Your Life, Your Rules – Why Happiness Shouldn’t Feel Like Hard Work

Fool Me Once, Shame On You

The biggest lie I was told growing up was that I had to work extremely hard to be happy and get what I want. That I needed to make sacrifices such as sleeping less to do more and minimizing my leisure time, sometimes doing things I didn’t want to do and ultimately following the rules I was given regardless of how I felt about them… because that’s just life, right? The dream had been disguised as a job that paid well with great benefits, that would ensure stability and security (even if I didn’t like it).

Do I Have a Say In This?

But whatever happened to how I feel? Did anyone ask me what I thought about this whole ordeal? Absolutely not. We are molded to think this is the only way but it’s not.

Reality Bites

What really made me challenge this mindset was seeing myself and those around me driving ourselves to the ground, working 50, 60, 70 hours a week. Dealing with ego’s in toxic environments that contradict our own being. Forcing it all for a paycheck that will “set us free” in the end. The illusion here is that there is an end. A happy ending at that. The truth is, if you are not happy now what makes you think that happiness is around the corner?

I’m not saying this is everyone’s case but I’ve lived it and I still know people living through it. This is very real. So real that some people think it is normal.

My Life, My Rules

But what is normal anyway? What really matters is how you feel and how you choose to live. Here’s what I’ve learned through reflecting over the past ten years of my life and the three rules I now choose to live by.

1. I need my sleep.
2. Don’t mess with my leisure time.
3. It has to feel good, it has to feel right.

And this is why…

1. Sleep Is Essential To Your Health and Well Being

Lack of sleep is strongly associated with depression and mental illness. It impacts our attention span and cognitive abilities which slows us down. On the flip side, getting a good nights sleep (7-9 hours) can help boost your energy levels, concentration and awareness. It is as essential as exercising and eating right. The point here is you can be more efficient and productive in 6 hours with proper rest, nutrition and exercise than 12 hours of hacking away restlessly at the same task. Think about it. Getting just as much done in half the time while most likely enjoying the process because you just feel better.

2. Leisure Time Is Necessary To Reset

Having a past time allows a positive flow of energy into our lives through recreational activities. Entertaining our interests when we are not working helps keep our work/life balance and mental stability. I believe we all need variety in our lives and an outlet to express ourselves through art or recreation. This is another key to happiness that many people skip out on because they just don’t have enough “time”. Nobody has time. We make time. Everything we ever do is because we made time for it. Remember that.

3. If It Doesn’t Feel Right, Don’t Do It

Doing things that don’t feel good is torture. It changes your mood and it effects those around you. There is so much resistance going against this current that it can have a domino effect in your life if you do it enough. Not to say there won’t be things in life that you have to do that you don’t want to do, but keep it to a minimum. And if you don’t like doing them, get someone else to do it. Or just don’t put yourself in situations like that again. Learn. The point is – you’re not feeling that way for no reason, something inside of you is telling you that something’s not right. Listen to that feeling. Do what feels right, do what feels good. Slowly but surely, you’ll get there one decision at a time.

The idea here is to follow your own rules. We all have our own values and way of living. Stay true to those, because that’s what makes you who you are. Once you begin to bend those rules and allow other to reshape them you lose the spirit of who you really are. No matter what job or business you are in – keep this at your core.

Coming Full Circle

These are the things I choose not to compromise, and these are my standards… my rules. You might resonate with some of them, you might not. You might have your own set of standards and that’s the point. Play by your own playbook and live on your own terms, not anyone else’s.

It is now easier to see how following the “societal norm” can lead to an unfavorable place. In the moment it’s hard to see the impact it’s having on you. However, over time you can look back and see it clearly. Don’t wait until it’s too late. If nothing changes, nothing changes. The power is in your hands, there’s always a choice, and the choice is yours. What rules will you live by?


Raised in New York where I spent most of my life. At the age of 33 I dropped everything, got in my car and drove to Austin, Texas where I now live. I have a passion for design, photography, writing and basically anything that inspires me to unleash my creativity. I am an entrepreneur with a design & marketing business, Little House Big Idea ( My life philosophy revolves around being a good human, staying true to myself, being grateful and satisfied with what is, yet still being eager for more.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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