The Happiness Folder

I remember the first time someone made fun of me in public…

I was in middle school, pretty sure it was 6th grade. I was sitting with some of my friends in the lunch room with 100s of other kids.

By this age I was pretty aware that some kids came from much richer families than mine. I wasn’t the poorest kid in school by far, but I definitely wasn’t wearing the coolest new shoes or clothes either.

I wore a lot of hand-me-down stuff from my older brother and shopped at Good Will more than once for school clothes and winter jackets. My hair was shaggy’ish and longer than most students at Ada Middle School at the time.

I wasn’t quite self-conscious about it yet, but the thought that “I’m not good enough” had started to enter my mind…

At one point my best friend looked at me and said “Damn, Darras you need a haircut”.

I laughed it off.

Then he asked my other friends “Hey guys do you think Darras needs a hair cut?” They all nodded and agreed.

I could feel my blood start to run out of my head.

Then my best pal stood up and got the entire room’s attention… Then he pointed his finger at me and yelled “HEY EVERYONE! Raise your hand if you think Darras needs a haircut!

That was it.

Almost everyone in the room raised their hand. Lots of kids started laughing. I felt dizzy, ashamed, lost, confused, self conscious and pissed off all at the same time.

I played it off at the time. But that feeling sank in DEEP.

Looking back – I think that experienced scarred me for life. To this day I have an unnatural fixation on my hair and routinely change the look or just shave it off when I can’t stand worrying about it anymore.

Getting made fun of in public sucks.

And it sticks with you – if you let it.

Flash Forward

These days I put a lot of stuff out on the internet. And tens of thousands of people tune in every month to read what I have to say. People like you.

99% of you are overwhelmingly positive. You appreciate what I’m doing, you’re amazed that I can put so much personal information out there and you contact me from time to time to tell me how I have affected your life.

The other 1% of the people that follow me are negative. They make fun of me for what I’m doing, they laugh when I put myself out there, and they contact me from time to time to tell me I should just kill myself. (really)

It’s weird, but for some reason – I tend to focus on the negative comments WAY more than I do the positive ones.

I can receive 100 emails telling me I’m doing good things and 1 email saying I’m an idiot and for some reason… I’ll hyper-focus on the 1 negative person.

  • It messes with me.
  • It makes me want to quit.
  • It reminds me of being in the 6th grade… embarrassed beyond belief in front of every human being that I knew at the time.

And it makes me hesitant the next time I write a post or shoot a video or talk about anything because I’m thinking in the back of my head “are they going to laugh at me for saying this?”

This negative focus threatens at times to stop me from doing what I’m doing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought of just deleting this entire blog and moving on with my life.

But I don’t want to do that (again), so I’ve developed a way to push the negative stuff out and keep the positive momentum.

I call it the Happiness Folder.

The Happiness Folder

The Happiness Folder is a little folder on my computer that I’ve filled with positive comments from people who interact with my stuff online.

It’s reminds me that although I may be focused on some negative BS at the moment, there are many positive things happening well.

Some of the emails I receive behind the scenes are incredible.

People who say my posts and videos changed their lives in some way. People tell me about their depression, their struggles, suicide attempts and financial problems. They thank me for my advice and for providing a light as someone who has come through tough times and made it work.


A recent contact from a reader


A message from Facebook

That kind of stuff makes me feel like a hundred million dollars. So I keep it nearby for whenever I need it.

Here’s what I do:

1) Create a folder called ‘The Happiness Folder’

This can be a folder on your computer or in an application like Evernote or Dropbox. If you want a physical folder you can use a manilla envelope or a shoe box.

It doesn’t matter what you use, just pick something and designate it “The Happiness BLAH”.

2) Save positive/upbeat things into it

Like I said, my Happiness Folder has uplifting emails and messages I’ve gotten from blog readers online. I’ve also got a few photos of myself with great friends.

The goal is to only put things in there that will make you smile every time you see them, things WITHOUT SADNESS associated to them.

That means no photos of your dead family members, or emails from that ex-girlfriend that made you laugh but ultimately ended up sleeping with all your friends.

3) Revisit the folder when needed.

I have been digging into my folder any time that a negative cloud hovers over my head. It happens often to be honest. I’ll be sitting around having a normal day and then all of the sudden I’ll start thinking about some asshole from the past. If I don’t snap myself out of it I can sit like that for hours, or days (or years).

When I feel the negative vibrations start to take over my head – I bury my face in The Happiness Folder.

The Happiness Folder helps me remember I’m doing good things and that most people are good – and it keeps me going.

The Happiness Family

This concept works in real life too. You can build a circle of friends who do the same thing for you.

These days I don’t hang out with people that cut me down, bring a lot of drama or give me anxiety.

You know the kind of people I’m talking about. They drain the life out of you everytime you see them.

After a coffee or meal with them you feel like you’ve been hit by a truck. All the negativity… the drama… the constant complaining…

it’s a black hole.

These days – I focus on being with people are doing well with their own things and who are supportive of my dreams while I support theirs.

We congratulate each other on our successes and give each other ideas when things aren’t working out right.

When I leave from hanging out with them I feel BETTER than I did before. That’s the indicator that it’s a good friendship/relationship.

  1. If you feel better after spending time with someone, they’re a keeper.
  2. If you feel worse every time you see them, they gotta go.

I think everyone needs a Happiness Family. A group of people that support and inspire you on a regular basis.

It can even be one person. Just one voice to tell you that you should keep going and that you’re doing well.

It could even be someone you don’t know or see on a regular basis.

Maybe it’s just someone with a blog that you like to read.

Maybe it’s me.

But even if you can’t find a positive voice to help you get through tough times – you can make The Happiness Folder.

Start stock-piling the positive things in your life. The emails, old photos, videos and Facebook posts that make you smile.

And then revisit it often.

Remember – If you put yourself out there, you’re going to get feedback. 99% of it will be good and 1% of it will be horrible and negative.

If you focus on the negative feedback you’ll shut down, disappear and hide. It’s much less risky to be quiet, stand in line and try to fit in.

But the world needs authentic people.
The world needs creative voices.
The world needs fearless sharing.
The world needs weirdos like me…

and you.

  • Andrew Grosman

    Weird… I was just listening to Glenn Allsopp talk about the very same thing in one of his recent podcasts.

    When this type of thing happens to me, I get vindictive. You’re gonna troll me? Now its f@cking on …and I waste time, energy …and ultimately soul, trying to bring someone else down. I know its not productive – and letting go is something I’m working on. Great post man.

    • Malan Darras

      yeah i have to fight that 2nd paragraph. Too easy to get wrapped up in the BS. best to just keep it moving

  • Andrew Nelson

    Funny, I was just remembering a podcast.. he explains why our minds are like “Teflon for the good experiences and Velcro for the bad ones”, and little steps that will rewire your neurons or

    • Malan Darras

      haha yeah Andrew that Velcro vs Teflon analogy is pretty much it

  • Faical Ballouch

    great idea.
    in the other hand that story explain the “fuck off” i get from you one day when i told you “Shave” on periscope. its all good friend 🙂

    • Malan Darras

      haha probably bro. no hard feelings 😉 syitf on periscope

  • Honest douche

    why are you guys not providing industry related info lately? If I want self-help info there are xxx other blogs, books and videos out there.

  • Ken L

    Another great idea there Malan. I started implementing it right now on dropbox using my mobile. I had something kinda similar but not quite a “Happiness Folder”. I can see this helping a lot through any rough patches. Thanks again man.

    • Malan Darras

      good luck my brotha Ken. MD

  • Petre Veluda

    Wonderful post Malan. Have a HAPPY Weekend! 😉

    • Malan Darras

      you too Petre SYITF

  • Quinton Hamp

    What a powerful way to recharge the batteries. No wonder you are such a fun person to be around

    • Malan Darras

      i’m good in short bursts 😉

  • Willy Enrione

    Thanks for sharing and being so personal with me as a reader. I was bullied for my length, or lack of..Lol..

    • Malan Darras

      they always find something… you’re either too tall or too short. too fat or too skinny…

  • MikroB

    Wow Malan! I often wonder about this(putting yourself out there) and you explained it like the Boss you are! (Boss= you being you for you)
    ….now how did you get this awesome ???? =)

  • Chad R

    Now thats from the heart! Good job Malan…I think most of us have had an experience like this or similar from our childhood. For me..I was a skinny kid with long hair that went through so much BS because of it. There are always those people that try to make you feel small aren’t there? Best revenge…Massive Success! And of course being able to rock that guitar and sing like you do is bound to piss some people off:) Cheers!

  • Jennifer Frazier

    I think you are beautiful – inside and out.

  • sampsalol

    You are brave to put yourself out there. The haters usually don’t have the courage to write about anything personal in the open. As long as the positives outnumber the negatives you should keep going man. You’ve provided A LOT of incredible content both with AM and about depression and life in general. I’d miss your blog posts if stopped posting.