Happy Thoughts, Happy Life: How to be happy in today’s world and keys to finding happiness in everyday life.
I’m very glad to announce that my book Happy Thoughts, Happy Life is finally in Amazon.com for Sale.
Happiness is probably the most important aspect in everyone lives, yet many people still can’t seem to find joy in their everyday lives. Happy Thoughts, Happy Life sets out to give you easy to follow ideas on how to start living a happier more joyous life.
Happy Thoughts…Happy Life is one of the most uplifting, direct books that you’ll find out there about your own ability to create more happiness in your life, and quit seeking it from outside of yourself.
This straightforward book gives great tips on simple but powerful ways to shift your mindset to a happier, more fulfilling one – it helps identify some of the “missing ingredients” that The Secret purposely omitted.
This book is an excellent guide to Happiness, whether the reader is a long-time student of metaphysics and the Law of Attraction, or new to the entire concept of focusing on what you DO want rather than what you do not in order to create your own reality.
Great personal story examples! Warmly written, with excellent suggestions for improving the quality of anyone’s everyday life by choosing Happiness!
Read the book online for Free.
Happy Thoughts, Happy Life
How to be happy in today’s world and keys to finding happiness in everyday life.
Copyright © 2015 Santiago Sosa
All rights reserved.
Dedicated to my wife, my close family and friends who fill my life with happiness and love.
|1||Happiness is Internal, Not External|
|2||Daily Habits Determine Your Happiness|
|3||Change Your Bad Habits|
|4||Stop Daydreaming About Money|
|5||Create a Healthy and Loving Relationship with Family and Friends|
|6||Follow Your Dreams|
|7||Realize that You Can Die Today|
|8||Material Possessions Will Not Make You Happier|
|Your Body is Your Temple
Love What You Do
|Stop Worrying About Life
Find Your Own Self and Be Proud of It
INTRODUCTION – Happy Thoughts, Happy Life
If you ask people what their ultimate goal in life is, most will respond, “to find happiness.” Yet, many have no idea why they can’t seem to find this happiness and joy in their daily lives. Today’s society has led us to believe that happiness is a destination we can reach if we just keep working hard. Then maybe one day we can finally buy the happiness we deserve and have dreamt of for so long. Because of this, most people are chasing instant gratification to fill their need for happiness while forgetting about their lifelong meaning and purpose.
Finding true happiness might be easier than you think. Still, many don’t bother to think about it. If you live day by day, wishing you could be happier and postponing it until some unknown day when you reach some preconceived goal, ignoring the little details and joys of life, you will most definitely miss the chance to live a life full of happiness.
To begin the journey of living a happier life, we will be digging deep into your mind and thoughts. It is no secret that every thought you have has the power to change the way you see the world. Begin by taking a look at the way you see yourself, your self-esteem. Research from the University of Michigan about wellbeing in America showed that overall life satisfaction – happiness – was mostly related to a good sense of self, rather than with levels of satisfaction in personal life and income. This is the first common misconception about the search for happiness; we try to search for happiness in the outside world without knowing that it actually lives deep within us.
Many different cultures around the world believe that at some point in one’s life, each of us will have a revelation – a moment of clarity where everything starts making sense. However, very few people ever take the time to think about what it is they want to accomplish in life. What motivates them to excel? What actually makes them happy? In today’s busy culture where everyone is focused on having more of everything as fast as possible, many folks tend to forget what their real life’s purpose is – that one thing that wakes them up in the middle of the night excited about the next day; that something that will keep them going day in and day out.
Happy Thoughts – Happy Life
Our materialistic society has made us all think that this “something” is money, power, possessions and so on. Every Hollywood movie, TV commercial, magazine ad and everything in between is designed to make us want more and more. We are so focused on getting ahead financially that we hardly ever take a moment in our lives to think about what truly brings us joy and makes us happy. We are so busy chasing the gold in our daily routines that we do not allow ourselves to have that moment of clarity in our lives. And, before we know it, life has passed us by.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a tree-hugger who thinks we should all go live off the grid. I love some of the best things this modern world has to offer. A fancy dinner, a nice vacation or a luxury ride every now and then makes you feel very good. Having goals and always pushing yourself for more is not always a bad thing. The point is we should start focusing more on the things that really make us happy, instead of only on the numbers in the bank account. Most people today are giving up their most precious asset – time – in order to get all the materialistic possessions sold by our consumerist society that they possibly can. If you want to find true happiness, you must change this mindset. And this book will teach you how.
Keep an open mind to the things you’ll read in this book. Some of the tips discussed here might go against everything that you were ever taught. At any point throughout this book your mind might open up and give you hints to finding your own happiness. Remember, your own path to happiness is very personal and different from anyone else’s.
1 – Happiness is Internal, Not External
Happy Thoughts – Happy Life
“Each one has to find his peace from within. And peace to be real must be unaffected by outside circumstances.” ― Mahatma Gandhi
If there is one big secret to finding true happiness in your life, here it is – happiness is inside every one of us, and it does not rely on external factors. This sounds very simple, but in reality it is not so easy to put into practice. We are all predisposed to worrying every day about different situations in our lives: the bills that need to be paid, the dream job we are still waiting to get, and a million other things that go through our heads every second of our lives. Because of this, we have to train our mind and change our thoughts if we want to live happier lives. Begin your path to a more joyful life by understanding that only your own thoughts can make you happy. The way you see the world is based on all the previous experiences you have had and your brain has been trained to think a certain way. When you start to realize that your thoughts can help you live a happier and more joyful life, you start to analyze what goes through your brain in more detail. If you do not decide to be happy, no one and nothing can make you happy. The same goes if you decide to be unhappy.
Would you believe me if I told you that you could immediately become happier just by changing the way you think? Oftentimes people conclude that they have to put off their happiness until they reach some certain goal in life. They say things like, “Maybe I’ll be happier when I retire and I get more time for myself,” or, “Maybe I’ll be happier when I make a million bucks so I can really buy all the things that I want.” Perhaps their thought is, “Maybe when I get that promotion I’ve been working so hard for all these years, I’ll be happier.” “Maybe one day…” This is how society has wired our brain to think about happiness, selling us on the idea that happiness is a far away destination that we will reach someday if we just keep working hard. This could not be further from the truth. You have the power to become happy (or at least happier) right now – in this very moment – by just changing the way you think and feel about some of the things in your life.
Let’s begin by understanding that happiness is internal, not external. Your mind and your thoughts make up your entire world. The way you feel and think is unique. Every one of us has a very different way of looking at things based on the experiences we’ve had throughout our lives. The way you see the world is all in your head. The way you react to people and the way you experience different situations in life is all based on the way you decide to look at the world. Your world.
We have predetermined expectations for every moment in our lives based on previous experiences. Because of this, we oftentimes misjudge and react negatively to different moments in our life. To analyze this concept, let’s imagine for a minute that a friend of yours sends you an email to come meet him and a group of people at the local beach or lake to have a large BBQ party on Sunday, also mentioning that you can bring your family and friends. As you get ready to go out with the friends you invited to the BBQ party, you start thinking about how much fun you will have once you arrive, about all the great music, drinks and food that you will experience. You arrive at the rendezvous only to find out that your friend had sent you an e-mail that morning which you did not receive. In this new email, he explained how he had to go out of town last night due to a family emergency, and that the party has been cancelled. The reaction from most people will be to get angry and frustrated because the party did not take place. They will likely just get in the car and ride back home, upset at their friend for canceling, and will probably feel unhappy the entire day. This is an example of how most people base all of their happiness on external factors and expectations of the outside world.
Let’s pause for a moment and rewrite the story. What will be the outcome of the same story if once you arrived to the beach/lake and found out that your friend had to cancel the party, you thought for a moment about your alternatives for having a great time on that beautiful Sunday afternoon by the water? Either way, you are already there, and have some company because of the friends you invited. Even if you were alone, how nice would it be to just take a stroll by the water, contemplating the nice weather and beautiful scenery? Maybe you send a message to your friend to ask if everything is okay with his family, and if there is anything you can do to help. I’m sure you would end up having a great time simply by making this shift in your thinking. It might not be the party you were expecting, but you chose to condition your mind to have a happy day no matter what. Maybe you would even have a closer relationship with your friend for the support you offered.
See how different the two scenarios are? These are two completely different outcomes based on the same situation. As you can see, everything in life is determined by the way YOU decide to look at things. It is of the utmost importance to understand that happiness and joy are always present in your life; you just have to actively choose to experience them. Take an active approach to finding happiness in every situation in life.
Think for a minute about the many situations you’ve experienced (like the example above) where you let your anger take over your feelings, and that choice left you sad, depressed and unhappy. I can easily relate; there have been many missed meetings at the coffee shop where the meeting was canceled, and instead of just getting a cup of hot tea and reading for a while, I got back in the car, upset with my client. There were many flight delays where, instead of using this time to work on a new blog post or watch a movie and relax, I ended up arguing with the agent at the counter who obviously can’t make a plane appear out of thin air. The list goes on and on. Fortunately, over time, I have been able to realize this. Now every time I start getting upset, anxious or unhappy due to any life situation, I stop for a moment and decide if this is really worth losing my mind over. Oftentimes these moments where we are angry at the world are missed opportunities for making a new friend or business connection at the airport, or of having some free time to think about life. There are endless possibilities of times where you could easily choose happiness over negative feelings.
Happy Thoughts – Happy Life
You’ve probably heard the saying “happiness comes from the little things in life” a million times, and it’s true. If you are actively being grateful for the things that you experience, you will start finding happiness in every small moment in your life. It is normal for most of us to not pay attention to the small stuff since today’s society is always telling us to look at the “big picture.” But, in perspective, every small moment in life is what paints that “big picture.” Paying attention to the little, positive things in life will help you change your focus from all the negative feelings and thoughts that go through your head to more positive ones. Make sure you are taking a moment to truly appreciate the small, beautiful things this life has to offer.
It is very likely that most of us will regret later in life that we had not enjoyed the simple moments life brought us. I used to not pay attention to the small, everyday details that filled my life, living day by day saying, “When I get this, or have that I will be happier.” But ever since I finally understood that I have the power to decide my level of happiness, I have been much more appreciative of all the little things in my life. From the sweetness of my morning coffee to just taking time off to watch the sunset, I ensure that every day I’m making the most of life, and deciding to be happy with everything that happens in it.
If you decide to actively search for happiness you are much more prone to find it. Make it a life goal to discover what little things make you happy, and be grateful for being able to experience them on a daily basis.
Tip: Take five minutes every morning before you start your day to think about all the good things that you have in life: for the warm breakfast in the morning, and the comfy bed where you slept. Try to actively search for the positive side of every situation. Instead of complaining about the traffic because it’s raining, be grateful that you are sitting in the car listening to your favorite tunes while many others are soaking wet trying to get home. Remember; always choose happiness over anything else. You always have the option.
2 – Daily Habits Determine Your Happiness
“Habit is the intersection of knowledge (what to do), skill (how to do), and desire (want to do).” ― Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Habit building has become very popular in the past few years. From bestselling books to phone apps, and even wearable devices to track your habits, habit building has never been so popular. Doing the same thing on a regular basis has been proven to help you achieve any goal you set for yourself. The problem lies in discovering the right habits to help you find happiness all the time. To actively seek happiness might be the most important habit that no one talks about.
We all try to find new habits to better our lives, from eating healthier to saving money, which are all good habits. How about we start working on habits that bring more joy and happiness to our lives?
All of us have good and bad habits. Don’t just think of watching too much TV, or brushing your teeth three times a day kind of habits, but instead, on the habits of your mind. How you react every day to different situations in life determines your level of happiness. Do you get angry and upset every time something does not work out the way you planned? Do other people and what they do easily stress you out? Try to begin developing the habit of looking at everything from a more positive perspective. You will find that you feel better once you start thinking and seeing things from a different point of view.
Since we have already determined that your level of happiness is based on all the thoughts that go through your mind, you need to start working on the habit of searching for happy thoughts in your life. Happiness is something you are able to practice and develop in your daily routine. A good habit formation for happiness is to start expressing gratitude and love towards life, thereby beginning to find joy within your daily activities.
Speaking of gratitude, this is probably one of the things that can bring huge amounts of happiness to your life once you start practicing it on a daily basis. Most of us sit with our families and loved ones over Thanksgiving dinner to be grateful for what we have. But why don’t we do this on a daily basis instead of waiting for the yearly festivity? When you express gratitude for things in life, you begin to appreciate the things you have instead of the ones you wish to have.
After traveling to many third world countries in Asia and South America, I have seen firsthand how some of the poorest people in the world are able to live happily. Instead of wishing they had more, they are thankful for what they have. They value and feel grateful for the little things that life has brought them. This inspires societies that rely more on community that on individualism. Once you take yourself out of your daily routines and think about how most of the world lives, you start to appreciate many things that we normally take for granted – the water heater you never think about, the air conditioner that always works…the list goes on and on.
Begin by forming a daily gratitude habit. Start by looking at all those small things that make up your day that you probably don’t think about on a regular basis. Creating this habit will make you happier by being thankful for the many small things that you enjoy in your life. Be thankful that the car starts in the morning, that your computer is running fast, that the lady at the restaurant got your order right, and so on. When you start wiring your brain this way, anything that happens in your life is an opportunity for joy and happiness.
I always say that every story has three different versions: my version, the version from the other person involved in the story, and the truth. Think about all the things that might be happening behind every situation in your life – times where you felt frustrated because of the actions of others. For example, I used to get very anxious and angry when I went out to a restaurant and the waiter forgot my order or got it wrong. I predisposed my mind to think that he/she was incompetent, and that the restaurant sucked. No one knows what is going on behind the scenes. Oftentimes, many restaurants truly do not know how to operate. But how about if the server is just not paying attention that day because she is worried about her grandma who’s in the hospital, or the other millions of possibilities that could be happening in her life? Try to always keep calm and search for positive thoughts. That is a choice you have to make.
Most of us are wired to get angry and frustrated when different situations arise in our lives, but if we work on the habit of thinking positively all the time, somehow everything starts working out since you are not always searching for the negative things in life.
Today even if I know that most likely the server is just incompetent, I try to just be positive and make the best out of the situation. What’s the worst that could happen? You get your order replaced and maybe have to wait a little longer. If I decided to act negatively instead, I would surely end up ruining the night.
Train your brain to be positive and think of all the positive things that happen in your life. Here are some simple habits that will keep your mind and body at peace.
• Create a morning routine. Don’t just jump out of bed, shower and run out of the house. Try to wake up a couple of minutes before your normal schedule so you have a little time for yourself in the morning. Be thankful for what you have, and enjoy your favorite drink or meal without rushing. I used to dread waking up early, and almost did not enjoy having breakfast at all. Now I look forward to waking up earlier (which I’m still working on) and make sure that I take it slow in the morning. That way I will have a more productive day.
• Help someone else every day, if you can. Various studies have shown that people are happier when they help others. Don’t think that you have to extend your efforts too far. Oftentimes, the people around us are the ones who need us most, and we don’t even realize it. From simple things such as guiding a tourist in your city to holding the door at the store, these small habits of helping people will bring tons of joy to your life.
• Practice constant gratitude. If you are thankful for every small detail in life, you will start finding more joy and happiness from the things that you previously took for granted.
• Cultivate patience. You’ve heard it before – “Patience is a Virtue.” In today’s society where we expect everything right away, many of us can easily get agitated if we have to wait for anything. Start practicing patience – it is easier than you think.
Remember: Most people are only as happy as they choose their thoughts to be. How happy do you want to be? You have the answer and the solution.
3 – Change Your Bad Habits
Happy Thoughts – Happy Life
“Your net worth to the world is usually determined by what remains after your bad habits are subtracted from your good ones.” Benjamin Franklin
Changing your bad habits is just as important as creating new, happy habits in your life. One of the best ways to achieve happiness is by getting rid of things and thoughts that do not bring joy to our lives.
One of the biggest problems that people face today is that they live in a constant state of denial towards their feelings. We put off everything that we do not want to deal with for a later time. When it comes to negative feelings or thoughts we try to hide them and start stacking them in the back of our minds. This is why it is healthy to always deal with your fears and feelings of unhappiness as soon as they present themselves in your life.
Start your journey to a happier self by ridding yourself of all feelings of hatred, jealously, envy, and so on. If you have such hard feelings towards something or someone, ensure that you work this out before you do anything else. Start by searching for all the reasons why you should be happy, and understand down deep that nothing and no one can let you down or make you unhappy if you do not allow it.
Napoleon Hill put it best – “I will eliminate hatred, envy, jealousy, selfishness, and cynicism, by developing love for all humanity, because I know that a negative attitude toward others can never bring me success. I will cause others to believe in me, because I will believe in them, and in myself.” Once you create this mentality, it will be much easier for you to find happiness in your life. When you show compassion and understanding to everyone around you, your world starts opening up to new opportunities of joy and success.
Changing bad habits is oftentimes more difficult than creating new ones, since you are most likely wired to doing or thinking the same way for years. But if you truly want to start living a happier, more fulfilled life, you need to understand that all of those bad habits need to be gone before you’ll start finding more joy in your days.
Stop complaining about what you don’t have. Instead, try to be grateful for what you do have. Don’t think of it in terms of material things, but in terms of love, companionship, and so on. What’s the point of living a life dreaming of what others have if we can’t enjoy what we have in front of us?
Stop comparing yourself with everyone else. As you already know, everyone has different ideals and goals in life. You gain nothing when you compare yourself to others; oftentimes you just end up dissatisfied with your current situation.
Once you have worked out some of these internal habits, you can begin to move on to getting rid of negative daily activities that are not bringing you the happiness you are searching for in life.
One of the worst habits that most people have nowadays is the need to be connected 24/7. Try to unplug yourself from the media for at least a couple of hours every day. Two hours of TV every day translates into 30 days a year. That is a whole month of your life every year wasted on doing something that might not bring you as much happiness as other activities.
Many people today complain about not having enough time, but if you look at most everyone’s schedule you will find that everyone easily wastes a couple of hours every day on activities that do not add anything to their lives: TV, oversleeping, social media, internet browsing, etc.
As explained before, life is about balance. Don’t try to be radical and sell all the TVs in the house like I’ve seen some other books suggest. Instead, try to be mindful of how you are using your time on a daily basis. A quick tip might be to cut the cable and join an online TV streaming service like Netflix, Hulu or Amazon TV. This way you eliminate the temptation of flipping through channels. Instead, you only watch TV when you really want to. As an added bonus, you will save hundreds of hours in commercials as well as a substantial amount of money by cutting the cable bill.
Be mindful of your daily thoughts and activities; all of those small habits that are time and energy-wasters need to go.
Here is a list of some of the bad habits that you should try to exchange for more positive ones.
- Making Excuses – Instead of coming up with reasons why you act or do certain activities that you know are not bringing you closer to your desired happiness, exchange those for ones that bring you joy. We all come home tired after working all day. Many think to themselves, “I’ve worked too much today; I’ll go for a walk/run on the weekend.” Years go by and they are unhappy about their appearance, or have health problems. Instead, try to push yourself into doing activities that will bring you joy, a better quality of life balance, and lasting happiness.
- Procrastination – This is one of the biggest problems in society today. We all want things immediately, but hardly ever do we want to work hard for them in the present. We try to put things off that we don’t like doing for a later time, when we know that all we are doing is putting off our goals for a later time as well. Do not wait to start saving money, getting in better shape, making new friends, spending more time with family, and so on. Start NOW!
- Exercise & Eating – This is one you have heard a thousand times, and you probably try to do something about it every January, but it’s true. You need a good, healthy body to live a long and happy life. Make sure you put exercise and a healthy diet on your daily habit list, and you will see how easy it is once it becomes routine.
We all have good and bad habits, but only when we look deep inside and acknowledge the things that make us unhappy can start changing those bad habits to positive ones. Whenever you achieve this balance of exercising more positive habits, you’ll find greater joy and happiness in your life.
4 – Stop Daydreaming About Money
Happy Thoughts – Happy Life
“Money has never made man happy, nor will it, there is nothing in its nature to produce happiness. The more of it one has the more one wants.”
Most people today spend a good chunk of their time thinking or fantasizing about money. If you are one of them, STOP! Many folks have a huge fixation with the relation of their bank accounts and their levels of happiness, oftentimes attaching a specific number of zeroes (dollar amount) to their perceived amount of happiness. “When I have X amount in the bank, then I’ll be happier.” I’ve been down this road myself, and believe me, this is a never-ending “hamster wheel” behavior that just leaves you unhappy and unsatisfied with what you have.
The problem is that there will always be more money around; there will always be someone with a bigger house and a nicer car. So what happens when you reach your so dreamed “Happiness Number?” At that point, you are no longer satisfied with what you have and are hungry for more.
I believe that we should all strive to make a decent living and work hard towards making some money, which can help us achieve our goals in life. But make sure you are searching and working for money for what you can do with it instead of chasing money just for the sake of money. It also helps if you love what you do to make your living. We will discuss this later in the book.
I have now realized that some of the happiest moments in my life have cost very little or nothing at all. Stop for a minute and think about all the best moments when you have been the happiest in your life. Most often we find out they are simple moments with family and friends where not much money is needed.
Debt Kills Dreams
This is a no-brainer, but we all struggle with it because we want immediate satisfaction. You have to understand that every single dollar you owe to a bank is a dollar that could have been spent in many different ways to make you happier. It is so tempting, so easy to just go down the store and apply for their credit card and buy all the items you think you need and want. The brand new Flat Screen TV and surround sound system seem so appealing. After all, it’s just a couple bucks every month on the card. But once you start adding up all of those things, your debt starts to accumulate, and without even noticing it, you end up working for the banks.
There is a huge difference between needs and wants, even though we interchange both terms very often. How many times have you said, “I need a new pair of shoes,” when you have 10 other pairs of shoes in perfect condition in the closet? The moment you tell your brain you “need” something, you are hungry for it, and you will not be satisfied until you get the item you intend to buy. Try to change this mentality and understand the difference between what you really need and what you want. It is completely okay to want new things and splurge every now and then, but if your trips to the mall every weekend are shrinking your bank account, something needs to be done.
The basic needs of most humans such as food, shelter and safety can be met with very little money nowadays. The problem is that we want the large house with empty rooms, the fancy car that takes you to the same places as any other car, the fine jewelry, clothing, and so on. We start fantasizing about all of these things and we let our mind wonder what it would be like if we could just have a “taste of the good life,” and in the meantime, miss all of the experiences of our current life. As I’ve said before, I’m not a big fan of extremes. Unlike some other things I read in books and online, I won’t tell you that you need to get rid of everything and move to a tiny house in order to be happy. I’m sure many who do it are extremely happy, and I’m happy for them, but, realistically, it won’t work for most families. Just make sure you are living within your means. If you actually get to save a lot of money, and your means provide the budget for a fancy apartment and car and you really want them, there is nothing wrong with buying them. You can buy the things you want as long as you are not killing your dreams and living an unfulfilled life due to your accumulated debt.
We humans get used to things very fast. That new Flat Screen HD TV you wanted so much? You will get used to in just a couple of days, and will find no greater joy in it than the one you used to have. This is why it is extremely important to realize that happiness is much more than just material possessions. Otherwise we will just try to buy our way into happiness with things and never be satisfied, always searching for more and more. This is, sadly, what the media is selling us everywhere we look. “Get this new perfume, it will make you more desirable.” “This brand new car will make your neighbors jealous.” “You will feel like a king with all of these things,” they tell us. Advertisers know exactly what fears people have, and prey upon their feelings in order to sell more products.
Once you realize the potential happiness inside of you, your spending habits will probably change. You will start finding more joy in the things you purchase because you see the value in them, instead of purchasing them for mere instant gratification.
Having ambition is a healthy habit, and you should work hard towards getting what you want, but envy makes people unhappy. The problem with having lots of ambition is that is easy to start comparing yourself with others. This can spoil the benefits of ambition. Make sure you are focusing on your goals and dreams instead of just the items that can be bought with the money you wish to make. This will help you keep a healthy ambition level in your life.
As you begin understanding how money affects your happiness, try to create a habit of tracking where your money is going. This will help you determine if all of your purchases are in the best interest of your happiness. Ensure you are buying things because they add value to your life, not because you want to show them off.
Invest in More Experiences – Less Things
One of the most important concepts to understand in terms of money and happiness is that you should spend money on experiences instead of things. How many times have you told a story of how you had an awesome pair of jeans 10 years ago, or the cool cellphone you had five years ago? I’m sure you haven’t, and no one would probably care if you did. On the other hand, having great life experiences such as traveling, learning, love and adventure stick with you forever, and define who you are as a person. Make sure you are spending on the experiences that make you happy, whatever that is. You might love to travel, go to concerts and events, or practice an instrument or art. Whatever it is that brings you joy, make sure you are spending money on that, instead of just buying things to keep up with the Joneses.
I have personally undergone this transformation in the past five years; after I found myself with auto loans and credit card debt because I wanted to buy all the things that I thought made me happy. It took awhile to realize that what made me happy was very different, and did not cost as much. Now I enjoy the simple moments of life a lot more than when I had all the pressure of having to pay a lot of bills just to keep up with the materialistic culture of today’s society. For my wife and I, traveling is one of the biggest joys of our lives. We now realize that every time we spend money on some material thing we are wasting money that could have been used to get out on the road more often, or for longer. Think for a moment about all of the things you buy, and next time you are about to swipe the credit card, ask yourself if the item is worth giving up your time and money and some other experience that you might enjoy doing more. This will bring you more satisfaction in the long run.
Sam Walton, founder of Walmart, said on his deathbed, “I blew it,” referring to the fact that he spent too much time caring about his business instead of his family. Imagine for a moment that you are lying in a hospital bed during your last few days. What are some of the things you wish you had accomplished in life? What goals would you like to have completed? What are the things that you wish you had done? No one died saying they wished they had more money in the bank. Instead, many people die every day regretting all the things they wished they had done in their lives. Don’t be afraid. Go out there and conquer your dreams. You never know unless you do your best, and tomorrow might be too late.
You have probably seen the article about the nurse who revealed the top five most common regrets of people on their deathbed. I leave you with the list here to end this chapter.
• I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
• I wish I didn’t work so hard.
• I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
• I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends and family.
• I wish that I had let myself be happier.
Make sure you are living your life to the fullest so you won’t have any regrets when the time comes.
5 – Create a Healthy and Loving Relationship with Family and Friends
Happy Thoughts – Happy Life
“HAPPINESS IS ONLY REAL WHEN SHARED”
Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild
Relationships, language and interactions are what separate us humans from the rest of the animals. For most of us, our relationship with family and friends is the most important aspect in our lives. Yet many people fail to realize this, and put many other personal interests in front of their personal relations.
It is no wonder that due to this realization many countries today have weak family ties, therefore raising children who are not very attached to their parents and families; kids who oftentimes end up having interpersonal relationship problems later on in life. Today, we see children who spend more time on their tablets than with their parents, children being raised by nannies who probably feel a closer bond with them than with their own father and mother who were “too busy” to spend time with their family.
Having close family ties and a sense of belonging inside of your family circle is vital to one’s happiness. It is what defines our lives. The people we spend most of our time with are the ones who end up shaping our behaviors.
It is vital to find the perfect balance between your personal goals and your personal relations. After all, the people around you are more than likely the ones able to bring the most joy into your life. Every couple of years we hear of the suicides of rich people, actors and singers who had all the money in the world, but did not have anyone close who made them feel appreciated and loved.
Once you have made this realization, you will begin to understand and have a greater appreciation for the time you spend with your loved ones. Many studies have shown that the quality and quantity of social connections have great impact on our health and longevity as well as our psychological wellbeing (Uchino, B.N., Cacioppo, J.T. & Kiecolt-Glaser, J.K.,1996). Connections are what bring joy to our lives. Having some beers and a few laughs with friends, or spending birthdays and holidays with our families is what makes us all human and happy.
We all have some great memories from our childhood when everything was simple and we were truly happy; when we spent time with our brothers, cousins, friends, etc. Make sure you don’t lose this spirit later in life where everyone is so focused on chasing the gold that they oftentimes even forget about the love from close relatives.
If you learn to be content in any situation when good company surrounds you, you will find happiness in almost all of the moments in your life. I have seen people who are always searching for something better, some greater excitement in their lives, and because of this they lose the opportunity to enjoy the present moment.
Keeping in close touch with friends and family is now easier than ever. It is important to have real human interactions, but even a quick email or text message to your loved ones every now and then will create and foster great gratitude. Go on now. Go ahead and send a text message or make a call to someone for whom you care – right now!
At the end of the day, we get our happiness from other people and for caring for other people. Keep in mind that just as other people make us happy, we are “other people” to someone else. Make sure you cherish and show affection to the people who are important to you.
As we learned before, the act of not spending more time with people we love is something that many regret at the end of their lives.
In my own experience, it is oftentimes the people from whom we expect the least who are the ones that give us support when we need it most. Try not to be judgmental towards anyone. Make sure you are always yourself, and you will have no problem keeping people around you all the time.
I don’t need to be an expert to tell you that relationships are critical to your level of happiness. Not spending time with your kids or family, or lack of contact with your friends can weigh you down. Life is easier than most people make it to be. Nourish your relationships and you’ll have plenty of happy moments with the people you love and care for in the times to come.
6 – Follow Your Dreams
“It is precisely the possibility of realizing a dream that makes life interesting.” Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
What would be the point of it all if we had no dreams, no aspirations, and nothing to wish for? Life would be as empty as a white canvas.
Most people today put up with a lot of stress, tension, dissatisfaction and so on with the hope of what they could do some day; patiently waiting for that one dream they wished for all of their lives which, sadly for many, never comes. Out of fear of the unknown most people give up on their dreams for a life of comfort.
I believe we all have a purpose in life, and it is of true importance to live by it. I’m not saying the kind of purpose where we have to be missionaries or save the world. In reality, our purpose in life is simple – to be happy. If we live a life true to ourselves, a life full of joy and meaning, we will be able to share it with the rest of the world, along the way encouraging everyone around us to live better, happier lives.
Dreams Can Be Deceiving
One problem in society today is that many people are confused about what they want in life, many times not even knowing what their true dreams and goals are. This oftentimes leads to what we discussed earlier, where people make material possessions or making more money their biggest goal in life. After all, it is much easier to quantify your goals and dreams with a bank account balance than by examining and exploring the infinite possibilities that exist out there to make you happy.
Some people have had very clear goals since early in life. They aspire to be great actors, or of having a great career in some other field, but this is only a part of our lives. Because of today’s society, schools teach us how to “be someone,” labeling our lives as early as possible: a businessperson, a doctor, and so on. Yet this only defines what we do for a living, not who we are as a person. Making this distinction is highly important. We are all unique individuals with unique personalities. What you do for a living can’t define who you are, what your dreams and goals are, and how you live your life. Try not to label yourself under a title. Don’t only dream of becoming what society expects of you. Live your life on your own terms based on what makes you happy.
The paradox of money and dreams can be equated to the debate of the chicken or the egg. Most people rationalize that they should give up their dreams early in life to make money. Then when they have “the money,” they will have the freedom to do whatever they want, or so goes the reasoning. This would be great if we knew for a fact that we were all going to live to be 100 years old, but the fact is, we have no idea which day will be the last one of our lives. So don’t delay your dreams in favor of the goal of making more money.
The Bucket List
An easy way to list all of your dreams and the things you want in life is to create a “bucket list.” It takes little time, and you will find out many things about yourself that you probably didn’t know, or maybe just hadn’t perceived before.
My wife Vicky and I created a bucket list a couple of years ago while talking at a restaurant. To our amazement, after writing down a bunch of things that we wanted to do in life, we found out that many, if not most of the things on the list, did not involve lots of money to achieve. Go ahead and start your own bucket list if you don’t have one already. An easy way to do this is to keep it in your cell phone, or somewhere online where it will be easy for you to add items whenever they occur to you, and to cross them off as they’re achieved.
After you create a long list of things that you wish for in life, you will be able to shape your life to hopefully meet all of the things on the list. If you are like us, where many of the things on your list do not include lots of money, you can focus on living your life around those dreams. If, on the other hand, they do involve a lot of money, it might be the inspiration you need to work harder, create a new business, or come up with new ideas to make those dreams become a reality.
Once you have a good number of things in your list, don’t put them off. Start doing your research on how to accomplish some of them as soon as you can. For instance, travel is on the top of many people’s bucket list, as it is in ours. Yet, many people think of travel as a luxury, when on the other hand, travel can be very inexpensive nowadays. Plane tickets are only going down in price, accommodations are cheaper than ever thanks to sites such as AirBnB, or even free doing CouchSurfing or house-sitting, if you are up for the challenge. Who said travel is only enjoyable when you are staying at luxury hotels and eating out at fancy restaurants every day?
The point is that there should be no excuses when it comes to your dreams. We are all only getting older, and there is no way to stop the clock. Living comfortably inside your everyday life is an easy escape to forget about your dreams. The excuses you come up with today will only be greater in the future. If you talk yourself into not having enough money, enough time, that this year is not the best for your dreams and maybe next year will be better, this will go on and on forever, and when you least expect it, life will pass you by and all of your dreams will be gone with it.
It helps if you have a long list of dreams, from simple, easily achievable things to bigger, more challenging ones. Not all the items on your bucket list can be to climb Mt. Everest or become a famous artist. Getting to spend a good holiday with your family at a nearby beach, or trying a new delicious international dish might sound like small things, but remember how the small things can fill your life with joy in the long run.
Make sure you have big dreams and aspirations that keep you motivated along the way as well. Something that makes you work harder for what you want. A personal project is a great way to keep you active and inspired. Think about a side business that you can start, if you don’t already own one. Maybe there is a charity you can begin or be a part of, something big and meaningful. Having big goals in life will ensure you are always looking to better yourself so you won’t end up wasting your time in other less fulfilling activities.
Life changes, and so will your objectives and dreams, but as long as you are living day by day and working towards your goals, you will be happy and satisfied with your life.
Dream big and often. Don’t let anyone or society tell you what you can and can’t do. Do things with passion, and you will make anything possible. There is always a way. If you go after your dreams you can make anything you set up for yourself a reality. Don’t be fooled by a society that wants to decide your future. Take the bull by the horns and make it happen. Every day we hear stories of successful entrepreneurs who created million dollar companies out of nothing; people achieving great things in life because they decided to go for it. We are living at a moment in history where opportunities are wide open to anyone who is willing to work hard enough, or smart enough, as I like to think of it. Information is readily available for anyone to find what it is they need to make their dreams come true.
There will always be people who will try to pull you down, who will doubt you, or who are just plain jealous of what you do. But as long as you are pursuing your dreams and living a fulfilling life, you’ll be able to show everyone the things that can be done when you put your mind to it. There is no better way to teach people than by leading by example. You never know whom you are going to meet along the way who will help you achieve your goals; this is why it is always important to have an open mind. It is also highly important that you help anyone you can to achieve their personal goals and dreams. Oftentimes you will cherish them as if they were your own.
There is no bigger dream-killer than comfort. Feeling comfortable is what we all strive for, but, at the same time, it keeps us from achieving bigger things in life and accomplishing our wildest dreams. Today, it is fairly easy for someone in a developed country to live comfortably. As explained before, it does not take much money for you to take care of your basic needs, and then have some more money leftover for the occasional luxury. Once you find yourself (as has happened to me many times before) in this comfort zone, it is very hard for you to want to get out of it. After all, in it we find some joy, and it is all too easy to just keep living this way. Try to break out of it from time to time. Oftentimes it takes a lot of courage to leave the routine behind where you are used to things being a certain way, and everything working out just fine. But when you break out of it to chase your dreams and goals, you will find a whole new world waiting for you. When you decide to go after your dreams, realize that in many cases, the worst that could happen is that you go back to what you had before, and everything will go back to the way it used to be. If so, you can always begin again, right?
Take all of this information and motivate yourself to take action. Switch off the TV and log out of your social media profiles for a few hours every week to begin working towards your goals. At the end of the day, no one but you has the ability to make them become a reality.
7 – Realize that You Can Die Today
“If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to. If you are not afraid of dying, there is nothing you cannot achieve.” Lao Tzu
Let’s imagine for a moment that you are involved in a car accident tomorrow. No one wants to think about his or her death, but it is a reality of life. As you sit agonizing in your car seat, what will your last thought be? Are you ready to go? Will you be content and at peace because you have lived a fulfilling life? Or will you be very upset and sad because you did not get to do many of the things you wanted to do in this little time we have on earth? If you start thinking that today could be the last day of your life, you will appreciate life much more and probably begin to make better decisions. I’m not saying you should be negative and live like a martyr, but be realistic and start taking action in your life. (By the way, this is just an extreme example to make you think about your life. I wish every one of you a very long and happy life.)
Once you understand that our days on earth are numbered and unpredictable, many of the things you thought were important become not so important anymore. If you knew you only had a couple days left, would you care so much about the little, unimportant details of your life? People, who for one reason or another, have come close to death, start living their lives much differently than they did before. Priorities change, and living a happy and satisfied life becomes the most important thing on their list. You don’t need to have a close encounter with death to realize that life is short, and that you should be living a fulfilling, joyous life.
Live for Today
One thing that humans tend to do is to either try to live in the past or the future. Try not to dwell on the past, on things that may have gone wrong, or previous failures. At the same time, don’t dream about an idealized future that does not yet exist, nor waste time and energy worrying about what hasn’t happened yet. The happiest people live in the moment. It’s important to realize that this very moment, right now, is all you have. If you are happy today, most likely you will be happy tomorrow, and the day after.
Let go of bad experiences from the past. Many people seem to punish themselves day in and day out for things they did or did not do in the past. Let it go. Keep moving and live for the moment. If you are able to enjoy every minute of your daily life, this will be a practice that you can keep working on forever to ensure that you are always happy.
As an experiment, try to have a conversation with an older relative or friend. Ask them about some of the things they wished they had done in their life, what the things that mattered most to them are in retrospect, what they would have changed, and how they would have done things differently. I’m sure you will get a nice conversation out of it, and end up learning a lot. You could even send a short email to some of your friends and family asking for these same life struggles and experiences. Believe me you will be pleasantly surprised by some of their answers and as a side effect you’ll be strengthening your relationships with them.
One of the best ways to learn is based upon our mistakes, but people who are close to us will be happy to share the wisdom from the things they found out about life themselves. Most likely the words of a loved one who has been through a long life will impact you much more than any book or website you’ll ever read.
Once you start living your life with a greater purpose and in a more meaningful way, you’ll start to realize that you might not be afraid of death anymore. Make it your lifelong goal to not have any regrets when your time ends, or to have as few as possible. As Mark Twain put it, “The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”
In Buddhism, people try to familiarize themselves with the concept of death in order to live a more meaningful life.
There is a nine-round death meditation that covers the following points:
Death is certain: There is no way to escape death. No one ever has, not even Jesus, Buddha, etc. Life is finite and each moment that passes brings us closer to our final breath. Death comes unexpectedly.
The time of our death is uncertain: The duration of our lifespan is unknown. Young and healthy people die every day. There are hundreds of causes or circumstances that lead to death. Our human body is fragile, which is another factor towards death.
Only our mental and spiritual development can help us at the time of death. Material possessions, wealth, power and money can’t help us when the time arrives. Relatives, friends and loved ones can’t prevent death nor go with us. Even our own body is of no help when it’s old and ready to go. We leave it behind like an empty shell.
The point of this chapter is not to be negative and pessimistic about life, but to realize that the days we have left on this earth are limited. We have no idea how many more sunrises or sunsets we are going to get to see. Just keep the idea in the back of your mind that your time could come any moment; that way, you’ll ensure that you are living a meaningful happy life all the time. When you do, you will be at peace with yourself and, most likely, won’t fear death as much.
Live fully, love much, laugh hard and often, and enjoy the little things this precious earth has to offer. Doing this every day will ensure that you’ll have a long and happy life. Hopefully, one day you can look back at your life when you are old and say, “I’m glad I lived the way I did.” Leave a legacy of love, courage and inspiration for generations to come.
8 – Material Possessions Will Not Make You Happier
“Unnecessary possessions are unnecessary burdens. If you have them, you have to take care of them! There is great freedom in simplicity of living. It is those who have enough but not too much who are the happiest.” Peace Pilgrim
We already discussed how you need to change your relationship with money. Again, money should just be a tool to help you get closer to your dreams. Money itself has no real value.
How much time do you spend searching, buying, organizing and taking care of your material possessions? Most people today have way more things than they need to live a fulfilling life. In fact, most of us have things that are actually keeping us from enjoying life and doing the things we love more often. People have so much stuff that the self-storage business is booming today, full of units crammed with things that most people won’t ever use in their lives. But the comfort of knowing that they have them stored somewhere gives pleasure to some people.
Psychologists created the term “retail therapy” to refer to the act of shopping with the purpose of improving one’s mood. This is often exhibited by people while they are depressed or unsatisfied. The items purchased during this period are referred to as “comfort buys.” We see it in Hollywood movies and TV shows all the time, where the person feels so much better right after they go on a buying spree.
The United States and most European countries have found that a large number of people have compulsive buying disorders (CBD). Studies have shown that CBD is found in 5.8% of the United States population (Koran, L. M., Faber, R. J., Aboujaoude, E., Large, M. D., & Serpe, R. T., 2006). This number is only likely to increase as we get more exposure to media and advertising every day. With a billboard banner in our hands all day (a.k.a. a cellphone), it is hard to escape the constant push of consumerist items from the millions of retailers who are fighting for our dollars.
As you see, it is harder now than ever to stay away from our consumerist society, but if you are truly seeking the path to a happier life, you have to internalize that buying more things will not make you happier.
All possessions are temporary. The joy that you get from that new item purchased tends to fade fairly quickly. As technology advances, the new things you purchase seem to get older faster than ever. That new cell phone you want so badly will probably be obsolete in a couple of months. This is true for almost all material possessions nowadays.
Whenever you pull out your credit card or cash to buy an item, understand that money is not the only thing you are giving up in exchange for it. What you are giving up is the time and opportunity to have done other things with that money. Once you start thinking this way, you’ll think twice about all of your purchases. Is it worth your precious time to accumulate all of those new shoes and clothes when you already have dozens in the closet?
You have probably heard of this concept before, as it has become very popular lately. Do an online search for it if you haven’t, as there is a vast amount of information out there about it. The point of minimalism is to have as few material possessions as possible while maximizing your time and energy to enjoy life. This probably won’t apply to everyone. If we all become minimalists, then the economy will definitely suffer. But take some time to learn about it, as you just may find some positive things from it to apply to your life.
If you really think about it, you most likely use the same things very often: your favorite pieces of clothing, the kitchen utensils, and the car to go to work. Make it a habit of searching for things that you don’t use, and dispose of them regularly. Sell them online, or give them to charity. I’ve started this process and it is very gratifying. I’ve found out that I can live months at a time with just a backpack, and still get to live some of the happiest days in my life. So why do I keep so much stuff when I’m at home? Start with your closet. Go through it in detail; try to not be sentimental about every piece of clothing you have. You’ll find that the fewer things you have to worry about, the more free time you’ll have to enjoy other activities. The boxes you have in the closet that never get opened, and the tools in the back of the drawers that you’ll never use will be of better service to someone who does.
As you go through the process, it often leads to buying higher quality things. As you might discover you don’t need 50 different t-shirts, the ones you decide to keep and buy in the future might be a little more expensive and of higher quality. If so, you’ll know they will give you a higher added value than having to keep, clean, store and maintain dozens of cheaper ones. This not only goes for your closet, but for everything else around your life. We can only wear one watch at a time, ride in one car at a time, and put on one pair of shoes at a time. So what’s the need to keep a catalog of items that are simply gathering dust in the house?
As the Dalai Lama said, “Physical comforts cannot subdue mental suffering, and if we look closely, we can see that those who have many possessions are not necessarily happy. In fact, being wealthy often brings even more anxiety.”
If you are able to change your buying habits, even by the smallest percentage, the time and money saved will heavily compound over time, giving you more options for doing the things you love in the long run. Most people don’t realize it, but oftentimes all of the things they have and buy are keeping them from realizing all of the goals and dreams they have in mind.
Once you identify and shift your wants and desires from material things to experiences, you’ll start finding that your dreams and goals become easier to achieve as you start to invest in them.
9 – Your Body is Your Temple
“To keep the body in good health is a duty… otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” Buddha
We all need to live a healthy lifestyle in order to ensure that we are able to pursue all of our dreams with vitality. Many studies have shown that positive emotions and a state of happiness can actually increase good health. On the other hand, prolonged stress and fear can eventually lead to illness such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
If you stop for a moment and think about it, health and happiness go hand in hand, and actually support one another. If you keep an active lifestyle without an excess of negative substances and a healthy diet, you’ll feel good about yourself and be happier. At the same time, when you are happier and feeling good emotions, your body responds with healthy benefits such as preventing different diseases. Our body and our mind are connected. If you keep your body in good shape, your mind will feel good as well.
We are not all cut out to be marathon runners or gym rats. To those who enjoy doing that much exercise, kudos. But, in reality, most of us could use a little more exercise in our lives. Daily exercise might be one of the most rewarding habits that you create in your life. Walking for 30 minutes every day, or doing some physical activity on a regular basis has tremendous benefits, yet many people prefer to just stay inside watching some more TV, and feeling bad about themselves.
There is no big secret to having a healthy body. Eat a balanced diet and exercise. That’s it. Yet millions of people struggle to drop excess weight. As a result, the exercise equipment industry is an ever-growing business. This is due to people wanting to believe that if they buy expensive equipment that promises to change their lives forever with only five minutes of their time, then they will be able to lose that unattractive, unwanted weight.
Take care of your body. You only have one, and it’s the best asset that you have in life. Make sure you are eating a good, healthy diet; try to cook more at home instead of eating out so much. Buy wholesome ingredients, and make sure you have plenty of fruits and vegetables in your diet. Drink lots of water. Water has some tremendous benefits. Try to have a bottle of water with you at all times and drink a lot of it. Have you ever wondered why most of us pour fresh water to our plants at home yet serve ourselves and our children drinks full of nasty chemicals? Think about it.
A good, easy way to keep a balanced diet is to eat really healthily during the weekdays, and have your “cheat meals” and fast food on the weekends. I started doing this a few months ago, and it’s has made it a lot easier to keep up with a balanced diet, rather than trying to stick with a strict diet every day.
Regular exercise has many different benefits. It not only helps with keeping you in shape and getting rid of the excess weight, but it also improves your sex life, helps you stay focused, and brings you more energy. Try to find a physical activity that you enjoy. There is no easier way to stay active than by regularly participating in a sport you like. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of groups and centers that offer ongoing activities for free, or for a small fee. Try to search on meetup.com for a local exercise group – from soccer to golf to canoeing, there is something for everyone. You might also gain new friends along the way who will support your new, active lifestyle.
Make sure you are also sleeping well every night. Recent research has discovered that sleeping the recommended eight hours a day improves memory, increases concentration capacity, strengthens the immune system, and even decreases people’s risk of being killed in accidents by being more alert (APA.org) (4). If you have problems sleeping, there are plenty of methods and even phone apps to help you fall asleep faster. Maybe now that you have stopped fantasizing about money, you can get to sleep faster, too.
As you will probably start experiencing, once you start changing your thoughts, behavior and activities, you’ll find out that everything in your life is highly related. Everything is a consequence of other things we do. The more at peace we are with ourselves, the more we want to take care of our body. As we take care of our body and start exercising, we start closely watching our diet. As a result, you’ll sleep better. The better you sleep, the better your mood will be, which will make you feel consistently happier. The cycle repeats itself every day.
Keep a balanced lifestyle. Remember that anything in excess is dangerous. Ensure you are enjoying the pleasures of this world, but keep in mind that your body is your temple, and you should strive to keep it in good shape for as long as you can.
10 – Love What You Do
“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Confucius
You have probably heard this famous Confucius quote thousands of times, but if you stop for a moment and think about it, you realize that even though the quote has a great message behind it, it’s not very feasible for most people. If we did the things we loved for a living, after a while they would just become normal jobs, like every other job out there. Even Johnny Ramone said that being a rock and roll guitar player was a pretty good job, but that, in the end, it also sucked just like any other job.
Still, you should definitely search for a fulfilling job that does not suck the life out of you. The problem with all means of making a living is that, as we have discovered earlier in the book, humans tend to get bored fairly quickly nowadays, and we are always looking for new excitement and change in our lives. If we dream for years of getting a special position in a company, or opening a certain business, most of us, after having that position and doing the same thing for a number of months or years, get bored again and start looking for something else, never finding true happiness in any job for long periods of time.
Most adults get used to things very quickly, therefore losing the joy of doing the task at hand. Let’s take your job, for example. This has happened to me before, and pretty much everyone I know. Think about the time you got a new job and were about to start working. You probably were very excited to have gotten the job offer in the first place. Maybe you even bought some new clothes or shoes to start with the right attitude. The first week, you were happy with all the new changes and activities that you were doing. Maybe the second week you were still very excited about all the new people you met at your job, and your paycheck. After a couple of weeks, you get used to all of the “new changes” and that new job is not so new anymore. Then you begin to dread the traffic in the mornings, the meetings with your boss, and lose all interest and joy in the work you are doing. Sound familiar?
I believe that a remedy for this problem is to be grateful for what we have on a daily basis. I have complained my fair share of times about different jobs I’ve had in my life, dreading the 9-5, and waiting for Friday to come as soon as possible, week after week. But when you go out there and look at the majority of people in the world who do hard labor and still are able to live happy lives, I question why it is that people in the most advanced countries are always complaining about doing what most of the rest of the world would consider “easy work.” I have thought about this in many different situations. One day while walking the streets of Yangon in Myanmar, I saw a shirtless man inside a sewer full of the worst water I have seen and smelled in my life, trying to unclog the pipes with his hand so the water could pass through. In the Philippines, Vietnam and Colombia you see farmers working 12 to 14 hours a day picking coffee beans and taking care of their rice fields, and yet they wave with a big smile every time they see a tourist pass by.
I know that it is hard to love our jobs every day. There are good days and there are bad ones. But at the end of the day, whatever you do is what you have chosen to do in your life. Chances are you have the opportunity to choose any other job, if you really wanted. Thanks to the Internet, education today is as open and free as it could ever be. There might be more information online about making money than about any other subject out there. It is just a matter of dedicating some of your time to working on projects that interest you. At the end of the day, if you work hard enough in whatever you put your mind to, the money will follow.
Be grateful for everything you have. Wake up with a good attitude and look at each day as a new possibility to create new things. Change your perspective about work; after all, it gives you enough money to take care of your needs and many luxuries as well. It always helps if you stop comparing your work life to that of others. Many people are always thinking that others who have a fancier title or nicer office have it all. If you ask them, they’ll probably tell you it is just a job like any other job out there, with stressful days and good ones, too.
When it comes down to work, it is not so much about loving what you do as much as just doing it with passion. We all have seen the store clerks who clearly enjoy what they do, taking extreme joy in giving all the attention in the world to their customers; the nice guy at the car wash who is always happy to see you come back; the many thousands of people who we interact with on a daily basis who do their jobs with great passion. I believe this is the key to enjoying your work life. We might not all be able to find that huge, gratifying job that we love, but we can all be happy and grateful for the one we have, and perform it with our best attitude.
Chances are that we have no idea what is waiting for us around the corner. Those who act in a positive way are likely to get more opportunities than the people who complain all the time. I laugh at people when they say how someone is so lucky of having or living the way they do; the truth is, no one knows all the hard work they have put in behind the scenes to make it happen. In reality, we all make our own luck. Samuel Goldwyn put it best, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.”
In reality, happy people do what they enjoy and enjoy what they do, and it’s not for the money. As long as you are working with passion, the money will always follow you. There’s no point in staying stuck in a job you hate, surrounded by colleagues you dislike just because the money is good. People forget how many hours we spend at work. We should be happy while doing it, too, not only on the weekends. As we discussed earlier, many people spend, or waste, if you like to put it that way, the best years of their lives working at a job they hate trying to make some money, sacrificing their health and personal relations. Later, they try to amend it by spending the same money they made working in an effort to recover their weak health and estranged family.
A great way to inspire passion in your life is to work on a side business that brings you joy. Try to look around at the things you love doing, and see how you might come up with a side business built around it. You might start a blog or website around the topic of your choice. You may want to teach or coach people in the subjects that you are passionate about. How about selling online products you are well versed with? We all have different talents and hobbies that we enjoy. Even if you don’t make a whole lot of money in the beginning, just the idea of working on something that is meaningful to you will bring you great joy. Make sure that you are doing everything because you enjoy it, rather than just chasing the money.
Write a list of all of your passions: all the activities you enjoy doing, subjects you care about, and interests that inspire you. Try to see how you might implement some of them into your current job, or look for small project opportunities based upon them.
Don’t let fear of the unknown keep you from going after your dreams. Many people have business ideas, travel plans, charity goals, and many other plans that they’d like to work on, but are too afraid of losing the comfort of their current lifestyle. If you are in this situation, make sure you don’t store all of those plans and ideas in the back of your head. Instead, make time to work on them, even if you might have to work late at night, or on the weekends. That one idea might be the one to change your life forever. There is no worse feeling than that of wondering what might have been if you had taken a chance and done something that you considered in the past.
11 – Stop Worrying About Life
“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.” Corrie Ten Boom
Some people tend to spend many of their waking hours worrying about every single thing that happens not only in their lives, but the lives of others, as well. At the end of the day, we find that most of the things we worry about do not even end up happening. If this is the case, why is it so hard to stop worrying about all the things that cross our mind all the time? We have to make an active effort to let go of some of these worries, and just let things happen as they come to our lives. I’m not saying that we should all live carefree and do everything we want without thinking of the consequences, but if we are constantly worrying about life, we won’t be able to enjoy anything we do.
We have no idea what the future holds. Unfortunately, (or fortunately, depending on how they might be used), time machines have not been invented, and this is wonderful because it means your own destiny is up for you to design. There is no way of knowing what is going to happen in an hour, much less what is going to happen to us tomorrow or a year from now. With this in mind, it is important to just be present – live in the moment, and try to enjoy what we have in front of us this very second.
As I write this, I’m sitting just a few kilometers from Mt. Merapi, one of the most active volcanoes in the world. If I were to worry about it, I would not be able to enjoy all the beauty surrounding it, and have a great time here with my wife. It’s an educated risk we are taking in being here. There is no point in worrying about it all the time. On the same note, I will not decide to move and live near it full- time like many villagers do, because that might not be a very smart idea. Life is full of choices, but we can’t live joyously by worrying and overthinking every little thing that we do or don’t do. We have to go on with life, and enjoy every moment we are presented with.
We humans worry about many different things on a daily basis. We worry about money, health, relationships, and more. These are all important things that we should focus on improving for our future selves, but there is a big difference between taking action and wasting time worrying about them. As you will find out, about 90% of our worries never come true.
Instead of wasting time and energy worrying about everything in your life, use all of this time and energy instead on being proactive and getting things done. Every day you find people just sitting worrying about debt, their jobs, and telling everyone how bad the economy is and how it’s always harder to pay the bills. How much better might it be if instead they were to use all of this time to come up with new ideas for a side job that could make them that extra money they need?
You have probably seen or read The Secret. If you haven’t, I recommend you watch the documentary. While it might not all be proven, it is a fact that having a positive mentality will make you happier, and maybe bring you closer to your dreams and desires. Constant worry and holding on to bad feelings normally creates psychological distress, and even physical discomfort. Happy people are able to get things off their chest. Work at developing an optimistic outlook in your life. To be happier, you have to constantly be searching for the bright side of things.
One of the simplest things you can do to start finding more joy in your days is to always search for the positive side of every situation. As Winston Churchill put it, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” You can always decide how you view the world. Every day we are put in many situations where we must decide if we are going to let them ruin our day, or let them go, and become just another story to tell: the taxi that never stops when it’s raining, the person who did not hold the elevator, the waitress who was rude, and so on. If we add up everything “bad” that happens in our lives, we would all be miserable. But if you decide to look at things from the brighter side and not worry so much about other people, you can begin to enjoy your life much more.
In order to be able to live worry-free, or as close to it as possible, you have to sit down and think about all the things that you worry about the most. Then make an action plan to resolve those issues.
If it’s money that you worry about the most, make sure you take some time to set a monthly budget. See where your money is going, and where you can save some dollars. As you set a budget, you might find out that it’s easier to start saving more money and start creating an emergency fund, or even start planning on investing some of it. Think about the many different things that you could do to generate more money: work a part-time job; create a small side business doing things you love, etc. Once you are able to generate some more money, or keep more of what you already make, you will stop worrying about money so much.
One thing that I find very ironic in today’s society is that people who are living luxury lifestyles are often the ones worrying and complaining the most about money. If you can’t afford the brand new luxury car, do not buy it. It will only generate more problems. Instead of being an item of joy, it will become a burden in your life. This goes for every purchase you make. The fewer bills you have to pay, the less you will worry about money.
Make a note every time you catch yourself worrying about something. See what will alleviate the worry so you can work on it. It might take years until you can resolve most of your worries, but in the end, it will be worth the effort. As you have found out, all of our worries are only in our heads, and most likely will never materialize.
Most people have the misconception that meditation only involves Buddhist monks in orange robes sitting quietly all day. Yes, some of them do just that, but everyone can practice meditation and share the benefits of it without having to spend all of their waking hours searching for enlightenment.
There is so much going on in today’s society that we all have something to think about all the time. It is very rare to have a moment in our busy days when we have a clear mind, when we can put all of our thoughts aside for a moment, and just be content with ourselves. Because of this, we preoccupy our mind with an endless number of thoughts, and when we are not thinking about one thing, we start wondering about something else.
The act of meditation will help you clear your mind for a moment so you can truly relax and experience a deeper connection with yourself. You can do it anytime and anywhere. It is a good habit to build, even if it is for just 10 minutes every morning.
Meditation is said to make us happier, as it reduces stress and anxiety caused by today’s hectic lifestyle. It might be a little weird the first few times you try it, but as with everything in life, the more your practice it, the easier and more familiar it will become. Try sitting in a comfortable position for a couple of minutes and count your breaths in and out. Don’t think about erasing all thoughts in your mind. Just let your mind wander freely, and when thoughts come to you, focus back on your breathing and let them go. This is the most simplistic form of meditation, and the easiest to follow.
12 – Find Your Own Self and Be Proud of It
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
As humans, we enjoy being recognized and liked by other people. This is why it’s always a good idea to keep close ties with family and friends, because they appreciate us for who we really are. This only becomes a problem when we start craving attention from people we don’t even know, and search for ways to impress them. Our world has become increasingly materialistic, and the media helps to sell these ideas, making it hard for us to find and develop our own personalities.
Society is always telling us how we should live, how to act, what to wear and so on. We are told this by everyone around us, oftentimes agreeing with all of it in order to fit in. All so at the end of the day, we can be like everyone else. But do you believe we can find true happiness when we give up who we truly are in order to please others? If you want to live differently – you need to act differently.
In today’s interconnected world, it is harder to find a true identity due to the fact that we want to be liked by everyone we know, and even those we don’t know. But if you live your life in order to be liked by others, chances are you might be giving up on many of the things that truly bring you joy and happiness.
Finding Your True Self
It’s quite likely that your personality and identity will change at different points in life. While we do keep many different traits from early on in life, many of the things that shape our personalities change throughout the years. What’s important is to always search for our true self-identity, and be proud of it no matter what, or regardless of what others might say. After all, if people around you like you because of what you have, or because you always try to please them, those aren’t people you want around in your life, anyway.
As we get older we discover many new things about ourselves. We might start enjoying new activities, different kinds of music, new ways of thinking, and many other things. Your true friends will understand your new passions, and maybe join you on some of them. What’s even better is that there are millions of people out there with whom you can share your new interests. Don’t be afraid to pursue anything that brings joy into your life. Only the things you decide can make you happy. If you live a life for others, you will never find true happiness.
Our personalities are based on millions of things, from the way we speak to the way we dress, and so on. Make sure you are always comfortable with who you are. Don’t pretend to be something you are not just to satisfy someone else, or society as a whole. Your own uniqueness is what makes you great. If we all tried to blend in with what society expects of us, life would be very boring. Try to always improve yourself. Be a better version of your past self. Compete with yourself from last year to be better this year, and even better next year. But try to never compare your life with that of others. What we see on the surface might be very different from what they feel inside.
Once you define your own identity, you’ll find out that it is much easier to go on with life, and enjoy the things you love. Once you feel good about yourself, you’ll soon find out that it will be much easier to feel good about others as well. There is nothing better than getting to know someone who is really authentic and true to themselves.
In the process of finding your own identity, you will discover that many of your feelings and beliefs differ from those of others, and even from your own earlier ideas. Ask yourself if your beliefs are based on your own experiences, or based upon what you been told. Where did your beliefs originate? Family, school, society? Do you still agree with them? And what are the reasons for agreeing or disagreeing with these ideals?
Based on your findings, you will be able to determine whether your personality has been shaped by the way you were told to act, or due to your own self-discovery.
Happy people are always spontaneous and real; they say what they truly think and feel, and are not very concerned of what others think of them.
A Tale of My Own
It is only in the last few years that I have truly discovered my own identity and started to pursue all of my dreams without having to worry what others think of them. As a result, I have found even deeper relationships with my family and close friends now that I don’t try to please everyone around me. The moment I let go of all prejudices about how I should live my life, and actually started doing and living the way I wanted, I found that it’s much easier to find happiness in my daily life. Nowadays, I don’t try to fit in anywhere. I don’t try to seek anyone’s approval. I’m myself 100% of the time. If someone is interested in talking to me and offering a friendship based on who I really am, great! If not, then this is probably someone I don’t want around in my life, anyway.
It is normal for us to still be persuaded by society to act a certain way in different situations, but as long as our core values and personality never change, we won’t have to worry so much about the world around us.
At the end of the day, living a life true to our own desires and ourselves is the only way we can genuinely experience fulfillment and happiness. Be comfortable in your own skin. Be true to yourself, and try to never live by what society expects of you, but by what you expect out of life.
It makes me happy that you have made it all the way here. Chances are some of the chapters in this book have given you some ideas or inspiration on how to start living a happier life. Make it your life’s goal to enjoy every single moment on this earth. By changing your perspective and living a life of joy, you will be able to share this happiness with everyone around you, making the world a better place for all of us.
Finally, what does true happiness look like? It definitely varies from person to person, but happiness presents itself in many different ways. Joy and happiness can be distilled down and defined by your ability to wake up feeling good about your life every day. Happiness helps you find joy in every moment in life, no matter how small they are. Happiness will help you see the bright side of every moment, and not let little things get in the way of your happiness. Happiness will most likely bring you closer to your family and friends, maybe making some new ones along the way, and in some mysterious ways will bring you closer to your dreams.
It’s your choice. You have the power, and you can decide from this point forward to start living happier.
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Happiness has long been one of my passions: how to find it, what causes it and how to ultimately live a life full of joy. While having the privilege of growing up in two very distinct cultures, in Colombia and the U.S., and traveling to over 20 countries, I’ve been able to discover some of the traits that make people happy.
An entrepreneur at heart, I’ve worked my way from making empanadas in high school to working remotely in Asia, doing what I love. Having gone down the road of a typical lifestyle – go to college, get a job, get in debt to buy things I don’t need, and working hard to pay the bills – I’m very happy to have discovered early in life that happiness lies deep inside of us.
One of my biggest goals in life is to help anyone I meet along the way to find more happiness in their lives. This might include coming up with new ideas on how to reduce debt, making more money on a side-business, traveling and more.
I currently work in the field of Online Marketing & Web Design.
You can get in touch with me at www.wonderliv.com or www.alldigitalmedia.com
(4) – http://www.apa.org/research/action/sleep-deprivation.aspx
Happy Thoughts – Happy Life