😃 Happiness VS Usefulness

and why you’ve been asking the wrong question all along

There’s this girl in our neighborhood who sings her heart out to the music in her headphones while jogging.

So after running into her a couple times, I tried it.

I can confirm that other than having to gasp for air every 14 seconds, it’s a ton of fun. 😄


⚡️ Estimated read time: 2 minutes 47 seconds.


Habit Example


My brother in law, Adam, likes to take power naps.

But when he’s not napping, he’s busy being one of the most helpful and productive humans I’ve ever met.

On a day off in the summer, he’ll mow the lawn, trim it, fix something on his dad’s boat, and haul a truckload of junk to the dump.

All before 9 am.

Without being asked.

Sometimes I wonder…



Then I saw this clip the other day from an interview with Shia Lebeouf where he shares a pretty refreshing hot take:


My aim in life, in totality, my whole purpose for existing in life was to be happy. That’s not my purpose anymore. My purpose now is to be useful.

Shia Lebeouf


Which made me think…

If you ask anyone what their main goal in life is, what’s the most likely response?

“To be happy.”

But what are most people today?

Apparently the recent Gallup polls say only 38% of Americans are satisfied in life (when factoring in 29 different social, political, and personal measures).

So what’s our problem? We all wanna be happy, but we’re all failing miserably?

Or maybe, we’re asking the wrong question.



Data from Keywords Everywhere shows that for every 110,000 people that search Google for “How to be Happy” each month, a puny 390 search for “How to be Useful”.

On the other hand, there’s 3 times as many results on how to be useful, than there are about how to be happy.

So despite the human race having discovered 27.25 billion ways to be useful, most of us mistakenly think simply striving for happiness is what we need.

And this is where it gets interesting, because I think we’re actually talking about the same thing… sort of.

Because being useful certainly doesn’t mean not being happy.

Adam is one of the happiest people I know.

But not because he strives to simply be happy.

He’s happy, because he strives to be useful.

When you strive to be useful, you:

  • Build trust

  • Help others

  • Gain respect

  • Develop skills

  • Do meaningful work

  • Turn weaknesses into strengths

  • Forget about your own problems

And who wouldn’t be happier after doing all that?

I’m not saying being useful is the only way to be happy, either.

But when you weigh out the evidence, doesn’t optimizing your life for usefulness seem like at least a better alternative than for happiness alone?


The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

.I .

Try it


Pick one of these questions to answer for yourself each morning:

  1. How can I be useful at work?

  2. How can I be useful in my relationships?

  3. How can I be useful to God?

After pondering these questions, act on the ideas that come to mind.







Actual quote from my 4-year-old


If we run out of boogers, do we die?”


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And the winner of this week’s $50 Amazon Gift Card goes to…

*drum roll*

Micki Pitchford!

I’ll be reaching out to you directly to deliver your reward.

Thank you so much to all who shared Habit Examples with friends!

- Kody


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P.S. This took 5 hours to write. It only takes you 5 seconds to share.

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