While travelling from my home in Oxford England to Toronto Canada I had the pleasure of talking to a very interesting Indian girl. I asked her what she loved the most about her home country.
She smiled brightly and said, “Well, I do not have a lot of money, but my quality of life is exceptional. I work as a meditation teacher. It’s a job I love. That makes me happy every day.”
IAfter chatting with my new friend, my mind was full of ideas about happy people and their happy habits.
I decided to do a lot of research to try and discover precisely what happy people do differently. Some of the results were truly surprising.
I came across hundreds of happy habits during my research (some a little obscure, including a man who spent one day a month living with his eyes closed, which he said heightened his senses).
My research led me to create this list of the top ten ways to make yourself happy.
So, thanks for asking “How can I make myself happy”. Here are the top 10 answers, which I’ve decided to write from the perspective of things happy people do differently.
1: They put themselves first.
I actually went up to a lot of happy looking people and asked “How can I make myself happy?” The most popular answer was to put yourself first.
Genuinely happy people understand that it isn’t selfish to put yourself first. Happy people understand that in order to be at their maximum they need time to themselves, and they often need to put their needs ahead of everyone else’s.
Thing is, for a lot of people it is not easy to put yourself first. Lot’s of us feel guilty when we do that We think we’re selfish. And if that sounds like you, then I’ve got new for you. Firstly, you deserve to be happy (read that). And secondly, you need to know how to put yourself first (so, er, read that too).
2: They challenge a fear as it happens
Happy people understand that fear is the chief enemy of happiness. In my research I met many happy people who intentionally found and overcame their fears. They included a forty year old woman who had just been to the dentists, whom she dreads, and a rock climber who constantly sought out new challenges.
3: They have a reason for living
Every single happy person that I met could tell me in one sentence what their main reason for living is. Their reasons were wide ranging. Some lived to write novels, some lived for family, some wanted to make millions, and others lived simply to make other people happy.
But what is your reason for living?
Let me show you how I found purpose in life. Or, if you already know your purpose, let me hear about it Leave a comment below.
4: They accept that life is constant change
The happiest people are at peace with the fact that the world is constantly changing. They understand that their current reality is temporary. They know that good times end, bad times end, people move on, career take new paths. They understand and they embrace it all.
5: They’re unapologetic about their desires
When I asked people “What can I do to make myself happy” a lot of them said they never apologize for their desires.
The happiest people in the world know what they want and they’re not about to apologize for it. Whether they want money, to travel the world, to or to be the boss of their company, they accept and embrace their desires. They live life to the beat of their own drum.
6: Money is no problem
Happy people who have money share it. Happy people who don’t have money don’t worry about it. The former love giving and sharing their luxuries. The latter have faith that everything will be alright in the end. And they all know that some thing are worth a lot more than money.
Do you have a negative relationship with money? If so, learn to change the way you think about money here.
7: They don’t enter the popularity contest
Happy people know who they are and they accept who they are 100%. Because they accept themselves completely they don’t feel a need to be accepted or liked by others. If you like them, great, but if you don’t they’re not about to get bent out of shape over it.
8: Rejection is protection
A lot of people fear rejection, whether that’s rejection from a job interview or rejection from a member of the opposite sex. Happy people don’t worry about it. Happy people know that the reason they’re rejected is because something better is coming along.
9: We’re all equal
Happy people believe that all people are equal. They know that money, looks, and all that jazz don’t really reflect how good or bad a person is. They treat all people equally, with the utmost respect.
10: We are one
Happy people know that all people are one. They feel the pain and sorrow of other people, but they also feel the happiness and joy of other people. Because they feel connected to everyone around them, they never feel lonely. They see a stranger as a companion, a colleague as a friend.
Oneness is the absolute number one way to be happy. But just how exactly do you become one with the universe? To help you out, I’ve written a guide to achieving oneness. I challenge you to take a look. It will be a real eye opener.
Happy people know how to live life happily. I’m going to make the most of these 10 tips I’ve learnt from happy people.
11 : Stop watching the news
Within a couple of minutes of watching the news headlines you will likely be struck with many of the following types of stories:
- People being murdered
- Various forms of scandals
- News that the country is going down the can
- Accusations here and there about everybody doing the wrong thing
- And then may, just to add a pinch of positivity, some old blind man somewhere may have won the lottery (or some other random good news story)
This is my experience with the news here in England. But I’m fairly certain it’s exactly the same the world over. The news paints the world as a negative place.
A couple of years ago I was watching the news when suddenly I thought to myself “Why the hell do I need to spend an hour a day being told by a news show that the world is a bad and negative place?
The answer most people come up with when asked why they watch the news is that they “need to know what’s going on in the world.”
That’s interesting. The idea that one hour of network television can tell anyone what’s going on in the world. The news is nothing more than one very very biased few of perhaps one billionth (trillionth even) of the events occurring around the world. If the world were the Sahara, then a news show would be a single grain of sand. You do not genuinely learn very much about the world from watching and hour of the news.
So what do you get out of watching the news? Well, a positive psychologist might likely say that you get to feel connected to society, to other people and to the world at large. That’s a fair point. Watching the news does make you feel connected to the world. Then again, is that world (the one presented by the news) a world worth being connected to?
This debate of the benefits of the news could go on, fruitlessly, for hours, with many people claiming the news is a good thing and many more claiming it to be a bad thing.
Thankfully, there is one very quick way to settle the dispute. To discover whether watching the news is a good thing for you or not, simply ask yourself this question: Do you feel more positive after watching the news than you did before?
For myself, the answer is a loud and clear “No.” The news makes me falsely believe the world is a negative place and that most people are no good. That’s not a message I need to be told twice every day. How about you?
12: Share Happiness With Others
What, in your opinion, is the absolute best thing in the world? Money? Fame? Power? Sex? Chilling out with your feet up watching Netflix?
If you ask the happiest people in the world what the best thing in the world is, they’ll tell you one thing:
The best thing in the world is sharing happiness with other people.
And the best thing about that? You don’t actually have to have anything in order to share your happiness with other people.
You can throw out your credit card, kiss goodbye to your high-flying job, lose everything, and you will still be able to share happiness with other people. Because happiness costs absolutely nothing. It’s free. Like air. And just as important.
It’s funny how people focus on the wrong things in life.
Unenlightened people spend countless years chasing superfluities. They’ll do anything to get what they think they want. They’ll work their asses off and sell out to make money or to get fame. They’ll act selfishly, thinking only of themselves as they chase some illusive dream. In their quest to keep up with the Jones’s they’ll pillage anything that’s sacred for some materialistic superfluity.
Look at Donald Trump. Sold his soul for power. Probably because Trump thought the best thing in the world would be being the most powerful man in that world. But look at Trump. And tell me. Does he look happy?
It’s mind blowing how some people genuinely think the world’s number one most important thing is money or power. They dedicate themselves to the pursuit of money and power. And then they go and get that money or power only to realise that it’s not what they thought it would be, and that they’re still not happy.
Did you know that suicide rates are higher among the rich?
Do you know why?
Because most rich people spend their entire lives trying to keep up with one another rather than having the guts to live their passion and to do the things that truly matter deep down.
People like that are terrified that they might slip below other people in terms of wealth. They spend their lives trying to keep ahead of each other.
Spending your life trying to beat oher people is a terrible way to live.
Scientific research has proven that living your life in an attempt to keep up with other people is one of the main reasons why people end up killing themselves (source: BusinessInsider).
Why is it so unhealthy trying to keep up with the Jones’s? Because it carries you away from your truth. You spend so long tying to be better than other people that you forget what actually matters to you. And then when you get money and power you realise that that wasn’t what you even wanted in the first place, really. And worse, when you look back you realise that you lost sight of what matters and that it is painfully lonely at the top.
Trump, again, is a great example.
Does anyone actually care about him as a person? His wife is clearly with him for money. His kids are more worried about increasing their businesses than having genuine relationships with him. He has no one who actually cares about him on an individual, person to person level. And so he is unhappy. And his answer to that unhappiness? Trying to get even more power and even more money. It’s dumb. Painfully dumb.
The opposite of this are poor people who are happy. They know that it is better to be poor and happy than rich and unhappy. And they know that happiness has nothing to do with wealth.
These people are the enlightened ones. Oh, they might not be the richest. They might not be famous. They might not have the best jobs. No, they don’t have those things. Because they spent all their lives thinking about other people and helping others. They are the highly sensitive empaths who know that compassion is the most important thing in the world. They are the ones who give everything not for themselves but for other people. They are the most important people in the world. And the happiest.
Why are they (we) the happiest? Because they (we) know that when it is all said and done the most important thing in the world is having someone to share your happiness with.
It’s about family.
It’s about friends.
It’s about love.
It’s about compassion.
That’s what matters at the end of the day.
That’s why, when I grow old and tired and my legs don’t move without aching, and my voice trembles when I speak, and I have to squint just to see someone’s face, I will know that I did everything I could to help people in need, and I will remember all the times I laughed, cried, smiled, and shared moments with other people, and in that I will be the happiest, and the richest person alive.
13: Love Life
You know that feeling when you see something so awe-inspiring, so beautiful, so divine that it makes you stop? It’s the way you feel when you see a stunning sunset, or when you witness an act of supreme kindness—I felt that way today when I saw a teenager give his school lunch to a homeless man. It’s that sense that life is so damn beautiful that you feel as small as an ant, albeit an ant so very glad to be part of such a stunningly beautiful world.
That is the way we human were meant to be.
We should be full of love. We should be swept up in the rapture of nature’s divinity. We should be lost in the splendour of this most precious thing called life. But many of us are not. If we could live mindfully, if we could appreciate the moments in which we live, we would naturally have peace and happiness. But for many, that seems like a fantasy.
Waking up at seven in the morning to get ready to work. Working from nine to five. Coming home to chores, or to take care of the family… there’s just not the time to appreciate life. We feel rushed, we’re constantly on the go, we never stop… it simply isn’t possible to live mindfully.
Recently a student came to me and said, “Paul, I would love to be able to do what you say. I would love to let myself be swept up in the beauty of life. But that’s just not reality. That’s a fantasy. When am I possibly going to have the time to doing nothing, to simply sit there meditating on the beauty of life?”
My response was simple: “You don’t need time. ”
My student raised a dubious eyebrow and scoffed. “Everything takes time.”
“Nothing takes time,” I said.
At this my student slapped a hand down on the arm of his chair. “You speak in riddles. How can I possibly not need time?”
The answer was simple. “Because whatever it is you do in your day to day life, you can do mindfully. Every single thing you do can be an act of peace and love.”
“Okay,” he said, raising a finger to make a point. “Then tell me this. Today I woke up at six thirty to get ready for work. I then drove to work. At work I spoke to more than twenty clients. Sure, I had a twenty minute break, but that was for lunch. When could I possibly have been mindful in my day?”
My answer took around half an hour—it was a very in depth discussion. But I’d like to share the gist of it here.
No matter what you do, you can do it mindfully. Everything can be an exercise in meditation. Everything can be an act of peace and love.
We wake up. We meditate on the sensation of the sun breaking through the window, of the birds singing outside. This doesn’t take long. Five minutes of lying in bed listening to the world and you’ve started your day off wonderfully.
You go to work. If you walk you can easily practice some Zen walking. You can use walking as a means of exercising peace and love, and of connecting to the present moment.
And when you’re talking to twenty clients, provided you focus 100% on listening, and then 100% on speaking, you will be living in the present moment, and you will be experiencing peace and love.
Mindfulness is easy. Meditation is easy. Living in peace and happiness is easy. We simply have to do it.
I made a challenge to my student. “I’d like to ask you something,” I said. “I would like to ask that tomorrow you do everything you did today, exactly the same. There is only one change I would like you to make. When you do something, do only that one thing. When you are walking, walk. When you are listening, listen. When you are speaking, speak. Do one thing at one time. Meditate on each thing you do. Then call me tomorrow.”
My student nodded eagerly and bit his lip. “Okay,” he said, determinedly, “I’ll give it a try.”
He did. He did one thing at a time, meditating on each thing he was doing. He called me the next day. “I don’t believe it,” he said. “When I spoke to you yesterday I thought it would be impossible for me to accomplish everything I needed to while doing only one thing at a time and while meditating. But I did it. I got through the entire day meditating, doing one thing at a time mindfully.”
“How does it feel?” I asked.
His exact response: “Like I’ve awoken to the most glorious of days.”
When we appreciate the present moment, we live in a state of peace and love. Mindfulness connects us with the divinity of the living moment. We all can do this. We simply have to decide to.
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