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What you should do and what you actually do

For several months in a row, I was unhappy. I would plan to do several things during the week, and every Sunday, when I looked back and took stock of what I actually got done, I would feel terrible that I managed to do only half the things that I had planned to.

As Benjamin Hardy says, "The smaller the gap between what you should do, and what you actually do - the happier you will be."

I wanted to do all these things that I had grown accustomed to thinking that I should do all of them, and when I was failing to achieve that, I grew unhappy. But, in the last couple of months, I have deliberately taken off items from the list of things that I want to be doing to make room for more quality time to be spent on the few things I do end up managing to complete. As a consequence, I've been feeling a lot happier.

All I did to move from a state of unhappiness to a state of happiness was to reduce the gap between what I should do and what I actually do. For months, I tried to reduce that gap by doing more and more, which was growing impossible by the day. So, I reduced the gap by reducing the number of things I should do.

After all, happiness is reality divided by expectations.

But this function is not universally true. The function is only true when we are spending large chunks of our time pursuing meaningful activities that challenge us physically, emotionally, intellectually.

The function fails when we remove everything from the list of things we should do, driving expectations incredibly low. When I don't have anything (or just a handful of things) on the list of things that I should do, and I comfortably manage to do them with a lot of time and energy to spare, then I'm unhappy despite the non-existent gap between what I should do and what I actually do.

The key to happiness lies in finding the right set of things to include in what we should do, and to actually do them, bridging the gap.

You are happy when you are in your comfort zone and you are in your comfort zone when what you should do and what you actually do more or less overlap.

It is a common misconception to think that we need to step out of our comfort zone to do great things. What is needed instead is to stay in our comfort zone at all times but to keep expanding it gradually. 

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