The Happy Man

This post is adapted from a conversation I had with my 14-year-old brother.

While there is a large number of things that can increase the happiness of a man, I believe only five are absolutely essential. They construct a pentagon:

Family & Friends

Human beings are social animals. All those studies that say alcohol is beneficial to your health actually measure the social benefits of drinking (among other things), and not the effects of the drug itself. Truth is we need a stable circle of people to confide in and pass the time with. I accept solitude as a necessary feature of life, as even family members will come and go, but I know that I’m a more grounded, stable person when I’m anchored with other people that share my blood or personality type.

Health

If you’ve ever had a serious health scare, you know how just about everything else fades into the background while you focus on repairing your body, but a lot of people continue to mortgage their future with unhealthy living. This isn’t about living to 100 years old, but living the most number of years with a sound body that enables you to enjoy other points on the pentagon. I rather die at 50, healthy as a horse, than living until 70 with half of those years afflicted by a chronic disease that could have been prevented.

Health is not only physical but mental, too, such as the case with depression and anxiety. I know that my mental health degrades when staying in the United States for an extended period of time, improving drastically once I hit the road.

Fulfilling Work

It’s hard to approach other areas with vigor and optimism if you don’t look forward to each and every day, something that only a fulfilling job can give. Otherwise you may fall into ruts that involve drug abuse and wasteful habits like television watching or obsessing about the news. There are too many hours in a day to suffer not having something that stimulates your brain and allows you to feel that you’re making a positive difference in the world.

One good thing about my generation is that they are less patient with boring jobs. You won’t find us working in factories (like there are any, anyway) and it’s common for men to take a year or two off to explore things on their own in order to discover the type of life that tailors them best. You probably already know several men who are doing what they love, with gigs that most likely started as an extension of their hobbies. We live in an age where a budding writer, musician, artist, or entrepreneur can succeed with desire and hard work, something that was considerably harder twenty years ago. Old excuses for being stuck in a dead-end office job are no longer valid.

Women

We can’t fight the genetics that nature has given us, which says that we need to mate with fit members of our species. It is undeniable that a man is most happy when he’s sexually active. There is a point of diminishing return where too many women will not increase happiness, but there is a basal level of sex that I’m sure releases beneficial hormones into the male bloodstream, allowing him to more easily focus on other aspects of the pentagon. For most of my 20s, my main focus was on women, but as I can now stay sexually active with a smaller amount of effort, my focus has easily shifted to accomplishing other goals.

Money

Lack of money limits your options for achieving other areas like health and women. One problem with the Western man is that even though he is making a lot of money (compared to men from other countries), his lifestyle is too high maintenance and full of consumer waste. His income is high but because he doesn’t save, he will never see the benefits that a pile of cash can give him, such as peace of mind and extra options during stressful times when he experiences a direct hit to work or health areas. The Western man ends up worrying more about the future than a poor man living in a Brazilian favela.

Currently I’m more financially secure than I’ve ever been in my life, but I live like a frugal man because I know that an upgrade in lifestyle with more “stuff” will not result in an increase in happiness. I enjoy my time with simple experiences while letting money in the bank balance the ups and downs that will get thrown at me.

Understand that every point is connected and always affecting each other:

In America it’s hard to have health with money, and even an overindulgence with women can result in health problems. A problem with work may strain relationships with family and friends, or hammer your energy so that you don’t have enough left over for women. Here’s the happy man “pentagon” that we have been trained to believe since birth:

Many Western men believe money, above all else, will lead to happiness, but your life can still be bleak if you are rich but haven’t worked on the other areas.

I can’t say I’m too optimistic for the Western man. It is now exceedingly difficult for him to find a decent woman, regardless of his income. He has the least amount of friends of any culture, and he has to deal with the most expensive health care system in the world along with diminishing job prospects. While expatriation is an idea that may improve the life of many men, it will not bring him more happiness than if was already born into a society whose soil was fertile enough for his development. Western land has become an increasingly harsh environment for robust crop cultivation.

The key to happiness is balance. While a short-term excess with one point won’t hurt you, prolonged obsession with women, work, or money, for example, will definitely cause other areas to suffer. Is there a book written on how this balance can be achieved? Is there a man who can be modeled? I don’t believe so. You must determine the best mix for yourself by being mindful about working on all five areas. That usually means working hard on your goals, changing comfortable routines, taking risks, and being a real man instead of a chump that modern culture is telling you to be. You must carefully stop and think at what affects your being. You must make the right changes, and you must embrace a lifelong process that will make you not only happier, but the best man that you can be.

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Tampa
Tampa
9 years ago

Five start post. Especially the money advice. I spend every damn dollar I make and in biblical terms nothing could be more foolish and ignorant. It’s a total western culture thing.

craig | travelvice.com

This reminded me of a paragraph that I wrote back in 2008:

I’m often asked about travel budgets, and how to make a trip to region Z a successful one based on X dollars in hand, or how much long-term travel really costs in the first place. The reality is that it’s different for everyone, and it’s up to each individual to trim expenses back to a lifestyle level that they’re comfortable with. Remember, the big four cost components of any long-term travel are going to be food, accommodation, Internet, and transportation.

The varying amounts of cost and quality within these four items result in my perception of value, and that in turn impacts my happiness (as I am a value-for-my-dollar driven person). This is what we would call utility, in economic terms.

Being a father adds the burden of baby into my costs, but by CouchSurfing I’ve removed both the expenses of accommodation and Internet.

All about your personal perception of balance.

craig | travelvice.com’s last blog post: Photos from the Giza Necropolis.

ericthemighty
ericthemighty
9 years ago

by far your best post ever. good stuff man. I’m 100% with you. Fulfilling business is new for me, but it’s so important.

ericthemighty
ericthemighty
9 years ago

there is a book that talks about this balance, although he doesnt call it that… and how to achieve it.. “The Four Agreements” Miguel Ruiz… something. You can find it everywhere in the world translated

craig | travelvice.com

I’m also reminded of the Project Triangle

craig | travelvice.com’s last blog post: Photos from the Giza Necropolis.

The Rookie
9 years ago

“Get some rest. If you haven’t got your health, you haven’t got anything.” So said one of the advisors to the prince in the Princess Bride.

Each of these at any given time carries more weight than the other. But I wonder if some of them are always more important? Health is probably it.

The Rookie’s last blog post: Baffled.

Sweatpants
Sweatpants
9 years ago

I think of happiness much more simply. Eat when you’re hungry, sleep when you’re tired.

Race
Race
9 years ago

I beleive William H. Danforth founded the Ralston Purina Company in St. Louis touched something similar (but not exact)about similar points in a mans life. A good post Roosh. When i was 14 i wish I had an older brother like you to clue me in. But then again when i was 14 this was all pre-internet , and no doubt the world wide web has played an important role in making men more aware of their world.

Your statement here is also quite true: “I can’t say I’m too optimistic for the Western man. It is now exceedingly difficult for him to find a decent woman, regardless of his income.”

One of the sings of the times no doubt. But then Roosh what can you suggest for a remedy or treatment for this?

The G Manifesto
9 years ago

Good post.

I like how you mention “the social benefits of drinking”. I would take it a step further and add “the social benefits of smoking cigarettes” also.

This is as excellent point:

“One problem with the Western man is that even though he is making a lot of money, his lifestyle is too high maintenance and full of consumer waste.”

Lately, I have really scaled back to spending all my CASH on travel and experiences. I have never really been one to buy a bunch of Chinese made crap like big screen tvs anyways, but I am starting to be a little smarter with money.

I still buy the occasional Custom Made Suit. But that is a dying art, and are handmade in Italy, UK or America, so it’s a different deal.

– MPM

The G Manifesto’s last blog post: America’s Image Problem.

The G Manifesto
9 years ago

Another thought:

Health, Family and Friends, and Money are the most important of the five.

If you have those three, the women part is easy.

So is the fulfilling work part.

– MPM

The G Manifesto’s last blog post: America’s Image Problem.

Johnson
Johnson
9 years ago

Yes, really a five star post. Excellent.

Wise words from Mr. Onassis, who was a very rich man:

“After a certain point, money is meaningless. It ceases to be the goal. The game is what counts.”

“If women didn’t exist, all the money in the world would have no meaning.”

“The more you own, the more you know you don’t own.”

Bad Hussar
Bad Hussar
9 years ago

Good Post

As far as the medical expenses go, I’m sure many, or even most, people reading your blog would be aware of the medical tourism trend. People travel to certain countries specifically to undergo various medical procedures at much lower cost than their home country. The same medical procedure performed in Costa Rica, Hungary, Thailand etc. costs a fraction of what it would cost in a ultra-expensive jurisdiction like the US. Unless your medical condition is so bizare that you need world experts to attend to you, it really shouldn’t make much difference where you are treated. Provided you choose wisely of course.

Otherwise, there are certainly a lot of men everywhere in the world looking for the kind of balance and lifestyle you describe. Personally the ones I’m working hardest at is Fullfilling Work and Money. They definitely go together in my book. The thought of being forever chained to a desk, or even being restricted to one city or country, and meekly requesting one lousy weeks vacation from an uncaring HR department does not appeal to me.

One thing I realised long ago is that full time work doesn’t really pay that well. Part-time can be a better deal overall. I don’t know about the US, but in all the countries I’ve worked in if you cut down your work year to just 6 months in every year, you’ll typically receive a tax refund equivalent to one months salary based on a full years work. Essentially it works out as: “Work for 6 months, get paid for 7 months”. This is mainly due to so called “progressive” taxation where the more money you make the higher the rate of tax is applied to earnings beyond certain thresholds. This works best for people who earn their money from regular employment and are in the broad middle income range. If you make a lot of money, or very little the benefit decreases. Something to think about for people who could realistically work for just 6 months of the year (e.g. consultants). Your drop in income may be a bitlower than you anticipate.

I’m basically saying there are always ways to game the system. It is not desingened for the earnest man or women who accepts the rules as they appear.

Solo
9 years ago

While I agree with your post I think your missing the biggest piece of the puzzle, Spirituality! were spiritual beings, I’m not talking about religion. The times were I have been the most fulfilled in my life is when I live my life according to God’s will. My confidence and attitude were never better.

Solo’s last blog post: Hip-Hop and Closed minded Conservatives.

Tony Ryan
9 years ago

Great post Roosh!

Balance is definitely the long-term route to happiness, however I do believe that swinging the pendulum off to the extreme for a short period of time can be healthy.

For example, for about 1.5 years I tried to get better with women. I’d go out maybe 2 or 3 times per week, maybe take a few weeks off here and there then go back out again. I saw little to no ass during this time.

Then I decided to practically drop everything in my life and go out every single day for about 9 months. Within the first 2 months I got more action than the previous 18 and by the end of the 9 months my results were getting straight silly.

I eventually eased off the going out and focused on other areas of my life but I don’t think I would have attained the skill set I developed if it wasn’t for going hardcore for a short bit of time.

I think the same can be applied to health and work. I think it’s okay to go hardcore at your career for a period of time (as long as you don’t COMPLETELY neglect the other areas of the pentagon). In fact, I think all worthy pursuits in life demand, that at one point or another, you give the majority of your time and energy to chipping away at it – then eventually swing things back towards homeostasis level.

I’m definitely not advising guys to be workaholics – but do you think the airplane could have been created if its creator didn’t obsess over the thing to the point where he might have neglected other areas of his life?

If you want to build a business, actually get good with women, develop a certain skill set, or pursue any extremely challenging pursuit, I think sometimes you HAVE to temporarily tip things to the extreme.

Tony Ryan’s last blog post: The 1 Quality The 10 Percent Of Successful Men Possess.

Neo
Neo
9 years ago

Good stuff. It’s about balancing things, everything you mention are a must for a happy man’s life. As far as spirituality goes, I agree with Solo. For me I meditate, but whatever it is it’s a component.

Neo’s last blog post: She Says To Me “I’m Different.”.

hmm
hmm
9 years ago

nicely put, but these ideas are the cornerstone of many, many self-help/life design/motivational books…

kissmeimshomer
9 years ago

i work for someone who has literally hundress of millions in personal wealth, but is the most stressed out motherfucker ive ever met.
I blogged about that here:
http://kissmeimshomer.wordpress.com/2010/11/09/sex-tapes-make-you-famous-so-follow-your-dreams/

kissmeimshomer’s last blog post: Abdullah Goes OTD!.

Alex
Alex
9 years ago

I’d be inclined to disagree with this post – it implies that there are “building blocks” to happiness, which is a fairly facile argument – success yes, but not happiness.

To illustrate this simply; there are plenty of men who achieve happiness utterly lacking in one or many of these categories (an extreme example would be a monk).

To be more abstract, this doesn’t address the more ethereal aspects of happiness (which apply to men more than women, though certainly connect with both): examples would include –

– The concept of earned success (i.e. the Bangladeshi hobo is happier when he catches a squirrel for his lunch than the English welfare recipient is when he buys a new XBox to compliment his 50 inch plasma – granted this is hinted at as a side note above)

– The value of staying true to a firm set of personal principles, aka integrity, utterly necessary to personal satisfaction

– The importance of bring value to other peoples’ lives through your actions

… and I could go on, but you get the picture.

The most worrying point from this post was on the subject of fulfilling work – about it being a good thing that people aren’t patient with jobs. On the contrary this is a symptom of deep malaise, and the primary thing that’s rotting our (Western – I’m English) society is this entitled belief that we can all be “writers, musicians and artists” *shudder*. The only reason people aspire to such things (people who have no talent that is), is because they are constantly exposed through the media to “peers” doing them in the first place. Attributing this kind of ambition to happiness for men is rather like saying it’s emotionally healthy for a girl to bleat about how she “deserves” a man like that pasty douche from Twilight. Not to mention of course the question of where the funding comes from for this new generation who are teens until they’re 32, and then retire at 55….

I guess what I’m saying is that I like a lot of thinking on the detailed level (for example being a “real man” and actively working on different areas of your life), but the concept of the diagram is both unnecessary and misleading for “happiness” – it’s more of a post about “success”, which I feel is a very different area.

Timothy
Timothy
9 years ago

Real talk Roosh, real talk. In the last few years I’ve given a lot of thought to this kind of thing. I can’t say that I really know what “happy” is, but I’ve made improvements. I don’t have a close-knit family, but I have a great core of friends. We try to get together whenever time allows, be it for a birthday, New Years, or just a random jaunt to Vegas like we did a couple of weeks ago. If one of us doesn’t have the money, the rest of us have his back. I’ve made it a point to travel more, even if it’s just a weekend somewhere other than my own city. The Knicks are playing the Spurs down in San Antonio in January. I’ve always wanted to see that city, so I’ll go down for the weekend. I’ve used the internet to meet women around the world, and I try to make friendships in cities I’ve always wanted to visit. I’ve visited friends in Mexico, London and Rome this past year. I’ve been at a job that actually challenges me for the past 3 years, and that too has helped my overall wellbeing.

Most of us don’t have jobs that we just can’t wait to get to every day, but I look at work this way…it gives me the money to do things I DO love to do, like hopping on a plane and going somewhere. If there’s a nice woman at your destination, it’s a bonus. But don’t make it about her. Make it about YOU, and your own experiences. I put aside money whenever possible so when I want to take a trip, I don’t worry so much about whether or not I can afford it. Saving can be hard, but try giving up something else you’re blowing money on. Dispense with people or things that aren’t positive for you.

traveling boho
traveling boho
9 years ago

“Is there a book written on how this balance can be achieved?”

Check out Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics.

Random Guy
Random Guy
9 years ago

You forgot TRAVEL

You can have nice, fulfilling work in Omaha, Nebraska, a cute, but boring girl, decent health and a few dud buddies and still be grossly unhappy.

Lots of middle Americans have a decent job, decent income, ok health and a decent wife, but life just doesn’t click for them. I’d call it the American lifestyle of unhappiness/meaninglessness.

Which is why we are so religious. People here in the US need their lives to have meaning. So they turn to religion.

Plus there is always something aggravating in life. Traffic, the high cost of things, an aggravating work situation, etc.

Rich
Rich
9 years ago

Great post Roosh, certainly among your best.

But, like others have mentioned, your list may not be exhaustive. Other important ingredients of happiness that I can think of are (1) self-awareness and (2) the ability to get out of one’s own way. They can improve other aspects of life – relationships, work, wealth and health.

SV Warrior
9 years ago

You forgot self esteem. You have to like yourself and have the ability to go it alone at times.

SV Warrior’s last blog post: PUA’s for life.

Anonymous
Anonymous
9 years ago

I agree with everything in this post except that America makes your mental health worse, and going abroad makes it better. I think you clearly got worn down while traveling (we all do) both physically and mentally, and your mental health improved when you returned to the U.S.