The Story Behind Happier Human – How I Quit My 70K Job and Started Living Again

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I’ve had a lot of people ask, “Amit, are you crazy?”

It was my first job out of college. I was a wall-street consultant, living in Times Square, traveling around the country for free, learning valuable skills, and on track for a promotion. And then… I quit.

I went from a base salary of $70,000 to $0.

And you know what? I don’t care – I am crazy.

I believe in what I’m doing, and that matters to me more than how much money I’m making.

But how did I go from consulting to positive psychology? It was a completely non-sequential leap.

Alert! Alert! Something Doesn’t Make Sense

It started out as a small feeling of unease, but gradually grew into something I couldn’t ignore.

Why am I working so hard?

I didn’t need the money – I had friends making half as much as me, but who seemed just as and sometimes even more happy.

I didn’t believe in the cause – pharmaceutical revenue management consulting? Good for the economy… I guess.

I found the work interesting, but not so much that I’d want to spend 60% of my waking time doing it.

I should have felt happier and more satisfied than my ‘lazy’ friends, but I didn’t, which made no sense.

I had done everything ‘right’, so why did it feel like something was wrong?

I decided to switch careers, but what to do next? Another start-up, something more relaxed, finance, economics, IT?

According to my college career counselor, if I picked a job with work I’d find interesting and which plays off of my strengths, I should end up happy and satisfied.

That advice had already failed – obviously it was wrong and too simplistic. But then… what criteria should I use?

Vacation time? Average hours? Commute distance? Industry? Salary?

I had no idea.

The more I looked for an answer, the more worried I got. All I kept getting were surface answers, based on theories which sounded good but were empirically untested.

I wasn’t about to make one of life’s most important decisions based on a catchphrase, like “follow your passion” or “do what makes the most money.”

So I read as much as I could – some psychology, some philosophy, some self-help.

Of everything that I read, positive psychology was the most useful.

For the past ten years, I had thought that the world hated me – doctors had barely seemed to try; my parents had continuously given me bad advice.

I was wrong. My family did care, and my doctors had tried to help.

It’s just that… correct thinking about hard problems is difficult.

Don’t Worry, I’ll Make You Better

When I was 13, my wrists started to hurt. My parents took me to my primary care physician. He told me he knew what was wrong, “Wear wrist braces for a few weeks, and you’ll get better.”

I got worse.

I went to an orthopedic hand specialist. He told me he knew what was wrong, “You’ve got a bone abnormality. I’m sorry, unless you’re willing to risk surgery, there’s nothing you can do. You’ll have to stop playing tennis and the piano. Then you’ll get better.”

I got worse. I quit my favorite two hobbies, but even then, the pain got worse, spreading from my wrist to my hand and forearm.

I went to see a few specialists – a neurologist here, a rheumatologist there. They ran lots of tests. The neurologist suggested I might have muscle dystonia, and prescribed me with muscle relaxants and anticholinergics. The rheumatologist thought there might be something wrong with my immune system, and prescribed me steroids. “These drugs will get you better.”

I got worse. The pain spread to my upper arms, neck, legs and chest. I was taken out of gym class. The steroids had to be discontinued because they were triggering panic attacks.

I saw another doctor, who came up with another wrong answer.

I got worse. Hypersomnia, chronic headaches, acid reflux, alternating diarrhea and constipation.

I saw another doctor, who came up with another wrong answer.

Skipping the somnologist, the gastroenterologist, the immunologist, the urologist, the hypnotist, the acupuncturist, the chiropractor, the Chinese herbal doctor, the Indian herbal doctor, neurologist #2, somnologist #2, neurologist #3, gastroenterologist #2, the trigger point specialist, and all those other doctors I’m forgetting, I heard the same thing, over and over again, “I know what’s wrong, my treatment will make you better.”

They didn’t.

Before the age of 17, I was exposed to hundreds of different medical tests (an MRI, ECG, muscle biopsy, colonoscopy, sleep study, scratch test, X-Ray, echocardiogram, CT scan, barium swallow, cystoscopy, etc…) and prescribed all sorts of drugs, from the mild to the dangerous. I was promised improvement over and over and over again.

I’m 13, then 14, then 15, then 16, and with each new year, I meet new doctors who make new promises which they don’t keep.

It’s a sad thing when a teenager is forced to realize that they can’t rely on the adults.

Humans Are Not Rational

But despite all the pain that I experienced and the lingering symptoms which I’m still dealing with, I’m happy that I had that experience. When most people are introduced to the idea that humans are irrational, they disagree or accept that idea at a high-level, but fail to apply the lesson to the minutea of their life.

I had first hand exposure to irrationality – really smart people with really good educations making really stupid decisions. Once I took full responsibility for my own health and started running self-experiments, I made rapid progress with my fibromyalgia.

So when positive psychology suggested that humans are irrational, and that that fact is keeping us from reaching high levels of well-being, I believed.

We are very smart, and have and will continue to accomplish amazing things. But in certain ways, we can also be very dumb, and have and will continue to believe stupid things.

For most people, a confident word from a friend or family member is enough. For me, I won’t believe without evidence.

For lots of questions, it’s okay to be wrong, it’s okay to be easily convinced. So what if you mistakenly think cold weather causes colds? Wearing a sweater won’t hurt.

But for lots of other questions, complacency kills. “My grandparents, the expert, everyone else says that it’s true, so it must be so.”

Work hard, save a lot, buy a house. You’ll be happy.

Wrong.

Watch TV, play video games, relax. You’ll be happy.

Wrong.

Circumstances matter more than personality.

Wrong.

Exercise, eat healthy, sleep well? Sure, if you want to live longer, but they’ve got nothing to do with happiness.

Wrong.

Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.

Money can buy happiness, but offers a terrible ROI.

TV and video games are entertaining, but are not the most effective methods for increasing mood.

Due to hedonic adaptation, changing your circumstances has a questionable impact on happiness.

The modern human is held hostage by a mind designed for simpler times.

Most of the advice we’ve been given on how to life a happy, fulfilled life is wrong.

Over the past year, I’ve taken what I’ve learnt from positive psychology and applied it to my life. I’m happier than I’ve ever been.

But there are still hundreds of millions of people in this country missing out, holding on to limiting beliefs.

I want to change that. I want to help you become a happier, stronger you.

So now that you know about me, I’d like to learn more about you.

I’d be super grateful if you’d introduce yourself and tell me your ideal outcome when it comes to your self-development. Don’t feel pressured to produce a novel (although if you do that’s totally cool!), I just want to get to know you a bit.

P.S. If you want to learn a little more about me, I recently did an interview with Adiba Osmani of Bidushi.com, where I expanded on some of the things I talked about here.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

aditi

hi m looking for the audiobook for Authentic Happiness By Dr Martin Seligman…can u share d free link if its possible for you.

Thanks. really looking forward for your help.

Reply

Amit Amin

Sorry, you’ll have to find it on your own 😉 I’m not a fan of filesharing. Luckily, a quick google search will solve all your problems.

Reply

Yanina

Yes, people and wrong ideas fail us. There is Amin, however, a Creator that made us. He is true, kind, honest; everything that your heart and mind has always and will always desire. He won’t disappoint you. For now, He will not rescue you out of all your trials, but He does promise to be with you and to help, while you pass through them. You will find long-lasting, untainted happiness finding Him who is pursuing you.

Reply

Steve

Wow, that’s really cool that you could make that leap. You are crazy..but in a good way.

I’ve never been the type of person who cares a lot about money. I guess that’s why I’ve never really earned that much before. I’d rather be doing things that give me a lot of return on things money really doesn’t provide. For one thing, I’d rather have a lot of time to do things I want outside of work. It seems that earning a lot of money means putting in a ton of hours. That’s just not for me. I seem people put in 60-70 hours a week, but earn a ton of money, but never have the time to actually enjoy it. They’re too busy working.

Reply

Amit Amin

Growing up, I was raised to think that people not making much money are lazy and suboptimal. The crazy thing, like you said, is that there are lots of things where money doesn’t really provide a great return.

I’m not the only one that’s crazy… you and me both Steve 🙂

Reply

Dan Rink

Your email list to get your happiness report is not active.

Reply

Amit Amin

Thank you for letting me know Dan! I don’t know how that got messed up – hopefully it hasn’t affected too many people. I super appreciate the heads up 🙂

Reply

dawn

I know a young man heading into consulting and buying into the same lie of success, wealth, and hedonism to make him happy. Hope to spread the rule of true joy.

And listen to Yanina!

Thanks

Reply

Amit Amin

It seems success, wealth, and hedonism won’t be tricking you, at least 🙂

Reply

Sean

Hi Amit! You’re choice to let go of the 70K job was the smartest desicion you’ve ever made. I am new to this blog, after I found it I read a few articles and bought the gratitude hack. My mother is facing a dilemma at work, being forced to choose her needs and the companies wants. She was crying about it so I’d like to share this course with her. Also, I’ve been thinking about a certain coincidence, having stumbled upon this blog. You’re somebody the modern truth seeker can relate to easily. Because the main stream tells truth seekers “you’re crazy for abandoning materialism”. The coincidence is I’ve been thinking about finding somebody “who gets it” all year. Before I press submit I’d like to ask a question about positive psychology. What’s the most common pattern for finding flow? I know. I know. The question isn’t easy to understand. What I’m trying to describe is difficult. If you look at it this way, people achieve flow states while using something, because they’re interested their discipline. So what I’m trying to ask is how do people know what’s right for them? Be well.

Reply

Amit Amin

Thanks for the comment Sean, I appreciate it!

I wouldn’t say I’ve abandoned materialism. It’s just… I want money and technology to work for me, rather than the other way around. Instead of chasing yet another hit of novelty, I want money and technology to create sustained improvements to my life. Which, no surprise, requires looking at money and technology in ways most people call crazy.

I’m glad you’ve found my articles useful. Go ahead and share as much as you’d like with your mother!

Okay, now I’m going to answer your question with a question. I’d be happy to answer your question of what is the most common pattern for finding flow, but it seems your deeper question is something different. Are you trying to find a career which will give you lots of satisfaction? If so, what stage in your life are you currently?

My five sentence answer, which I’ll expand on once I get your reply, is that passions are made, not discovered. Flow experiences are cultivated.

Half of my current job involves writing. Going in, I hated writing. It made me tired, and was more likely to involve effortfull grunting rather than effortless flow. 16 months later, writing is something that I enjoy and that brings me great satisfaction. But even then, I’m only halfway to my goal – every day, I work on making writing something that brings me ever greater enjoyment and satisfaction.

Reply

Ellen

Thanks for finally writing about >The Story Behind Happier Human – How I Quit My 70K Job
and Started Living Again <Loved it!

Reply

Ritwika

Hi Amit,

Its been a pleasure reading your story.

Since You are keen to know about your readers, I would like to share that I am in a very important phase of my life right now.

I am working for a big Law firm for the last one and half years where I am provided with lots of materialistic benefits and I can say if I stick here Ill have money more than I can spend. But then I feel who has seen the future and isn’t it smart to have just the sufficient money coupled with lots of ”me” time.

Here I would like to share that I have started off with a small Solicitor firm where the money was not much but had an amazing boss who was more like a family and I loved the work as well.
Now ever since I have joined this place I cant stop missing how happy and stress free I was in my old job and guess what? I just resigned a couple of weeks before and I am currently serving a notice period.

I had a word with my Ex boss who said that I am always welcome to join him.
Now, the irony is after I had a word with my Ex boss I got a bigger offer from another rich firm which is hard to resist.

I guess the Universe wants me to make a tough choice so that I should realize what I truly want.
I am working on it.

Thanks for reading.

Love and Light,
Ritwika

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