An Active Life is a Happy Life

We all want to live a happy life, but often we confuse “happy life” with “comfortable/predictable” life.

To me, a happy life is an ACTIVE life. A life when we are ACTIVELY doing stuff. When we are ACTIVELY making new photos, making new poetry, making new art, and rather than just thinking about stuff, actually DOING IT.

In modern society, we are told that once we achieve a safe/stable/predictable life, we will be “happy.” We seek a life with the least amount of inconvenience, the least amount of pain, and the maximum level of comfort.

But– isn’t life and shouldn’t life be more than just feeling pleasure, and feeling comfort?

Why be active?

boston skyscraper

First of all, why be active?

To me, I am happiest when I am active– when I am active in creating art, creating words, creating images, creating conversation, creating food, or when I am actively seeking for knowledge, when I am actively walking around, or actively lifting (heavy) stuff at the gym.

The opposite of active is passive. To me, passivity is death. We are passive when we are just “vegging out” on the couch, and watching Netflix. We are passive when we are with our loved ones, and mindlessly eating our food, and not really paying attention to what others are saying. We are passive when we are online shopping, or just scrolling for random stimuli or hits of dopamine on our phone, Instagram, or on Reddit.

An active life is a happy one, because we feel in control. When we are active, we put our will into things and we put our will into life. When we are living actively, we are making a change. We are moving forward, evolving, and advancing to a higher level.

Like Bob Dylan said, “If you’re not busy being born, you’re busy dying.”

How to be more active

Some ways I am able to be more active in my life:

  1. Fast from breakfast and lunch, and drink black coffee and water during the day: This prevents me from getting “food coma” after a heavy breakfast or lunch, so I have more energy to move around during the day, make stuff, and do active stuff. If I am going to eat during the day, I abstain from carbohydrates, starch, and sugar. I just eat protein/fat/leafy greens like eggs, avocados, chicken legs, steak, lamb, or kale and I don’t get as much of an “insulin spike” which makes me feel sleepy.
  2. When I’m tired, I go to the gym or workout: This seems counter-intuitive, but whenever I am tired or feeling lethargic, going for an intense workout always gives me more energy. After doing squats, deadlifts, or heavy dumbbell presses, I feel more energy, more blood pumping through my veins, and suddenly I have a huge rush of energy to do stuff– like write, walk around, make videos, or do active things.
  3. Abstain from alcohol: Personally I don’t drink alcohol, because it ruins the quality of my sleep, and the next day I wake up with less energy. Of course this is just a personal preference– know yourself and your own body.
  4. Listen to “pump it up” music: I’ve been listening to the new “Black Panther” album from Kendrick Lamar, and the songs have been getting me into a zen-zone, and has massively helped pump me up at the gym and before I work. When I don’t feel like working, I will often just stand, listen to music, and do nothing else– until I feel a rush of motivation (generally through the bass-line through the music) to do stuff.
  5. Espresso/cold brew coffee: Lots of espresso, black cold brew (no coffee/cream) during the day, and water, to keep me going.

So these are just some personal solutions which work for me. Of course they might or might not work for you– but just try them out.

Have a bias toward activity

Boston selfie, 2018

Also, I think a big thing is changing your mindset. For example, whenever I have the option of doing something passive (like randomly scroll through pointless websites/blogs on the internet) or the choice of writing some ideas, going to the gym, or actively reading a difficult book — I choose the active option.

So it is retraining my mind:

When in doubt, choose an ACTIVE activity.


Portrait by Junku Nishimura / Kyoto, 2014
Portrait by Junku Nishimura / Kyoto, 2014

Don’t become a workaholic for work’s sake. Do important, meaningful, and personally-fulfilling work. And hustle hard.

Yet I would recommend to always sleep as much as you can. I think the worst advice is trying to wakeup at 4:30am and do stuff when your body is not fully re-energized or charged. If our body is physically exhausted, we cannot do the personal maximum of our creative work.

Memento Mori

Cindy red curtain

Remember that you will, and you must die (memento mori). Live everyday like it were your last — what little small change, action, or thing would you like to see manifested in the real world? What do you want to make? What do you want to do?

Action doesn’t need to be massive to be meaningful. Choose the smallest possible action today– and march boldly forward toward achieving your bigger life dreams.



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