The Secret to a Writer’s Happiness

secret to happiness

Intrinsic goals include: personal growth, relationships and helping others.

Are you happy? In every aspect of your life?

Is there one area of your life that stresses you out more than others?

Consider re-evaluating your goals.

According to the documentary “Happy” there are two categories of goals and values that people create for themselves in life: intrinsic and extrinsic goals. Extrinsic goals focus on something external such as reward, praise and getting stuff.

The three main examples of extrinsic goals include:

  • Money
  • Image
  • Status

Intrinsic goals entail psychological needs that all people have, but some people don’t see them as primary goals.

The three main examples of intrinsic goals include:

  • Personal growth
  • Relationships
  • A desire to help

People with extrinsic goals consistently report dissatisfaction in their lives. They feel more stressed, and they experience more frequent depression symptoms. People with intrinsic goals are happier, healthier and live more satisfying lifestyles.

Writers aren’t business people. The profession may require some business-like work, but the core focus of being a writer is to grow through experiences, build relationships and help others with words.

If someone told you that you wouldn’t make a dime writing, yet you continued anyway, you’re an intrinsic writer. Not to mention you’re my type of writer.

How can you focus on intrinsic goals in your writing life to make yourself happier?

Accept criticism, and recover quickly from failures

Writing involves unending failures. Writers try to guest post and get rejected, they try to query agents and get rejected and they release books that receive poor reviews or low sales. Writers see their work as a baby, making it difficult to accept criticism or rejection.

The movie “Happy” explains that people who accomplish large successes such as winning an award, gaining millions of dollars or defeating a team in a championship game feel happy for short periods of time, but they return to their normal happiness level. If the person was unhappy prior to becoming a New York Times Bestseller, they experience brief joy, then return to that state of unhappiness.

Learn to accept criticism early in your writing career, or the sweet taste of success will dissipate. Bounce back from failures with a smile to remain happy your entire life, not just when you become successful.

Talk to a person every time you write something new

Foster relationships with people you know and people you don’t know. Every time you set out to write a blog post, short story, novel or poem, speak to someone. Enjoy their company, and stimulate your creative juices.

Pens and keyboards don’t make stories, people do.

The realism of your story increases when you interact with other people. Experience different moods, characteristics, opinions and situations. Incorporate your interactions in all your stories to connect with readers on a personal level, and increase your happiness in the process.

Give out help for free

I tend to believe that helping others is the intrinsic goal that most people forget about. Ask yourself how you can help others with your work. Give out free advice to build trust and friendships through your writing. Give your best writing out for free. This promotes your writing and helps other people. Word of mouth marketing from numerous happy people is more helpful than 50 eBook sales for $3 a pop.

After that, walk down the street and hand a homeless person some change, or open a door for a stranger. People who help other people live longer, feel better and make the world a nicer place to live.

Connect your life to your words. Experience happiness by crafting words that make people wonder how they can be happy too.

Let me know in the comments how you focus on achieving intrinsic goals. Is there any area of your life where you could improve?

Set up a self-hosted WordPress blog in 10 minutes or less by watching my step-by-step video tutorial. Get your words out to the world and take full control of your blog. I recommend using BlueHost web hosting. It is the only hosting service I personally recommend, and I use it for this site! Learn more….

About Joe Warnimont

I am a writer, marketing expert and adventure seeker. I help people write, market their writing, live truthfully and embrace their lives through creativity. You can find me riding my bike around the streets of Chicago. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus.


  1. I loved the movie Happy! And the things you discuss in this post go to the heart of how I’m trying to live now–focusing on the journey and not a destination, because the “there” that I’ve spent years thinking I need to get to changes as soon as I get there. Thanks for this reminder!

    • Well put Stephanie. The key to happiness seems to be focusing on the trip as opposed to looking into the future all the time. It takes a while to realize it. Focusing on future endeavors is one unfortunate mindset we’re trained to think from birth it seems.

  2. Wonderful reminder, Joe. Just what I needed today to keep my head in the right frame of mind=)

  3. Great post. My husband lost his battle with cancer five years ago and I have been thinking on these same lines since his death. Thinking and acting. My motto is: ‘Do no harm by word or deed and help when you can.’

  4. Joe, you hit the nail on the head. People will never be happy until they are content with their own lives, and this can only be achieved by being the best person one can be on a daily basis. When someone is enthralled by the mighty dollar they are ruled by extrinsic motivations which makes for a shallow individual. Only by helping out each other can one be helped themselves, for our dependence on one another is truly what makes our lives worthwhile.
    Thanks for this post,

  5. Great post. Indeed, I feel more fulfilled when I help others. Especially, in writing. I think people who learn great tricks, or secrets to improve, and don’t share, tend to rot inside… so to speak. They may gain spurts of joy, but return to their “unhappy stingy place” eventually. LoL

    • You’re right P.D. Getting out and meeting people and sharing experiences with others is the way to go. It makes you feel good when you are able to share something spectacular with other peeps. πŸ™‚

  6. Joe, your short mission statement says it all. You DO help people write, and market and even live well . May you ever be happy, as you help others fulfill their dreams.

  7. it’s somewhat obvious you are on whatever path you are somewhat sure it is that you should be on. i used to be there. have glimpsed it again from time to time.
    THE ‘FUN’ FOR ME MORE AND MORE IS TO BE TOTALLY LOST. by that, i suggest you throw out all the rules, your rules, rules in general. just consider …

  8. Basing happiness on success is like running on a treadmill and expecting to get somewhere. Running on a treadmill by itself can be depressing, but metaphorically speaking, happiness can’t be obtained by endless achievements; it must be found in what already is. Only ten percent of a person’s attitude and happiness can be controlled by circumstance–the other ninety is based upon personal outlook. Like you say, doing things for others is a great way to keep focused on what is. Somehow, it keeps you engaged in what’s important.

    I have to remind myself not to wish away the now. My children, my wife, our current circumstances, all of now will someday be a memory. I often look back at my memories and wish that I had done more to enjoy them. It’s sad, but it’s also a potent reminder of my outlook on the present.

    Great post man. Glad we found each other.

  9. Thank you so much for following my blog and for writing this particular post. With my first novel coming out next week, and being an utter marketing idiot, I think I have lost some of the intrinsic joy involved with the process. What once seemed to magical has taken off its shroud and is wearing a business suit underneath. It’s something I have to get used to, and posts like this help remind me that you don’t have to sacrifice one for the other. Thanks again.

  10. Enjoy reading your work; I live mostly by the “bucket and dipper” theory. If my bucket is full of creative ideas I am happy until someone dips out of my bucket leaving me with a negative thought. I like to keep my bucket full and hopefully help to fill those of others with my poetry. Great work and all enjoyable reads. Ann

  11. Thanks for the “follow,” Joe. I can see at a glance that you are an expert at both writing and marketing