education, Influences, wisdom
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Jo’s Journey (A Somewhat Irreverent Guide to Doing Anything Better) – The Pursuit of Happiness

I’m a big fan of author and blogger Chris Guillebeau.  Part of what compels me to his writing is that I sense a truly wise and generous spirit.  More to the point, I appreciate that he approaches the world from a perspective of abundance.   I also identify with his desire to help others.  Although Chris usually writes from a positive view point, I was struck with a post he recently wrote entitled How to be Unhappy.    As I read, I found myself immediately thinking of people I know who have chosen to live their lives according to one or more of the “techniques” on Chris’ How to Be Unhappy list.

Realizing that I was in fact falling into the trap of making judgments about others (see Compare Yourself to Others), I got to thinking.  How necessary is criticism in our lives?  Does having a critical eye really make us superior, and if so, does that “superiority” bring happiness?

Marker and ink illustration of girl looking critical and distrustful by Joana Miranda

Thinking back to my own experiences, I realize that I’m most happy when I’m…

  1. admiring something beautiful
  2. creating art
  3. sharing a laugh with someone
  4. sharing a wonderful meal with a loved one
  5. helping someone
  6. giving and receiving a hug
  7. reaching out to someone
  8. challenging myself
  9. listening compassionately
  10. absorbing myself in something I’m passionate about

Not surprisingly, none of the above involves being critical of others or myself.   So what do I plan to do when I start feeling the urge to be critical?  A lot more of steps 1 through 10!

Whimsical illustration of sleeping dog on pillow by Joana Miranda

How about you?  What makes you truly happy?


  1. I share a number of your happiness list items, especially the first three! I would say that self-expression makes me happy. Also community….feelings of community, or actions with/by my community make me feel safe/happy. I think that’s why I never seem to mind going to orchestra meetings. And I read the Unhappiness article….I would say that the main way I make myself unhappy is by Comparing Myself To Others!

    • Hi Helen,

      Thanks for your comment! It’s interesting what you say about the orchestra meetings. I wouldn’t say that I ever felt safe, or really happy, for that matter going to orchestra meetings. To be honest, I often felt depressed by the end. Are you able to remain positive and happy even if the meetings are negative in nature?

      I think I tend to get bogged down when I’m surrounded by a lot of negativity. Maybe its that I’m too sensitive…maybe it’s a character defect. In any case, I do need my alone time to regroup, find my creativity and recharge.

      Hope you have a nice week! Joana

  2. Happiness: watching birds out in the back yard, my two kitties and my husband’s sideways grin at me that he shares just with me.

    • Hi Bold Bohemian,

      Thanks for sharing what makes you happy! Your comment cheered me up, which was just what I was needing today.

      🙂 Joana

  3. I really liked this post. I went ahead and clicked on your link to Chris Guillebeau’s list of How To Be Unhappy. I agree with the things he wrote in there. The first one really struck me because I used to buy things I didn’t like or buy things I couldn’t afford all the time. One month ago, I decided to stop buying things, eating out, buying clothes, pretty much buying whatever looked nice. I also didn’t have anymore money because I graduated from school and didn’t have a job. It was a blessing in disguise because for the first couple weeks, it’s like I was going through detox. It was soo hard not to just buy whatever I wanted. But after that initial shock of a new habit I wanted to establish, it made me think creatively and think about what makes me happy. In the end, I learned it wasn’t things. There are so many things that make me happy that are inexpensive or free: flying a kite, taking a walk in nature (having flowers around is a plus for me), going on dates with myself where I treat myself to a mocha with extra extra whip cream. I realized I had everything I had to make myself happy. =)

    • Hi jlove12,

      Thanks for visiting my blog and for your sharing your own triumphs in the search for finding happiness. I hope you continue to take pleasure from enjoying the free things in life. As you wisely pointed out, being at one with your environment is a blessing indeed. Here’s to living in the moment, and enjoying the simple things – including the extra, extra whipped cream!

      With all best wishes,

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