A person that is confused.

Want to Be Happy? Don’t Be a Schlub

An unquestioning life won’t make you happy.

Schlub is a Yiddish word. It means “a stupid, worthless, or unattractive person”. However, that definition is a little harsh. I prefer thinking of it by a few of its synonyms:

  • Blockhead,
  • Ignoramus,
  • Nincompoop,
  • Or simpleton.

A schlub is unquestioning. He goes about his day without thought. His actions aren’t based on intention but rather habit. He moves about his life unblinking. From one boring interaction to another. His time is not his own but has been dictated for him. Often without his realizing it.

If you want to live a meaningful life, you must not be a schlub.

For many years, I was a schlub.


Monkey see, monkey do

The first 22 years of my life were decided without me.

Not because I had overly controlling parents. Not because I was to embark on a predetermined career. Rather, I just never happened to question my circumstances. Thoughts like – Is college really the right choice for me? Is this major best suited for what I want in life? – never dawned on me to ask.

Instead, I just moved through life with a handful of assumptions. My parents went to school and therefore I should go to school. My parents went to this college and therefore I should go to that college. They majored in business so I should major in business. They got corporate jobs after graduating so I should do that as well.

I love my parents. They’re amazing. And because of that, I figured I should do whatever they did.

But I was wrong.


Life on autopilot

By not questioning major life decisions, I quickly found myself on the path of the schlub. I went to classes I didn’t like, had friends I didn’t enjoy being with, and worked jobs I despised. And it was all my fault.

I was a schlub.

My life was one of laziness. Not in the sense of lounging all day. More like, I never took the time to decide the kind of life I wanted. I was lazy in terms of intentionality. And I paid the price.

My experiences were dull and depressing. I was in a constant state of dusk – the world felt dark and growing darker. I was lost. But of course I was lost. I was sailing in the wake of someone else’s ship instead of charting my own course. Until I took the wheel, nothing would change.


When I took the wheel

Gradually, I stopped being a schlub. It took time. Years. And I still have some schlub in me to this day. But not as much as I once did.

Intentionality was the cure to my schlub-ness.

In each area of my life, I’ve considered what fulfillment looks like. For my career, as a father, a homeowner, in my physical and mental health, and more. It’s hard to live an unquestioning life when you’ve questioned everything. It’s hard to be a schlub when you consider how to not be a schlub.

But it wasn’t just a matter of shining a light on the cobwebs. Action was also necessary.

In my case, I set goals for each of my life categories. Many of those goals I still have today. For instance:

  • Complete two books a month,
  • Go on a date with my daughter once a month,
  • Go to the beach twice a month,
  • And more.


What I did to be more intentional

Here’s an example of going from unquestioning schlub to intentional fulfillment.

When I was around 19, I got a book for Christmas. I read it over winter break. When I finished it, I was filled with pride. I actually read a book! It felt amazing!

At that time, I wasn’t a reader. If someone asked me what my favorite book was, I’d make jokes that I couldn’t read. Or that I didn’t know what a book was. I was a schlub.

Years later, I took the time to look at who I really was. I realized life-long learner was actually a major aspect of my personality. And it was something I had been neglecting. So I set a goal to complete at least two books a month. That was nearly two years ago. Since then, I’ve completed one book a week on average. I’ve learned a great deal and my life has changed for the better.

I considered who I was. I set a goal to address it. In doing so, I brought intentionality to my life. And I cultivated fulfillment because of it.


Final thoughts

The first 22 years of my life were oblivious. I was on a ship but I wasn’t steering. I spent the next handful of years at the helm. However, the ocean was choppy and I had to learn how to sail. Several more years later, I now find myself in command of the ship. I know which direction to go and have a better idea of the conditions before me.

I still have much to learn, but I don’t shy away from it. Instead, I embrace it. I’m excited to learn because the more I learn, the more fun it is to sail.

For many, life is nothing but a series of automatic routines; a set of unquestioning behaviors. Unfortunately, the less you question, the more you miss. You eventually wake up one day in a life you didn’t want but came to be regardless. The life of a schlub is not one of joy. It is one of laziness and monotony.

To live a more fulfilled life, consider who you are.

Not in the vague – who am I?! – kind of sense. I mean it literally. List out who you are and what fulfillment looks like to you in each of those areas. As an investor, as a wife, as someone who loves adventure. Once you know that, take steps to address those categories. Set goals, implement actions, create intention within your life.

You will never be happy as a schlub. Be deliberate with your life and cultivate meaning and fulfillment because of it.

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