Starting From Scratch — How To Lead Yourself Out Of Unhappiness

Rowan Blair Colver
8 min readSep 21, 2020


Lucid Leadership by Rowan B. Colver

We may be all born equal but by the time we enter the world of adulthood, we are gradated according to several factors. Our upbringing is clearly the most important device when raising successful people, how much we learn about the world depends on how much we are exposed to. If we experience too much neglect we learn to neglect ourselves, if we have too much material wealth we learn to not value privilege. The reason behind our unhappiness is always a complicated series of thoughts, feelings, memories, and beliefs that combine to make us feel bad.

The poetry series Our Nexus Of Sorrows by Scott Free is an excellent example of how growing up with hurtful experiences and lessons can result in mentally unwell adults. Most of us have a firm grip on our morality and want to make the most of our lives for the best of all. Without the innate inner confidence that a loving and safe home instils in us, many of us simply can’t make our life something we are happy living. When we learn to reject any thought or feeling that offends or repulses us, we can begin to unpick our knotted emotional and psychological programming.

Let’s assume you’re switched on and want to make the best of your situation. What next? How do we have to behave and invoke our purpose in order to reach a place we can be happy with? Let’s look at some guiding principles.

Effective Routines.

The chances are that you’ve been living your life a certain way for quite some time. You are in routines that either serve you or unnerve you. There are things we cannot avoid and things that we can. It might be that you are avoiding unavoidable things from cleanliness or health to opening emails or social obligations. You might be spending all your time doing things that you really enjoy but are ultimately non-essential. Do you spend a lot of time playing computer games? Apart from an inner feeling of pleasure, what is your reward?

Build habits that bring about genuine change for the better. Of course, having fun is part of a balanced lifestyle, partaking in emotional rewards like video games or drama on TV is how we spend our spare time. If we want to build a life around those things we need to be able to treat them as work and become detached, which limits how much pleasure we can achieve. Choose things to work with that you can detach from. Build your routines around results and not gratification, live your life daily in a way that brings about positive outcomes.


If you were hit by a bus today and never woke up, how would your situation fare? It’s a really morbid thought but it makes a lot of difference once we have addressed it. You want the fruits of your labour to continue into the future, you want your children and next of kin to be able to access your wealth, your belongings, your ideas. A lot of stuff is digital these days, are your passwords written down anywhere, is your computer pin in a place someone can find? What about your cryptocurrency? Your wallet should have a mnemonic which can give anyone access to it if they know it. Be careful — don’t make it easy for someone to steal your identity, however, if you can be confident that if the worst should happen and your details can be found, all your hard work and sacrifice will be worth it.

The way people perceive you today will remark on how you are remembered tomorrow. So start by giving people good things talk about. Try not to be a subject of complaint or concern, be a strong and well-appearing individual that makes a good impression. When you leave a room, the room needs to notice that you’ve gone.

Red or Black Don’t Look Back

In life, we either get what we wanted or we don’t. At each turn, we are able to make choices about how we perceive our experience. If we get what we want, it’s great, we enjoy the result and make a note of how we achieved it. This method seems to work, and we learned to put it into practice. It can be as simple as making a drink or as heavy as getting the best job. Accept your wins with grace and gratitude, remembering who helped you and who tried to stop you.

But what if you don’t get what you want. You said red and the ball goes to black. Damn. Oh well, the thing is, you have learned something far more valuable. Failure is a direct signpost to unknown information. Hooray! We now have a direction that we accept is necessary. There’s a lot of hurt and pain to get through if we don’t take each lesson seriously. Sometimes it is to do with other people, maybe you are surrounded by people who are idiots, but often it’s because we don’t appreciate our situation. Idiots still know how to have a good time, spend money, and enjoy the conversation. If you don’t meet people on their level knowing you are on a different one, who is the idiot?

Choose Your Friends Wisely

Some people are just bad for us. Either knowingly or not, they are toxic. People who put you down, call you names, order you about, or treat you with no respect are not good for you. These people enjoy the power dynamic you give them by accepting their superior perspective. By validating these people and accepting how they treat you, you are allowing a person to rob you of your dignity. Sometimes we self-depreciate, we hand our dignity over to another person and see what they do with it. This is unhelpful too, although it does make it easy to spot fake kindness, give a man a loaded gun and see if he shoots you, it makes you look bad even to the decent folks.

Surround yourself with people who can pick you up and brush you down when you’re up and when you’re down. Too much positive and too much negative will unbalance you and cause you to lose sight on your direction. Find people who respect your boundaries, who are not rude to you, people who want you to be happy.

Be A Good Friend

We have to be the kind of friend we would want. Life works both ways. A common delusion people have is to assume that everyone knows you’re a good person. They really don’t and if you act in ways they are unhappy with then they will begin to make judgements against you. Some people accept poor quality friendships because they themselves have no boundary habits or politeness. Be careful with those who don’t have basic respect for your dignity because they can invite the kinds of trouble you are not prepared to deal with.

It doesn’t matter how much you give, how many cans of beer you can bring round, it’s about showing genuine care for the other person’s well-being. A good friend considers their friends’ feelings before choosing what to do, what to say. If someone treats you badly, it doesn’t mean that the rules of the world are to treat people badly. We all play by our own rules, and when we want to get on in life, it’s best to play by the ones used by those already there.

Know Who You Are

We can become over-influenced by factors like the desire to be a good friend or desire to be in someone’s good books. If our friend likes a band and we listen to it but think it’s a bit annoying, we might go to the extent of pretending to like it just so we fit in. This is an immature way of sharing music, an adult can respect and dislike something at the same time. Facial expressions and noises like you are in pain and things like that can make us want to conform, emotional arguments keep us occupied with things that we don’t feel comfortable with. Learn to step away when in our head, we already have done.

Be confident in your own opinions, your own observations, and in your own ability to see ignorance and learn. If we become easily influenced by people around us, we stop walking the path laid out for us by walking theirs, usually to make them feel safer. Authenticity matters.

Be Prepared To Adapt

If you are not 100% happy about your current situation then it undoubtedly has to change. But what and how? Ultimately only you can know your pain points in life but if you can be honest with yourself, you know what things have been a hindrance to your happiness thus far. It might be that the ways shown to you have been so far uninviting, you may be repulsed by the options insinuated by your current peers. If you can think of a mature way to handle these differences and find a solution that satisfies both you and your peers, the pressure will no longer be there.

If we go back to the first principle of a good routine, this is where most of the adaptation takes place. Rebalancing our lifestyle to account for progress as well as procrastination as a healthy way to relax, we adapt our processes and routines to include everything that is necessary. Education, work, tidying, family time, downtime, all need their rightful place in the cosmos of your daily orbit.

Stop Talking About It And Do It

The dream is seductive, we can imagine ourselves sitting in the centre of our good work and having a wonderful time. This isn’t going to get us there though. We of course have to build a vision, know what it should look like, imagine ourselves doing it, but then we have to put it all into practice. The world takes time to adjust to you just as much as it takes time for you to adjust to the world. By acting out your better self, doing the things you know have to be done, you will be a lot closer to your success. After a few months of this then your habits will be a lot more healthy.

You have to do things to your best ability. Writing one article for one magazine one time didn’t make a writer. It takes many years of continual writing and learning in order to even look like one on paper. You might have a few memes online that have a lot of likes, all explaining what kind of person you are. Really? Or is that your ideal you wish to achieve? Only by being what you say you want to be will you ever get there. And if you want people to remember you then you have to be extremely good at being who you are. All those unhappy habits that kept you in the dark will take you away from your brilliance. Be good, be the best.



Rowan Blair Colver

Music writer and humanities educator from Sheffield in England. Democracy of philosophy, comments are welcome.