I’ve had a lot of blogs since my early teens—that’s actually rather generous, let’s say I set up lots of webpages which were intended to be blogs but were quickly left unattended. I was born a perfectionist you see. But my perfectionism was, until recently, stifling. I had the kind of perfectionism that gets in the way of doing things.
My efforts to write were quickly met with my own editorial severity. Articles that I did publish often became disappointing after just a few days. Before long even my blogs’ designs weren’t good enough in my eyes. I’d then start over, hence the many blogs.
I’ve kept at it to this day for two reasons. First, I have an itch for writing. Even at times when I can think of nothing to write about, I feel a need to commit words to paper like I feel the need to eat. My second reason is less endearing.
I have—had—this fantasy about authoring a popular blog. You know, where my articles would actually be read by other people. If only I had people’s attention, I thought, then I’d stop mucking about. That’d be all the motivation I’d need to publish regularly, I thought.
But standing atop my blog today, having tamed my perfectionism and written more than I ever had previously, I must confide I felt nothing at all. My increased readership brought me no joy. No sense of achievement. No motivation.
Until, finally, I understood something I already knew. Nothing brings joy, you see. It’s why people are happy for different reasons, at different times, and in different ways. Happiness comes from within. I decide—unconsciously most of the time—how I feel.
In fact, thinking I’d be happier if my blog became popular is counter-productive. It makes me less happy now, and it creates an expectation of happiness that probably won’t be met. This doesn’t mean I’m bound to unhappiness, quite the contrary.
The key—for me at least—is to argue with my inner dialog. Instead of speculating about what might make me happy, I imagine I am. It is, after all, an achievement to keep a blog. And I do like the idea of people reading it. And I can take great pleasure in crafting an essay, regardless of whether it will be read or not.
Just like that, I convince myself to be happy, which simultaneously feels like the greatest and the dumbest life hack ever.