Mel Robbins: Are You Willing to Fight for Happiness?

My computer wouldn’t start. I sat down to write this column, pressed the button and nothing. I pressed the button several times. I held it down. I unplugged it from the wall and tried a different outlet. Nada. The battery has been acting kind of funny lately, so I was kind of expecting this to happen.

What I wasn’t expecting was what the dude at the customer service counter said when I took in my laptop to have it fixed.

“We should have it back to you in five days.”

“Five days?”

“Yup,” he said.

“Is that five business days, or five days?”

“My answer won’t make you happy.”

I walked out of there without my computer. And, no, I’m not happy about it. I have an event in five days with 200 attendees and major sponsors coming. Everything I needed was on that laptop—my presentation, attendee list, poster designs… everything.

No, of course I didn’t back it up.

I’m not happy about it, at all.

Happiness is an emotional state. It is a feeling that comes and goes. Studies show that you have a preset, built-in genetic level of happiness. Researchers also tell us there are simple tricks to raising your happiness set point. A recent British study boiled down the happiness recipe to six and a half hours of sleep, a 20-minute commute, five home-cooked meals a week, a night out with friends or loved ones and regular exercise.

Happiness is a feeling—but it goes deeper than that. If you think about what has made you the happiest, it probably didn’t come without a struggle. In fact, the things you should feel happy about, the things you don’t have to work for— being pretty or smart, growing up in a nice neighborhood or having supportive parents—you barely recognize. Instead, it’s the things that were not easy to come by that make you stand up and take notice: the relationship that twisted your stomach into knots, childbirth, the house you weren’t sure you could afford, beating cancer, doing your own thing for a living. If you got the rewards from any of those challenges, you had to fight through nerves and overcome struggles. You had to battle for the rewards. But when you finally got what you so desperately desired, you were more than happy. You were fulfilled.

When you understand this, you will realize that in order to be happy, you must be willing to be uncomfortable during the process of getting what you want. You can tweak your level of happiness like a modern-day alchemist by exercising, hanging out with good friends or listening to music. But to be truly happy, you need to be going for something that is slightly out of reach.

Am I happy that my computer died on me? No. It certainly throws a wrinkle into the next five days as we close in on this event. I’m not sure how I am going to pull this off. It will definitely be a struggle. But one thing I can tell you is that I will battle through this challenge and win.

And that makes me feel very happy indeed.

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