Bryan Cohen here, guest poster and author, promoting my new book The Post-College Guide to Happiness for The Happiness Blog Tour. I’m giving away free digital review copies of the book and doing a giveaway for paperback copies, audio copies and even a Kindle Fire! Read on and check out the info below the post.

Reason and Character

“The chances are that you have already come to believe that happiness is unattainable. But men have attained it. And they have attained it by realizing that happiness does not spring from the procuring of physical or mental pleasure, but from the development of reason and the adjustment of conduct to principles.”

– Arnold Bennett

What is reason? I didn’t really know in my early 20s and I certainly wasn’t looking for it. I made lots of wild decisions attempting to find happiness for myself. I flew to France to try to rekindle an old romance. I spent $30,000 that I didn’t have on an attempt to be a television producer. To say that I wasn’t really using my noggin would be a bit of an understatement. Employing reason in your life on a consistent basis can be tough when it seems like the impulsive decisions are the most fun. The problem is that fun and happiness from impulsive decisions tends to be short-term. When you use reason to determine what you need to do to be happy, it’s typically a much more long-term solution.

What is character? In college, I had a bit of a reputation. I wanted to be a successful actor and producer but I wasn’t always the most moral about it. In the midst of my acting classes, I would try to do scenes that included kissing with the hottest girls in class. There was even a running gag about me in which people would label me saying, “Want to do a scene?” followed by making kissy faces. In college, I cheated on a girl I was dating by kissing a girl I used to date. In high school, I never would have dreamed about doing such a thing, but when it happened, I let my emotions get in the way of being a good, decent person. Later on, I realized that instead of trying to suppress guilt from doing questionably moral acts, my happiness was much more likely to come about if I simply followed moral principles. When you keep yourself on the straight and narrow path, you may be missing out on some quick and easy ways to make money or have an exciting experience, but once again, you’ll be adding to your long-term happiness.

By applying reason and character to my life, I was probably labeled by some of my friends as less crazy and fun then I used to be. Then again, I also felt myself gravitating to nicer people who were more loyal and willing to look out for me. I felt good about myself when I looked in the mirror and there wasn’t nearly as much uncertainty. I applied reason to figure out my goals and purpose and I applied character to figure out how to do it in the right way. Knowing where I was going and how to do it was starting to build up my happiness day by day. I still look back on my past transgressions while shaking my head and feeling guilty, but I can’t change the decisions I’ve made. I can only change the ones I make in the moment and for the future. Working on that with my head up and a smile on my face, has given me the best chance I’ve ever had at attaining happiness.

Bryan Cohen is a writer, actor and comedian from Dresher, Pennsylvania. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2005 with degrees in English and Dramatic Art and a minor in Creative Writing. He has written nine books including 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts: Ideas for Blogs, Scripts, Stories and More, 500 Writing Prompts for Kids: First Grade through Fifth Grade, Writer on the Side: How to Write Your Book Around Your 9 to 5 Job and his new book, 1,000 Character Writing Prompts: Villains, Heroes and Hams for Scripts, Stories and More. His website Build Creative Writing Ideas helps over 25,000 visitors a month to push past writer’s block and stay motivated.

Feel free to follow along with the tour at The Happiness Blog Tour Hub Page.