The Plague of Happiness Ever After

Note: This is a guest post by Vlad Dolezal of An Amazing Mind.

Once upon a time, a poor peasant heard that the princess of his country was looking for a husband. The old king was getting very old, and the kingdom was starting to desperately look for a heir.

So the peasant set out to ask for the princess' hand in marriage. When he arrived at the palace, he found out he will have to compete with several other peasants to prove his worth as the next king.

The night before the competition, he went to buy some food.

“You look worried young man.”
“Yeah. Tomorrow, I'll be competing for the princess' hand in marriage. Of course I'm worried. When it's done, then I'll be able to relax.”

And the next day comes, and the peasant competes with the others, in a long day of traditional disciplines, devised to test his worth as the next king. The disciplines include such gems as throwing pitchforks into moving targets, and taming an angry boar with only his bare hands and a length of rope.

(That's quite a ridiculous way to choose the next king, but hey. It's tradition.)

And the peasant emerges victorious, and everybody celebrates, the princess rewards him with a kiss, and they retire into the princess' private chambers.

“You look worried, my dear.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“What's wrong? You just won my hand in marriage!”
“Yeah, I still can't quite believe it's real. When we're standing together at the altar, a week from now, and say our vows, then I will finally believe it and be able to relax and be happy.”

A week passes, the marriage takes place, and the newly crowned prince retires into his private chambers with the princess.

“You look worried, husband.”
“Yeah. I would really love to help the people of this country, your old father is no longer able to rule properly. But my hands are tied. I can't do anything while he's still alive. When he dies, then I will be able to help our people, and I will be happy.”

A few months pass. The old king dies. The whole country mourns for a week, and then goes about its business as usual.

“You look worried, my lord.”
“Yeah, there are unrests in the border regions. When I'll dealt with those, then I will be happy.”

So he deals with the unrests. And then a dragon attacks the country, and the new king bravely fights him off. And then plague comes, but the king smartly manages to contain it and cure his people. And then there's drought, and then floods, and fires and storms, locusts, invading armies, ingrown toenails…

Eventually, the king finds himself on his own death bed. The royal scribe comes to see him.

“You will soon die, my lord. Do you have any parting words of wisdom you would like to share with the next generations?”
“It's about bloody time. My whole life has been one catastrophe followed by another. When I die and enter the afterlife, THEN I will finally be happy…”


So many people focus on happiness ever _after_.

“After I get my degree, then I will be happy.”
“After I start earning $100,000 a year, then I will be happy.”
“After I retire, _then_ I will be happy!”

And like the peasant in the above story, they end up chasing the ever elusive “after”, but never actually reach it.

There is no happiness in the after. The happiness is in the NOW! As the old saying goes:

“Tomorrow never comes. Because when it comes, it's today again.”

Don't make the same mistake as the peasant. Stop looking for happiness in the future, and instead savour everything you already have. Happiness is already with you. You just need to tap into it.

Pause to smell the proverbial roses along the way (although here in the city, the only things along the road I could pause to smell are… well, let's just say you wouldn't want to smell them.)

Errrm, as I was saying… think of roses.

Right now, just slowly breathe all the way out, and take a deeee-ee-eep slooo-ooo-oow breath in. Then breathe all the way out, through your nose, even slower than you breathed in.


And I've got a quick exercise you can do right now to get really happy! I call it “3 Simple thing I love about…”

Just pick an area of your life. Any area of your life. Could be your work, or your family life, or your car, or the room you're in right now. Then simply make a mental list of “3 Simple Things I love about [blank].”

Here's my example:

3 Simple things I love about living in the UK

1. The bus drivers – I've never seen such happy and satisfied bus drivers before. It's probably got to do something with the fact that over here, we always greet the bus driver when we get on the bus, and thank with for the journey when we get off. It's great to see such people as bus drivers enjoying their jobs.
2. The non-smoking bars and clubs – I love being able to go out with friends for a night out and return home with my clothes still smelling fresh.
3. The awesome British and Irish accents – 'nuff said.

The “3 Simple things I love about…” is a great quick exercise if you ever find yourself bored, like in traffic or in the checkout line at the grocery store. It instantly annihilates the boredom, and fills your life with happiness.

Do it right now! Pick one area of your life, and list 3 Simple things you love about it.

There's no happiness in the “after”. So enjoy the now!

Check out Vlad's blog to get even more happiness in the now! It's got psychology, personal growth, and a crapton of attitude!

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About the Author

Henrik Edberg is the creator of the Positivity Blog and has written weekly articles here since 2006. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Gothenburg and has been featured on Lifehack, The Huffington Post and Paulo Coelho’s blog. Click here to learn more…

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Christian Cullen

    This was a great read ! Thanx so much for taking the time to spread and promote happiness wherever possible . 4stars

  • I like the article. I think many people especailly Americans assume the know they reached their goal or dreams when there is no more conflicts or trouble events in their life anymore. Of course that is impossible. I still catch myself thinking if I complete this or that everything will be better for now on. Maybe that is the fault of movies that show people living happily ever after.

  • This is a wonderful story about living in the present moment. There really is no future. Even when we think about the future, it is still an expansion of the present moment.

    And the irony is, our joy and happiness is related to how fully we are in the present moment. Even in the midst of struggle, when we are here now – fully – there is joy. It’s a joy in the struggle that has to do with it not being a battle at all, but a celebration that we are fully living.

  • Awesome insight as usual.

    I wish everyone in the states had those cool Irish and British accents. ;-)


  • CC

    I like the message, but the story is a bit flawed in my opinion. The first thing I noticed was that the peasant accomplished so much during his lifetime. In the story, he fought plague, locusts, invading armies, and dragons, etc. But it sounds like the peasant is not given enough credit for his dissatisfaction. If he were already happy and content, would he have worried about his people’s suffering and did all the things he did? Perhaps. But I think you need some kind of feelings of unrest in order to be motivated to complete a goal. What does everyone else think?

  • @Christian:

    Ya, I also still catch myself thinking I’ll be happy AFTER something :p. Then I remind myself to be happy NOW while still aiming for that goal.

    I heard an interview with an old lady that even at 80 years of age was skippy and full of energy. When the interviewers asked to what she owes her happiness and energy, she answered:

    “Every morning, I pray to God that he gives me plenty of challenges during the day ahead. And he always delivers.”


    I can totally imagine one-upping each other with an American…
    “We are the richest country in the world.”
    “So what, we make the best baked beans!”
    “Well, we have Obama!”
    “That’s nothing. We have British and Irish accents!!”
    “… Okay, you win.”

    Yeah, I’ll keep on dreaming :)

    That’s one of the most common arguments I hear from people who are always unhappy and dissatisfied.

    I can’t speak from personal experience, because I haven’t quite reached the place of total bliss yet… but Tony Robbins, one of the most successful motivational speakers, says that when he’s fully happy and content, he’s actually able to provide MORE value to others! His drive to help others only increases with his happiness.

  • You said it!!
    There’s not a darn thing we can do about the future or the past.
    There are no guarantees that when we finally win the lottery, we’ll be happy. There is only one guarantee, and that is you can CHOOSE to be happy now. Wherever you find yourself, the choice is still available to you to be happy, or not. This moment is all we ever have, oh, and the choice to enjoy it or not. Which do you choose?

    Live Life Happy!

  • Sun-shine

    as Mary Poppins once said:


  • Amanda

    :o) Ditto to Matthews comment if i may! :o) Thank You x

  • Hi Vlad,

    I love the story! Or I should say I love the moral of the story. And thank you for telling it so well. :)



  • @Jacqueline:
    Are you a motivational speaker, by any chance? :)

    I totally agree, whatever it means.

    You’re welcome!

  • LOVE this post. It totally clicks with my site and it’s focus on “living happily ever after now.” Happily ever after is a waste of time and, unfortuntely, we’re trained to think like that from a very young age. If we learn that now is all we have and that now is the time we have to be happy, we will be a lot better off in life.

    I wrote about a similiar topic on my blog. Check out “This IS It” here:

  • Hi Vlad!

    I love this post and the message of it is so true. People always think happiness will be found when they reach a certain point that they are working towards. I used to think like that but, like you, I realized that happiness is in the moment and seeing the positive in all that surrounds me. The mere fact I have Internet access that lets me communicate with people all over the world is pretty awesome and something to be happy about…as is walking and having good health! :)

  • JDH

    This is a great article, and very timely for me. It reminds me of a news story, wish I could remember where I read it, about a woman who was over 100 years old. She was asked what was one thing that she could share that she learned in her long years….she said that almost everything that she feared or worried about never came to pass. That blew me away because I really recognized just how true that is.

    Anyway, awesome article!

  • Great post, Vlad. We all make happiness conditional by saying “I’ll be happy when…” But happiness is just a feeling and we can have all the feelings we want right away – even as we work on changing our life circumstances. This is a simple, yet very powerful exercise you suggested – thanks.