The Key to Love, Wealth, and Happiness

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

    One thing for you to think about

    You cannot negotiate friendship, barter for love, or buy a sense of purpose. Anything meaningful in life is done unconditionally—that is, it’s done for its own sake.

    Reflect: Then consider sharing this thought with others.

    Three things for you to ask yourself

    Have you been approaching your relationships transactionally? (i.e., “I’ll do this for you but only if you do this for me.”)

    Have you been approaching your work transactionally? (i.e., “I’ll do this just so I’ll get money/status/prestige.”)

    Have you been dealing with your family transactionally? (i.e., “I sacrificed for you so now you have to do this thing for me in return.”)

    If so, how’s that going for ya?

    Recommended: Use these as journaling prompts for the week.

    One thing for you to try this week

    Challenge yourself to stop approaching something in your life transactionally. If that’s a relationship with a person, then relinquish expectations of ever getting something in return. If that’s your job or a hobby, that means doing it with no expectation of reward—it means doing it simply for the satisfaction of having done it.

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

    Last week’s breakthroughs (and a question answered)

    In last week’s newsletter, I challenged you to try being happy for someone who you’re not accustomed to being happy for, and see how that makes you feel.

    Jo bit the bullet and apologized to her husband:

    My breakthrough has to do with my marriage. I continue to live day to day with Covid turning my life upside down and I now telework and parent at home full-time. I’m not happy about the isolation from colleagues and friends even though I do practice gratitude the best I feel capable.

    My husband and I have been struggling lately, and when I couldn’t feel happy for him when he had an awesome day trip out on a boat looking at amazing seabirds and marine mammals, which I truly believe he deserved, I knew my bitterness was my problem. Not being able to share his joy made us both miserable for about a day until I felt up to apologizing, honestly sharing why I struggled through the weekend at home, but that I was happy for him and could share in his joy.

    It really turned a page for us and I’m glad I could both see my bitterness and do something about it.

    Juan realized he’d been mistreating his best friend and chose to stop:

    I have a best friend who I had lost contact with for many months because I didn’t like his girlfriend (I think she’s not good for him). I wasn’t happy to see him accomplish things because of that. So after reading your advice, I decided to text him to check-in and start feeling really happy for him and the good things that have happened to him because I realized I was being selfish and kind of an as*hole…

    It was a really good feeling.

    But this next reader gets the gold medal for “feeling happy for someone you don’t normally feel happy for”—he managed to feel happy for his ex-wife:

    I was struck by your theme this week. Just last week my ex-wife got a promotion and I actually was happy for her and it surprised me. Made me think I’ve come a long way that I no longer wished her dead, but was able to actually say congratulations and mean it. Even if she is still not one of my favorite people, I want to be happy for others when good things happen to them. That’s the kind of person I want to be.

    To wrap up, as promised last week, here’s a reader with a burning question:

    This week’s topic is interesting because it is exactly what I am dealing with. After a tumultuous marriage, eventual divorce, and lots of therapy and self-healing, I have found myself in an incredible relationship.

    Naturally, I want to share the love and good news with those close to me. However, my parents are not happy for me. Yet, they are also not people I can simply ‘remove’ from my life.

    What do you do when the people not happy for you are your own parents, or other significant family members?

    You cannot force someone to be happy for you, all you can do is show them you are happy.

    You cannot force someone to approve of your relationship, all you can do is create a relationship that inspires approval.

    You cannot force someone to agree with the decisions you’ve made. All you can do is make the decisions worth making in spite of disapproval.

    Assuming your relationship is healthy and functional, your parents’ disapproval likely says much more about them, their issues and prejudices than it does about you. You cannot fix those issues or prejudices, but you can become the counter-example to them.

    The most meaningful things in life are not transactional. If you could earn your parents’ approval, then the approval would be meaningless. What is meaningful is love in spite of disapproval. They may never like your relationship. But with time (and some well-managed boundaries), they will eventually accept it.

    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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