06/24/2009 05:50 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

How to Be Happy: Be Miserable 12% of the Time

People always talk about being happy or unhappy. As if it's an either or thing. But most of us are happy and unhappy. The trick to being more happy is being willing to be unhappy!

I've noticed in my own life that when I am willing to be 100% unhappy 12% of the time I can be 100% happy 88% of the time.

Americans tend to believe in 100% ism. Giving your all. Being totally in. And totally rad. And totally awesome. But even our ginormous white toothy smiling movie stars can't change the fact that it's 100% impossible to be 100% happy 100% of the time.

Of course these days it seems more like we're avoiding being unhappy than trying to be happy. In some ways the trick with happiness is not trying. Not pursuing it. You pursue work, love, presence, breath, friends, health, freedom, helpingness, and let happiness find you. Vigorously pursue joy and then be willing to be unhappy.

This is the part that almost every happy expert leaves out. And it means that happiness seekers are left feeling like failures which leads to more guilty unhappiness.

So on days when I'm miserable I try to be miserable. You shouldn't have to try to be miserable, but I do. Because everything in me says be "fine", avoid this misery! Work harder, think more, eat crunchy foods. It's hard to believe once I really feel it, that the misery will ever end. But it does.

One thing I know: it really helps around our house to have The 12% Code: to be able to say hey honey I'm having a 12% day. Which lets Greg know it's time to go run some errands, or go to the gym or do anything besides hang around the black hole that is the 12% me.