Happiness Advice from an Expert: How to Find Happiness When You’re Stuck in a Rut

The most profitable business in the world is the one that spends the least money to make the most money, and the most joyful person in the world is the one who spends the least effort to get the most joy! Instead of trying to do a whole lot, simply commit to doing what you can every day, no matter what. It’s consistency, not intensity, that makes the most difference over time. In other words, prioritize consistency over intensity.

Hi Rob-

Please help!

I can’t seem to get out of the rut I’m in. It feels so unrealistic to have happy thoughts on a regular basis, but that’s what I want most!

For starters, my life isn’t where I want it to be; I’m not as successful as I thought I’d be. My living situation sucks, I don’t have a job I like, and my relationships are terrible.

What’s worse, I know I won’t be happy, even if all these things fall into place. I get that, but I still want these other things.

Finally, I feel like I’ve been working at this happiness thing forever. It’s so hard to keep my mind in a state of acceptance and appreciation, let alone happiness and contentment.

For example, I’ve kept a gratitude journal for over 3 years, but I’ve dreaded it most of the time! I’ve noticed that it doesn’t work if I don’t work it, but it’s tough.

I’ve read so many books, tried lots of things, and seen tons of therapists, but nothing seems to work! Becoming happy just feels impossible!

Can you please help?

Debbie Downer


Dear Debbie-

First, thank you for that very honest, heartfelt message.

I’ve been there, trust me. It can be so frustrating, infuriating even. But I got through it, and you will, too!

To that end, please find below a few quick tips, tricks, tools, and techniques that I’ve found helpful over the years.

I hope that you find them helpful, too.

1. But first, happiness!

In short, prioritize happiness above everything else.

If you can get happy without all the stuff you want, you tend to get all the stuff you want.

And you get it faster and easier than you would or could if you were coming from a needy, desperate, unhappy, unhealthy vibrational place.

So put happiness first, and then trust that happiness will lead to everything else you want, too.

In the Bible it says, “Seek the kingdom of heaven (inside), and the rest will be added.”

Another way of saying that is, “Seek happiness inside, and everything else will follow.”

That’s what I’m saying.

If you take care of happiness, happiness will take care of success; if you take care of happiness, happiness will take care of you!

Said in another way, happiness is not only the greatest success; happiness leads to success, too!

Science agrees.

Happy people experience more success in all areas of their lives. They make more money, live longer, are healthier, are rated as more attractive, get married sooner, stay married longer, and are happier in all of their relationships, whether they are married or not.

Further, happy people are also kinder, more charitable, and more generous than their unhappy peers.

Happiness is not only the cheat code or master key to success, then.

It is also your gift to your success… and the world!

2. Do less, better.

You don’t need to know a whole lot to be happy. You likely know enough already. In fact, you probably know too much!

Similarly, you don’t need to do a whole lot more to be happy, either. You probably do enough already. In fact, you probably do too much!

In other words, you need to do less, better.

You need to focus on quality, not quantity. You need to focus on baby steps. The smaller the steps, the better.

Less is more!

So, you don’t need to learn more. You just need to apply what you already know! Knowing is doing; knowing and not doing is not knowing. An ounce of doing is worth a pound of theorizing.

Instead of learning more or even doing more, try choosing the one or two things that you can easily commit to doing every single day, no matter what.

What happiness activity is currently getting you the greatest results with the least amount of time, energy, effort, and money or resources?

Stick to that.

Who are your favorite teachers or authors?

Stick to them.

If certain videos or books really help, listen or read them over and over again.

This is called this “lazy intelligence.”

The most profitable business in the world is the one that spends the least money to make the most money, and the most joyful person in the world is the one who spends the least effort to get the most joy!

Instead of trying to do a whole lot, simply commit to doing what you can every day, no matter what.

It’s consistency, not intensity, that makes the most difference over time.

In other words, prioritize consistency over intensity.

Tony Robbins is right, “We overestimate what we can accomplish in a year, but we underestimate what we can accomplish in ten.”

Bruce Lee is also right, “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but the one who has practiced one kick, 10,000 times.”

Choose your kick.

Then, practice it. Every day.

3. Have more fun!

Most people think that I’m very disciplined, but I don’t see it that way.

Yes, I get up at 4am every day, meditate, read, and workout for a few hours. Then, I come back and see clients for 12-14 hours.

Some people might call that discipline, but I call it “blissipline.” By blissipline, I mean that I’ve made a commitment to fun. If it isn’t fun or I can make it fun, I try not to do it at all!

So, that’s my encouragement to you, too.

Happiness should be something you do for the fun of it – for the joy of it, for its own sake – not just to get a result.

If you try to get a result, you won’t get the result. If you try to get good at it, you’ll never get good at it… or enjoy it.

However, if you try to enjoy it – really enjoy it, instead – you’ll get good at it really fast.

And you’ll enjoy it, too.

4. Have faith.

You’re on the right path- just persist.

And the way you persist to keep it playful, keep it fun.

And when you don’t feel like persisting, take a nap!

You’ve got momentum behind you, and there’s no stopping that or you now.

You might not see a whole lot of progress, but it’s happening beneath the surface.

The check is in the mail a long time before you see it show up in your mailbox, so to speak.

Trust this.

Have a little more faith… in faith.

5. Delegate it.

One of the keys that I discovered along my journey from clinically depressed and suicidal to happy has been this:

Let other people do the work! Ha ha.

In other words, the challenge – and opportunity – for most of us is that left to our own devices (thinking), we resort to negativity.

We don’t reverse decades of negative thinking or unhealthy habits overnight. It takes some time and energy.

However, we don’t always have the time, energy, or interest to do that work. I get it! We all get it!

And that’s ok.

When possible, then, we can outsource or delegate this happiness thing! We can let other people or resources do the work – do our thinking – for us!

Seminars, workshops, online talks, videos, audiobooks, and books are my favorite go-to tools to this end.

In short, start consuming positive content all day, even if that means just letting a video out audio play in the background while you go about your day.

Occasionally, it’s nice and very helpful to let somebody else do the thinking for you.

6. Start right.

If you have to, get up a little earlier than usual just to set the tone for the day.

Don’t start with technology, unless it’s watching or listening to something positive, uplifting, or inspiring.

Exercise or a little movement or stretching is transformative in this way.

It’s the equivalent of taking an antidepressant. It has that powerful of an effect on your mood, minus the side effects.

7. Sleep.

Sometimes it’s helpful to play something peaceful or positive when falling asleep at night.

When you’re falling asleep, your brain is most suggestible. It’s in what’s called the “Alpha-Theta” brain wave state.

That’s why it’s good to meditate or listen to positive content when you’re sleepy. It’s that relaxed state that lets it all in!

8. Stick to lifters.

Stick to lifters, not downers.

If there are certain people who bring you down, limit your interactions with them.

Or, better yet, eliminate those people from your life entirely.

9. If you can’t be positive, be quiet.

Sometimes being quiet is infinitely better – and easier – than being positive.

The key is to pay more attention to your physical senses as you do what you do, instead of paying so much attention to the story in your head.

This is what “micro-meditations” are for.

A micro-mediation is just one, single breath that you take for the joy of it alone. You take – and deeply enjoy – that one breath while you continue doing whatever you’re doing.

And you try to enjoy that breath like it’s the last one you’ll ever take on earth again.

Who knows – it could be!

While you take that one breath, take it through the nose and from the stomach or diaphragm.

And, most importantly, as you take it, let all of your thoughts go. Don’t try to fight or change any of your thoughts at all. Just ignore them all.

Practice those micro-meditations as often as you can throughout the day, no matter what else you happen to be doing, and do it for the joy of it alone.

Remember, happiness is not only present; happiness is Presence itself. It’s being here and now. Really, it’s just Being, full-stop.

So, as you practice this micro-meditation – or do anything else for that matter – don’t focus on the past or future. Focus on the present.

If you take care of the present, the present will take care of the future. If you take care of the present, the future will take care of itself.

10. Get help!

Reach out to a therapist, coach, or other helping professional if you want or need more help.

If I can help, just let me know! You know there you find me…


By Rob Mack

Robert is a happiness coach & author. He writes and speaks to people about how to live happier lives from the inside, out. Robert’s work has been endorsed by Oprah and Vanessa Williams, among many others. In addition to serving as a Celebrity Love Coach for the television show, Famously Single, on E!, Robert has been a featured guest expert for shows like The Today Show, Good Morning America, Entertainment Tonight, CBS Early Show, The Balancing Act, and AskHer.com and magazines like Self, Health, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and Upscale. Robert has also served as a National Media Spokesperson, Management Consultant, and Executive Coach for companies like Capital One, FitBit, Buffalo Wild Wings, Microsoft, Carnival Cruise Lines, Deloitte Consulting, McCormick & Spice, IFF, Plus Consulting, and Falcon Credit Management. Robert was born in Pennsylvania. He was educated at Swarthmore College, where he received his Bachelors of Science in Psychology, and the University of Pennsylvania, where he received his Masters in Applied Positive Psychology (M.A.P.P.), an ivy-league degree held by only a few dozen people in the world. Robert lives in Los Angeles.

Photo by Jacqueline Munguía on Unsplash

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