Wisdom//

In 4 Words, Will Smith Outlines the Secret to True Happiness in Life

Hint: It's not about you.

Jim Spellman / Contributor / Getty Images
Jim Spellman / Contributor / Getty Images

Will Smith has experienced quite a bit of success. In addition to a strong career as a rap artist, he has had an illustrious career as a film actor, not to mention starring in one of the best TV shows of all time (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air). With a net worth of around $300 million, he’s also one of the wealthiest actors in the world.

So it’s worth listening to what he has to say when it comes to true happiness in life.

While it is valuable to hear everyone’s perspective on what it means to have a fulfilling life, the advantage of hearing from people like Will Smith is that he has experienced so many of the things the rest of us think would make us happy.

We think, for example, that if we never had to work again, we’d be happy. We’d love to just travel around, free of the need to be productive. We think if we owned a mega-yacht and could buy anything we ever wanted, we’d be happy. We think if we were in a great romantic relationship, we’d be happy. 

Will Smith says that’s all wrong.

“The idea is…I’ve been to the top of money, I’ve had all the sex that I’ve ever wanted, I’ve had all of the adoration,” he said in an interview with Entertainment Tonight.

So what’s left? What is the secret to true happiness in life?

On a recent podcast for Tidal’s Rap Radar, Smith revealed his thoughts on the subject. It came up in relation to his new song, “The Mountaintop.”

“I’ve been to the top of all those material-world mountains and nothing makes you happy other than being useful to others. That’s it. That’s the only thing that ever will satisfy…is that what you’re doing is useful.”

Not whether you won an Oscar. Not whether you were the keynote speaker at SXSW. Not whether you had a $100 million exit or made the “40 Under 40” list or got to a million followers on Instagram.

What makes for a happy life is being useful to others.

Smith also shared his own struggles with authenticity versus performance. “I’ve maintained the character of Will Smith…[who] signs every autograph, is always happy, and wants to see the fans, and that’s not actually authentic,” he said. In fact, he admitted, “I do want to slap somebody every once in a while.”

As it happens, he did actually end up slapping someone. The Men In Black 3 premiere in Moscow saw a particularly obnoxious “fan” get in Smith’s face, trying to give him a kiss. With cameras rolling, Smith slapped the guy right across the face.

That’s not the best part of the story, though. The best part is that when Smith got back to his room, he had 10 messages from Jay-Z. Smith recounts that when he called Jay-Z, his fellow rapper said:

“I just saw the video of you slapping the dude in Russia. I just want you to know you’ll never make a better piece of entertainment. It’s the funniest thing I’ve ever seen…Me and Bey, we got a show tonight, and we’re thinking about canceling it and just staying in and watching you slap this dude.”

(Sometimes being useful to others means entertaining them.)

The best part about this life advice is that you don’t need to do anything or get anywhere in order to start living it. You can be useful to your roommate who struggles with anxiety; to your spouse who loves it when you make dinner; to your colleague who’s going through a hard time. You can be useful by writing a blog about the top ten best shows you’ve seen on Netflix lately that are both funny and meaningful. 

You can be useful right now. No need to wait.

It might make you happier than you’ve been in a long time.

Originally published on Inc.

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