happiness?

Cindy Project Monochrome-8

Happiness is human flourishing.

Happiness is active — when are creating, engaged in meaningful conversation, or when we are loving.

Happiness is becoming the best version of yourself. Happiness is the fun you get from the challenge of pushing yourself past your boundaries. Happiness is increasing your 1-rep maximum for your deadlift. Happiness is making a photograph that is better than photos you’ve made in the past. Happiness is creating art that uplifts your soul, and uplifts the souls of others.

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Happiness is holding the hand of your grandmother. Happiness is calling your mom, and telling her, “I am so grateful for you — you helped me become the person that I am today. Thank you.”

Happiness is learning, expanding your mind, cutting away prejudices from your mind, and spreading love with others.

Happiness is knowing that you will die one day — and to not waste a single moment of your life.

Happiness is rejoicing in the fraternity of humankind— and treating everyone else like your brother or sister, your mother or father, your grandma or grandpa, or your wife, husband, or partner.

3. Heroin = happiness?

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If happiness was just a pleasure-feeling dopamine/serotonin response we get from our brain — it would make more sense to just take heroin all the time.

If we feel ‘pleasurable’ feelings from Heroin — is that ‘true’ happiness?

Most people would probably say no.

4. Happiness is living for others

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They’ve done studies— where students can spend $20 on themselves, or on a friend (or stranger). Students report 0 change in happiness when they spend the $20 on them. But the students report +10 happiness points when they spend that money on a friend— buying them lunch, a card and some coffee, or a movie ticket.

To me, I think it is something in our human DNA that we gain happiness and feelings of pleasure, joy, and exaltation of spirit when we help other human beings.

For me, I gain a lot more happiness helping an old person cross the street than when I play Madden.

I gain more happiness helping Cindy get out of bed in the morning, making her breakfast and coffee— than when I play Starcraft.

I gain more happiness writing blog posts that can help others, rather than just watching porn.

5. Happiness is bravery

The braver you are, the happier you are.

I don’t think it is possible to be happy without bravery.

Bravery will give us the courage to create more art. Bravery will allow us to have the courage to approach strangers, and ask them to make a portrait of them — or to just take a candid street photograph.

Bravery will give us the confidence to publish and share our work — even though we might self-doubt ourselves and our creative merit.


How to be more brave in life?

  • First of all, don’t fear death.
  • Secondly, don’t care what others think of you. Don’t read comments or feedback from others— only listen to your inner-voice.
  • Thirdly, listen to empowering music (I am listing to “DAMN.” by Kendrick Lamar) — which gets me in the zone, and gives me more creative confidence.
  • Fourthly, deadlift. When you increase your deadlift by 2.5-5 pounds a week, you will feel invincible.
  • Fifth: watch superhero movies like BATMAN the Dark Knight. This will encourage you to become a superhero — to help the weak, and not feel meek.


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Happiness is a process. It ain’t having a billion dollars in your bank. Imagine all the investment bankers who are slaves to their clients— and can’t even take a nap when they want to. Their Bently’s are just a Hearse (death car) — that will imprison them for the rest of their lives.

Happiness isn’t sensual pleasures. Otherwise it would make more sense to just take Heroin all the time.

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Happiness isn’t about just helping yourself. If you were the last human being left on earth — and you had all the video games, movies, and sensual pleasures, as well as all the shopping malls in the world, would you choose to live? I don’t think so. For me, I think it is important to live for yourself (in order to meet your basic needs, then devote the rest of your life serving others).

EDWARD HOPPER-office-detail-man

Lastly, know you can be happy today. Right now. It is all about your attitude, of feeling gratitude and happiness in everything. To find joy in suffering. To know it will make you stronger. A good boxer fights opponents who are stronger than them. You will get beaten up, bruised, and knocked unconscious — blood pouring out of your jaw. But it will make you become stronger— and one day Muhammad Ali-status.

Selfie with Ricoh GR II / Hanoi, 2017

Find purpose in suffering— that you are fighting for the greater good of humanity.

Be strong,

Learn more: Stoicism >