(2023-09-20) Figuring Out How to Live a Happy Life

My 30s are slowly creeping up on me, I am quite dissatisfied with my life, and it's mostly my own fault. I recently got this 12 minute video recommended to me where the creator talks about wasting their 20s online, and I can relate to it really hard (literally me fr fr). I've told people in real life I waste a lot of my time, and I got the "time you enjoy wasting isn't wasted" kind of comment at least once. Yeah, no, when I say I waste my time, I really mean waste in the negative sense. I wish I could waste my time doing things I enjoy.

I've long struggled with this, basically since I was a teenager. And the worst part is almost all this time I've been very aware of this time wasting, and have tried various things to address it, and haven't really gotten far. I guess being aware of this, and having actually tried and succeeded with a few things is better than nothing. Apparently many people die of old age with a comparable struggle to mine. However, spending so long dealing with and thinking about this, I think I may have reached a mental breakthrough, at least for me personally.

There is this kind of vague idea that I had in my mind for a long time, but I've not been able to spit it out in a way I or others could understand. This idea was something along the lines of living a happy life is not just about being productive and/or doing the things you like, but rather something else that builds upon these aforementioned things. Quick tangent: At the moment, I'm not really what most people would consider an artist, but I can relate to some of the struggles of artists, and I often get videos about artistic stuff recommended to me. And so I got this 20 minute video by an artist (also) struggling with online time wasting, which led to a light-bulb moment for me with this idea.

Basically, for me finding a good balance between doing productive and unproductive things alone is not a good path to getting a happy life, there needs to be another dimension that takes into account my wants/needs/likes/etc. I, like most other people, am driven by habits, often bad ones. Thus, the things I need to be doing, things I want to be doing, and things I actually end up doing do not align as often as I'd like. And there's also the element of doing uncomfortable stuff in the present for a more comfortable future. Taking this all into account I think it's smarter to have this second dimension be more "should do", rather than "like to do" or whatever. Putting this all together, I get an interesting spin on the Eisenhower Matrix.

So here it is, the "how to spend my time & energy" matrix:

In each square I put in behaviours that I think best fit each category, at least for my life or people who are similar to me. But it's all subjective and your personal matrix may look completely different, and some of the behaviours I put down might be in the wrong square for you. Also, some behaviours can be sort of be on the border between squares.

I think many (most?) people end up living their life mostly stuck in the bottom squares, doing productive and unproductive things that they should not be doing. Sure, some of that stuff may not be something they can choose, and society/the system just drains them and kind of forces them into there. Yet still, many people do actually have the luxury or privilege to guide their life towards happiness, but still end up mostly in the bottom.

I like to think I've had this "privilege" too, but I've been leaning towards the bottom right for a while now. But also like I can see that just being more productive will not make me happy. So the non-SMART goal for me here is to balance my time and energy between all of these squares as best as I can so I can hopefully live a happy life. Ultimately I can't completely be in the top squares all the time, and maybe that's okay so life has some spice, but at least I can be more aware of my behaviours and how they lead me closer to or further away from a happier life. I'm not going to greatly improve my life overnight with this idea, but I think it's an excellent step forward.

What do you think of this? What does your matrix look like?

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