How to Find Happiness (as a Young Person)

How to Find Happiness (as a Young Person)

How to find happiness

One of the hardest things to put your finger on in life is how to manufacture happiness, right? There’s a lot of products and advertising we’re surrounded with that are supposed to make us all happier, but the unfortunate reality is that most of those things are purely designed for profit.

Going on an all-inclusive vacation won’t inherently make you happy (on a day to day basis), just like a supplement from the grocery store won’t do it either.

When you’re young and trying to find your way in life, I think it’s a good exercise to think about what you’re doing, where you’re going, and why you’re doing both. That was one of the things that I was able to do before I left my teaching job for this site, and I think it directly resulted in my happiness level now (which is at an all time high).

Here’s how you can find happiness as a young person:

Understand that happiness isn’t linear. It’s complicated as hell sometimes

One of the biggest misconceptions out there is that there is some type of switch you can flip to be happy. In my experience, it doesn’t work that way at all.

Happiness isn’t just a feeling. It’s a way of life, and you have to learn how to cultivate it with everything that you do. You have to constantly balance relationships, work, life, money, and experiences to make it all work.

Even if you’re really good at that, there will still be times when you’re not happy. That’s just life, but if you recognize that happiness is a long-term process it will be much easier to find. Also, the times that you’re unhappy make it much easier to recognize when you are happy.

Money isn’t the silver bullet

I know this is a weird thing coming from a person that is literally obsessed with talking about $$$, but it’s such a small part of what actually makes you happy. We’ve all heard this before – but money is just a tool.

Research shows that higher salaries only make you happy up until $75,000/year. As someone who will pass that up this year, I can tell you that it just starts to turn into numbers after that (for me at least). Not that I’m complaining, but there’s also more issues in life that pop up when you start to have more money.

Absolutely try to make more if it, but don’t convince yourself that it’s all you need.

Related: January 2017 Online Income Report: $16,683.77

It’s not about stuff, unless you really really like stuff

I’m not a minimalist by any stretch, even though I think it’s a cool movement that’s happening right now. I like to think that I’m just a normal guy that wants a lot of what the average person wants.

We always hear that stuff isn’t important, but I’m not so sure that is 100% true. One of my favorite things is being out on the water. If I didn’t have a boat, I wouldn’t be able to experience that nearly as much. It truly makes me and my wife happy.

If stuff provides an experience you love, then it’s totally valid to want it. You just have to understand if you can truly afford it or not (We wrote a check for the boat if you were wondering).

Related: Afford: A Dangerous Word

Who you surround yourself with matters

I know for a fact that I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t surrounded myself with people that were:

  1. Smarter than me
  2. Wiser than me
  3. Knew more about money than me

That decision to find mentors and associate with good people drove me to take chances I never would have (aka this site), and find the thing that I love doing the most. If your friends suck and/or bring you down, you need to crop them out of the picture.

Passion drives everything

This is huge. I get that not all of us are fortunate enough to have a job that truly brings us passion. I actually think that’s OK, as long as you are filling your time away from work with something that drives you to be a better person.

An easy way to figure out what you’re passionate about: If it doesn’t feel like work or a chore while you’re doing it, you’re probably pretty passionate about it.

Perspective makes happiness easier to find

I talk about this often on this site (for a lot of reasons), but my wife and I lost her father last year. It sucked a lot, but something cool that came from it was that my outlook on life and what it’s supposed to be completely changed.

You have to understand that life is long, and very short at the same time. If you wake up truly understanding that it could be your last day, and you make that a habit every damn day….you’ll appreciate everything around you infinitely more.

And, you’ll be happier.

Question for you:

What makes you happy?


Live differently. Your bank accounts will thank me later. ~M$M

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22 comments… add one
  • Mrs. Picky Pincher Feb 17, 2017, 8:04 am

    After a lot of thought, I’ve come to the conclusion that full-time work is the source of *most* of my unhappiness. I had two weeks off of work during the holidays and I couldn’t believe how happy I was. Life was so much simpler and easier. I could live on my own terms and do what I actually wanted to do.

    Happiness comes in different shades for everyone. For me, achieving FIRE is my best bet, but there are still many things I do to stay happy even while in an un-ideal work situation.

  • Kyle Feb 17, 2017, 8:16 am

    Great perspective here Bobby. It is true that happiness can not be bought, but money can give you options. I really think the 75k thing is interesting, and mostly agree with it! Cool post, nice to hear some things like this as a reminder sometimes! Thanks!

  • Mad Money Monster Feb 17, 2017, 9:12 am

    It’s funny that all we do is talk about money and in the same breath we say money doesn’t make you happy. It truly is just a tool to give you options. That’s what we are truly chasing. Options give us the freedom to be able to buy a boat, leave an unfulfilling job, or spend time with a sick relative.

    Being a self-proclaimed frugal minimalist, it takes very little to make me happy. I enjoy making memories with my family and friends. If I make it to a coffee shop – it’s a good day. 🙂

    • Millennial Money Man Feb 17, 2017, 9:31 am

      Haha yeah it’s weird right? It’s just so easy to get caught up in feeling like money is the only thing in life.

  • Go Finance Yourslef! Feb 17, 2017, 9:47 am

    Very Well said M$M. I’ve come to find that more money doesn’t lead to happiness but it does lead to more control over your life which creates happiness. My wife and I are very comfortable from a money standpoint right now. But I still have goals to increase my income. Not because making an extra $50k will make me happier, but because it will allow me to save more money and become financially independent faster.

    I’m in agreement that you don’t necessarily have to love what you do, but you do need a passion that drives you. Something that is for yourself. For instance, my wife is a marathon runner and has a goal to run a marathon in all 50 states. I recently started Go Finance Yourself and love the challenge of growing a website as well as the opportunity to connect with others over money. I’m also an avid golfer with a goal to drop my handicap into single digits this year. I love my job right now, but I have several things outside of work that I’m passionate about, and I think it brings more happiness to my life as I work to achieve them.

    • Millennial Money Man Feb 17, 2017, 11:16 am

      1. That’s incredible on the marathons. I have a friend that ran an ULTRA marathon the other day. People are nuts haha.

      2. I’d really like to work on my golf game.

  • The Savvy Couple Feb 17, 2017, 10:14 am

    Man I wish this was posted a year ago! I was working as a jail deputy miserable as f*uck! I hated life, I was in a deep depression.

    Happiness is definitely long term. The “bad” times make the good even better.

    After leaving the jail I have found myself again. I started on getting fit and lost 40lbs. Then came spiritually a closer relationship with God. And lastly, finding when I had a passion about in pursuing it fully.

    I am also at an all time high right now. I have finally found what I was meant to do at the age of 26. Become a full fledged entrepreneur and not a wannabe.

    Awesome article! Happiness is the key to living a great life. Find your passion and run!

  • Ryan @ Just Another Dollar Feb 17, 2017, 10:57 am

    These are great insights! 28 (this year) has also been my biggest personal growth year. I think the biggest realization was that there’s no definite right or wrong way to go through life as long as you’re trying to improve.

    Previously I’d been a big researcher and always THOUGHT about what to do and PLANNED to do things but then rarely executed the plans. This year I started DOING things, even if I wasn’t 100% sure of myself and I’ve been so much happier.

    There was a Zig Ziglar quote that really struck a chord with me: “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” And that’s how I’m living and loving my life.

    • Millennial Money Man Feb 17, 2017, 11:17 am

      Totally true (especially in blogging). Just getting started is more than most people do!

  • The Grounded Engineer Feb 17, 2017, 12:13 pm

    The $75k income level for happiness is interesting. Now that I paid off my student loan and car loan debt, I’m interested to see what income my family really needs to achieve optimal happiness. We do have a mortgage, but do we really need to pay it down? Yes, it would be nice. But at such a low interest rate, we’re not losing that much money in interest. Excellent post, Bobby!

  • Mrs. COD Feb 17, 2017, 4:15 pm

    Happiness is definitely tricky. I’ve always liked the stat about the happiness/money threshold at 70-75K. It helps to know money truly doesn’t buy happiness. But I’m no minimalist either. We’re like you; we’ll spend money on what makes us happy within reason. We love getting on the water with our kayaks whenever possible!

  • Em Feb 18, 2017, 9:05 am

    Finding happiness is definitely a hit and miss at first, but once you do find your niche, it can be soo rewarding and satisfying. Left an office job and now I’ve never been happier with what I’m doing for a living right here at home too. 🙂

  • Benjamin Davis Feb 19, 2017, 8:32 am

    Although I think that happiness is a little bit more complex than what you described, you certainly brought very nice points up!

    Keep up!

  • AJ Money Matters Feb 20, 2017, 1:17 am

    I’ve actually thought about this a lot recently. So many people believe that if they earn more money, or if they become rich, they will be happy. As the saying goes, ‘money won’t buy you happiness’. But the right amount will allow you to live the lifestyle you’ve designed for yourself. Whatever your lifestyle design might be, ultimately, that is what will make you happy.
    For me happiness comes down to passion, purpose and making a positive impact on society. Finding fulfilment in my job and knowing that i’m helping people and making their lives better through my work. I think if you can identify what will fulfil you in life, that is inevitably what will make you happy.

  • Peter Feb 21, 2017, 6:56 am

    I think many people misunderstood the term of happiness. Living a happy life does not mean that you are happy and laughing all the time (thats more a ticket straight to the madhouse). It is more a state of mind when you know that the fundamentals of your life are in order and everything is going well. In the whole process you will still sitting on the emotional rollercoaster. But if the big picture looks good, then your life can still be happy despite sometimes you have tears in your eyes.

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