Most people have never heard of him.
Yukio worked as a police officer. He spent his days plucking dead bodies out of the sea. Right before he retired from his police job, he met a husband and wife at the Tōjinbō cliffs in Japan.
They were drowning in debt.
Jumping off the cliff was the only way to end their unhappiness. Yukio talked them out of it. He saved their lives.
Five days later a letter arrived.
“Thanks for your help. The police did nothing for us. So it’s goodbye from us.”
The couple jumped off the cliff. They died.
The situation affected Yukio deeply. He thought he’d saved them. Even though he was retired he felt a duty to prevent more deaths.
Each day he’d go to the Tōjinbō cliffs and keep a look out from afar with his binoculars. He looked for similar people who may be looking to end their lives by jumping off (like the couple did).
You may think this is the happy ending to this story. Sadly not.
These cliffs became famous because of all the deaths. Tourists flooded to the spot hoping to see someone jump off. And unhappy people learned that this was a good place to fix their problems.
All the tourists made it hard for Yukio to see who needed help and who was just there to take stupid selfies. So he began to pay attention to what people likely to jump into the ocean looked like.
They didn’t take photos. They didn’t smile brightly. They didn’t hold SLR cameras or buy souvenirs. They dressed in dark colors and stood closer to the edge of the cliff than most, making it more likely they might slip & die.
If he saw someone who fit his description of a vulnerable person, he’d quietly walk over and start a conversation with them. Then he’d invite them to his cafe to talk about it.
Afterward, he’d stay in touch with them and even talk to their family. His cafe is always open in case anyone he’s spoken to needs to talk.
To stay motivated he keeps track of all the deaths he prevents. The total count stands at 789 lives saved. This is one of my all-time favorite stories.
It makes me emotional writing about it.
Yukio learned to spot the signs of an unhappy person willing to do the unthinkable. Even more importantly, he learned to cure his own unhappiness by solving other people’s unhappiness.
Here are the patterns in unhappy people that I’ve noticed.
They try to be normal
Society has some strange ideas about happiness.
The common narrative is to go to university, get a good job, find love, marry, have a kid, buy a house with debt, retire at 65, then you can live happily ever after.
This fairytale scares me.
Trying to follow the herd and be like everybody else is how we suppress our true creativity and authenticity. Each of us is weird in our own way because we’ve faced silent battles we will never talk about.
Trying to be like everyone else is impossible because you are you. We all like different things and have a different library of experiences that shape who we are. The worst thing you can do for your happiness is try to be someone else.
Be who you want to be.
They have higher expectations of society than of themselves
The social justice mob that has taken over for the last 3 years is problematic. They seek to outsource the responsibility for their own happiness, and make corporations and celebrities responsible.
They say they’re unhappy because they are suppressed. They have fragile ideas about diversity and inclusion that are impossible to implement, let alone police.
They’re so focused on how we’re all messed up that they forget to ask themselves if they’re messed up.
Happiness is easier to obtain when you believe in personal responsibility.
Humanity will never stack up to this utopian fantasy the social justice mob has, where everyone has the same status and material things. There will always be haves and have-nots by design. We’re descendants of apes after all.
Those who have abundance created abundance inside their minds first.
Happiness is an inside job — Dan Koe
They stopped learning 5+ years ago
Learning is the process of self-transformation.
High school and university teach us to hate it. They boil it down to memorization and useless tests that prove little.
A new study shows that people who learn by reading are happier. It’s because they are feeding their minds. This leads to feelings of progress which eventually become the seeds of newfound happiness.
If you’re not growing, you’re slowly dying.
They seek to please others
The modern job teaches us to be dogs.
We follow our masters everywhere they go. We bark back whatever they say. We observe and behave. We do tricks for food and shelter.
Don’t worry, I was guilty. I worked in banking and bragged to my masters about waking up at 3 AM to start work at 4 AM. I did this because I had the flu and wasn’t allowed to make others sick.
So I went to work at stupid times while battling the flu.
My masters loved it but it was terrible for my health. I burned out even harder and lived in a constant state of exhaustion. I did stupid things like this for years. It got me promotions but they never made me happy.
The thing about gatekeepers and people in positions of power is that they’re never happy. And they’ll always ethically exploit you. It’s just business a.k.a capitalism.
People-pleasing gets you nowhere. You’re happier when you’re yourself.
They give power to negative thoughts
None of us are Gandhi.
We all have negative thoughts. The difference between happy and unhappy people is unhappy people give negative thoughts power.
They allow them to fester and manifest into out-of-control situations. People who’re generally happier notice negative thoughts and then deprive them of focus and energy.
Eventually they lose momentum and go away.
Positive versus negative thoughts are a daily battle. What we choose to focus on determines whether we win or lose the mental war. And every negative can be turned into a positive if you look carefully enough.
A happy life consists not in the absence, but in the mastery of hardships — James Clear
They engage in silly online debates
It’s rare you ever win a debate.
Debates just spark more debates which leads to more outrage and more wasted human potential. I’ve never met a person who obsesses over politics and the news and is happy.
They’ve outsourced their happiness to red versus blue, right versus left. Neither is the answer to our happiness. One could argue a two-sided political system is half the problem.
Politics rarely solves any problems. It’s often the biggest problem. Because it’s nothing more than a power struggle between two sides.
Get away from this clown show. No election will make you happy. No politician exists to make you happy — they’re in it for themselves.
I’ve found happy people look elsewhere. They’re in service of others, the way Yukio Shige is. That’s a strategy that can work. Try it.