When you get into the realm of philosophical ramblings on the purpose of life, you inevitably get bombarded by different opinions, thoughts, and viewpoints. Some people say that it’s important to sacrifice short term gratification for a long-term vision. Other people say that you should live today like it’s your last today. Many others subscribe to a thousand other ideas backed up by famous quotes or personal experience.

In my opinion, it’s all very simple. The purpose of life is to maximize your own happiness. Period. Full Stop. That’s it.

Maximizing your own happiness means doing things that make you happy even if that will upset someone else or put you on the wrong side of the status quo.

For example, when I was living in America and making over $150k/year in the Silicon Valley, people thought I was completely nuts to drop everything and start a new life in Brazil. It didn’t make any sense. It defied the laws of gravity.

My family was especially confused. Why in the world would I give up a perfectly stable and high-paying job—a job that others would die for—in order to go live abroad and survive on just a fraction of that salary.

But, in my gut that’s what I wanted to do. I knew that traveling and living abroad would make me much happier than working in some cubicle in a barren land replete with parking lots and fast food joints called Silicon Valley.

Even if I was making an amazing salary, had two fast cars, lived in the center of the city in a great apartment.

And, sure, I certainly made my family and friends happy by staying put and having a stable job, but I wasn’t happy.

That’s why as far as I’m concerned, my happiness is more important to me than the happiness of others. I prioritize my happiness over everything else.

After living in Brazil for a bit over two years, many of my good friends left the country and things just weren’t the same as they were before. I had this gut feeling that it was time to go. And, so, I packed up and went to Europe where I met new people and continued to experience new things that I didn’t before.

Eventually, I made it to Ukraine, where, like a baby who’s touching ocean water for the first time, I kept dipping my toes into the water until I got comfortable enough to swim. I made several trips to Ukraine, each one longer the previous, until in 2015, when I decided to more or less make it a base of some sorts.

I was born in Ukraine, and when my family got wind of the fact that I’m considering living in some backward third-world country, they couldn’t believe it. They told me that the only reason we left is because I could have a shot of a better life abroad, instead of rotting in what was the collapsing Soviet Union. But, yet, having an absolutely amazing time in a country that I deserted more than twenty years previously. Out of all the countries that I visited and lived in, Ukraine quickly became my country of choice to live permanently in.

Happiness is a gut feeling. Sometimes you can break it down into components and analyze it logically. But, at its heart, it’s a piece of emotion. You’re either happy or you’re not.

Lately, I discovered an interesting phenomena about happiness: you can be happy at the expense of someone else and vice versa. What I mean by that is when I decided to dump my SV job and move to Brazil, I became happy but my family wasn’t. When I decided to move to Ukraine, I became happy but my family wasn’t. When I worked in SV, my family was happy, but I wasn’t.

This applies to interpersonal relationships as well. Often times, we try to please the other person at the expense of our own happiness. Sure, it’s nice for both parties to be happy to some extent, but usually someone is happier at the expense of someone else. There are compromises.

In fact, relationships are almost never 50/50. There’s always someone that has the upper hand, there’s always someone who needs the other person the most, with the other person needing the other person the least. There are moments in these relationships where one person wants something, while the other person doesn’t necessarily feel it’s something they should do, but they do it anyway. It’s in such cases, it’s best to prioritize your own happiness. As they say, a happy man is a happy woman.

When you prioritize your own happiness at the expense of everything else, you automatically become a little more selfish. That’s good. It’s good to put yourself first. It’s good to do things that make you happy. It’s good to prioritize your own happiness over everything else.

I used to believe that being nice and helping people even at your own expense is important. But then I realized that the world is inherently selfish. All of the successful people that I’ve met in my life—the super successful hustlers who make a ton of money—are inherently selfish. They put their needs first. They prioritize their happiness over everything else.

For a long time, being selfish stroke me as unnatural and not right. Selfish people are messed up in the head, I used to think. Why the hell would I want to be selfish when putting others first and helping them made me feel so good, but then a strange occurrence changed the way I look at the world.

It happened last year during springtime. I was in NYC, staying with my mom for a couple of weeks. It was Saturday and my mom asked me to go with her to my sister’s house, a 45 minute subway right away. While I’m fairly close with my sister, on that particular day, I wasn’t in a particular good mood and didn’t feel like making the long trek across NYC. So, I refused to go.

Of course, my mom pleaded me to go, saying that it’s been a while since I’ve seen my sister, but I wasn’t feeling it, and I knew that if I would’ve gone, I wouldn’t have been talkative and probably acted pissed off at the world.

What was the point of me doing something for someone if that meant they wouldn’t get my entire 100% happy self?

The best course of action would’ve been to stay home that day instead of giving off this toxicity of feeling pissed off at others.

That’s when I realized it’s crucial to take care of yourself first; you absolutely must put yourself first before you even try to satisfy the needs of others. It’s simply counterproductive to view it any other way; when you prioritize the happiness of others over yourself, you just end up with two unhappy parties.

This pattern has repeated itself in all kinds of different situations. For example, let’s say I would’ve accepted my family’s position and remained in New York instead of chasing to move to Brazil or Ukraine (where I’m now). The only people I would be making happy would be them. On the other hand, I would be absolutely miserable. And if I were miserable, then my attitude to them would probably be passive aggressive or just mildly aggressive. Compare that to nothing but bliss and happiness that I’m experiencing as I’m living one heck of a life in Kiev, Ukraine.

That’s because when it came to choosing a place to live, I chose myself over everyone else. I said no to New York. I said no to San Francisco. I said no to America. Instead, I chose a place that I wanted to live in and then moved on when living there no longer made sense.

I’ve also applied the same approach to relationships. During any relationship, I try to prioritize my own happiness above all. It doesn’t matter if the relationship is romantic, business or just with a good friend. If I can’t prioritize my own happiness and still enjoy a healthy relationship, then that relationship is all but worthless to me.

While happiness isn’t the most important thing in the world, sacrificing your own happiness for someone else’s is a crucial mistake that you should avoid at all costs.

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