If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Happy?

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    60 people had breakthroughs this week. Will the next one be you?

    Two things for you to think about

    Intelligence is the ability to understand many ideas. Wisdom is the ability to identify the few ideas worth understanding.

    Wisdom without intelligence can still lead to a good, simple life. Intelligence without wisdom is a special (and dangerous) form of stupidity.

    Reflect: Then consider sharing this thought with others.

    Two things for you to ask yourself

    Imagine there’s a gun to your head—you are only allowed to care about three things in your life. What are they?

    Then: why aren’t you focusing all of your effort and attention on them already?

    Recommended: Use these as journaling prompts for the week.

    One thing for you to try this week

    Take one dumb thing in your life that you give way too much attention to—cut it from your life this week. Whether it’s alcohol, TikTok, that dumb neighbor who annoys you—whatever it is, cut it out for the week. Then see how you feel.

    Remember: Small changes lead to lasting breakthroughs. Reply to this email and let me know how it went for you.

    Last week’s breakthroughs

    In last week’s newsletter, I asked you to do something that increases your odds of serendipity, to get luckier in life.

    Mark (not me) wrote back with his reflections on luck and fairness:

    I’ve always believed that luck came from hard work, being in the right place at the right time, and just being the person who was there when there was a need. I always volunteered for everything, and it served me well, it got me ahead.

    Until one day I applied for a job promotion that I was sure was mine. I had the skills, I knew good people in the company, folks liked me and trusted me. But I didn’t get the job. It went to somebody who was a buddy of the guy doing the hiring.

    The person who got hired has done well at the job, I know he’s probably doing a better job than I would have. But losing out on that job put me into a spiral that led to depression. For decades, literally, I was the guy who was promoted, who wasn’t fired when everyone else was let go, who was the necessary cog in the company. I only got better when I saw a therapist who helped me realize that I was depressed, and that a source of it was my inability to embrace not being in control of everything in my life.

    Making my own luck was not the same thing as making me happy. I still volunteer for things at a new company, I still do more than I need to, and I am trusted and valued. But I have also realized that at the end of the day, sometimes bad shit happens to good people regardless of how hard they try to keep it from happening. If, or certainly when, it happens to me, I have better skills now to handle it than I did.

    You can make your own luck, but you also have to be able to roll with the punches when that doesn’t work, because no one said life is fair.

    Greg, on the other hand, doesn’t believe in luck at all:

    Strictly speaking, I don’t believe in luck. Luck is a concept that we humans have developed to explain why we aren’t successful, or why other people are.

    My other half and I talk about winning the lottery and what a difference that would make to our life. But winning the lottery has nothing to do with luck. It is so completely random. Anyone can win, but equally anyone can lose. If you buy more lottery tickets than anyone else, you increase your opportunities to win, but there is a financial risk in that.

    You mentioned luck being ‘created.’ While I get the essence of what you are saying, this isn’t really luck that you are creating. It is opportunity. By having the right mindset, by putting yourself in the right places at the right time, it opens up the opportunities that would otherwise be closed off to you.

    This is something that I’ve only recently been able to recognize. By having a closed mind and not being open to the opportunities around you, you miss out and feel hard done by and that you have ‘bad luck.’

    Once I removed those blinkers from my eyes, I was able to see the opportunities and take advantage of them. This has led me to a new job, which has been a breath of fresh air. I’m now moving on in my new growth path and feeling better than ever!

    This is a great distinction between “luck” and randomness. We are all subjected to randomness, all the time. But what we consider “luck” is mostly just the narratives we construct to explain that randomness.

    As always, send your breakthroughs by simply replying to this email. Let me know if you’d prefer to remain anonymous.

    Until next week,

    Mark Manson

    #1 New York Times Bestselling Author
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