Living an unconventional life: 5 life lessons on happiness

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard the following advice:

The path to happiness comes from looking after yourself first.

It’s good advice for people in toxic relationships. They need to take a stand for themselves.

But this advice isn’t so useful for the majority of people. In fact, more often than not it takes you away from living a happy and fulfilled life.

The reason is this:

If you consistently put yourself first, you’ll live an isolated life. Human beings are social animals.

Our purpose in life is to live in societies with other people. It can be frustrating to give up your individuality for the collective good of others. But it’s a reality that everyone has to contend with at some point in their lives.

Life becomes fulfilling when you create value for other people around you. When you put other people first.

With this in mind, here are five unconventional life lessons that will help you live a fulfilling and happy life.

YouTube video

For those unable to watch the video right now, keep on reading for the five unconventional life lessons.

Let’s jump in:

1. Stop trying to be happy

The brutal reality is that we are not on this planet to be happy.

We are here to live a life of purpose and meaning in collaboration with others.

When you focus on being happy, you end up creating an idealized definition of what it means.

Instead, you’re better off focusing on things you can control. For example, you can make sure your actions and behaviors are aligned with living a life full of purpose and meaning.

Because when you focus on getting meaning from what you do in life, happiness usually emerges spontaneously.

This is because comes from within. It’s not something that can be achieved.

2. Happiness is not external to you

Happiness comes from within and it emerges spontaneously from the values you have.

If you start to value things that emerge from whatever your habits, routines, behavior are creating in your life, you will be happy.

When you value your relationships and treat people with respect, you will find yourself becoming happier much more spontaneously.

But if you look for happiness from external things,  it becomes difficult to achieve.

Happiness has to be generated internally.

3. Happiness comes from being satisfied with what you have right now

Happiness comes when you’re satisfied with where you’re at in life.

As soon as you start to want things that you don’t currently have, happiness becomes a very elusive goal. You end up chasing happiness but not finding it.

When you want what you already have, happiness becomes a regular condition in your life.

4. Start being useful to others

The way to be useful to others is to provide something of value.

We are social beings. We need each other. Happiness doesn’t come from focusing entirely on yourself.

Instead, happiness can be achieved through collaboration with other people.


You can be useful by being a role model, living a life of virtue, having good values, being friendly, acting with kindness and generosity.

If you have this deep respect for other humans, you will end up having respect for yourself.

For happiness, it’s always the other way around.

Don’t focus on yourself first, focus on other people first. Find yourself acting in service to other people.

5. You can’t make others happy for them

You can’t help other people become happy because it needs to be a very unique journey that everyone must take.

When you try to make others happy, you end imposing your own values on other people. That doesn’t help them and it doesn’t help you, too.

It ends up creating needy, toxic relationships. You end up being clingy in a relationship.

You need to focus on yourself in this journey. This is where the usual advice gets it right.

Be useful to others but don’t fall into the trap of trying to make the people you’re being useful to happy along the way.

If you follow these 5 tips, you will start to live a virtuous life. You will more easily find meaning in your life and happiness will be the consequence.

Did you like my article? Like me on Facebook to see more articles like this in your feed.

Picture of Justin Brown

Justin Brown

I'm Justin Brown, the founder of Ideapod. I've overseen the evolution of Ideapod from a social network for ideas into a publishing and education platform with millions of monthly readers and multiple products helping people to think critically, see issues clearly and engage with the world responsibly.

Enhance your experience of Ideapod and join Tribe, our community of free thinkers and seekers.

Related articles

Most read articles

Get our articles

Ideapod news, articles, and resources, sent straight to your inbox every month.