Guest Post: Happiness. No Stuff Required. By Bryan Cohen

Note from Jenny: I'm excited to host Bryan Cohen on one of his 61 stops in 61 days (!!) for The Happiness Blog Tour to promotie his new book The Post-College Guide to Happiness. He's giving away free digital review copies of the book and doing a giveaway for paperback copies, audio copies and even a Kindle Fire! Read on and check out the info below the post. Happiness. No Stuff Required. -- By Bryan Cohen

"Happiness is an attitude of mind born of the simple determination to be happy under all outward circumstances." −J. Donald Walters

When I left college, I was completely spent emotionally. After being caught up in something of a love triangle throughout the second half of my senior year, mixed heavily with a dose of senioritis and no idea what I wanted to do with my life, I felt a lot more stressed than I did happy. I thought that by changing my circumstances, I would immediately be happier.

After first living in the suburbs, I moved deep into the heart of Chicago. I changed up my job from temp work to tending bar at a coffee shop. I even took a trip to France to visit one corner of that triangle. After spending thousands of dollars trying to change my situation and to improve my happiness, what did I learn?

I learned that hunting for happiness on the outside is futile.

A ton of people after school want to give a city a try, perhaps for a couple of years before giving it up. They say that the city didn't make them happy. Maybe they try out a career, but it didn't give them the joy they wanted. These college grads may even put all of their energy into a partner, eventually realizing that the relationship on its own didn't make them happier at all.

Circumstances can only create temporary happiness.

A famous study I read about compared the happiness levels of those who won the lottery and those who had just become paralyzed. After about a year, the joy and the pain they'd respectively experienced had changed back to their original levels just before the incident had occurred. Could a newfound millionaire be unhappy? Could a paraplegic be joyful? Of course. The circumstances only changed them slightly. What remained consistent was their attitudes.

If you want to be happier you don't need to make a change. You need to make a choice. You need to decide that you're going to try to be happy even when things aren't going your way. You have to decide that no matter what happens, you're going to make the effort to be an optimist.

Through this effort, you'll find something out about yourself. You'll find that the possibility of happiness was always there, you just needed to stop believing that buying new clothes or finding a different apartment would make a difference.

Make the choice to be happy regardless of what's happening to you. Keep walking toward the goal of happiness for it's own sake. And if you aren't happy yet, here's my big suggestion: start heading in that direction anyway, but it's best to whistle while you walk.


How to Win a Copy of The Post-College Guide to Happiness + More About Bryan

Bryan is giving away 61 paperback and audio copies of The Post-College Guide to Happiness and a Kindle Fire between now and May 7th, 2012 on The Happiness Blog Tour. All entrants receive a free digital review copy of The Post-College Guide to Happiness for all entrants to the giveaway. Bryan hopes to give away at least 1,000 copies during the blog tour. To enter, post a comment with your e-mail address or send an e-mail to postcollegehappiness (at) Bryan will draw the names at the end of the tour. Entries will be counted through Sunday, May 6th.

Bryan Cohen is a writer, actor and comedian from Dresher, Pennsylvania. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2005 with degrees in English and Dramatic Art and a minor in Creative Writing. He has written nine books including 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts: Ideas for Blogs, Scripts, Stories and More, 500 Writing Prompts for Kids: First Grade through Fifth Grade and Writer on the Side: How to Write Your Book Around Your 9 to 5 Job. His website Build Creative Writing Ideas helps over 25,000 visitors a month to push past writer's block and stay motivated.