The Simple Advice on Happiness That I Just Can’t Get Myself to Follow

A comic + thoughts

David B. Clear


All images by the author.

Some things make me happy, like spending time in nature, eating good food, exercising, completely disconnecting from the Internet, spending a night under the stars, and, if I had deer friends, hugging them, I suppose.

And there are lots of things that get me into a funk, like working too much, checking the news, not eating well, being stuck in a routine life, and comparing myself to others.

So, if I was rational, I should be doing all the happy things and way less of the funky things. Unfortunately, though, I don’t seem to be rational.

Instead of heading down to the beach and taking a glorious dip in the refreshing ocean, I often stay home sweating like a dodgeball-playing sumo wrestler wrapped in cellophane. Instead of going every weekend on a camping trip, I stay home with my face pressed against a glowing screen. Instead of cooking something nice, I eat three-day-old leftovers zombie-style over the sink.

And it’s not as if I don’t know what makes me happy. I do. And yet, way too often I procrastinate on doing the joyful things.

But why? It’s not as if I don’t know of ways to kick myself in the butt to deal with procrastination. I’ve got all sorts of systems set up to pressure myself into working more, studying more, learning more, and “improving” myself. I use calendars, commitment devices, alarms, time trackers, notifications, pomodoros, and a dozen other ways to ensure I’m “productive.”

But I can’t help but wonder if my way of using all these systems isn’t completely misguided. Maybe I shouldn’t be using systems to pressure myself to work. Maybe I should use them to grab me by the nuts an hour before sunset and drag me scrotum first to a gorgeous hill that overlooks the ocean — a system that squeezes hard whenever I’m tempted to pull out my smartphone.

You see, happiness shouldn’t be an afterthought. It shouldn’t be something you procrastinate on. It should be a priority. You should have systems, habits, and routines in place that force you to do the joyful things each and every one of your days.

(Bonus panels)



David B. Clear

Cartoonist, science fan, PhD, eukaryote. Doesn't eat cats, dogs, nor other animals. 1,000x Bottom Writer.