Wednesday Reads

Wednesday Reads: Happiness

A round up of interesting or cool stuff I’ve read.

Image by heike2hx from Pixabay



I’ve been reading the Navalmanack on and off over the past few months.

You can download for free from the website, here.

One quote I read a few days ago stood out to me:

“Today, I believe happiness is really a default state. Happiness is there when you remove any sense of something missing in your life.”


What makes you happy?

I thought I’d write a quick list of some specific times I remember being happy, in no particular order:

  • Playing video games online with my brothers
  • Cycling to and from the Great Wall of China on a warm sunny day
  • In fact, just cycling in general
  • Going for a walk with my wife
  • Finishing my PhD
  • Playing board games with friends
  • Just generally hanging out with friends/family
  • Reading
  • Attending a concert of a favourite band
  • Working with an old group of colleagues on a new, exciting research problem
  • The satisfaction of finishing something creative, be that a blog post or short story, or a presentation/research paper for work


I think these can be grouped into two categories.

The first category is the achievement of a particular goal.

That could be successfully completing my PhD, writing a blog post that garners a small bit of attention, passing an exam.

All release a rush of endorphins. Acknowledgement of a job well done.

This aligns with how Mark Manson has described happiness:

“Happiness comes from solving problems… To be happy we need something to solve. Happiness is therefore a form of action; it’s an activity… True happiness occurs only when you find the problems you enjoy having and enjoy solving.”

Mark Manson, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck.

But that rush soon fades, and you revert back to the default state.

Yes, achieving that goal was great! But you can’t dwell on past glories forever. Once you achieve the thing, it’s not long before you’re looking towards the next objective.

The second can be summed up by just being present in the moment, and is perhaps a more general state of mind.

When I’m walking with my wife, talking about whatever is on our minds at the time, I’m not really achieving some great thing. But it’s just… nice! I always feel better after a walk. Even if I was already feeling good beforehand.

Likewise, reading a good book, getting into the routine of a good videogame, hanging out with friends/family, working with a group of colleagues on a work-related puzzle…

The fun is not in the completion of the task, but in the doing.

Sure, the work-related example above could ultimately be counted in both categories. But in this case, I am specifically remembering the joy in just working with some colleagues. Solving the problem and achieving a tangible result (in this case, a few publications) was still a long way off!


The default state

I think the second part of the above quote is especially important.

“Happiness is there when you remove any sense of something missing in your life.”

The biggest thing that is missing in my life is work that I find enjoyable. It has it’s moments, but ultimately isn’t for me.

Fortunately, with just a few weeks left until my current contract finishes, I find myself in a position to change that. Wish me luck!


Interesting links that caught my eye this week:


  • MonevatorNo more years: I FIRE’d work
    Congratulations to The Accumulator! It’s a fantastic achievement. Looking forward to following TA’s journey over the coming months and years.


  • IndeedablyThe Long Game
    Have often have you looked at someone else’s life, and wished you had what they had?

    “Next time you find yourself listening enviously to the achievements and successes of others, take a moment to ask yourself what they had to give up to make those achievements possible? Then ask yourself whether the sacrifices required to play the long game had been worth it?”


  • More To ThatEnvy Is the Cancer of the Soul
    A post along a similar vein to Indeedably, above.

    “This reveals that you don’t want that person’s life, you just want what you desire. So rather than being envious of a person you don’t want to be in the first place, you can focus on fulfilling what you want for yourself.”


  • Incognito Money ScribeSell Your Hot Dogs at a Loss

    “Life is too short to agonize over every dollar spent, especially on things that make life satisfying, or to stress over every financial decision when completely unnecessary to the bigger picture. These are what Ramit Sethi, author of I Will Teach You To Be Rich, calls $30,000 questions. Instead of exploring how to save $3 on a good cup of coffee, explore ways to increase your salary by $30,000.”



  • The Frugal SamuraiLife’s Top 5 Regrets
    TFS looks at the most common five regrets of the dying and considers whether he is doing all he can do avoid them.
  • Sign up to Trading212 via this link and we both receive a free share.



Thanks for reading. Hope you’re all having a great week!

7 replies on “Wednesday Reads: Happiness”

Love the Great Wall picture. We had a similar sounding happy experience cycling around Angkor Wat. Just a great day – chilled beer well-needed by the end 😁

Thanks for another great list & the happiness thoughts – good luck on that next contract/job!

That sounds like a great day! I’ve never been to Cambodia, but would love to go one day. The Great Wall is quite the sight, well worth a visit if you ever get the chance.

Thanks for the kind words. I’m optimistic at the moment, but we’ll see where I am in six months time!

Seems like some of the things that make me happy are similar to yours, Dr FIRE!

You hit the nail on the head about deriving fun by just doing – I think my favourite hobbies are ones which I do just for the fun of it and these are the kind I want to embrace more when I’m no longer working.

Anyway, hope all goes well with the contract work, or were you taking time out to do the financial planning training?

Great minds, haha.

Thanks Weenie. My current contract goes on for a few more weeks, then once it finishes I’m planning to take some time off (maybe six months?). I’ll see how far I can get with the financial planning exams in that time, then make a decision about what to do next!

Hi Aparna, thanks for the kind words! Funnily enough my contract was extended once more to finish off one last project. But I only have a few weeks left, and then I will indeed be enjoying some time off!

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