A Little Happier: There’s No Magic, One-Size-Fits-All Solution for Happiness or Good Habits.

Have you ever read the phrase the “Procrustean bed?” In Greek mythology, Procrustes was a bandit who forced travelers to fit into his iron bed — whether by stretching out their bodies or chopping off their limbs.

The “Procrustean bed” comes up a lot in the area of happiness and habits. We try to fit ourselves into someone else’s idea of what we should do, instead of setting up our circumstances to fit ourselves.

If you want to sign up for the “Moment of Happiness,” the daily quotation about happiness, habits, and human nature, sign up here.

Have you ever tried to fit yourself into another person’s notion of the “right” way to do something? Do it first thing in the morning! Start small! Be moderate! These strategies work for some people, but not everyone. We do better when we don’t try to cram ourselves into someone else’s iron bed.

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Want to get in touch? I love hearing from listeners:


  • statmam

    Mythology is one of those areas about which my ideal self would know everything but my actual self knows very little. Thanks for bringing me one small step closer to my ideal.

  • Mimi Gregor

    I think that we are all both Procrustes and the guest; I sometimes think that I am so different than other people in the way I choose to live my life. But perhaps other people are “different” also, except that they are desperately hacking off limbs or stretching themselves to fit their idea of what society expects from them. I’ve decided that sounds like way too much bother, and I’ll just resign myself to being an anomaly. It seems like all the scorn one expects for being different than the norm is all in one’s own mind anyway; people really just don’t give a damn what anyone else is doing. They’re busy trying to keep up appearances in their own little worlds. I think that trying to “fit in” with what the rest of society is doing is behind most of the stress that people experience in our times.