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Life is like a cooking recipe — You control the ingredients

A recipe approach to life so you can gain control of your personal happiness


Humans are a weird species. We have the weird drive to become happy, yet in our pursuit of happiness we often do a lot of things we don’t like.

In fact, we sacrifice current happiness for potential (yes, not even “sure”) future happiness.

We work many hours, go through struggles in life, invest our time and money, and all for things we believe will make us happy in the future.

Do you recognize yourself or someone else in the statements below?

  • “If I become the CEO of this company, I will finally be happy”
  • “If I make €1 million a year, I will finally be happy”
  • “If I have 10 million followers on Instagram, I will finally be happy”
  • “When I have achieved this one thing, I will finally be happy”
  • “When I’m successful, I will finally be happy”

If so, keep on reading. If not, I still believe there’s some value for you below.

Your Life Goal: A Good F-ing Meal

— Yes, with “meal” I metaphorically mean Life.

We all love food.

Me too.

The beauty of life is that you can compare it to a meal.

You for example get to decide what you do with and in your life, let’s call these things “decisions”.

When you prepare a meal, you also make decisions. You get to decide what goes in a meal, and what doesn’t. Let’s call these things “ingredients”.

Just as you control which ingredients and how much of those ingredients you put in a meal, you also control what actions you take in life.

In our constant persuit of happiness we always seem to look for that magic pill, that one thing that will give us eternal happiness.

If you’re here for that, you’re at the wrong place my friend. Happiness doesn’t work like that.

Happiness is not something we can simply make, do or create. Rather, happiness is always a result of what we do, a result of our actions and our circumstances.

Which means that, if we want happiness, we have to look at how we are living our lives, at what we do, hence: the ingredients of our lives. Not some random magic pill (don’t do drugs kids ;).

Likewise, you cannot simply “make” a great meal.

A great meal is always the result of its ingredients; the recipe.

Adding too many sugar to a pasta recipe could make a potentially lovely meal turn out to be the biggest fucking disaster to Italian cuisine EVER.

Likewise, adding too little or too much stress to your life-recipe could make a potentially lovely life turn out to be worse than that of a mule having to carry an elefant up Mount Everest within 24 hours, every day of the week, for the upcoming 43 years.

Remember those statements you read in the beginning?

  • “If I become the CEO of this company, I will finally be happy”
  • “If I make €1 million a year, I will finally be happy”
  • “If I have 10 million followers on Instagram, I will finally be happy”
  • “When I have achieved this one thing, I will finally be happy”
  • “When I’m successful, I will finally be happy”

These statements all seem to be focussed on “success”.

In fact, happiness here is dependant on that particular success.

And that’s a problem.

The problem with Success

We often think success is the thing that makes us happy.

However, success is not the same thing as happiness. It is something completely different.

First of all success itself is also always a result of the things we do in life, not something we can “do”, “make” or “create”.

But the real problem with success is that people often have different definitions for success, and that most definitions of success actually make people become unhappy; thus the exact opposite of what they want.

Why does this happen?

For many people in mostly the Western part of this world, success is often defined by either (1) ego (fame, a “good” job, etc.) or (2) making a lot of money (a.k.a. become rich).

The issue with these two metrics is that your “success” is always dependent on that of other people.

By definition, one can for example only be famous if most other people are not. And one can only be rich if most others are not.

You see the flaw in these two metrics?

Becoming the thing, requires most other people to not be that thing. This concept of “success” thus concludes that only a few people in this world can become happy, but most other people cannot.

And that’s false.

When your metrics for success are so dependent of other people, you cannot control it. And if you cannot control the ingredients that make up the recipe for your own happiness, it means that you yourself have laid it in the hands of other people.

I’m not saying becoming rich or famous is a bad thing. However, it is not something that in most cases will make you happy. Happiness lies deeper.

The better thing for us to do, is to create a new definition for success that helps us to become more happy.

A better definition for a Successful Life

A much better metric for success in life, is personal happiness.

Everybody in theory could be happy. You being happy, does not require others to be unhappy and vice versa.

This makes it controlable. This makes you directly responsible for your own happiness too.

But as I said earlier, happiness is always a result of the actions we take in our lives; the ingredients of our Life-recipe.

Great, so how do I create the perfect recipe for my Life?

It all starts with understanding your current Life-recipe. What are the ingredients that make up your life?

In order to uncover it, write down all the ingredients that currently mount up to your life.

Think about things such as:

  • Your job
  • Your family situation
  • Your friends
  • Your hobbies
  • Your love life
  • Other things you do (or don’t do) in life

Now, look at what you wrote down.

What specific things make you feel happier? What things are actually conflicting with your personal happiness?

The trick is to start working on eliminating things that make you feel unhappy.

Perhaps there’s this friend whom with you have had a lot of trouble.

That doesn’t automatically mean that you have to completely cut off this person from your life straight away. However, it is important to investigate why it makes you feel unhappy. What specifically hurts or makes you feel unhappy? After uncovering this, you can work on changing that specific part of your relationship with the person to an outcome that better suits your feelings.

Yet, if this particular person is really pulling you down; it would be a good move to let him or her go.

On the other side, start looking for things you are currently missing in your life. What ingredient(s) should be added to your Life-recipe? Another job? New friends? New hobbies? Finally persuing that dream you always had?

One way to start, is to look for things that used to make you happy in the past, but that you have laid aside because it was for example “distracting” you or something.

I have a friend that used to play a lot of games when he was younger, but eliminated it completely from his life because it wasn’t “productive”. Yet, there’s a lot of scientific proof supporting the fact that “playing” is actually a basic human need (look up the works of Charlie Hoehn for more on this) that, when omitted, can result into major mental health issues.

Believe me, mental health issues are not productive. I can tell.?

So I told my friend: “Giving up ‘fun’ doesn’t make you become more productive. In fact, allowing yourself to have ‘fun’ and ‘play’ actually helps you to increase productivity”.

And so he decided to give it a try and bought himself a gaming platform so he could go back to this thing that used to make him happy in the past. He added “gaming” to his Life-recipe.

Guess what? He is now in a happier state, which makes him more productive, more efficient and more resistant to crush all his goals. Happiness and peace of mind are great productivity boosts.

Your Life-recipe is never “done”

I hope you now understand that your life is a recipe that consists of many ingredients that you can control yourself.

The thing is though that whether you consciously work on your Life-recipe or not, it is always there. And not consciously working on it means accepting that other people get to decide what ingredients make up your life, not you yourself.

Moreover, you and your surroundings constantly change, which means that for the same output (happiness) to occur, you have to tweak your Life-recipe along with it.

Make sure to check in with your Life-recipe from time to time, let’s say quarterly, to see if it still matches with what you want in Life. Ask yourself if there’s something missing, if there’s too much or too little of something, or if you should add something.

Lastly, never forget the following:

As a human being you have been blessed with a conscious mind, which makes you one of the most powerful organisms in the entire universe. We are the only species that can dictate our own outcome.

Make use of your super power and finally take control of your personal happiness.

Much Love & Success (Happiness)❤️

Originally published at medium.com

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