How to Be Happy

img_1020Let pleasure be your guide.

When you make a decision, ask yourself, “Which of these choices would bring me the most pleasure?”  Everyone then says, “ha!  I can’t do that, Nicole.  If I did that I would be eating cake all day long and doing who-knows-what with who-knows-who.”

No you won’t.  I am willing to bet real, actual money that you won’t do harm to yourself.  Not if you’re really in touch with what real pleasure is.

You may make some really radical life changes.  You may decide that your relationship has run its course and you need out.  You may decide that your career needs a major makeover.  You may decide that college just isn’t for you and that may make your parents mad as heck.

But if you open up to these scary possibilities, your life will open up to more pleasure.

You will find a relationship(s) that meet your requirements for respect and freedom.

You will find a job that fulfills your desire for art, community, and commerce all in one.

You will chart a course of life that can’t be predicted by books or “experts.”

Doesn’t matter what happens, just as long as it’s your own personal pleasure path.  Your PPP.

But first you must figure out what exactly pleasure feels like.

Let me give you some ideas:

  • Imagine the best dish you’ve ever eaten.  Any type of food, but something that made you close your eyes and go, “Oh, my God!  This is the best _____ I’ve ever had!”
  • The last time you saw a puppy / kitten and were all like, “Oh, my God; you’re so cute I could just squish you and love you and keep you…!”
  • When you went shopping and saw the perfect thing for yourself and just said, “Fuk this; I’m buying it.”  And it was perfect.
  • A mind-blowing orgasm that you think about all week long.
  • When you see an old friend and give each other a real hug.

So now you know what pleasure feels like.  But, get this:  you can maintain those feelings all day long if you so choose.

Of course bad things happen.

happyWhat you do is let yourself feel crappy until that feeling passes.  Depending on how bad the crap is, this may take 5 minutes or it may take 5 months.

Our lives often revolve around keeping other people happy.  But you should still put your pleasure first.

When you do this, you will find your voice.  It is difficult to speak up for what you want if you don’t prioritize your own pleasure.

Scenario #1:  At work, you often find yourself finishing other people’s projects.  It has to get done, so you put it upon yourself to do it.  Silently.

Solution:  The work is not getting done; your part is kept up, but Bob, Sue, and John have not.   They have left for the day, happy and blissfully ignorant to the fact that the project is not done.  You are prioritizing your pleasure, so you leave too.  You have a yoga class to get to!  The next day at work, the project is not done.  Whoever is in charge of this project, the project boss, will question why it’s not done.  You give Bob, Sue, and John a look.  You will point out the part that you finished, and it should be clear who is responsible.  It is not you.  

As long as we’re not taking about nuclear weapons being detonated unless the work gets done, you can let it slide if it’s not your problem in the first place.  Hey, unless you really, really get a lot of pleasure from the work!  Then by all means, keep working until the pleasure changes.  


Scenario #2:  At home, you clean all the kitchen, after cooking, after a long day of work, while your husband is comfy on the couch, enjoying a beer and his favorite TV show.  “Hey, hon, can you bring me another beer?”

Solution:  “No, I can’t bring you another beer.”  Okay, he may fume a little, but that’s not your problem.  You’re actually enjoying cleaning the kitchen!  Scrubbing is fun!  You love making things shiny.  You love feeding your family.  You can squeeze every ounce of pleasure from every situation.  Put on some cleaning music and enjoy.  “Honey, can you turn that down, I’m trying to watch the TV.”  “No, dear, I can’t.  It’s my cleaning music.  But you can come in here and help me clean.  Then it will take less time and we can both snuggle and watch TV together!”  Doesn’t that sound nice?


Scenario #3:  You’re at the grocery store and there’s only 2 cashier stations open.  Although the store is not crowded, the lines are long and slow.  Annoyance setting in.

Solution:  You park your cart in line, and go check out the area close by where they sell wrapping paper and gift cards.  You think of someone having a birthday soon and pick out some lovely packaging for their present.  By the time you’re done, it’s your turn in line.


Scenario #4:  Your kids are screaming at each other.

Solution:  Oh, there’s so many solutions here.

  1. “Look at the puppy walking by; he’s so cute!”
  2. “Who wants to go get ice cream?”
  3. “Let’s go to the park!”
  4. “I want you to each go pick out a book to read.”
  5. Wine.


If you do this, you will find yourself stepping out of your comfort zone.  Only the brave can lead with pleasure.  But you will find yourself, once you get used to how good this feels, inviting other people to live pleasurably along with you!

“Never complain, never explain…and always lead with pleasure.”

What about junk food?  Many people think leading with pleasure means you’ll stuff yourself full of ice cream and cookies every night.

If you find that you’re enjoying a bit too much junk food, you have to ask yourself, “where in my life am I NOT GETTING ENOUGH PLEASURE?”

If ALL of your pleasure is coming from food, you need to ask yourself

  1. How is my sex life?  Even if you’re single, you can still “love” yourself.  LOL.
  2. Do I enjoy my job?  Do I feel like I have a purpose and contribute to my community in some way?
  3. Do I do enough pleasurable movement?  “Exercise” sounds so mundane.  “Pleasurable movement” can be so much more:  jumping on a trampoline, taking a tango class, or hiking in the wild sound so much more exciting, no?
  4. Am I cooking pleasurable meals on a regular basis?  Delicious recipes with fresh, healthy ingredients…
  5. Do I take time to hang out with friends?  Do I regularly initiate communication with my “tribe?”

Overeating junk is usually a symptom of an imbalanced life.  Balance your life and your body will follow your lead.  Lead with pleasure, and your body will show you the way.

A lot of people avoid letting their pleasure take the reigns because of guilt.  As far as emotions go, guilt is pretty much useless.  If you feel guilty, it’s actually because you’re a good person and you’re trying to avoid hurting people, and therefore, you’re not going to intentionally hurt anyone, and thus, the emotion is useless, as the purpose of guilt is to avoid hurting anyone.  

guilt-cycleLet go of the guilt.  Because when you’re happy, you can help others achieve happiness too.  If you’re stuck in a guilt cycle, no one can achieve happiness.  Even those people you feel guilty about disappointing. 

Feeling guilty for taking pleasure stems back to the Puritanical religious roots of our country.  Does anyone even practice this religion any more?  I guess a lot of religions enforce guilt as a survival mechanism, and if that’s the way you want to go, I’m certainly not going to stop you.  



  1. I really appreciate you sharing about how we can lead happier lives by becoming more in tune with ourselves. I hear and have experienced scenario #1 many times (and worse yet, many times it’s just the workload for individuals that is just too much for 1 person, but a manager who won’t hear it or help) and while I appreciate your suggestion of just not finishing the workload, I have to disagree. I keep hearing people talk about just “not doing it” or “letting it go.” But I work in the nonprofit sector where if you don’t get things done, it’s your clients who will feel the impact of you not finishing a project, returning the email, handling a crisis that came up at the end of the day (and a crisis frequently will come up when you work with certain populations), etc. I don’t think it’s good enough to just “not finish the project” and somehow be able to walk away and be happy with yourself (but have to come in the next day and deal with a bigger problem you created – even if you did your part). I don’t have a solution, but I would love to hear other thoughts on how to better handle this scenario that’s realistic. I’m tired of quitting jobs over this, but this keeps happening.

    • It’s hard to say exactly since I don’t know the precise set up of your office, but I think being able to clearly delegate the extra work to someone who has more time / less responsibility would be ideal. Clear communication of what you can and can’t handle is key. I know with my own employees, it seems that when there is a problem, I’m the last person to hear about it! And I actually hate that! I want to know what the exact problems are so we can all solve them as a team. Women especially feel put-upon to do more than they can handle and are societally expected to do this without complaining. The more you speak up and say EXACTLY what you need help with, the universe will make sure you get what you need. “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.”


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