Why “If you’re not happy, change it” is the worst piece of advice… ever.


I’m pretty sure you’ve heard it before. “If you’re not happy, just change it!”. In fact, I’ve probably told people that in the past, too. It’s a massively knee jerk, all assumptive statement, isn’t it?

I mean, think about it. You might not be happy with something in your life right now (your job, your home, your relationship, your health), and you’ve probably racked your brains trying to come up with a solution. So when you start confiding in someone about it, and they just come back with a throw away “If you’re not happy, change it!”, then you’re gonna be pretty damn pissed.

It just isn’t that easy.

There are dependents, bills, family, and a whole host of other grown-up shit to think about when you’re wanting to make a huge (or even minor!) change.

Things need sorting out, pigeon holing, lists needs writing, gears need setting in motion. It’s downright ridiculous to just assume that you can “change something” on a whim and that everything will then turn into peaches & cream. Stupid!

Here’s a better piece of advice. 

If you’re not happy…

  • Ask yourself why you’re not happy (or, ask your friend). It’s usually not just “I hate my entire life”, or “My job sucks”. It’s specifics. “I have no direction, I feel like I’m letting everyone down” … “I have no free time, my job takes up so much of my evenings and weekends”.
  • What can you do right now to make it just a little bit easier? Take a look at evening classes? Spend an hour on a recruitment website? Organise a meeting with your boss? This is the start of the change. I wasn’t fulfilled in my last 9-5 job, the first thing I did? Cancel magazine subscriptions so I could start saving up for my self-employment buffer. Somehow, by doing that, it made it all feel real.
  • What’s your end goal? Do you want a new job? A new skill? Do you want to travel? What do you think would make you happy. I say think because happiness is really subjective, the grass is greener and all that. Sometimes just small shifts in your current situation can make the world of difference.
  • Plan it out. You have an end goal, you’ve thought about how that would make you feel, now it’s time to make small steps towards it. These steps should be measurable, succinct, and easy. Things like “Have 1 meal a week sat at the table with my family, phones off”, “get to the gym twice a week”, “make a list of city breaks I could take this year”. Working backwards form your end goal sometimes helps.
  • Here’s the most important piece of advice. Count your god damn blessings.  Don’t dwell on how you would be happy when _____, think about what makes you happy right now. Appreciate everything that you have in this instance, wouldn’t it be better to head towards your end goal with a happy heart and joyous everyday? Just like that douchey text-over-photo quote that goes around Pinterest and Facebook…

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”
– Vivian Greene

Extra Credits // @afeitar recommended this book, Mindfulness at Work: Flourishing in the workplace, after reading this blog post!

Growth is Optional

[standfirst]I’ve been trying hard to figure out the best way of articulating this topic without coming across as a douche bag, telling you what should be oh-so-obvious already. But… I think it needs to be said, if only for my own cathartic therapy.[/standfirst]

These past few weeks I’ve been working. Just working. 

Coming into my office in the morning, and setting about the day’s work. I haven’t learnt anything new. I haven’t experienced ‘awesome personal/business growth’. I’ve just worked. Nose to the grind stone, bringing home the bacon (or earning the cash to buy the bacon… and coffee), working.

And then I started feeling guilty. For working hard. What the fuck is up with that?!

There seems to be a worrying trend right now that if you’re not growing or learning, or expanding your blahblahblah mind desires dreams, then you’re not doing good stuff.

There is nothing wrong with just working hard. In fact, it’s really fucking admirable.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge advocate of pushing your boundaries, learning new stuff, and generally being curious. But damn, not doing those things all the live long day should not be a cause of guilt.

I feel like we’re constantly being bombarded with new ways of learning, new information to take in, and a sick marketing ploy of ‘If you don’t do this you will suck forever & fail at life’. Nope. Nope nope nope. 

Growth is optional. Coasting is fine. Learning is a bonus. 

Are you staying curious?


[standfirst]Back when I was at University, I decided to spend some time making websites. I was interested in how people could create those awesome, updateable websites without just copying and pasting a html file. I figured there must have been an easier way. And that spark of curiosity is what lead me to what I do today. [/standfirst]

Curiosity, especially outside your comfort zone, will ignite ideas and passions that you didn’t even know existed. And don’t forget how awesome it is to just learn new stuff. It’s been proven that continuing to learn throughout your entire life has a profound effect on how your brain will degenerate when you’re older.

How to stay curious…

Curiosity has many guises. It could be spending some time figuring out a solution to an everyday problem in your work, taking the left turn instead of the right turn just to see where you end up, or reading up on a subject that you’ve always been sort of interested in. It can be falling down a wikipedia rabbit hole, discovering that grilled banana and peanut butter really is one of the best desserts, or even just opening up wp-config.php and taking a look around. Here are some ideas for staying curious this week…

  • Pick up a non-fiction book and read it cover to cover. I just finished listening to Bill Bryson’s One Summer: America 1927 on audiobook, which I wholeheartedly recommend.
  • Draw a map of your favourite city – from memory (if you dare)! This is more of a brain exercise than anything, but it gets you thinking about somewhere you love to visit, and will spring ideas of where you’d like to go next.
  • Read an article each day about new technology, either in your own market (ie. web/jewellery design for me), or something completely different. National geographic is always a good resource for a curious mind.
  • Make plans to visit a museum this month.
  • Explore part of your town that you’ve never visited before.
  • Check out a Skillshare class in something you’d love to learn – my particular favourites are the lettering classes by Mary Kate McDevitt & Map Making class by Anne Ditmeyer.
  • Eat something you’ve never eaten before. We have a couple of sections in our local Sainsbury’s dedicated to foods from India, Jamaica and Poland, there’re so many interesting foods there that I’ve been meaning to try.

How do you stay curious? Any tips you’d like to share?