Find lots of useful info and many pieces of helpful advice on how to be a really popular author!

How to Stop Selling Your Happiness

We all know that money can’t buy happiness (though I would be willing to be a beta tester if someone needs more proof of that theory, just sayin’).  We’ve been told this our whole lives.  And there seems to be a lot of evidence out there to back this up.  Wealth doesn’t always negate misery.  Money doesn’t mean everything is easy…at least not the important stuff like relationships and self-love.

So, it doesn’t matter how much money you have, you’re not going to be able to buy happiness. You can have all the stuff in the world and still not be happy.  You have to make happiness on your own…and it doesn’t cost you a dime to do it.

But I was reading a blog I like the other day, Advanced Riskology, and Tyler Tervooren, the really, really smart guy who runs this little internet acre of brilliance, said (much paraphrased) that you can’t BUY happiness, but you can put a price on it, and we SELL our happiness all over the damn place.  The trouble comes when we don’t recognize that we’re selling our happiness, because if we’re doing it unconsciously then we risk losing it.  (Please, please, please go read the article, because it’s a great article and will set the stage for what I’m going to say here for the next ten minutes or so.)

How We Sell Our Writing Happiness

Did you read the article?  Hope so, because the rest of this might not make as much sense if you haven’t.

The gist of it is this, quoting Tyler:

“Every decision you make in life comes with an opportunity cost.”

(As an aside, all of my examples here will be writing related, since that’s what we’re talking about.)

So, again, with my own emphasis:

“Every decision you make in life comes with an opportunity cost.”

If you buy this writing book now, you don’t have that money to buy a different book.  If you attend That Writers’ Conference, you can’t simultaneously attend That Other Writer’s Conference.  If you choose to spend three hours of time watching television, you can’t simultaneously spend that three hours writing.

Your fee for the choices you make is the other choice you chose against.

This isn’t really a big deal.  We  make choices all the time, many of which we are perfectly happy with.  If I haven’t seen a friend in years and choose to spend what is normally my three hours of daily writing time having coffee and catching up, that time spent would be well worth the price I pay in not being able to write during that time.

But what about when we make choices that go against what we know will make us happy?  What about when we do something, like, say, choose to watch three hours of mindless television instead of write?  If, after all that, you’re unhappy about the procrastination, you’ve paid for that TV time with three hours of your happiness.  Or, looking at it another way…you SOLD your happiness for three hours of boob tube time.

What are some other ways we sell our happiness as writers?

When we choose to write things we don’t really like because we think it will sell better than what we really want to write, we’re paying for that time spent writing what we don’t love with the happiness we could have writing what we do love.  The cost may be even higher (or at least more concretely measured) if we’re making money writing something we hate.  If you make $1000 writing erotica when you really hate writing erotica, you’ve SOLD your happiness for $1000.

When we choose to stick with an agent we’re not compatible with any longer (or maybe never were), we’re trading/selling our happiness for a false sense of security. The longer we stick, the more happiness we give up.

When we fail to send in a requested manuscript to an editor or agent because we’re afraid, we’re trading our happiness to avoid doing something we fear. We keep the fear and sacrifice any chance of a sale that could have brought us happiness.

It’s All About Informed Decisions

It’s inevitable that we sometimes have to do things that don’t make us happy.  I have to write a first draft of a book in order to have a book, but I’m not necessarily happy while I’m doing it.  We have to edit whether we like it or not, and if you’re falling on the not side of the fence, you’re not going to be doing that editing with your Happy Writer hat on.  You may accept being part of a writing project that’s not your first choice, because you know it will stretch you as a writer and, in the end, make you better at your craft.

Even those choices that don’t give us instant gratification, if we make them knowing that they will contribute to our ultimately happiness, we’re not really sacrificing or selling our happiness.  And, quite often, we find we ARE happy, even while not doing what we really want to be doing.

It’s those uninformed…or unconscious…decisions that really deplete our happiness banks.  As long as we think about what we’re doing and the cost it may have in foregoing what we really want, it’s not a bad deal.

Tyler goes on to say that the biggest tragedy of all this is that giving up our happiness doesn’t usually mean someone else is happier because of it. It’s not a direct transfer.

“…what’s actually being purchased from you isn’t your happiness at all. Instead, it’s the time that you’d spend doing something that made you happy. Your happiness is only a casualty of the transaction, destroyed when you make the decision to ignore it.”

Don’t ignore it anymore.  Before you switch on that TV, start up FreeCell, volunteer yet again for the PTA because some other mom makes you feel guilty for trying to take back your writing time…think. Are you willing to pay for any of the above with some of your happiness?  Or are you going to claim your happiness and write?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You can contact us