5 Hopeful Signs Your Life Is About To Become Much Happier

Photo: KIRAYONAK YULIYA / shutterstock 
tattooed man standing in front of a Ferris wheel

At 58, I am the very happiest I have ever been in my life.

I wish I could tell you the secret of how that happened or recommend one thing you can do to make your life happy, but I can't. What I can say is this: Life is hard and full of pain. But it's also full of joy. I've lived through a lot of excruciating stuff to get where I am and I'm glad I did. 

There is one pattern I've observed that leads people to find true happiness and contentment in their lives, and I'll lay it out here. If it helps you, that's awesome. If not, keep looking for the answer that works for you. 

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How to tell if happiness is right around the corner

Five signs you're about to (finally) be happy: 

  • You are in more pain than you have ever experienced in your life.
  • Deep down you know you have been in this exact spot before.
  • You realize that it’s a hell of your own making.
  • You give up.
  • And ask for help.

Here’s the good and bad news. 

Good news: Only you are responsible for your own happiness. 

Bad news: Only you are responsible for your own happiness. 

Not your spouse, not your boss, not the car you drive, or the vacation you go on. Happy is a state of mind. It is not a “thing.” I would argue it is a spiritual self-awareness.

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A few examples of happiness made manifest

Here is one example:

My friend Susan became suicidal.

Susan knew deep down the demons had always been there.

Susan had never dealt with what caused the recurring depression.

Susan gave up.

Susan asked a friend who had also been suicidal what he had done to get better.

In this case, Susan sat in steps 1-3 for months. When she got to step 5 the result was nothing short of miraculous. Susan got ECT treatment and within weeks was a different human. She was no longer dark. She saw that her life could be amazing in ways she had never allowed herself to imagine possible.

Here's another example:

A recovery sponsee of mine — a 30-year-old, well-educated, good-looking guy named Shane — relapsed after a year of sobriety. In his blackout, he got his girlfriend pregnant.

Shane had been to dozens of detoxes.

Shane knew well he had never done the work to stay sober.

Shane finally surrendered completely to his alcoholism.

Shane asked his higher power and me for help.

This is one of those miracles that makes my life so amazing. Shane took the work of sobriety seriously, and his responsibilities to his girlfriend. He lived in Boston, and she was in Nashville. She lived with her parents and had a 5-year-old daughter before becoming pregnant. 

Shane got a good-paying job in Nashville, moved his stuff down there, rented a nice condo and moved his girlfriend and her daughter in. The 5-year-old whose biological father had never been part of her life asked Shane if she could call him dad. They had the baby and he proposed. And two weeks ago, my wife and I were honored to be at their wedding. Eighteen months prior this guy was in the worst pain of his life. At his wedding, you could see pure happiness on his face.

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The real gauge of true happiness

My happiness is determined by how I feel about myself, deep down. For years I would not allow myself to admit how much I hated myself, I felt shame, I had a chip on my shoulder. The work of my life has been to surrender again and again and ask for help again and again.

These days I think I am a decent guy. I have made serious mistakes in the past and will make tons of mistakes going forward. People (including loved ones) get mad at me all the time.

I deal with the stuff of life out there. None of it impacts how I feel about myself. I no longer allow myself to go down the rat hole of self-hatred and self-pity. I imagine myself having impenetrable armor around my heart. I apologize for my mistakes, I make amends, and when necessary, I listen with compassion when people are mad at me. 

But through the excruciating pain of a lifetime, I know that everything is already okay. At 58, I am the very happiest I have ever been in my life. And nothing can change that.

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Tom Matlack is on a mission to help men. His weekly speakers series and writing on Substack help men connect with one another and their own emotional well-being. He adores his wife of 20 years and his three children.