After college, before getting married my (now) wife and I had the same problem - but we noticed it wasn't just us: everyone we knew felt lonely. We decided to start getting together with all our friends and acquaintances almost every night after work. We hosted or set it up for about two weeks before it took on a life of its own and we didn't have to be present for each night; our acquaintances (at that point friends because of the magic of "spending time together") started setting stuff up on their own. It lasted for about a year or two, where you could pretty much always count on someone to be around who you'd want to hang with.
Keep in mind that I'm mildly introverted, but my wife is much moreso - and both of us enjoyed this immensely.
You're an introvert, so you probably are intimidated by meeting a large crowd of people you don't know. I know I am. Meetups are hard. Joining a group for an activity is hard. The nice thing about asking the friends/acquaintances you do have (however distant) if they want to make dinner at 5, join you for a drink at 6, or play this new game you got is that you've skipped the hard part about meetups by only meeting people you already know.
Just a reminder introversion is not anti-social.
1. I don't feel like I have enough energy to do things after work, and I find myself unable to socialize for long periods of time.
2. My friends, or at least friends I know in the real world, are running into number 1, and often have different work schedules anyways.
Modern society feels isolating. When I try to be social, I find many people are disinterested. I myself hardly have any energy to be social even though I feel like it would be good for me. Perhaps general health has something to do with this too, but it sure isn't convenient.
But it’s hard to disconnect completely when everyone else is at work. Having a corporate chat system doesn’t help in this regard, but even without that the interruptions come.
A couple of times last year I ended up doing a fullish day of work at the weekend for some or other urgent project. Now that I find amazingly productive, going on outright invigorating. Not something I really want to make a habit of though (family, plus no shortage of ideas for side projects).
I do dream of true team-of-one jobs...
It's exhausting at first. Kind of like working out.
Also, there's a passage in Meditation by Marcus Aurelius I think would do you well. To paraphrase, if you turn your full attention to the present task, not worrying about the future, and letting the past go, nothing can stop you from living a good life.
> Always loved learning new stuff, but don't have enough time to really be immersive in anything. Now when I see an interesting problem in math/physics I can hardly give it an actual shot and it makes me very very sad deep down.
I have something for you to do. Take a moment to sit down, and write about the things you knew how to do you first graduated from college, and the things you know how to do now. I'd say from your experiences as a founder and a CTO, you've learned some things that are more valuable than math or physics.
The easiest way to be happy is to be "present". "Be here now" as the saying goes. Recognize that in this present moment, everything is fine. You are experiencing the incredible miracle of being alive, of having awareness. Relish it. Appreciate it. It's fleeting and then perhaps gone forever (who knows?).
Neurotic thoughts of fear, anxiety, dissatisfaction, embarrassment and whatever else are firstly thoughts, and secondly projections into the future or recreations of the past.
The future and the past don't exist except as concepts. What exists is only the present. When the future "happens" (so to speak), it's in the present that it happens.
To be fully present means to not project or recreate, but to simply observe what is, without attachment to any emotion or thought.
In the previous sentence is an implied contradiction which needs to be resolved. To be happy, you have to give up attachment to any outcome (i.e. wanting to be happy).
Meditation is the best way I know how to learn how to detach from your thoughts and emotions and to be fully aware and present in the current moment.
I'm not always happy, but compared to 10-12 years ago, I'm incredibly happy. Meditation, being present, letting go of negative thought patterns (by simply observing them and not attaching to them and thereby loosening their grip) have contributed a great deal to that.
What I am looking for though is being more content with what I am doing with the time I have here in this lifetime. I believe there could be much better ways of progressing through life than what I am doing right now, hence seeking advice to better refine that pursuit towards perhaps a few more high notes than low notes in life :)
I quite literally looked at my life, thought about where I wanted to be, and then looked at what traits I'd need to cultivate in order to get there.
One of them was 'how to have a conversation with people' which was hard to learn, and embarrassing to practice, but I got there. I'm not 'extrovert' at it, and it is exhausting, but I'm no wallflower any longer.
Another one was 'how to disagree with someone and not be deferential, passive aggressive, or just plain aggressive about it' this I'm still working on, but I've gotten better at it.
Thankfully, the 'I can do it myself' attitude I had to cultivate as a child, gave me a good foundation of life skills. I can travel alone, attend conferences alone, eat out alone, generally take care of myself. I just needed to add some extra skills to be able to get to the 'happy' point.
What is the key to getting better at this, in your experience?
But for me it boils down to an inferiority problem. What has helped is recognizing that feeling of 'something about this isn't right' and instead of either pushing it down (because I don't want to look stupid) or immediately saying 'hey that's shit but I can't tell you why' I take some time to really think about where that feeling is coming from.
Then, if I find the problem quickly enough, I specifically talk about and explore that, trying to be extremely careful to not use any 'blame' language. Because laying blame is unhelpful and makes people defensive. What I want out of these interactions is the best solution, not to be right.
If I don't find the reason for the feeling quickly enough I try to keep my mouth shut. Just because I've got a feeling that something isn't adding up, doesn't mean it's true.
Happiness is quite a strange thing. Maslow-type basic needs is a big part of it. And not being stressed. Like, how often do you feel satisfied to just sit around for a while? Have a bath? Listen to some great music?
I still struggle with social life, especially living in a foreign country. As an introvert I don't get intrinsic pleasure from social interactions, but still, relationships are very rich and interesting.
Board games are a curious example of a way to interact with some (artificial) structure and purpose, where the real motivation is actually interaction itself, and playing. You get to exercise various social habits. Other social contexts are also a bit like this... You can approach them as interesting ways of playing together. Maybe there is such a thing as different preferences regarding competition vs cooperation...
0. Quit your job. I know this isn't reasonable for most people, but it was the best move toward happiness I ever made. I just hit ten years without full-time employment.
1. Create a hobby for yourself and become skilled or expert in something outside of work.
2. Start a meetup. The one I started came from working out of the local coffee shop when the baristo asked if I could help him learn html/css/js.
3. Find a side-hustle. I need new challenges, and while software engineering provides loads of those, that is just "tagging up".
4. Volunteer. Give time to your communities.
5. Exercise. Your biz probably keeps your mind sharp, but keeping your body sharp will yield tremendous mental dividends. As a kid, when I complained about doing school work, my mom would tell me to do 100 pushups.
6. Read. For pleasure as well as for work.
Going back to school has its appeal, but has financial and opportunity costs. I was an unmotivated student and only performed academically when I took too few or too many classes.
You have created an illusion for yourself around time, an illusion that it is moving quickly and that you don't have any. You don't have any because you don't TAKE IT. Is there anything you always wanted to do? Go do it! Tell your team that you are taking an afternoon off every week to pursue X.
I always liked the notion not of "human being" but rather "human becoming".
When I quit full-time employment at a major US university, my first contracts brought in far more than I had been earning. A former colleague there used to quip, "half a day's work for half a day's pay". Still, I had about six months of mortgage payments and other living expenses saved before I took the (abrupt) leap.
I took some part time gigs minding friends' art galleries to cover groceries and to get me out of the house. I've added side-hustles as a way to improve my communication skills and get me into other communities.
And I cut way back on expenses. I eliminated dining out and drinking. One of the perks of my side hustle is deep discounts on clothing and gear required for the job.
To manage the stress, I started hiking every day. (Actually, that wasn't the reason, but a side effect. The reason was to help a roommate lose 50 pounds, then the next roommate another 50 pounds. Bringing in roommates also offset some of the costs of living.) Removing four hours of daily commute let me hike an hour a day and still have three bonus hours that I could devote to other stress-relieving strategies such as reading or meditating.
Financial stress is just stress, as far as I'm concerned. I had one major financial obligation, a mortgage three years old at the time right as the financial crisis hit in 2008. If things had gotten very bad, I probably would have short-sold my house, moved in with friends or family, and/or found a lower-cost community to call home. And nothing but stubbornness and a desire to work on my terms prevented me from seeking regular employment.
If I had a partner and/or kids, the calculus would have been different. Another breadwinner would have smoothed the finances. Kids might have prevented a move entirely, though I'm not certain. My dad lost his engineering job when I was seven. He took on contracting work until one of the contractees hired him as SVP of engineering.
An ex just visited for a month with her boyfriend. He lost his job as an EMT in Alaska because of structural changes in state employment. We spent a lot of time talking about what we really need to survive. He says they can live happily in Anchorage on about 18k/year. (Health insurance there for them costs 1/10 of what it costs where I am.)
Just because you have financial security at your current gig today doesn't mean next month's check is going to clear. The boss works for you, you don't work for the boss.
- My dogs
- Laughing at my favorite youtubers' new videos
- Reading (at home, at coffee shops, at work)
- My loved ones
- Helping others
- Becoming a better person
Response to body text:
- Things that you enjoy such as hobbies change over time, but with some effort you can always go back and do them again. Find out what you like and do it.
- College could be a great choice for you, but unfortunately there is little guarantee it could make you genuinely happy. Speak with other people who are in programs that you might want to try - really get to know them. See if they are happy or have a lifestyle you want to have.
- Is there anything you can do to get more time? Are you consulting a lot - do you need to? If all your time is taken up by your primary employment - are you delegating enough at the CTO level? Hire smart people and let them take the ropes while you guide them and give yourself a more time away from work.
While your last response statement is quite on point with what i feel i should do as well, but it's quite difficult to execute unfortunately. Have tried delegation, but the results have been not upto the mark and personal ego has taken a hit as a result quite often :|
Haha you sound like an HTTP response. Welcome fellow nerd...
Then (warning, plug ahead) I started a D3.js project (to keep skills fresh) to visualize data about tennis strings and rackets to understand them better, ...
... which devolved in keeping my rackets/strings on that same app, which later open to others ...
... which devolved in starting a flex tennis league in my region (SF Bay Area), ...
... which devolved into starting a small business to automate tedious and time consuming tasks at small racket-sport shops (and maybe others in the future).
I'm so happy with projects that get a life of their own!
Watching comedy and writing comedy also makes me happy.
If you're dissatisfied with life as it's ordinarily lived on a deeper level, maybe it's something that speaks to you as well. Long-term change takes a lot of practice and effort, though, but it's meaningful effort (at least to me).
What works for me is focusing on what is meaningful and paying less attention to being happy. Happiness is a fleeting emotion - or if you want to define happiness as a state of being rather than an emotion, it's still fleeting. It can even be an inappropriate response to much of life. Would it be appropriate to be sad for weeks or months if you lost a loved one such as a close family member or pet? Sure. Rather than trying to avoid the sadness and replace it with happiness, you can just try to find a way to make the experience meaningful to you. Changing the question about what I'm seeking in life has been really useful. What I'm seeking is not happiness. Emotions give us such a rich and authentic experience of life. Why seek out just one? What we should be seeking out are healthy ways of living through whatever emotion or state of being is appropriate to the situation.
TL;DR most people think of introvert/extrovert on one dimension, but in fact some people are both (happy alone, happy in groups) and others are neither (unhappy alone, unhappy in groups). So it makes more sense to think of it as two dimensions (some nice charts in article to visualise this).
Since reading this article I've tried to become more "extrovertable".
Not for everyone - for many it might be best to focus on a single dimension, but it's helped me thinking about it in 2 dimensions and explicitly practicing becoming better at both "skills".
Knowing this, I think it's pretty obvious introverts can learn and appear as extroverts, but eventually they hit a point where they have to say "bye" and be alone doing nothing productive for a while.
As an anecdotal data point, I was very introvert and I did learn to "be extrovert" and many people wouldn't notice at all, but at the end of the day I need to be alone, sometimes for days to recover and be productive again.
Even though it's anecdotal I think we can't generalize and say "introversion doesn't exist". There's a lot of factors involved. Stuff may be even more complex when dealing with an ASD.
Perhaps, I might lie in that "unhappy everywhere" group... but I think I was pretty happy in college around the bunch of other like-minded friends. It's just that those happiness activity metrics might not best match with society's generally accepted metrics. But now that I am more aligned to general things "happy" people do, I usually find myself more aloof and unhappy along with usually tired feeling with all the "extroversion". Have practiced enough for years (especially being a founder of a company now), but it's still pretty tiring :(
Also mostly the happiness experienced in such situations is often temporary and bonds formed are feeble, as I can't keep up the "extroversion" for too long and soon become boring for a lot of people, so I am actually trying to move away from that now :)
I would rather people experience me as "elsewhere" than "boring" and I especially dislike when I internalize others' perception and start seeing myself as boring, too.
It's all so complicated.
Anyway, it's a topic that interests me a lot, so feel free to connect (twitter, email in my profile) if you want to chat about it.
He accuses people of misunderstanding the terms "introversion" and "extroversion" but does the same thing himself by associating them with the stereotypical behavior that we commonly think of rather than the underlying neurological differences. Those differences are real (dopamine vs acetylcholine, different blood flow patterns in the brain) and appear to be linked to genetics  . Yes, the terminology both in common use and within Psychology is imprecise and often misapplied, but that doesn't mean that there aren't actual differences.
He dismisses the "energy" interpretation as a simple matter of fatigue from undeveloped skills. I haven't seen any research that supports that or indicates that individuals can change their fundamental reaction to external/internal stimulus through practice and effort. Ie, an introvert can learn to work a crowd and present as an extrovert, but afterwards they will be exhausted compared to a true extrovert.
I do agree that the positive external traits that we typically associate with each (sociability, friendliness, assertiveness vs ability to focus on solo tasks without becoming bored) are enabled by skills that anyone can learn no matter where they are on the introversion/extroversion spectrum and people shouldn't give up just because they find it hard. But an introvert will have a fundamentally harder time developing the social skills and will need to recuperate afterwards (and same for an extrovert with solo skills). I don't think it's productive or helpful to encourage the "just toughen up, buttercup" dismissive approach.
I've always been a self-learner with a desire for knowledge and a challenge. I started looking around to go back to uni, this time something STEM related. I figured why not study abroad as I like to travel and the price to go to uni overseas was much more attractive. I saved enough money while working to allow me to go back to uni comfortably.
I chose to study physics in Germany, and by far it has been the best decision I've ever made. I'm about 1/2 done with my studies now and I'm quite pleased. We take one experimental physics, one theoretical physics, and one math class per semester along with an elective. I'm learning some of the most fascinating stuff, math and physics are truly beautiful.
If you have any desire at all to learn math/physics, then I highly recommend going back to uni to do so. The best part about doing it today though is that there are endless resources online to teach yourself outside of the class (or even just for fun if you don't want to go back to uni). MIT has their OCW program which puts excellent lectures and materials out there for all to access (I've used their resources quite a bit, thanks MIT!). There's also tons of other stuff out there like Khan Academy, Susskind's lectures on YouTube, etc. that really make it easy to learn from the comfort of your home.
TL;DR: If you want to go study physics, go study physics.
I graduated a little earlier when MIT OCW was the only online resource of good quality, and did try to learn enough about a lot of things. Suffered slightly lower grades, but came as a well equipped generalist to pursue almost anything... But real world mechanics have left much to be desired frankly from the nice picture painted all through school and college of how life would be. And while this option is really enticing for me, the other comment on how writing generic grant proposals can be an equally soul-sucking exercise does bring in an element of doubt...
But thanks for sharing this. If you don't mind sharing, what university are you at or you would recommend for Physics/quantum-computing-related programs?
I'm getting another bachelors as I didn't feel that my finance degree taught me enough to jump into a physics masters (and I was right, there's a lot to be learned in undergrad math and physics). In undergrad you won't necessarily get into specialized stuff like quantum computing, but you will take the basic experimental and theoretical QM courses that can help prepare for something like that in a masters program. So I'm not sure I can recommend anything on that yet.
MIT has a few excellent courses on quantum physics. They have two versions of their 8.04 taught by two different professors and I highly recommend both. Then they have their advanced quantum physics 8.05 out there as well, which I also highly recommend. If you have the discipline to do the problem sets then you will learn quite a bit.
First comes the application process. When you find a uni you're interested in studying at you'll have to send in the required paperwork (for me it was high school/college transcripts and diploma along with the application form) to an organization called uni-assist. All documents have to be authenticated (called an apostille), which for me entailed taking my notarized school records to the sec of state building in my state to have them stamped with an official seal certifying they are indeed legit.
After your documents are sent you wait for uni assist to classify them and say whether or not you have the minimum requirements to study at the uni and if you meet the requirements they forward your documents to the uni for admission evaluation.
If you're admitted now comes the fun part of trying to find a place to live and get everything sorted out for actually moving over there. As an American it was nice to be able to go to DE on my passport without needing a visa (can do so for 90 days), this simplified things a lot as some people from other countries might be required to obtain a visa beforehand which is just another hurdle to jump over. So as an American I was able to come here and get most other things sorted out first then go apply for my residence permit.
The residence permit requires several things:
1. You be enrolled in a German uni
2. You have health insurance
3. You have a minimum of x euros in what is called a Sperrkonto (blocked bank account, only y euros can be withdrawn per month, I think you have to have a little under 9k euros in there to show you can sustain yourself which will get you a 2 years residence permit)
4. You have a place to live registered with the city (Meldebestätigung I think it's called, this document is extremely important for opening a bank account, getting health insurance, etc.)
5. The correct forms filled out and maybe something else I'm forgetting
So the order I recommend doing things in is:
1. Find a temporary place to live first, check wg-gesucht.de so that you can get the Meldebestätigung
2. Go open a bank account (requires Meldebestätigung)
3. Get everything sorted with the uni, registration etc. and might even need the registration certificate to show for getting student health insurance
4. Get health insurance (requires Meldebestätigung and a bank account)
5. Finally after all that is done go to the Auslanderbehörde and get a residence permit
The uni should provide assistance for getting all of this done and I highly suggest taking advantage of that.
My first uni experience was in the US at a large state university. In my experience the German system is fairly different, but in a good way. My degree is only 3 years as opposed to 4 like in the US because I don't have to take any core classes like I did in the US (history, art, other topics that I found to be a tuition money grab). It's just math, physics, and some electives which are math/physics related or a German class.
The unis here are state funded and you only have to pay some administrative fees which for me is roughly 200 euros/semester - much better than the $4-5k that I paid in the US for tuition and such. Not having as much funding I see it as somewhat of a good thing since the uni can't waste money on useless stuff like a football team or other crap that doesn't belong at an academic institute (just my opinion). It feels more serious, but that could just because I'm older and I take it more seriously. Overall though I really like it and it has been a great experience.
If you're in the valley, go jump at Skydive Monterey Bay. Sign up for a rock climbing clinic at Castle Rock. Go to wine tastings. Or data science meetups. Or founder events.
As an introvert myself - you will never achieve happiness unless you expand your horizons and open yourself up to serendipity.
Find time to tackle those interesting problems, even if it's outside of a formal academic environment. Get blogging, vlogging, maybe socialize online more if you're short of time. Doing the things you naturally want to do will re-energize you significantly as an INT* (I'm an INTJ) - if that's work, SO BE IT and ignore anyone who complains about being a "workaholic".
Also, if you are not a people person, don't feel pressured to become one. I have felt this pressure for years and am finally starting to realize it's "OK" for me to prefer my own company. Contrary to many other comments here, you do not necessarily have to force yourself out to social events if you know they ultimately don't work for you (but if they do, go for it!)
Truth be told, I hate parties and large crowds and people in general piss me off, but I think it's bot a bad idea to fake extrovertedness. People are generally unaware they of the difference.
example: get a dog, go to dog-park at the same time every day.
"The Great Good Place" teaches us that in order for a space to be social it needs to be in walking distance and cheap enough to go there every day, examples French Bistro, German Beergarden, American greasy diner, Coffeehouse. Depending on where you live you might not have access to such a place, consider moving close to one.
The military teaches us that friendships are forged in suffering, so do some group fitness bootcampy thing, like crossfit or similar.
To get love, give love. Volunteer your time in some fashion.
We are social creatures.
 See my profile
I think there is a little dissatisfaction deep down in all of us. i.e there is a little yin in our yang and vice-versa.
But i often wondered why is that, the answer i found is thats whats help move us forward, that little unstability. I donno maybe its life's design.
The more you think about it, more you will like this idea and see positive relaxed in tough situations.
But, that little deep pain is really bad on arrival. Meditations and mind tools works great for me, in these situations.
something like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PkrhH-bkpk
This may not be very popular advice around these parts, but it works. Go to the local pub, have a few beers and talk to people. Cultivate an interest in televised sports or whatever else people like to talk about (can't stay I've ever been a huge sports fan, but like a lot of things, the more you know about it, the more interesting it becomes).
Pretty rare that you will meet someone there who becomes a really close friend, but alcohol will make you more comfortable around people, you'll cultivate better social and conversation skills, and some of this will rub off on the rest of your life positively as well.
Exercise moderation of course. But my only regret is that I didn't become a bit of a barfly sooner, it provides instant social connections and even business contacts. For instance a few months ago I had a chat with an HR consultant at a bar. We hit it off, it turned out he enjoyed helping startups, and now he gives me free advice on hiring, performance management, and other things whenever I ask.
Here in Europe I quickly tell people I don't watch football and don't care about the teams or match results.
If that's a deal breaker for someone, then they're not friendship material.
Instead of going to the pub, I'd rather recommend hobbies that you can share with people. I've made good friends via martial arts, guitar lessons, shared oriental drumming lessons, tech meetups, FLOSS sprints, conferences etc.
Note, all these things (including going to the pub) require you to get out of your comfort zone and into the "real world". Such is life.
And this does not mean being obstinate, but rather pursuing only what I find interesting rather than what most people find interesting.
You could genericize this to: Go to a place where people meet for some $ACTIVITY, participate in what they do there, and talk to people.
Now assign some agreeable value to $ACTIVITY.
I understand you're running a company and on an absolute basis your time is limited. That said, all of us are guilty of "never having any time" when really it should be described as never making time. You have to get over the concept of being too busy for everything else and actually make time for something you want to do.
If that means learning some mathematical problem, schedule an hour at night to sit at home (or location of choosing), ignore your email/Slack/etc., and learn. If instead it involves meeting people, go to networking events, introduce yourself to people, and generally go out of your way to be active. Just MAKE the time, don't complain about not having it.
For what it's worth, intramural sports teams are an effective way to meet people if it seems impossible. Also, Meetup/etc. groups for something related to a shared passion (e.g. photography).
What worked best so far is to have some hobbies (programming, table tennis), and meet people through that.
I also meet people through other channels (parents of my kid's friends, for example), but the ratio of interesting-to-me people is much lower there.
I suspect it may merely delay it for a while, as you will run into the same issues after you're done with your studies.
My advice would be to consider working fewer hours, if possible, so you have more time to pursue those other interests of yours.
It's just that due to various financial constraints and a myopic view of world, I never really considered research as a career. But now as I have become more aware of how world works, i find that to be a bad move in me 20s.
I like learning, problem-solving and in general building new stuff, and this doesn't always intersect with best financial outcomes except in research-as-a-career option I believe.
But, yes thanks for your advice. Already working on this a bit.
Adulthood kind of sucks - everywhere.
But on a serious note, thanks for sharing this. I sort of had forgotten about this part while my mind was painting a more rosy picture of that career option.
As far as happiness is concerned, I'd read the paper causes and correlates of happiness. Make sure you address the most significant areas. If you already do, you might just have a low generic setpoint. Unfortunately genetics have a lot to do with intrinsic happiness. Not much you can do the beyond medication.
And far as social interaction goes, your best bet is to find a pre-existing social group with a shared interest. Building a community is hard but thankfully plenty of other people have already put in the hard work.
Your emotions define what you do. You'll have a different reaction to a situation if you are happy vs angry when it happens. It's not something that can be helped. The best attempt you can make at "Be happy" is to do things that make you happy, whether or not it actually works. If your emotions define what you do, the hard part is to get off your butt and try to do those things. It requires an emotional transition, which isn't something that can be forced, but when it happens you need to take advantage.
After seeing the book 'Impro' by Keith Johnstone recommended on HN, I read it and decided to try improvisational theater. It improved my connection to my body a lot, and as a consequence, changed my feeling of presence in the world.
Now I don't do impro as much, but I found a group of people - mostly older folks - who come together once a week and just dance. After years of dancing together in one room I still don't really know them, since it is not a social encounter.
But the feeling of being expressive through movement is one of a kind, and I feel out of place without it.
Missing out socially can be solved by regularly doing hobbies. Or connecting with people. Maybe you could also consider doing more customer-facing tasks. Some of the most interesting conversations I have are held with customers, because there I can easily connect to other founders.
If you are bored at work, you should maybe switch positions to a more technical field or set yourself a goal to cash at at the next opportunity and switch jobs.
I do not have nearly as much life experience as you do, but my plan for now is to 1) sleep well 2) eat well 3) try to work under my burn rate 4) socialize. I hope that if I stick to this goals things will change and I will at least be able to keep my sanity.
I remember the days when I was working on my Forth interpreter when I thought I could always make myself occupied and happy no matter what my life circumstances are. But now I understand I was being too naive.
The one thing that kinda works is trying to pursue romantic relationships. It's hard for an introvert I know, but if you treat it as a personal side project, things start to lighten up :). Another advice I could give is to spend some money, if you're earning well. I don't know, get a sports car or an expensive cappuccino machine.
I'm rebuilding a retro Amiga BBS that I used to run back in the 90's.
I live a quiet life and I enjoy it, I don't aim for happiness that is ephemeral but I enjoy contentment.
You don't think, you just pedal. Then when you are done and have to go back to thinking, you think better.
Edit: As others have noted meditation can be helpful. This may help you realize what you really need in your current situation. But it is not a silver bullet. I personally recommend doing this in company once in a while and keeping a safety distance to "preachers of principles".
I really hope that you find your way.