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Ask HN: Who is the happiest person you know?
34 points by nodoodles 10 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 29 comments
And what makes them so?



Less you know someone, happier they seem.

I have made some deep friendships with people who are always joking, laughing, etc. but when they finally open up, you realize they are also unhappy about many things. Sometimes more than serious people.

The happiest person I know is probably one of my best friends. He complains more than other people. He knows what he likes and rarely accepts alternatives. He is one of those people who will send food back if it is not cooked right. He also knows when to verbalize his issues and when to stay quiet. If he is not comfortable at a party or something, he will just leave.

He recently got a new job, didn’t like the company immediately started looking for a new job. He also runs his own business and fire his customers if they cause issues. Having dual incomes gives him some financial stability that unfortunately many people don't have. Also he has never complained about something more than once. That is because he doesn’t stay in bad situations for long.

It sounds like he might be miserable person but it is opposite. He truly loves life, is happy most of the time. Strangers and friends love him. He got a big circle of friends. We say he is eccentric and kind of love his antics.

He is artist at heart and he pursue his art very seriously (though not successful yet). If job or business gets in the way of him working on his art, he will quickly fix that. Perhaps he is happy because he has a mission in life and not letting anything stop him from getting what he wants.


You mention that he doesn't stay in bad situations for long. How is he with romantic relationships? That attitude sounds like someone who probably wouldn't stick around through the first rough patch, so probably hasn't had too many long-term romantic relationships.

Not making a value judgement, just curious if that he approaches them the same as he does with work, or if he treats those a bit differently.


Good question, in his twenties, he dated a lot and yes he was very picky. He did have one longterm relationship in his twenties though.

He settled last among our friends group. He is about 40 now. He has been married for about 5 years and before than he was with same girl for another 2-3 years.

His wife is a bit similar to him. Though I have never heard her complain about anything but art and literature are very important to both of them. Not just that they have very similar likes and dislikes. One major difference might be she is vegan and he is not. While every couple has their issues but, tbh, it seems they have fewer issues than average.

So it is like he found his soulmate and he is able to commit. (No kids yet.)


I really want him to reply now. Interested if his self-perception is that he is one of the happiest people he knows.


Ok I got curious too and texted him asking what he thought of his happiness level compared to an average person.

And his answer totally destroys everything I just said about him. He thinks he is less happy than an average person. He is happy but thinks average person is happier.

(I will stop now, and continue this discussion with him when we meet in person).


It’s funny, as I was reading the story of your friend, I found a lot of myself in it (minus the second job)… or at least the way I was up until 5-6 years ago, when I somehow convinced myself that I should “settle down”, adapt to the situations I’m given, and stop being so opinionated all the time.

So I stuck around with the same job that I didn’t like, only because it was good enough, decent pay, and more stable than previous ones.

Long story short, after years of going through cycles of severe unhappiness, almost like depression, I finally decided to just quit my job, without any fallback.

That was the best decision ever. I have never been so happy and at peace with the world.

I hope your friend never makes the same mistake by listening to the “wisdom” of others.


Interesting. Learning how to say no seems to be a huge component of happiness.


I will use this definition of "happiness" in my reply: an emotional state arising from a way of life that is fulfilling, meaningful, makes the person fully satisfied but at the same time eager to explore, to set new exciting goals.

I know someone who has some unique qualities: this person is passionate but at the same time deeply analytical and profoundly sincere. E.g. he goes to the deepest possible degree of being honest with himself (by unflinchingly scrutinizing his beliefs, feelings, reactions), and does so in systematic, thorough way, gaining more and more understanding about how mind works.

This understanding allowed him to build his personal system of self-improvement (he describes it in several books which I don't link here because they are not translated yet into English), so he was able to rework himself into a truly happy person.

I've used some of his methods and I personally attest that they can be very effective if applied properly. But it is rather difficult to apply them! Because you have to be alike to the person who invented these methods: sincere, passionate, and persevering. Not everybody has these qualities.

I think that the key to the happiness is to be sincere, to strive for honesty. To know yourself and understand how your mind works, what it wants and why. Once a person truly understands themselves, they will be able to figure out their personal path to happiness. Which is unique for everyone.


Please link the author, or at least their name


here is a brief description of his system: https://genexxi.com/en/evolution-en/


Very well put


There is a great poem call "If" by Rudyard Kipling. I feel it defines pretty well the traits of a happy person.


Ive always hated "If" as it captures that British Imperialist viewpoint at that point in history

Its background is that it was written as a tribute to Jameson after the failed Jameson raid - which was an attempted South African coup


I didn't know the background but I'd agree though not necessarily as strongly as hating it.

To me, the poem paints an unreachable ideal of being that just doesn't resonate with me at all. It may just be me but in my mind it feels naive.


There is a beautiful (to me) recitation of "If" performed by Dennis Hopper that I have saved along with several other similar recordings, all of which have helped me immensely over the years. Thank you for reminding me that it's about that time of year to watch/listen to it again!

YouTube link of the recitation for anyone interested: https://youtube.com/watch?v=4EZhc_YZ2fs


Probably myself. I am pretty much always content.

Though, I get the sense that because I am chill and not manic, others sometimes think "something is up" when I'm just thinking about black holes or something. The key point here may be "the happiest person you know may not be obvious." I tend to equate manic happiness with stress and anxiety.

Some perhaps key points:

- I constantly run into challenges and roadblocks in life, but acknowledge they are a normal part of growth. I recently read the popular book The Obstacle Is The Way and it felt like somebody was stealing parts of my life philosophy out of my head.

- I'm not really into "gamification", but I tend to treat everything like a game or a puzzle to solve, especially hardships.

- Often things don't happen to you. They happen regardless of you. Or you caused it, so fix it.

- Exercise to think and de-stress. Often, no music or podcasts, to force the former.

- I used a lot of hallucinogens in my younger years and had a few key trips that really framed life and reality for me. Rather than attempt to explain and fumble it, I'll point you to another book that does a better job of it: Illusions by Richard Bach.


Thanks for the book recommendations. I've been looking for something interesting to read.


I don't know of one individual who has just remained consistently happy 100% of the time, but in my experience it amounts to communal humor and innate stability.

As far as a happy lifestyle, for about 4 months I lived with a family in the American Midwest that was poor. They were all very happy due to a sprawling, thriving ecosystem of diverse positive social contacts. Some of that can be attributed to the church, whose benefit is the social opportunities it creates.

As for individuals who are outliers in their positivity, they typically come from a healthy, supportive, funny, and interesting family.


A 63 year old Down’s Syndrome Uncle. He has since passed but brought happiness to the family with his love of everything and having been loved all his life and was quite the character.


I don't know a person that I'd consider happy. They might, but from my perspective they aren't happy. I have been wondering for a while if this depends on (A) how I view the world or (B) the selection of people I know.

As far as I can look back, I've never met a person that I truely admired / marveld for the life they're living. At some point I got to the cognition, that this might be a problem for me, because I can't follow along someone elses path. But I'm not sure yet how important of an observation this is ...


There are plenty of ways to define what is happiness (https://ivypanda.com/essays/what-is-happiness-essay/), but for me, it`s that feeling that comes over you when you know life is good and you can't help but smile. Can`t say that I might know about the lives of people around me everything, so I`m not sure that I can define if they are truly happy and answer your question properly.


If being in a constant state of happiness was a disorder my girlfriend would 100% have it. She is unhealthily happy. I've been with her for over a decade and I've never once seen her sad – it's that extreme. I used to suspect she was psychopathic, but over time I've become less convinced of that and now think she's just an outlier.

For some perspective, the last year has been awful for us. Things have not stopped going wrong in our lives and I'd argue our future can never be as bright as we once hoped. As a result I have entered a serve depression, yet all this time she has kept smiling and can only see positives in things.

This will sound quite mean to those of you who value deep thought and self-reflection, but I think the reason she is so happy is because she's unable / unwilling to think deeply about anything. It's not that she's stupid, but she just doesn't really appreciate cause and effect so naturally lives in the moment at all times.

I used to find this frustrating because I'm the total opposite and obsessively try to anticipate the future. It used to bug me how she couldn't see why things were bad. I kinda experienced this again during Covid because I had to repeatedly explain that Covid really was serious and she needs to change her behaviour instead of assuming things will be fine.

My friend used to say that depression is a disease of intelligence. I think if there's truth to that, but I suspect it's probably more that depression is a product of deep recursive thought.

Think about it like this – finding out you've failed an exam or lost your job isn't going to cause you any immediate harm. Such an event is only immediately painful in your mind if you consider the cause and effects.

That said, I think it's probably partly just how you're wired. For example, I'd imagine optimistic people have a slight bias towards seeing positive outcomes and are therefore generally happier as a result.


Is she particularly lucky? One characteristic that lucky people have compared to unlucky ones, according to a psychologist that did a study on it, is a conviction that things will eventually work out for the best. Of course there are other factors as well but it would seem likely if a person has one trait then they might have others: https://www.stat.berkeley.edu/~aldous/Real-World/wiseman.htm...


No, not at all. Her parents were fairly abusive and distant when she was growing up. She basically raised her younger siblings herself while they were in prison or abusing drugs.

I suppose I consider her "lucky" for managing to rise above all that, but even then it's not like she's achieved any huge amount of success or anything.

My theory these days is that she learnt how to deal with negative emotions growing up, and that was by simply by not over thinking things and not letting things get to her.

She does this unusual thing where if I try to get here to think about something bad, she immediately (and I suspect automatically) changes subject. I think that could be how she learnt dealt with the trauma – just live in the moment and focus on positive things.

To be honest I think "happiness" and "depression" are really complex. I'm sure there are correlations, but I'd guess it's a product of a huge number of physical and environment factors throughout one's life. As much as I'd love to live in the moment and be happy like her, for whatever reason I'm simply not wired like that. But also I'm aware there are people like me who think very deeply about things yet still manage to be happy, so I assume in those case their default mental state is just naturally more biased toward happiness and positivity.


I myself am a happy person. I can enjoy watching the void. Seriously, I can waste time like that and be completely happy.

But it makes me kinda sad when I realize that I need to be responsible. Because of the external factor it forces me out of my comfort. As a result, these external stuffs makes me regret the time I enjoyed when I was staring to the void.


The world is as full of a number of things, I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings (R L Stevenson)


me. Something happened in pandemic and i stopped dwelling in past or future. I am happy most of the times. I do get unhappy momentarily but its minor irritation rather than anything prolonged.


People not in tech.


These days, pretty sure it's me.




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