How to Read This Book You have more than one option.
You can decide to read it - or some of it - in an hour or two.
You can then put it away like many other books you have read in the past and probably retain
about 3% of the information.
That's the typical way of reading a book.
The second option is to read it twice - cover to cover - and then put it away.
Statistically, you may then retain up to 15% of the information.
Not a bad option.
Alternatively, you could add it to your daily reading.
Start your day by selecting one page, and convert its message into a personal commitment.
In this way, the information will rub off on your behaviour and the principles will
gradually become part of your thinking.
This option is for people who are serious about their happiness.
The final option is to include elements from the book in your monthly planning process.
This will ensure that the information converts into practical priorities in your day-to-day
pattern of living.
This is first prize!
We suggest that you make the most of this book by considering all four options.
First, read it, read it again, continue reading it in a snippety, piecemeal way, and then
assimilate the principles you've acquired into your life.
Convert the content into a customised happiness manual.
Your happiness is important enough to do it in this way.
Choose to affect the rest of your life positively.
And by the way, take notes and capture your thinking and mark what's important to you
along the way.
The principles covered in this book are for the young and the old, and for people of all
cultures, religions, and genders.
Happiness is an 'any-time-in-your-life' prospect, a 'whoever-you-are' opportunity, a 'doesn't-matter-where-you-come-from'
If you are willing to open your mind to the idea of happiness and to do what it takes,
you may pleasantly surprise yourself.
The layout of the book is simple.
The first three chapters consist of a clear look at how happiness is perceived, what it
really is, and what unhappiness looks like.
In Chapter 4, we offer you a collection of carefully selected practical prompts to help
you apply the theory of happiness to your life.
This is the most important part of the book - trust the content.
And in Chapter 5, we summarize it all in a final few words of encouragement.
Make the most of it.
Don't look for perfection, look for value.
THE SEARCH FOR HAPPINESS What is happiness?
What causes it?
How do you hold onto it?
What makes it go away?
These are questions that led to many philosophical debates, over literally thousands of years.
The philosophers of Greece were famous for their quest to define the pillars of 'the
Faith-based movements have painstakingly crafted dogmas and prescribed behaviours in pursuit
of ultimate peace and joy.
Academic studies have been concentrated on finding the answer to 'the optimal life experience'.
Generations of national governments have professed to craft policies in promotion of the overall
wellbeing of their citizens.
And many ordinary dinner table discussions are, at heart, dialogues in search of a happy
Definitions and suggestions of what happiness is differ widely.
It is a subject that lends itself to intense subjectivity.
Some definitions are very specific, some open-ended.
Some are heavily influenced by immediate circumstances.
Others are influenced by esoteric points of departure.
Many definitions are spiritually loaded, others more pragmatic.
And some defenders of these different viewpoints are quite 'unhappy' when you voice an opinion
that may differ from theirs.
A conversation about happiness frequently ends in a stalemate.
Pinning down a generally accepted definition in any non-exact field, especially one with
such an emotional flavour, is never easy.
Despite different viewpoints, everyone seems to agree that it is important to be happy.
In fact, we think it is fair to presume that the pursuit of happiness is our most fundamental
WHAT IS YOUR DEFINITION OF HAPPINESS?
The aim of this book is not to push a specific definition of happiness.
Our goal is to try and present you with valuable insights and create the private intellectual
space for you to consider the subject of personal happiness, and of course to try and convince
you that happiness is within your reach.
It consequently makes sense to start off by revisiting your personal definition of happiness.
If someone asks you today to explain the ingredients of happiness, how would your explanation go?
What would you identify as the foundation for sustainable contentment?
How would you explain it to a child-even better, to your own child?
Sit back and think about it for a good few minutes.
Write down the key concepts and words you would use in your first go at such a definition.
Don't rush it; it's an important personal entry into the subject.
Keep this first basic explanation and list of key words in your head until you have finished
The idea is to adjust this definition when and if you gain different insights from this
book, or from your own subsequent reflection on the topic.
Ideally, you should conclude this journey by defining happiness along the principles
you would like to apply to your own life.
Do you agree that it's not that simple to give a clear-cut definition of what happiness
And even if you take a stab at it, you aren't too convinced that your definition is a complete
You also probably realize it will differ from someone else's definition and you understand
that the longer you ponder and work on it, the more your views may evolve?
It's a tough nut to crack, this 'science of bliss', even for those of us who aced all
those other difficult exams!
Don't worry, it's common.
Nobody has ever sat us down in a classroom-or even in our own living rooms as kids-and talked
us through such a definition.
We have been taught a million other 'how-to' formulas in many other fields.
Yet no-one has ever guided us to understand the full meaning of happiness and its roots,
nor taught us how to attain it, not in Western doctrines anyway.
Most people from our 'clan' therefore struggle to give a conclusive definition, however bright
they may be in other 'subjects'.
Opinions differ widely and descriptions are often vague.
Many of us actually have more questions than answers on the enquiry of what happiness is.
THE GENERAL PERCEPTION Research shows that most people view happiness
as the result of something exceptional that should happen to them.
They believe happiness is an external phenomenon that crosses your path and changes your life
for the better.
Many of the run-of-the-mill definitions of personal happiness are consequently linked
to a name, place, date, event, or quantity- all phenomena that may cause some form of
pleasure, comfort, or novelty value.
In other words, something that gives you an 'emotional kick' or immediate relief of some
People mostly tend to describe happiness in the form of 'nouns'; something you can touch,
look at, show off, experience, refer to, remember, arrive at or calculate.
Something you can push in a shopping trolley, someone in the passenger seat, a street address,
an amount on a bank statement...
It's time to check your initial definition.
Are some of these magic external influences included in your view of happiness as well?
Do you also believe happiness is something 'out there' that may happen to you?
Take a few seconds to circle the 'nouns' in your definition.
Don't judge yourself while doing it; just quietly reflect upon your initial view.
When we take a closer look at the typical ways in which people define happiness, the
'nouns' we pick up in the descriptions all have an identical function.
They act as 'if-then' assurances - imaginary triggers underpinning a promise to uplifting
"If this or that happens, I will be happy", this proposition of happiness goes.
People typically regard these 'nouns' as stimuli that will trigger some form of change in their
personal circumstances, which should, they believe, cause a permanent modification in
the way they feel about, experience, and view life.
And this 'if-then' chain reaction, they presume, will culminate in a magic breakthrough called
Broadly speaking, this approach to happiness leaves you convinced that happiness:
...comes from 'the world' in some form or another.
...is in 'another time.'
...happens because of 'other people.'
A word or two on each of these popular convictions:
HAPPINESS COMES FROM 'THE WORLD' This quest for happiness leads many people
to become eternal 'treasure hunters' in the big, wide world.
They frantically seek the secret door to happiness in some idyllic set of circumstances.
They are forever on a mission to discover their fortune of happiness - a sensation of
some sort, hidden out there somewhere, waiting to be unearthed.
People who believe the treasure of happiness is to be received from 'the world' usually
have a considerable fascination with wealth.
They admire the rich and famous and passionately idealise their lifestyles, even though they
may witness many well-off miserable people every day.
They calculate their potential happiness level and they are able to instantly attach a currency
value to it.
For them, the answer is simple: affluence holds the key to happiness.
They are hooked by the belief that happiness grows, dollar by dollar, in linear fashion.
They have settled for a simple philosophy: the more you have, the more you are.
They live one long daydream of having more purchasing power.
Ironically, these dreams continue even after they have attained material wealth.
Once bitten by this craving, 'more' never really turns into 'enough'.
Their jar of happiness has no lid.
This obsession with economic happiness often leads people to indulge in fairly irrational
For instance, many become terminal over spenders and forever buckle under excessive debt - actually
impoverishing themselves in an effort to feel and look rich!
Others work themselves to death- subconsciously deciding to compromise their personal wellness
or familial relationships to answer the call for more 'happiness currency'.
Others pin their hopes on chance or gambling, or take undue business or career risks to
become wealthy sooner.
Some even decide upon an all-or-nothing approach, and steal, smuggle, or defraud to quell this
desire to 'have more'.
There are many dishonest wealthy people, many others forever flying close to the sun as
a result of this compulsion to have more.
A final note to this 'wealth brings happiness' philosophy: Money is not the guilty party
in all of this.
Monetary means can in fact be valuable and many wealthy people are happy and valued contributors
to society's wellbeing.
The problem arises when money is viewed and pursued as a stand-in for true happiness.
People who believe happiness comes 'from the world' often also falsely believe it originates
We may argue that it is related to the fascination with wealth, and sometimes it is.
However, in essence it is about power, or an elevated position, in whatever form - whether
related to riches or not.
It is about enjoying a standing of relative authority- albeit only in appearance or title.
Some even do their utmost to marry into it, study themselves into it, campaign for it,
or again, slavishly work themselves into it.
"While trying to find yourself in things, you may end up losing yourself in things."
- Eckhart Tolle In searching for status, organisational or
political pedestals come as important psychological benefits.
They symbolise 'importance'.
That is why status-hunters often envision an important corporate position or public
title as a pivotal happiness trigger.
To secure this sensation of emotional reassurance, people may even damage others' wellbeing,
subliminally or explicitly, when they perceive them a threat to their own pursuit for professional
When looking further afield for a happiness trigger 'from the world', people often settle
on a demographic solution.
They believe they will arrive at joy when they change their location, because it's not
where they're living now.
They are restless and are always ready to pack up and go.
A different place will do it for them.
For this nomadic group of happiness chasers, the castle in the air may be a dwelling in
a different neighbourhood (normally upmarket).
Others are on the lookout for a view of a mountain or the sound of waves breaking in
the distance, or deafening silence at night, maybe the call of a fish eagle, all for happiness
For some people in this frame of mind, there is often no alternative route to imaginary
happiness, but to pack up and move to a different country.
They believe happiness starts the moment the containers have been emptied.
A last example of happiness originating 'from the world': There are people who are on a
constant mission to improve their physical appearance, as they are convinced that good
looks and youthfulness holds the key to a happier life.
They push the boundaries of fashion and pretense, and often go far beyond simply 'looking decent'.
In fact, the promise of attractiveness and beauty, in whatever form, has resulted in
the formation of huge industries!
Nip-and-tuck surgeries, hair boutiques, designer clothing, trophy restaurants, you name it...
All are thriving on the obsession to 'appear' in charge, because it will spill over in happiness.
Again, there is nothing wrong with caring for yourself and your appearance.
The problem is in the 'if-then' happiness equation that may be attached to it, in the
belief that a superior projection of yourself will unlock sustained bliss, and that happiness
can be found in a 'makeover'.
And so, people scrutinise 'the world' day in and day out, imagining or pursuing perceived
conditions of happiness.
We've touched on only a handful of instances; there are many more 'from the world' examples.
What is your take on this view of happiness?
Do you target a form of 'access' to bliss, an object that will unveil it, or an altered
situation 'out there' as your guarantee to happiness?
Do you believe an impulse from 'the world' holds the key to sustained contentment?
Do you wait for happiness to 'arrive' ? HAPPINESS Is IN ANOTHER TIME
The second 'if-then' experience people often target for a happiness response is 'a change
Many people believe happiness is wrapped up in the passing or reversing of their present.
They are time travelling day in and day out, dreaming of another era of their lives- one
to come, or one gone by.
This view of happiness may usually make people spend a lot of their present in an imaginary
One day, they believe, happiness will descend upon them.
They are 'when-this-is-over' happiness hunters.
They are forever longing for a futuristic knight of happiness to gallop into their lives
and liberate them from the present.
They imagine 'the happiest day of my life' without end.
For them, happiness is always something to await, a future landmark, an 'as-soon-as'
time zone, the spell after this.
Their present is a mere stepping-stone, an exercise in day-dreaming.
Many people extend this definition of happiness even beyond their own lifetimes.
Whatever the religious persuasion, tradition, or spirituality they base their view on; 'eternity'
or the 'hereafter' is seen as the true door to happiness, the only time they look forward
For those who harbour this mindset, life on earth is a mere temporary nuisance to overcome,
in preparation for real happiness.
Along a similar vein, some happiness time travellers also spend a lot of time in the
past, finding consolation in what used to be.
Even more so if they gave up on their future.
They never-endingly glance over their shoulder.
The good old days offer them an escape from present realities, and they relive parts of
their lives over and over again.
They are often so in love with their past that they even refer to difficult times gone
by with nostalgia - anything is better than the present!
"The happy have whole days And those they choose.
The unhappy have but hours And those they lose."
For some of these 'happiness historians', the opposite also often occurs.
They spend a lifetime trying to undo past events and decisions, because such a self-generated
memory correction, they believe, will be the stimulus to happiness.
If they can slice away certain recollections and bleach the past from memory, a door to
a second chance, called happiness, will open.
They keep their present occupied with the most disempowering quest possible - trying
to reset the past.
Do you desire to escape the present?
Do you time-travel to find happiness?
Are your days consumed by dreams of 'another time'?
Do you realize that tomorrow will be another 'today' when you get there?
Are you aware that there is no door to your past?
Do you spend a lot of time where you cannot be?
HAPPINESS HAPPENS BECAUSE OF OTHER PEOPLE The third mirage of happiness that some gaze
towards is other people.
This belief is linked to three simple words when happiness is defined:
she, they, and he.
This belief boils down to this: 'My happiness is in someone else's hands'.
Happiness has feet, hands and a voice - and enters through a door, they believe.
People with this mindset are inclined to see the seed of their happiness in what other
people can do for or to them, or in what missing dimension these outsiders carry into their
They therefore also tend to blame others and use them as excuses for their lack of happiness
- or are envious of what they perceive others to be, to have or to withhold from them.
Their happiness descriptors always refer to someone else.
The narratives of their lives are scripts with many actors.
At the most intimate level, many people seek happiness in or through a life partner.
They believe that another person holds the key to living happily ever after.
They idealise the perfect partner from an early age and enter such a relationship with
amazingly lofty expectations for happiness.
Paradoxically, for those who enter this relationship unhappy, this partner then often also becomes
the object of their unhappiness.
When two people don't 'discover' happiness in their life partnership, one or both may
bargain on a child to instil happiness in their lives.
So often, people place their responsibility to be happy on an innocent infant.
11A baby will solve our relationship's inability to bring us happiness", they believe.
They in effect transfer the responsibility of two adults to create their own happiness
to a baby.
Eventually this effort only creates a third unhappy person - the child.
When hiccups occur between life partners, those who believe happiness comes from others
often opt for adultery in the hope that a third party will be the escape door to happiness.
They naively believe that a lover or a next life partner will solve the crisis.
They continue to look for happiness in an 'other half'.
Excessive reliance on friends and family also play an important role in the definition of
happiness for those who have an intensified bias to link other people to their happiness.
They tend to develop demanding social relations for all the wrong reasons, based on the inclination
that any family member or friend has the right to the intimate zones of their lives.
They are often heavily dependent on the acceptance and recognition- even the intriguing bickering-
that may result from this self-enforced sense of belonging.
Ironically, they give these people access to their lives, then eventually blame them
for their unhappiness.
"Happiness grows at our own firesides, and is not to be picked in strangers' gardens."
- Douglas Jerrold
For many people, an employer holds a very important key to their personal happiness.
Security is crucial to most people, understandably so, and most of them see an employer as the
ultimate guardian of their security- and therefore, of their happiness.
Many people are also heavily dependent on the social dynamics of the workplace and depend
on this for a happiness stimulus, however dysfunctional the results often turn out to
The place of work, for them, is much more than a source of income.
And then, people have an astonishing expectation towards government to guarantee a certain
level of personal happiness.
They view their government as this mythical provider and ultimate source of security and
Just listen to conversations around you, how 'unhappy' some people are about what their
government has done to them or hasn't done for them.
A government is a perfect punching bag for many unhappy people- any form of 'authority'
is the ultimate crutch.
A last example - the seekers of people-focused happiness often idealise personal icons, constantly
imagining themselves into someone else's
position, whether physically, economically, socially or whatever other feature of someone
'of note' they aspire to.
We frequently hear people say, "I wish I were more like him", or "If only I could be in
her shoes", and "They are so lucky".
This category of happiness seekers longs to switch places with someone else, drive someone
else's car, have someone else's kids, earn someone else's money... all to fill a void.
This tendency to idealise also leaves them on the lookout for 'gurus', someone with all
the magic answers, someone with the power to come and turn their lives around.
Where do you position yourself in this people-focused happiness domain?
Are relationships a constructive element of your life, or are you looking out for happiness
in the form of another person?
How balanced is your dependence on people?
Do you bargain on someone else to do for you what you should be doing for yourself?
This, in short, is the lens through which the majority of people, either explicitly
or implicitly, tend to view happiness.
They see it as the result of an external influence, imagining how 'something, someone, or sometime'
will change their lives for the better.
They are essentially outsourcing their happiness, waiting for it to happen to them from the
The fundamental flaw in searching for happiness 'out there' lies in confusing pleasure for
This basic misperception leads to the belief that happiness is either a once-in-a-lifetime
delight, or the compound effect of many pleasurable experiences.
There is, of course, a place for pleasure.
In fact, pleasurable moments and uplifting experiences are the spice of life.
Make sure that you fully enjoy the ones you choose.
Just understand that their effect wears off: pleasure cannot be hoarded and then called
True happiness is not a derived outcome of the swings in a 'pendulum of pleasure'.
Happiness is the quality of the base on which the pendulum is mounted.
It is not the reward of constant that-instead-of-this victories, but an overall rhythm in the way
you live your life- a rhythm that applies in any context you find yourself, pleasurable
Although the 'if-then' notions of happiness are dominant and loud out there, the truth
is that genuine happiness is a 'now-and-here' skill.
It is the by-product of a specific way of living your life.
It's not on the horizon, it's under your feet - not to be found 'up there', but 'down here'.
It's not dessert, it's the meal!
Revisit your original beliefs about happiness again - those first thoughts you wrote down.
Are your initial perceptions about happiness associated with enough 'now-and-here' ideas
to your liking?
How big is the shift you need to make in your definition to move your personal happiness
from 'out there' to 'in here'?
"The happiest people seem to be those who have no particular cause for being happy except
that they are so."
- William Ralph Inge
What traits are shared by happy people?
In other words, if happiness is the offshoot of a pattern of conduct and not simply an
assortment of 'highs', what are the underlying features to the pattern?
All our research, interactions, and observations have led us to conclude that happy people
share nine common qualities: 1.
They think in a different way.
They assume full accountability for their circumstances.
They enjoy simple things more.
They own up to their future.
They are passionately engaged in what they do for a living.
They invest in their overall wellness.
They have constructive relationships.
They harness an optimistic world view.
They accept that happiness is a day-to-day effort.
You may get the 'chicken and egg' feeling when you look at the list.
Is this what happy people do, you may ask, or is this what people do to be happy?
The truth is that it's a fair portion of both.
Applying these principles in your life feeds happiness, but they also come easier for people
who commit to their own happiness.
It doesn't really matter which comes first; what does matter is that these principles
are embedded in the lives of people who are happy with who they are and with the lives
they have chosen to live.
Let's pause for a moment and briefly reflect upon each of these happiness traits.
HAPPY PEOPLE THINK IN A DIFFERENT WAY Happy people view life through a productive
The general way in which they give meaning to every-day information and events is not
tarnished by fantasies of personal threats or portrayals of what is amiss.
They empower themselves with an enabling perspective on matters instead of settling for the 'downside'.
They seek true answers and support lasting solutions, even though it may not be 'their'
answer or solution.
The ancestor of every action in your life is a thought.
How we think is how our lives work out.
Over time, our reality mirrors the way in which we choose to make sense of life.
We structure our lives in our heads.
Happy people often appear to be fortunate.
However, when you examine the pattern according to which they decode life, you realise their
good fortune starts in their minds.
They live more harmonious lives because they don't think in contradictory or conflicting
The lens through which they define life isn't scratched.
They don't burden their minds with a hunger for superiority, but instead seek new information,
accommodate differing opinions, and consider alternative suggestions.
They aren't 'at war' with life or set in their own ideas of 'how things should work'.
“Guard over your thinking, for it becomes actions.
Your actions slowly turn into habits.
Over time, your habits shape your character.
And in the end, your character becomes your destiny.
If you want to change your destiny, change your thinking."
The way in which we consider and work with information in our minds influences both the
visible and invisible quality of our energy.
The energy we carry originates in our heads.
Happy people are energy-rich.
They subject their anxieties to the authority of reason, oppose them through a spirit of
compromise, and diminish them by living in peace.
It allows them ease of progress in every endeavor, and they naturally do what should be done
without the energy erosion accompanied by inner resistance and panic.
They have an ability to accept objective solutions, as their assumptions are prejudice-lite.
Happy people are for solutions instead of being against problems.
Their power is stable and abundant because they don’t interpret life as a place of
Their welcoming disposition towards life affords them a remarkable sense of freedom and inner
How productive is the nature of attention you give to life?
Does your appraisal of the world energize or drain you (and others)?
How many 'enemies' do you visualize 'out there', enemies who may actually be friends in the
Are you open to new information and learning, or are your subjective positions blocking
How dramatic is the movie playing out in your head?
HAPPY PEOPLE ASSUME FULL ACCOUNTABILITY FOR THEIR CIRCUMSTANCES
Happy people don't live in a protective bubble -they share the 'winters and summers' of life
with all other mortals.
They live under the same circumstances as less happy people - but choose to behave differently
towards the ups and downs they weather.
Happy people take charge of their circumstances.
They refuse to be imprisoned by what happens to or around them.
It seems much easier for them to counter the negative effects of unfriendly conditions,
while they display the habit of making the most of favorable circumstances.
All this simply because of an orientation towards life.
They don't rent their lives, they own them, under all circumstances.
And their ownership
extends to the cause, effect, and solution of an affair.
Research shows that circumstances can indeed play a role in a person's overall happiness
level, but that circumstantial adjustments are seriously overrated in terms of their
impact on our long-term happiness.
While it is true that relief from extreme :financial hardship, relationship problems,
physical pain or environmental discomfort can have a notable effect on a person's absolute
level of happiness, various studies have concluded that non-extreme, everyday situations don't
account for more than about 10% of the variations in people's happiness levels.
Our circumstances will always vary and always introduce unexpected moments.
But if we really want to, we can easily manage most circumstances.
Happy people believe this, and show they do by taking charge of the part they can control
Happy and unhappy people ask different questions when an undesirable thing happens to them.
Happy people ask, “What am I going to do about this?” and “How am I going to prevent
this from happening again?”
Unhappy people ask, “Why does this always happen to me?” or “Who is to blame for
In essence, happy people are willing to employ the power of choice and ownership, while unhappy
people opt for a sense of victimisation.
Happy people work with life as it is, not as they wished it were.
All in all, our circumstances don't determine the reality of our life experience - our attitude
towards them does.
If you have cynical, pacifying, or inhibiting thoughts about your circumstances, your reality
will be negative.
It has been said that the only difference between a weed and a flower is a judgement.
Life is a flower for some and a weed for others - because of their attitudes towards it.
Attitude is a mental orientation.
It can support or obstruct you.
Every thought about your circumstances you consciously confirm to be true will multiply.
Such a thought becomes a belief.
The story of your life portrays these beliefs as they shape new consequences.
When you change your pattern of attachment to circumstances, you gradually change this
mental construction, and you lay a new foundation for how to manage and shape your conditions.
It's a choice that offers freedom, but also a choice that needs to be backed energetically.
Circumstances may originate externally - the extent of their effect on us is an internal
How well do you manage circumstances and changes in your context?
Do they overwhelm you time and again, or do you choose to manage them actively?
Do you make things bigger than they are?
Are you a victim, or are you an owner of the conditions surrounding your life?
HAPPY PEOPLE ENJOY SIMPLE THINGS MORE Happy people pay attention to life in a particular
way, interacting with it through all their senses.
They see more in a flower, and pause to smell it.
They embrace humid sunsets as well as windy, rainy days.
Tasting is still an important part of eating for them.
They still have the capacity to ask a child an honest question- and hear the answer.
Their array of small, practical joys is seemingly endless.
They instinctively embrace the enormity of the gift of life by pausing at all the tiny
wonders, every day.
If you don't make time and create stillness to consciously observe and experience these
wonders of life, your life experience becomes shallow and you tend to be vulnerable to every
threat, however superficial or imaginary.
You run on empty, all the time.
If you don't stop and frequently acknowledge all the tiny-yet-superior dimensions of life,
and make time to experience them, your soul shrinks and your 'needs' will dominate your
Life offers its fullness to us every day, yet so many of us opt for emotional starvation.
Happy people nurture the habit of fully experiencing the content of their every-day reality and
inquisitively finding the nuggets of positive influence in that reality.
This enjoyment of the bits of beauty and awareness of the small treasures fuels a special form
of gratitude - deep, consistent appreciation.
Gratitude is probably the single most telling characteristic of happiness, as the ability
to unconditionally appreciate something is the ultimate counter-force to those monstrous
human self-destructors – anger, arrogance, desire, indifference, regret, resentment and
Gratitude is the most unselfish form of love.
It represents a mindfulness beyond guilt or indebtedness.
It presents unsought gifts of serenity, unveils grace in moments of pain.
It gently enforces perspective and humility.
No form of fear can hold its own when confronted with true gratitude.
It empowers, beyond imagination.
It is the parent of all other virtues.
Happy people are grateful people.
They need less because they experience abundance.
If you decide to forget everything you have read in this book, remember this sentence:
APPRECIATE compulsively, learn to derive more joy from simple delights - and you will be
in touch with real happiness, every moment.
Are you aware of the treasures around you and in your life?
Do you make time to ponder at and enjoy life's generous gifts?
How relevant are your needs?
Do you actively practise gratitude?
HAPPY PEOPLE OWN UP To THEIR FUTURE Happy people take ownership of every situation
they are in; they take charge of their future.
They accept that at the start of every year, every month, every week, every day - their
lives are a clean trail in the snow, and they decide how and where they will leave their
They don't opt for helplessness, and don't settle for the belief that one's future is
They are deeply aware of the fact that life is not a rehearsal, so they choose carefully,
actively, and continuously when they allocate their effort.
Happy people refuse to live by chance.
They take focused, decisive, and constructive steps to realize their plans.
They accept that these steps don't always guarantee or lead to the perfect outcome,
but they nonetheless hold themselves to a philosophy that 'decisiveness guarantees progress'.
Again, remember that happy people don't spend their days nestled between lilywhite cotton
They live real lives under real circumstances.
But they suffer much less, because they prevent many things from going wrong through strong,
They adjust to new conditions, and when necessary, even create them.
They change what they can.
They influence outcomes.
They are open-minded yet strong-willed in their approach to their future.
How do they do it?
First, they make planning a priority in their lives.
They devote ample time to it as a scheduled routine, and build supportive processes around
Their agenda consists of four main headings, in a specific order: Personal Wellness, Family
Sturdiness, Professional Progress and Wider Community Joy.
This covers all the bases of their lives, and reflects the pattern of a constructive
life plan- starting with oneself.
Secondly, they are very clear about the nature of their journey.
They know what their purpose in life is, and have defined their inspirations and aspirations
They live according to a chosen set of principles, which prevents them from being distracted
by surface solutions, quick fixes, or other people's lives.
They are even willing to revisit their values, beliefs, and assumptions about life if the
facts upon which they based them have changed, or if their insights have matured.
Thirdly, happy people set constructive goals for themselves, personally and professionally.
They are clear about their goals, which enables them to set priorities.
Their days, consequently, are characterized by simplicity and directional savvy, because
they know what to keep in focus, which tasks are secondary, and what to let go.
Their diaries mirror their priorities.
A life marked by ownership, planning, and priorities enjoys a huge happiness advantage.
It gives personal meaning to the activity of living.
It allows you the joy of completion and accomplishment.
It limits waste.
Do you make dynamic decisions about the quality of your future- or are you waiting for the
future to 'happen to you'?
Are you on course in all facets of your life?
Do you set aside the time to plan?
Are you a responsible guardian of your own life?
"There are two ways to live your life.
One is as though nothing is a miracle.
The other is as if everything is a miracle."
- Albert Einstein 5.
HAPPY PEOPLE ARE PASSIONATELY ENGAGED IN WHAT THEY DO FOR A LIVING
Happy people fully embrace whatever they choose to do.
When they are on holiday, they are fully there.
When they read, they take in every ounce of information.
When they practise their faith, they reorient their spirits for optimal growth.
When they choose to retire, they fill the freedom with joyful content.
When they listen to music, they hear every note and nuance.
Full engagement is a practice of passion.
It is rooted in an excitement to be alive.
Happy people draw no obvious distinction between their work and their play; they always appear
to be doing both.
They enjoy their lives, even when they are busy earning their living; they don' t spend
their working lives 'slaving away ' at a profession they resent.
They are clear about their own path of value creation instead of chasing after the dreams
of others or imitating someone else's skills.
Happy people respect and play to their strengths and allow aspirations associated to those
strengths to shape their potential.
Obviously, it takes courage to do what you love for a living - or to reshape what you
do until it inspires you.
You need a strong will to lend your career the magic combination of heart, skill, and
intent, instead of simply 'doing a job' or 'showing up' every day.
You need a lot of self-motivation to professionally practise what you believe in.
"Most people are other people.
Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation."
- Oscar Wilde
Happy people show courage.
They build their careers around a personal quest - a journey that captures their attention
They allow their intrinsic fields of fascination to become real-life experiences.
And this engagement in their 'tasks of will' leaves them with an abundance of energy which
empowers them to become great at what they do and allows them an 'unfair' competitive
Their souls are on fire when they work!
Do you make the most of every engagement you decide upon?
Are you energized by the challenges of your professional field?
Have you given yourself permission to be in love with life?
Do you show the courage to make changes to the content of your job until it fits your
Are you on a professional mission with personal significance?
Are you wholly engaged?
HAPPY PEOPLE INVEST IN THEIR OVERALL WELLNESS Happy people take care of themselves.
They treasure the gift of life and accept responsibility for their own wellbeing.
Happy people care for their physical health.
Although numerous studies have shown that people with disabilities and chronic illnesses
can also be content and at peace as well, your body remains your central control system.
It's the head office of your life!
It's so much better to assist it to assist you.
Without energy or with pain and discomfort, life is simply 'less easy'.
Happy people normally stick to a simple health regime.
First, they are conscious about what they consume.
They hold themselves to a balanced diet rich in natural immune boosters, they drink at
least seven glasses of water a day, they limit the intake of animal fat, refined carbohydrates,
and simple sugars, and they avoid smoking and the use of other harmful drugs and substances.
Second, they get ample exercise.
They understand that exercise produces endorphins that sooth the brain and energise the body.
That fitness strengthens our immune system, protects our cardiovascular network, and keeps
our frame intact.
Thirdly, they sleep well.
They understand the importance of recovery in a hostile world - in which many modern
ailments can be linked to reduced immunity flowing from our habit of 'under-sleeping'.
Happy people also take care of their spiritual growth.
They afford themselves a purpose to their lives - a quest with personal meaning through
which they make a real difference, every day.
They nurture their souls by surrounding themselves with constructive people and a positive personal
They choose simplicity and avoid boredom.
They embrace light heartedness.
Happy people make time to silently reflect on the good things in life.
They harness the peace encapsulated in inner completeness, whether practicing it through
meditation, prayer, or traditional rituals, regularly allowing their 'minds to come home'.
A happy spirit normally contributes to a happy body.
Happy people also ensure that they continue to invest in their intellectual capacity.
They respect the fact that our cognitive abilities can be sculpted by intent.
They realize that our brain is constantly changing - and changeable - and that strengthening
it takes mindful effort.
Our brain is an integral part of our physicality, which means 'what's good for your body is
good for your brain', and of course 'what is good for the brain also serves the body'.
Happy people nurture their intelligence by retaining their curiosity and inviting new
information and unfamiliar learning into their lives.
They often teach, create, converse, or write - which compels them to challenge their synaptic
connections through the process of reflective fermentation of existing information.
Finally, happy people attend to their personal financial wellbeing.
They hold themselves to simple principles and
time-tested realities: They spend less than they earn, and so limit their lifetime cost
They aren't obsessed with symbols of wealth, and therefore waste less money.
They don't compete with their neighbors, which makes it easier for them to save.
They focus on their primary competency, which allows them to earn a good income.
They invest in the happiness of their family, and so shape secure, 'inexpensive' children.
They have realistic expectations when they invest their savings, and therefore earn better
long-term returns on their assets.
They plan their retirement, and in doing so, achieve financial independence.
They don't make enemies, which keeps them out of expensive disagreements.
And they don't fall victim to crises because they plan well and so prevent many setbacks.
Do you actively invest in your wellness?
Do you consciously nurture all the components and dimensions of your life?
Do you neglect yourself because you suffer from a false moral dilemma, believing that
caring for yourself is 'selfish'?
Are you serious enough about preserving the multi-faceted life you have been blessed with?
Do you believe prevention is better than cure?
HAPPY PEOPLE HAVE CONSTRUCTIVE RELATIONSHIPS To be happy, it is important to get along
A life of social harmony makes the journey much lighter.
Before engaging others and spending their effort on strangers, happy people are firstly
aware of the importance of being their own best friends.
They are fine with being in their own company, and aren't lonely when alone.
Their most important relationship-with themselves- is intact, guilt-free, undemanding, and a
Because this primary relationship is intact, happy people also have sound relationships
with those around them.
We are not made to live in isolation.
Virtually all happiness research of significance underscores the importance of positive relationships
with family, friends, and members of the communities we belong to.
We remain in essence an 'ultra-social' tribe and our associations with others address our
deep-seated need to collaborate, to be accepted, and to share the spoils.
Happy people are great relationship gatekeepers.
They are good friends, but only to good friends.
They don't measure the quality of their relationship experience by the number of people in their
They carefully select their relationships.
They don't associate with destructive or self-centered people.
They walk away from negative attitudes and toxic mentalities.
They don't fall prey to abusive associations.
Happy people don't see this choice of relative exclusivity as being selfish, but as self-preserving.
"There's one sad truth in life I've found While journeying east and west - The only
folks we really wound Are those we love the best.
We flatter those we scarcely know, We please the fleeting guest,
And deal full many a thoughtless blow To those who love us best."
- Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Positive relationships are like a campfire - you have to feed them to prevent them from
To lighten each other's burdens and share each other's joy is energy intensive.
'Less' is more.
To invite too many people into our lives is like trying to spread a thousand loaves with
a single pat of butter.
We are wired to maintain roughly five to seven relationships well; anything more causes quality
leakage, exhaustion, and unnatural behaviour.
It normally leads to all your relationships becoming superficial and unsustainable.
Solid relationships aren't 'crowd-compliant'.
This doesn't mean that happy people don't know many people or have more than a handful
of acquaintances; it comes down to the fact that they realize you can't invest in more
intimate relationships than you are humanly capable of sustaining.
And they are conscious that, after relating well to themselves, first in line for quality
attention are those people who share a roof with them, the members of their household.
When Mother Teresa received the Nobel Prize she was asked, "What can we do to promote
She replied, "Go home and love your families."
A great source of unhappiness is people's focus on fringe relationships and the neglect
of their most intimate ones.
How would you rate the quality of your relationships?
Are you peaceful in your own company?
Do you leave people better off?
Do your relationships overwhelm or strengthen you?
Are the members of your immediate family a priority in word and deed?
HAPPY PEOPLE HARNESS AN OPTIMISTIC WORLD VIEW Happy people are positive people.
They view and approach life through a filter of realism, yet retain an infectious enthusiasm
about life in general.
They choose to live 'less serious' lives.
Practical optimism is an action-orientated outlook, not a 'feel-good' mindset, nor one
that ignores the brutal facts of life.
It's a solution-seeking attitude instead of being paralyzed by fear.
It's about being hopeful, because you are willing to do what it takes to improve the
outcome; it's about eagerly learning lessons, being involved in refining and implementing
improvements to your practice of living.
Real positivism is about solving and preventing problems, not laughing them off or naively
looking away when they occur.
It's a capacity to view failure as temporary; limited, and a part of life- and then moving
on to a solution.
A positive mindset demands that you don't hoard baggage.
Happy people put the past behind them.
They forgive more easily.
They don't waste energy on carrying grudges and playing judge.
They are not energized through revenge.
This attitude in some sense echoes Shakespeare's words: "I would rather have a fool make me
merry, than experience make me sad".
They have resolved that being glum is the most unproductive way of spending their present.
Happy people see the funny side of life.
They can chuckle at life and laugh at themselves - and they do it often.
They enjoy humor for what it is: a very efficient shock absorber to life's turbulent moments,
exposing all those ironic gaps between beliefs and reality, between trivial and important.
They have a resilient spirit.
When they smile, they smile with their eyes.
They carry lightness.
Does your view of life make things easier or more difficult for you?
Do your opinions energize and inspire, or do they dent the spirit of those exposed to
Do you solve problems or do you sulk about them?
Do you laugh enough?
Do you move on or do you get stuck?
HAPPY PEOPLE ACCEPT THAT HAPPINESS Is A DAY-TO-DAY EFFORT
Now for the sobering part - leaving the crucial message for last.
Happiness is work!
Being miserable is infinitely easier than being happy.
Because many of life's moments carry the capacity to turn on us - if we allow them to.
We are practically surrounded by unhappiness traps - inside ourselves and in our circumstances.
So, if we don't attune our minds and actions to counter these pitfalls every day, we will
surely fall victim to many of them.
Our complex society and apprehensive nature invite us to self-destruct and make life very
Happiness is therefore a thing to be practiced... "like a violin", someone once said.
Happy people start by giving themselves the go-ahead to be happy.
Then they work at it, every day, starting with a clean slate, to keep this permission
They approach it with serious intent, yet conquer it one step at a time.
If you are not committed to this consistent effort, happiness will be difficult to sustain.
Nothing worthwhile ever comes easy.
It's no different from any other spheres of your life.
Your thirst isn't quenched forever when you drink a glass of water; your bills aren't
paid forever once you
mail one check; you don't stay fit if you don't exercise often.
And so, you won't be afforded unconditional happiness, without consistently doing what
needs to be done to keep your life aligned to the disciplines of bliss.
Alexandre Dumas once said, "Happiness is like those palaces in fairy tales whose gates are
guarded by dragons; we must fight to conquer it".
Happy people take on this challenge with renewed enthusiasm, every day.
This is the reason for the second part of this book - to help you create a framework
within which this 'work' makes sense.
Always remember what they say about overnight success - it's normally years in the making.
Happiness is a classic example of such an 'overnight success'!
And that's it.
These are the nine principles that direct and characterize the lives of truly happy
It sounds simple and most of it should actually come across as general knowledge, but you
will be surprised how many people regard them as 'too simple'.
They keep on searching for the secret.
We know each of these nine points justifies a book on its own.
We simply want to sensitize you to each and invite you to wrap them around your own life.
Recall them often as reminders to steer your personal happiness journey.
Test yourself daily against these principles.
Build your own strategy and routines around them.
Treasure and upgrade those already in place in your life.
You could even consider to, in time, read a good book on each of these principles.
''Action may not always bring happiness; but there is no happiness without action."
- Benjamin Disraeli
THE ORIGIN OF UNHAPPINESS Why return to unhappiness, you may be asking,
when we are just about getting the drift of what happiness is?
The answer is simple: happiness is the type of subject you understand even better when
you analyse its foe.
By spending a few moments on the opposite end of the scale, you also have an opportunity
to subconsciously audit your own vulnerability to unhappiness.
THE INGREDIENTS OF UNHAPPINESS Unhappiness is not about having more downs
It is about going through life forever desiring something else.
It's a state of lasting discontentment, and it happens for different reasons at different
When you analyze the phenomenon of 'inner poverty', it comes down to the inverse of
the happiness principles we covered in the previous chapter.
The degree of unhappiness may vary from person to person, and the prevalence of some of the
principles more dominant than others.
We are also deeply aware of the fact that there might be serious medical or psychological
grounds for some people's bleak life experiences.
Barring these conditions, however, the root cause of discontent is to be found in a combination
of the following dispositions: -A destructive thinking pattern
Unhappy people entertain a thought pattern that turns everyday conditions into a dramatic
mental script, a storyline in which victims and villains dominate the 'movie'.
They crudely classify situations as rewards and threats, categorize people as friends
or foes, and value outcome as personal loss or gain.
Essentially, they spend their lives in survival mode, exhausting themselves by framing life
as a win-lose experience, defending themselves against illusory enemies, and responding in
some forceful way to these fears.
These degrees of inner agony leave them susceptible to superficial solutions, to control by so-called
'liberators' and to expensive remedies.
A hostile mind shapes a hostile personal world.
-Being a passive victim of circumstances
Unhappy people freeze or panic in the face of challenging conditions.
They easily succumb to the blows of life - opting for bitterness instead of betterness.
They spend their lives on a never-ending mission to delegate accountability.
Finding culprits gives them more satisfaction than finding solutions.
What happens around them often ends up being a very personal, explosive affair.
They frequently surrender to illusory harm, often spending time in the alleys of history.
They are masters at explaining the nature of their complaints.
- Being generally dissatisfied
Unhappy people ooze a spirit of discontentment-and therefore tend to stumble from conflict to
Something is always 'blowing up or burning down', or the feeling that something is about
"The brick walls are not there to keep us out.
The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something.
The brick walls are there to stop the people who don't want it badly enough."
- Randy Pausch
It is difficult for them to enjoy simple things.
In fact, they find many of the generous gifts of life irritating because of their lack of
substance, or aren't even aware of them.
They are caught in a wedge between what they have and what they argue they should have.
Their preoccupations centre around 'what's lacking'.
They find it difficult to love, even more so when you add the word 'unconditional' to
They argue that to unreservedly accept and care for life and its variety of role players
is an unfair expectation.
Gratitude is at best an occasional moment of good manners to them.
They are often glad when a day ends.
- Bargaining on chance, then forever blaming someone or something
Unhappy people let their futures happen to them.
Their tomorrows are in someone else's hands.
They never find time to plan.
And, consequently, they learn to hide behind a mental wall of confessions, resentment,
and guilt trips.
They are always ready to identify a perpetrator.
And they spend endless hours in illusory court cases, finding someone else at fault, reaping
their limited moments of meaning at someone else's expense, and bringing someone else
All of this turmoil is because the definition of their lives and the quality of their future
have been 'outsourced' - and are therefore hijacked by 'offenders'.
- Living a disconnect
Unhappy people are masterful 'dislikers'.
They always want something else.
When they are at work, they want to retire.
When they are retired, they want to work.
Professionally, they are 'doing someone else's job' for a living.
Their passion remains a distant dream.
Their career and workplace are sources of misery.
Their hearts aren't there, and their best energy spent on something else.
This lack of engagement inhibits their contribution and often leaves them economically deprived,
no matter what their native level of talent might be.
They have settled for professional detachment and a soulless work experience.
And it starts with the fact that they aren't too excited about life itself.
-Abusing or disregarding themselves
Unhappy people aren't well - and normally don't look, sound, or feel well.
They neglect their health, allow their spirit to run dry, and become intellectually lazy.
It shows in the second half of their lives, when youthfulness doesn't disguise the damage
Their finances are often a mess.
Their scars of discontentment reveal themselves in their appearance, sentiment, and behaviour.
They blame this disrepair on a 'hostile environment'.
But the vandalizing actually started long ago, sadly often by indifferent parents, and
then continued as a personal style.
They passively oversee an unnecessary erosion of their lives - essentially opting for treatment
instead of avoidance.
- Being isolated from, or overwhelmed by, people
Unhappy people are often insecure.
This may mean that they hide from people or, on the other side of the social scale, they
invite every stranger they meet into their lives as 'friends'.
Their relationships are marked by unnatural constraints and obligations, a social pendulum
swinging between dependence and rejection.
Their associations are regularly burdened by control and forceful interactions-normallybecause
of being exposed to such relationship models early in their lives.
They usually allow a crooked ranking of relationships, not befriending themselves, attending to those
in their own households first, before allowing outsiders into their lives.
- Being cynical and negative
Unhappy people can spread contagious pessimism and erode the spirit of those around them.
They are masters at describing a problem or designing doomsday scenarios and at dressing
Their conversations are built around personal criticism and general objections.
It's as if they are happy when they can be unhappy!
They expect the worst from life; worrying and grieving offer them a strange sense of
They view their setbacks as permanent, pervasive, and personal.
They draw energy from trying to prove that life is a dark and dangerous place.
They are often depressed.
"Failure is seldom a single, cataclysmic event.
Failure is a few errors in judgement, repeated every day."
- Passively accepting unhappiness as their fate
Unhappy people don't regard happiness as a verb or a concept they can actually do something
They are simply the 'unlucky' ones, not destined for inner harmony and outer advancement.
They focus on what they don't want or have in life, instead of concentrating on what
they want and what they can do about it.
They spend their days in defensive mode.
They depend on a flawed formula for happiness.
How depressing it is to just review this selection of unhappiness traits?
It's one long description of severe inner turmoil.
Skim the list once more and imagine a person you know who shows some of these destructive
And can you think of a person who does not display any of these traits?
Do you agree that the first person is someone you will not exactly describe as happy, while
the second one may very well strike you as happy?
And what about you?
Do you perhaps recognise some of these 'habits of unhappiness' in your own life?
If you do, do you realise it's probably a subconscious decision to hold onto them?
You are free to blame your parents for them, but at a certain point in your life, looking
over your shoulder for the reasons of some of these traits in your life just doesn't
cut it anymore.
How willing are you to admit it or do something about it?
Do you realize how difficult you make happiness for yourself and people around you if you
accommodate these behaviours?
Just a reminder again: as is the case with happiness, unhappiness is not necessarily
an absolute state.
Some people are 'less unhappy' than others.
The point remains that 'less unhappy' still doesn't mean happy.
And the remedy is simple- starting to consciously chip away at your unhappiness, every day,
stopping yourself when you digress, saying no when you see it coming.
Why are some of us unhappy?
This brings us to the million-dollar question.
What makes people choose to be unhappy?
Ongoing despondency and despair clearly cannot be a rational choice.
Why then do some opt for the traits described above - or why do they fall prey to them?
A fundamental source of unhappiness relates to an inability to control primitive instincts.
Sociologists make no bones about the fact that intellectually and emotionally, we might
have significantly outgrown our Stone Age neurology, but that when it really matters,
our instincts still merrily dictate how we conduct our lives.
We may appear and sound civilised, they argue, but when the chips are down, we act surprisingly
Our 'old brain' is well and alive.
The essence of this theory originates from the standpoint that, while we are able to
solve many of our present day, self-made complexities, we still shudder when confronted with two
ancient life-threatening notions: rejection and scarcity.
In other words, the fears of not 'having enough' and not 'being enough' make us afraid of being
excluded from the primary circle of life.
The scientific argument goes that these fears are the result of a neural network still at
work in our brain, which once helped us to survive as a species.
As you may know, they call it our 'fight or flight' instincts.
these instincts cause our 'rational, present-day' brain to be much more of an obedient servant
than we would have liked it to be a slave to our old Stone Age way of thinking.
We default to survival mode in a blink, notwithstanding all the proof that we don't have to be in
survival mode any longer.
Nobody has ever unplugged our 'primitive' brain to relieve us of all its outdated programming!
TEN UNHAPPINESS TRAPS 1.
Look for the hurt in things 2.
Find the enemy in others 3.
A poor-me attitude 4.
A craving for validation 5.
Compare and compete 6.
Upsizing life's imperfections 7.
Dramatizing your past 8.
Conditional love 9.
Trying to change someone 10.
Fear-casting the future
(Try to articulate the opposites of these behaviours for your own use)
Failing to keep this basic biological circuitry of fear under control, we believe, is one
of the greatest enemies of happiness.
These days, what is good for survival is often bad for happiness.
To listen to one's primitive fears in a world that is much more abstract and no longer 'jungle-friendly'
- and in which survival has become a gentle and mostly symbolic affair - is often disastrous
Our primary stress hormones don't serve us very well any longer.
Look around you; listen carefully.
Do you see and hear the 'symbolic' efforts of people to quell their fears of 'rejection'
Do you recognize how many people live life almost unconsciously, allowing these ancient
forces to dictate how they should fill their days?
Their fear of failure leads their thought process and plays a role in many of their
Do you understand why people will buy what they cannot afford?
Do you realize it is 'to be accepted' - or otherwise to temporarily smooth the deep-seated
fear of 'relative scarcity'?
There are so many examples of where these fears manifest themselves daily.
People will have undesirable relationships, or even suffer abuse, just to
feel 'less rejected'.
They will let their reputation suffer in an effort to get hold of more wealth - either
to feel more secure or at least to create the image of being resource-rich, and so try
to ensure acceptance.
Some will even ruin their health in pursuit of wealth.
People will consume what their bodies cannot really process, symbolically trying to 'stamp
abundance' on their lives.
All these and many other modern ways of addressing ancient fears seriously affect people's personal
happiness, because the mismatch causes immense financial, social, and psychological strain.
This ongoing, impulsive reaction to these ingrained fears has nothing to do with a lack
It simply happens, irrespective of all the rational reasons why it shouldn't.
And there is an immense urgency to it.
It enforces a short-term orientation and knee-jerk responses - and the 'quick fix' industries
touting pharmaceuticals and sensory stimulation flourish on this urge.
They know very well that the therapy effect of immediate satisfaction temporarily alleviates
both these calls of nature, and that people don't 'calculate' when they buy when in impulse
"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself" -Franklin D. Roosevelt
Responsible long-term decisions will always struggle to hold up to short-term gratification.
People's quest to feel 'less rejected' or 'more affluent' often limits their good sense.
All of us, unfortunately, carry this genetic backwardness with us; some of us just manage
it better- and are therefore happier.
In other words, some of us are better equipped to fear less, or have consciously steered
ourselves away from these primitive urges.
Happy people use their 'clever' brain to limit the irrelevant messages of their primeval
Less happy people tend to be more victimized by their ancient fear centres.
The practical side-effects of these neurological fears can be radically pronounced because
of traumatic childhood experiences.
In turn, they can be much more under control because of a sound upbringing.
Children who haven't experienced security, acceptance, peace, and love during early caregiving
- especially during the first
six years of their lives - might experience more pronounced fear as adults.
If you haven't been accepted unconditionally as a child, or if you have been exposed to
systemic insecurity in whatever form, it might affect your inherent level of security as
The parenting we receive is therefore potentially one of the most profound exogenous deciding
factors in our happiness outcome as adults.
The security instilled because of good parenting acts as an ingrained buffer against outdated
genetic anxieties - and therefore against unhappiness.
Many unhappy people had unhappy upbringings; they are more prone to fear and more inclined
to display instinctive behaviour, leaving them vulnerable.
The subject of upbringing demands a book of its own - and many wonderful ones have been
written over centuries on the subject, explaining the profound impact of parenting on a person's
Read some of them - especially if you plan to be a parent or are busy raising a child
Now the question begs - do the previous few pages imply that we are victims of our genetic
blueprint and neurological legacy?
Well, that's for you to decide.
Personally, we don't believe you need to be a victim, despite the fact that we've alerted
you to these influences.
In our daily work with people, we have seen remarkable shifts in people's happiness simply
because they wanted to change, then backed this decision with a strategy.
Be careful not to use some sort of genetic excuse as a cop-out.
Sure, you can opt for the classic 'This-is-the-way-lam' excuse or 'They say there is nothing you can
do about it'.
If you program your mind with the conclusion, 'I'm a victim of my parents,' or 'My fears
are based on reality', you have to accept the consequences.
Unfortunately, such capitulation will only contribute to an increase in your unhappiness.
We are a unique species for one outstanding reason - we are equipped with a sophisticated
We have minds that can make higher order choices and override instinctive stimuli.
The 'clever' part of the human brain, called the neocortex, holds our cognitive abilities,
spiritual intelligence, emotional competence, free will, and many other uniquely wonderful
If you want it to be, it can also be the master of your 'fight or flight' brain.
Many people go through life unhappy, passively allowing themselves to be bamboozled by the
remnants of their genetic blueprint and the outdated alarms of their primitive brain.
They shun their discretionary ability to make decisions about their happiness, and refuse
to put in the hours to upgrade their capacity to be happy.
The absence of willpower and self-discipline is hard to explain.
It remains difficult to know why people with the necessary intellectual resources still
won1t decisively do something about their happiness, why they elect to be victims, and
why they avoid the extraordinary magic of choice.
The reasons given for this self-inflicted passivity or 'learned helplessness, are vague.
Objectively speaking, the excuses are unconvincing as well.
Hopefully, it is obvious that you should never expect sympathy from the world if you have
access to all the equipment for a better life, but choose to be a passive casualty instead.
To summarize, willpower is like an emotional muscle- a direct outflow of the use of your
The more decisions you make to proactively manage your life towards more happiness and
react defensively or leave it to chance, the more willpower you will develop.
All muscles work like that.
The stronger your willpower becomes, the less you will be inclined to become a victim of
genes, outdated fears, destructive habits, or irrelevant activities.
Choice is the father of freedom, as following through with action is the mother of permanent
PRACTICAL GUIDELINES, THOUGHTS, SUGGESTIONS, AND REMINDERS IN THE INTEREST OF HAPPINESS
Let's quickly recap.
A happy life is a prolonged experience of meaning and fulfilment, a long-lasting enduring
enjoyment of life, not the arrival of a mystical moment or a string of joyful events.
It is the result of taking charge of every part of your day, of every day of your life,
and so of your destiny.
It is living from the inside out.
And it has a lot to do with taking ownership of your own mind.
Happiness is profound yet simple.
It is an extraordinary experience- being in harmony with the life you live, and with life
Happy people don't have special circumstances.
Neither do they bargain on external windfalls.
They are their own people, not exhausted competitors in someone else's race.
They differ in that they select to do things differently, think differently, and choose
differently- no matter what their circumstances may be.
They de-complicate life by the way they respond to it, and apply a mindset that positively
influences every dimension of their lives.
Happiness is not 'one big thing'.
It's not a single-answer solution or an instant turnaround.
It doesn't arrive with fanfare.
It's much less of a silky experience than people realize.
It cannot be bestowed upon you.
It's not a moment of glory.
It's enjoying the process as much as the outcome, and seeing life as a privilege, not a pressure
Seeking happiness as a 'big moment' is in fact the antithesis of happiness.
To build your happiness on things you can lose again leaves you forever vulnerable.
Happiness is the by-product of a million small things - whether actions, thoughts, or choices
- habitually repeated, an integrated way of living, adding up to a lifetime experience
of inner wellbeing.
It's the result of working, playing, and loving considerately, not being a victim of your
It's a very practical journey, starting with a renewed commitment every day and ending
in contentment and appreciation - every day- however tough some of those days may be.
Happiness is about treasuring the simple
joys of life.
It's about pursuing the good without grasping, and receiving the bad without suffering.
It's a state of mind that supports you in good and bad times.
It's not something that changes every time your situation
And there is only one address for happiness - your own; only one possible time to experience
In this chapter, we would like to offer you a bouquet of hints.
Just a few simple inward-looking suggestions.
It's no magic manifesto, yet a few thoughts which, if practised over a lifetime, one day
at a time, will most definitely have a compound effect on your happiness level.
Many of these practical cues may indeed even be well-known to you- and may already be well-entrenched
as habits in your life.
If so, use them as confirmations.
Please don't see the suggestions as a recipe to achieve instant emotional comfort.
Remember, happiness is work, not magic.
There is a lot of rewiring involved.
Rather regard these few pages as a menu from which you may choose to gradually influence
your approach to life.
It's important that you personalize and establish the suggestions as guidelines in your day-to-day
activity map, depending on where you are in your life, being aware where you come from.
We all are different and all
have different perspectives.
But we can all change, if we choose to do what it takes.
"Misery is among the most democratic o.
f all life experiences."
It's up to you ...
There is nobody and nothing around to make this 'happiness' thing happen for you.
Stop looking on the outside.
Declare yourself accountable.
And turn inward.
You have to come to the decision (if you haven't already) that only you can be held responsible
for your happiness - that only you can be blamed if you are not happy.
Peace, inner fulfilment, and contentment are private, 'object-lite' sensations.
You shape them in the space only you can reach.
Once you have taken ownership of your happiness, it becomes a practical, manageable affair.
It turns into a way instead of an event, a process instead of a means.
It clears the way for a momentous shift in your spiritual maturity.
Happy people don't expect circumstances to shape their happiness.
Embrace the responsibility.
Map your way...
Create the time to plan.
The world is friendlier to a person with a plan.
Planning is, unfortunately, not an activity you can practise 'on the fly' or 'in the shower'.
It's an intellectually absorbing activity and demands your full attention.
Set time aside for it and work off an agenda that covers all the bases of your life.
Make it a formal activity in your life.
You do it in business; why should it be different in your own life?
Create a decent pause once a year for an annual review of your life.
Walk away from this retreat with revived directional decisions and a set of fresh priorities for
the next 12 months.
Follow through with monthly reviews.
Shape every month around your priorities.
End a week by taking an hour to fine-tune your schedule for the next seven days.
And every morning when you begin your day, have a clear vision of the results you want
to walk away with.
Happy people concentrate their energy and optimize their time.
Own up to your future.
"For tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today."
Live in gratitude...
Imagine you lost everything.
Everything you own, your loved ones, your health, your freedom... everything.
Now imagine you got it all back tomorrow.
How happy would you be tomorrow?
Be grateful on purpose.
Learn to appreciate what you have, even the small things, all of them, every day.
How can you expect more from life if you aren't even aware of what you already have?
More won't do it for you if a little doesn't.
Spare a moment, regularly, to salute life's little miracles, even those that aren't that
Watch them, touch them, hear them, smell them, feel them, talk to them.
Treasure your blessings - write them down if you need to, every day, until you are fully
aware of them.
Find things to approve of instead of disapprove.
Turn your common days into thanksgivings.
Focus on the things that work instead of slaving away at an inventory of what you are missing.
Life is a privilege.
We are invited for a brief moment to experience its elegance.
Behave like a guest at a once-in-a-lifetime event.
Happy people cherish life.
Softly hold onto the opportunity to be around for a while.
Retain your zest...
Spice up your basic program regularly.
Don't become a slave to a joyless schedule.
Own more of your diary.
Create opportunities for new discoveries.
Decommission outdated routines.
Visit interesting places.
Look for opportunities to grow.
Seize amusing moments.
Question your schedule.
Learn from someone.
Happy people don't settle for energy decay.
Prune your habits.
Serial time-wasters in the lives of professionals
Blurred priorities 2.
Interruptions and electronic 'pop-ups' 3.
Meetings for the sake of meetings 4.
Terminal urgencies and crises; poor planning 5.
Saying 'yes' to unimportant commitments 6.
(If these points are relevant to you, treat yourself to one suggestion next to each point
with the aim to take back 10% of the time wasted - and continue the habit)
Let it go...
Cut back on clutter.
Happiness is rooted in simplicity.
Modern society will present you with an assembly of excuses to live an emotionally complicated
and inherently stressful life.
Lift yourself above the noise and hold onto what's really important.
Free up your spirit.
Walk away from nonsense.
Clean the slate.
Complexity won't eliminate itself.
It's the ultimate hoarder- inviting more of the same!
You eliminate complexity by identifying low-value glut - and throwing it off.
Know what is important when you start your days.
Excuse yourself from what is not important during your days.
Let go of mental garbage at the end of your days.
A happy spirit is a litter-free one.
A hatful of tips from an old farmer
Life is simpler when you plough around the stump.
Always drink upstream from the herd.
The biggest troublemaker on your farm watches you from the mirror every morning.
Every path has a few puddles.
Keep skunks and bankers at a distance.
If you get to thinking you're a person of some influence, try ordering your neighbour's
When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.
Good judgment comes from living through many seasons, but the stickiest lessons come from
bad judgment in some of those seasons.
Limit your frustrations...
Trim your expectations.
A disappointment is often the result of loaded expectations.
Aim high, set firm goals, and expend good energy on what you want to achieve, but avoid
constant regret by always giving yourself ample margin for error.
A mindset of modest expectations fuels calmness, and sees to a life filled with many positive
episodes and pleasant surprises.
It's not a question of settling for mediocrity; it's the wisdom to flow with reality.
Happy people don't over-expect.
Keep your distance...
The only person on the entire planet you have real leverage on is yourself.
Although we would love to believe otherwise, we don't hold effective domain over anybody
If you want someone else to behave differently, the only workable strategy is to adjust your
You cannot productively control, own, change, press, or motivate someone else.
These are things we can only do for ourselves.
When you let goof forceful interference, your true influence increases.
When you change your own behaviour, behaviour around you will change.
The fewer words you use, the more people listen.
The less pressure you apply, the quicker the response you hope for.
Happy people understand that the only lives they can direct are their own.
Invest in your own behaviour instead of trying to change someone else.
8 non-forceful ways with the best chance of influencing someone's behaviour
Share valuable information.
Listen non judgmentally.
Answer questions objectively.
Change what you expect from him.
Change the way you respond to her.
Recognise her achievements.
Prevent him from becoming dependent on your resources, availability, and sympathy.
Not all information is valuable information.
Jealously guard the entrance to your mind.
Don't get paralysed by every story.
Carefully select what you listen to, read or believe.
Own the access to your thoughts.
Regard your mind as a premier facility.
Beware of buying into the dramatization of life that makes the mass media successful.
They capitalize on what is called our 'negative bias' - our capacity to make more of bad news
than of equivalently good news.
The intellectual junk food it punts supports a thinking pattern riddled with pessimism,
eventually colouring all our experiences, and skewing all our decisions.
Move out of the space of toxic intentions and sensationalized information.
Happy people afford themselves a balanced, nutritious intake of information.
Up your intellectual taste.
Mind the facts...
Stop using the words 'all, always, and never'.
Learn to single out the moment, as 'a' moment, or the event, as 'an' event.
See one person doing it, not 'all' people.
Accept that it is different this time, instead of reading that it will 'always' be like this.
Intellectual oversimplification degrades our minds and leads to unproductive decisions.
Happy people don't burden their thinking with generalisations.
"A sad life story is marked by unfortunate, external deficiencies.
A tragic story is one in which defeat stems from the unaddressed internal flaw of poor
Quid pro quo...
You are the chief creator of the respect others afford you.
People will learn how to treat you by watching how you treat yourself.
If you neglect or harm yourself, others will probably mistreat you as well.
If it is clear that you care for yourself, for your time, for your family, for your finances...
you will be treated with extra courtesy.
Broken windows and chipped paint send a message that nobody is in charge and that nothing
A building that is in order and well-maintained commands respect.
The same applies to a human life.
Public respect starts at self-respect.
Happy people enjoy respect because they regard themselves.
Mould your own esteem.
Leaving a footprint...
If you choose to be a parent, choose to be a loving one.
Treasure your children - understand the responsibility of shaping a new life.
Fortunately, children do not expect perfection - just explicit, unconditional love.
Spoil your kids with affection, laughter, and lots of time together.
Accept them unreservedly.
Show compassion and patience.
Earn their respect.
Demonstrate good values.
Do it from day one.
You have one opportunity to raise your child, to sculpt another human being.
Respect the extensive consequences of your effort.
There is no joy as great as witnessing the success and happiness of your children later
on in life, and knowing that you had something to do with it.
You can never spoil children by making them too happy.
Happy parents are devoted parents.
Give enough of yourself.
Parenting going wrong
Having an 'unwanted' child.
Saying one thing while demonstrating another.
Having disruptive relationship between parents.
Being self-absorbed; listening without hearing.
Trying to live your life through your child.
Adopting a stern and punitive style.
Trying to outsource a:ffection to a nanny or school.
Playing your children off against each other.
Being emotionally absent or cold.
Being impatient and temperamental in your interactions.
Underestimating the formative importance of the pre-school years.
(If you are a parent, define the opposites of these points as guiding principles.)
Modify the message...
We all have a little voice that talks to us in our heads.
It articulates messages with a huge influence on our lives.
It's our own voice, consistently chatting away in the corridors of our subconscious
One of the biggest drawbacks of this hidden conversation is that it concentrates on explaining
our deficiencies to us.
It shouts out the things we get wrong.
It warns us against impending failure.
It reminds us of our shortcomings.
Override your inner self-talk whenever you catch yourself participating in it by consciously
reminding yourself of the things you get right.
Reinstruct your subconscious mind.
Dull its effort to highlight failure by intentionally countering it with the inventory of your successes.
When you practise a different pattern of thoughts, you reinforce those neural pathways and in
the process change your brain chemistry.
Happy people have a constructive inner voice.
Remind yourself of what went well.
Weigh with care...
Learn to gauge the size of a disappointment with a longer-term mindset.
You should always ask yourself, "How serious will this setback be five years from now?"
It's so easy to be absorbed by immediate imperfections, but so few of them are of any true significance.
Most of them aren't even relevant a month from now.
Happy people maintain perspective.
Learn to 'right-size' your problems.
An expensive hobby...
The demise of most empires had one thing in common - a debt burden.
Beware of debt!
Buy something when you can pay for more than a third of it in cash.
Live in your financial present.
Debt is the consequence of trying to live tomorrow's life, today.
Once that becomes a habit, your present income will never be enough.
Be realistic about what you can really afford.
Don't buy through the eyes of others.
Showing off is expensive.
The sinking feeling after the rush of an excessive credit purchase is just not worth it.
Financiers are most helpful when you get the desire to spend tomorrow's money today, but
not in explaining the compound effect this privilege has on your personal financial affairs
Debt is expensive!
Borrowing too much money normally plunges you into playing catch-up sometimes for
the rest of your life.
Happy people are at peace with their present financial capacity.
Approach credit with great care.
"Debt is the slavery of the free."
- Publilius Syrus
At your doorstep...
Many people aspire to GO TO heaven or a similar divine destination.
Different religions, philosophies, and traditions all portray this magic place, and the path
leading there, in their own unique ways.
In the meantime, very few people choose to BE there now, while still being alive.
They decline the experience of wonder, while still being part of this world.
Divinity on earth is a fairly quiet place.
So many of us miss its entrance in pursuit of the 'one-day' version, being fixated on
the 'heaven up there', the one to be received as a reward.
Heaven on earth is not something you can receive, but rather, a space of bringing joy, giving
love and causing peace.
It's present in the moments when you share a slice of your soul.
When you show sincerity, listen with compassion, show empathy.
When you choose to bring comfort and show generosity instead of being self-obsessed.
When you help someone to heal instead of choosing to harm.
When you act as an equal instead of posing as a superior.
Happy people craft moments of grace.
Step into paradise.
Go for quality...
Most of the advice on relationships tries to guide people on 'how to make it work'.
Ours is slightly different.
We suggest you consider walking away from those that are not working.
Only allow real friends and constructive relationships in your life.
Be selective on who you spend time on and with.
Don't suffer abuse or superficial associations - you gain by avoiding it, you don't 'lose
out' on a relationship.
Have as little as possible interaction with cynics.
Beware of self-centered people.
Don't take part in conversations that are built on gloom.
Beware of opportunistic companionships.
A real relationship leaves both parties with more energy.
It's a safe, soft place rich in trust and care.
Sound friendships are not built on guilt or indebtedness, and not sustainable when marked
by dependence or exploitation.
Preserve your own energy- don't let it leak through the cracks of shallow, forced, or
selfish relations - not socially, not in a wider family context, not in business.
'Less is more' in the world of real relationships.
As wonderful as good relationships are, the consequences of accommodating the wrong people
in your life can be severe.
Happy people have empowering relationships; they are not swarmed by a demanding crowd
or exploitive individuals.
No flipping channels...
Productive multi-tasking is a contradiction in terms.
We cannot do more than one thing at a time well.
It has become one of the most damaging myths out there.
If you watch a lioness hunting in the wild, she will focus on one wildebeest.
She never focuses on more than one- because she knows the odds of missing both are stacked
The value of focus is still respected where survival is at stake.
Our brain can really only focus on one thing at a time.
Multitasking is known to slow people down by 50% and increases the frequency of mistakes
by 50% as well.
When we try to multitask, our brain is actually switching between tasks, abandoning the one
when attending to the other.
It leaves your brain in a state of semi-attendance.
Our persistence in trying to get our brain to focus on more things at once has trained
it to have an attention deficit.
Some people simply cannot focus for any significant period of time anymore.
Sharpen your intellect by returning to the habit of doing one thing at a time.
Rediscover the value of consecutive tasking, instead of settling for the quality dilution
associated with multitasking.
Exceptional work is always associated with periods of deep concentration.
Nothing excellent ever comes from scattered effort.
Happy people are one place at a time.
Take back the magic of concentration.
Harness your soul.
Make ample time to practise peace.
Allow yourself enough silence.
Use the religion, philosophy, technique, or tradition of your preference to deepen your
consciousness and harmonise your spirit.
Your inner self demands as much care and nurturing as your body does.
It's the deep soil out of which you grow your life.
If you cultivate your spirit and emotionally reload, the stresses of life will find it
difficult to erode the serenity you carry.
Resilience and renewal start from within; peace re-equips the body with its natural
Happy people make ample time to nurture their souls.
"It has often occurred to me that a seeker after truth has to be silent."
Be exceptional ... You have to earn your living on earth, that's
just the way it is.
We all have to 'hunt to eat' - and the quality of your effort will determine the size of
Personal financial strain often starts with conducting your career in a careless way.
Be serious about your job.
Be proud of your business.
Be good at what you decide to do for a living; leave successes and a positive reputation
Be brilliant at one thing at a time, rather than being average at many.
Concentrate your effort.
Show consistency and follow through.
Never just occupy a position - be the product, be the brand.
When your work becomes soulless, your whole life becomes stale.
Make a hobby of your career.
Show the courage to establish yourself in a field that resonates with who you are.
Opt for a job that positively excites and interests you, then build skill and become
great at it.
A job well done always carries a mark of passionate intensity.
Happy people enjoy what they do, or adjust their range of tasks until their job is enjoyable.
Allow yourself greatness.
Use them sparingly...
Talk with care!
Once it's out, it's really out there.
Words feed behaviour: your own and of those around you.
Every time you talk, you push a biochemical button and trigger certain emotions.
What's more, words are interpreted by your brain as self-instructions.
What you say shapes your behaviour - and the behaviour of others to wards you.
You eventually experience the life you describe.
Mind your words when you describe life, when you depict your experiences or express an
If you get into the habit of using disempowering language, your brain will simply follow the
cue and diligently ensure that this pattern is embedded in all elements of your life.
Talk up, express hope, describe solutions, voice kindness, articulate options, and avoid
Happiness is not only revealed in words, but also created by words.
Weigh what you say.
Phrases of self-limitation 1.
I don't measure up...
I should have...
It's her fault...
This is just the way I am ... 5.
I can't do anything about it... 6.
What's the point...
I'm too old for... 8.
I've tried that before...
It's too late now...
It's ok in theory, but ... 11.
They will think...
You can't teach an old dog new tricks...
Yes, but ...
(Add another few 'killer phrases' you want to get rid of- and outlaw the whole list from
Accept its relevance...
Make peace with your history, especially the patchy parts.
We all had to go through the things we went through to get us where we are today.
Our biggest spiritual growth takes place after a period of tough times.
Look back at those moments as an opportunity to deepen your spirit.
Some might have been really dark, but take hold of them anyway, even with help if you
need it, and think of them as necessary hurdles you had to cross along your journey.
Only when you accept and honor these events of your past, will you be able to retire them
Happy people accept all chapters of their life story.
Allow the lessons of your past to make you stronger.
Learn to forgive.
It is impossible to have a negative emotion in the absence of blaming someone or something.
The most important element to continuous mental rinsing is to practise forgiveness.
The more you do it, the easier it becomes.
The heaviest load to carry is a grudge.
Holding onto hurt is a habit that buckles the spirit.
If you choose to, you will always find reasons to hold onto pain, to answer unfairness with
vengeance, to ponder retaliation.
Clinging to bitterness harms you more than the object of your aversion.
It is never the unforgiven who suffers, but the one who carries that bitterness.
Forgiveness is soothing.
The act has very little to do with the culprit, or with condoning wrong behaviour.
It's a habit of allowing yourself a life of liberty.
Happy people refuse to entertain resentment.
Let go of your own throat.
Stress is not a virus.
Nor is it contagious.
No external condition has the ability to create stress.
The elements of life simply interact with us.
What we make of these conditions is up to us.
If they do result in constant stress, the problem is our own contradicting, pre-determined
Stress results from living a life in your head that's not compatible with the one under
You actually choose to live in conflict with reality - and then have to cope with the strain
of the paradox you create.
Learn to flow with the elements of life.
Obviously, some are harsh.
But don't spend your everyday life in the 'opposition benches'.
Stop blaming someone or something if your own mental map is flawed.
Become more flexible in your approach.
Have the courage to bow to the wind.
Stop trying to be 'right' every time.
Let go of rigid attachments.
Happy people are in harmony with life as it is.
Suspend your illusions.
"Our firmest convictions often mark our most important limitations."
There is a difference between 'living' and simply 'being alive'.
The greatest satisfaction in life comes from breaking new ground.
Personal growth is the result of tackling and overcoming difficult challenges.
Engage life with energy and hang in a little longer.
Oppose the complacency that comes with order, affluence, and comfort.
Reject a 'tick-tock' life.
Unlock your full potential.
Find ways to reach out to new frontiers all the time.
Fully explore your talent.
View defeat as temporary.
If you are in the second half of your life, this message is even more relevant.
Live until your last day.
Continue to challenge your mind.
Choose to never retire from intellectual stimulation and spiritual meaning.
Happiness is about making the most of your one life.
Hunger for growth.
Let them be...
Mind your own business.
You can never be better off by concerning yourself with analyzing someone else's life,
or finding other people guilty or inferior.
Stop judging people; it's energy spent in vain.
Ironically, judgmental people are the bewildered ones in the end, exhausted by the endless
mental effort to strengthen themselves by weaken ing others.
Find ways to fill your life with meaning instead of building punishing philosophies around
the lives of others or competing with those not even aware of the contest.
Don't build your own victories upon the misfortune of others.
If you do concern yourself with someone else's life, let it be an effort to leave that person
better off instead of an attempt to massage your own ego, or a push to strengthen your
Happy people aren't threatened by others.
Stay in the life where you can make a real difference - your own.
Be well rested.
Sleep when and as much as you are supposed to sleep.
A good night's sleep is one of a healthy body's 'secret weapons'.
Exhaustion amplifies negative stress and shortens your life.
Lack of sleep reduces your gift to solve problems and leaves you with a chronic concentration
You are not brave when you suffer from sleep deprivation - you are committing lingering
Sleep allows your brain to perform vital maintenance and gives your immune system time to mount
energetic attacks against intruders you are not even aware of.
Take note of the generally accepted advice that we need between seven and nine hours
of sleep a night.
Happy people are rested people.
How people deny themselves a good night's rest
Varying bedtimes 2.
A physically passive life 3.
Late or large dinners 4.
A restless bedroom 5.
Late-night smoking or drinking 6.
Tension or stress before lights-out 7.
Disorganised days- unfinished business 8.
'Brain work' after work hours (What can you do to improve the quality of
Share your soul...
Be good to people in need.
Being human to each other overrides many of life's setbacks.
It's a fulfilling way of living.
Selflessness does not imply being irresponsible with your resources.
Neither does it mean you should be a crutch to lazy opportunists, or provide for those
who have given up on themselves.
It's about much more than writing a check, handing out hampers, or sharing leftovers.
It's not a guilt trip.
It's about giving privately and quietly of yourself without an expectation of receiving
anything in return.
True heroes aren't perfect.
They are simply human when it matters.
They restore dignity, fuel hope, afford respect, and ignite courage.
They alleviate hurt.
They are angels in ordinary clothes, handing out the bounty of life from the brimming coffers
of their soul.
Your happiness cannot decrease if you share it.
It cannot increase if you deprive someone else of happiness.
Happiness works like a candle; many can be lit from it, without shortening its life.
Happy people deflect rays of sunshine upon those in darkness, giving what currency cannot
A dose of laughter is medicine to the soul.
And the funniest moments are wrapped in life's small imperfections.
Light heartedness is an attitude.
Humour gives you the guts to go on when life looks its worst.
Stay in touch with the funny side of life.
Watch a comedy, make time for a fun read, visit a toy store, play with your child, see
the comedy in something serious...
Never allow your laugh to become a smirk.
Preserve its innocent spontaneity.
Allow it to be an unpolluted source of energy.
Happy people often chuckle at life.
"You are never fully dressed without a smile."
From Annie, the musical
Know what you do with your money.
Be a true custodian of your earnings and use them thoughtfully.
If you are financially sloppy, having more money won't solve your problem; the leakage
Every time you open your purse, demonstrate your competence to cope with the responsibility
that comes with stewardship.
It may sound boring, but live within a budget.
See that you have one, for a start.
If you act within a sensible financial framework, you won't worry about every cent you spend
- you will actually enjoy it.
To forever fight the losing battle of living beyond your means
eventually tears down your overall sense of satisfaction with life.
Money has a way of leaving shoddy hands forever, looking for a safer haven.
Wastefulness always ends in hardship.
Buy with discretion.
Identify the emotional margin on a price tag.
Don't compete and compare.
Never allow possessions to own you.
Steer away from the belief that happiness is a function of purchasing power.
Find something better to do than to shop when you have time on hand or a mood to beat.
Happy people work well with their money.
Choose to be in charge.
What they never taught us about 'purchasing power'
Having three of something is not three times better than having one; the additional value
of 'more' peaks sooner than you would imagine.
Living in idyllic comfort often leads to depression; wealth-induced boredom often ends in spirit
The value of consumer items depreciates at an astonishing speed; the emotional margin
in the purchasing price quickly evaporates, and material erosion is a fact of physics.
Our mental pleasure centre adapts very quickly to new experiences; when you are a pleasure
hunter, your quest is about improving on the previous experience.
Our assets can imprison us; many people become the janitors of their possessions.
Someone else will always own more than you; there is no end to the journey of 'having
what they have'.
Overt affluence introduces shady newcomers to your life; wealth attracts parasites and
You learn most about people when they have money or when they don't have money; financial
conditions shed light on who you already are.
(Are your financial pursuits free of flaws and perceptions?)
Switch off the alarm...
Resist fear, in whatever guise it visits you.
Turn your back on any mental message that you 'lack'.
Walk away from the inner refrain telling you that you 'fall short'.
Don't entertain all the 'threats out there' in your conversations.
Stop placing life in good and bad categories.
Shut down the 'they win, I lose' program.
Our ancient survival brain bombards us with subconscious messages of impending harm and
It's an outdated fear-centre of limited value, sitting at the core of all the emotional hardship
our modern society struggles with.
If you are serious about your happiness, you will gradually replace the components of this
fear-based script with subject matter that represent abundance, self-acceptance, and
Happy people resist their 'pain brain'.
Call your own bluff.
Unhappiness is often the result of trying to escape the present.
The present is the only real tense.
Be fully where you are.
This day is important.
Cherish its finite nature.
Time is not a dry-run.
Your future is determined by how practically you spend your days, not by how imaginative
your dreams or elaborate your philosophies of life are.
Having goals is important, as long as you realize that a wish-list alone will not carry
you over one inch of ground.
The realisation of your ambitions will be determined by the quality of effort during
Be friendly to your future by breaking your life up in dynamic day-long building blocks.
Let every 24 hours count.
Hold yourself to what's really important.
In the end, your future will prove to be an accumulation of the content of your days.
Happy people value their days.
Ensure a high-value present.
Take stock of your life regularly.
Examine your ways.
Allow yourself the revitalising habit of honest introspection.
List what needs to be changed, those elements that cause more damage than good - in whatever
domain of your life, however small or prominent.
Include your thoughts on that list if needed.
Even revisit your values and beliefs from time to time.
Then, construct a plan on how to address these issues - and consciously start chipping away
Don't get used to yourself!
Living fully is a dynamic experience - of endlessly trimming the detail in your life,
continuously eliminating habits of harm, actively building a better way, selecting more relevant
Happiness is not a static affair.
Rethink and renew.
"You will never change your life until you change things you do daily."
- Mike Murdock
We are designed to live a long life - not to die prematurely.
What we have learned to consume, however, radically alters this privilege.
You are what you eat.
Food can be the most powerful preventative medicine, or in time the most influential
eradicator of wellbeing.
The world is obsessed with famine - yet most people die of food.
We are the only species that chooses to be self-destructive eaters.
Use your discretion and all the commonly available information about a healthy, balanced diet.
Fight disease in the cheapest possible way - by assisting your immune system to prevent
damage in the first place.
Your body is patient, inherently strong and forgiving.
It doesn't demand second-to-second perfection, just consideration for what it is capable
to process over a lifetime.
Mind your everyday diet.
Now and then, remind yourself of what your dietary habits would have been if you were
busy recovering from cancer.
Include ample food known for its nutritional and restorative value; limit consumption health
Why consciously destroy the physical head office from which manage your happiness?
To beat health setbacks may be noble; to prevent them is wise.
Happy people live in happy bodies.
Damaging dietary habits to avoid 1.
Too little daily intake of water 2.
Not enough fresh fruit and vegetables 3.
No regular intake of whole grain, nuts, cereals and olive oil
Overindulgence, followed by crash dieting 5.
Too much red meat, starch, additives and refined sugar
Relying on supplements as magic bullets 7.
Too much coffee, carbonated drinks, and alcohol 8.
Irregular meals: heavy dinners, no breakfasts (How are you going to turn around the ones
applicable to you?)
Your mind emulates the environment it is exposed to.
Accordingly, your bottom drawer mirrors the degree of order in your head.
Organize your intimate space.
A tidy personal setting rubs off on your mind.
Clean up the mess.
File what should be filed, fix what is broken, paint what should be painted, and throw out
what has reached its sell-by date.
Look at your environment as a photograph of your mind.
Afford yourself orderliness, even where no one else can see.
Happiness looks for a neat head.
Help it to be- with a ship-shape environment.
"You don't get in life what you want; you get in life what you are."
First ones first...
A functional pattern of relationships has an 'inside-out' character to it.
It starts right in the middle- establishing and harnessing a caring relationship with
If you cannot be a good friend to yourself, you are deprived of fundamental relationship
capacity before you even enter the wider world of people.
Are you a truthful friend to yourself?
Once you have a solid relationship with yourself, your focus should preferably move to those
sharing your intimate space with you - the individuals in your household.
These are very important people in your relationship grid-way more than any 'stranger' out there.
Are you a valued and respected partner, mentor, and friend in your own home?
If you ensure that you are solid relationship material 'at the centre', you are equipped
to be a valued member in a constructive, wider social context as well.
Your professional associates, historic acquaintances, extended family, and social companions will
have a quality person to re late to.
Happy people craft loving relationships in their immediate circle first.
Charity starts at home!
"Tell me what company thou keepst, and I'll tell thee what thou art."
- Miguel de Cervantes
Engage life thoughtfully.
Be one with it.
Learn to embrace every moment as a hand-crafted present.
Slow down to allow the marvels of life to present themselves.
Look at the stars as if they only appear every hundred years.
Hold your loved ones as if it's your last day together.
Eat a peach as if it's a personal gift from a God.
Make a garden as if you expect a visit from a king.
Look at rain as if it brings the end to famine.
Happy people magnify life's small moments of loveliness.
Celebrate the ordinary.
Shut the door...
You don't always have to be with people.
Constant availability is not a good idea.
Excusing yourself is okay.
Your most important insights emerge when you afford yourself space to reflect.
Your best work awaits you in private silence.
Your biggest breakthroughs show themselves after extended periods of uninterrupted concentration.
Your sense of calmness is rooted in your ability to so cially detach on a regular basis.
Happy people value stillness.
Allow yourself the sanctity of privacy.
"All men's miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone."
- Blaise Pascal
A car corrodes if you don't use it.
A human body has certain 'mechanical' aspects to it as well.
Inject your body with energy and afford it the cleansing it needs - in other words, exercise!
Our bodies are designed for activity but our 'clever brains' have designed a world of passivity
Evolution has shaped us to enjoy idleness - and we still pursue it.
Our health suffers as a result.
Regular physical activity supports an upward spiral of feeling good and, for many people,
creates a more positive health outlook over time.
It helps you to relax, enhances energy levels and has numerous health benefits.
Get professional advice about the relevant physical workout you should follow - and answer
your body's call for purification and an energy refill.
Happiness is about active self-preservation.
Preventing rainy days...
Overlooking the financial realities of retirement dents many people's quality of life in their
Approach your retirement with open eyes.
Financial independence is the end result of a logical lifetime practice.
Guard your nest egg.
Understand that you may live longer than previous generations.
This means that you will need more financial resources to finance the post-retirement phase
of your life than you may realise.
Provide for it while you have the opportunity.
Financial peace of mind after a lifetime of work keeps you young and energised.
Make it easy on yourself - save first, then spend, whatever your income is.
Saving is a habit, not a function of income.
Know the savings number that will make retirement possible for you.
The earlier you make 'saving-a-percent-of-income' part of your financial agenda, the less radical
the lifetime challenge.
If possible, never stop earning an income while you are healthy, whatever your age.
And when you do decide to retire, leverage the income-providing capacity of your pool
Calculate the lifestyle your assets can finance with professional assistance - don't guess
Then live within your means.
Happy people don't set themselves up for hardship.
Take charge of your financial destiny.
The profile of financially independent people 1.
A lifetime habit of'underspending'; they saved at least 15% of their gross income during
their working life.
Didn't fake-work or scatter their efforts; they looked after their careers and deepened
As a rule, seldom 'overpaid' for consumer items; they were value conscious.
Were generally lifestyle debt-averse; they repaid their debt sooner than they were required
Not inclined to make 'sweeping' lifestyle changes; they were less impulsive.
Chipped away at it; they weren't 'lucky', did not pursue excessive investment returns,
and walked away from exotic financial solutions.
Maintained their existing assets; they had more because they cared for what they already
Fewer crises and recoveries; they looked after their overall wellness.
More private; they didn't live through the eyes of others.
More content; they didn't try to fix the past, rush the future, or set others straight.
Weren't married to their business ownership; they diversified their investments away from
one company at some point.
(Is your style financially-independent friendly?)
Patient yet persistent...
We are not designed to make revolutionary shifts in life.
The discomfort of sweeping changes to your pattern of living holds the danger of early
We have been shaped by a history of gradual progression.
To change, therefore, takes time.
Any radical insight you may take from this book will be of optimal value to you if you
back it with evolutionary implementation.
A drastic long-term shift in your capacity to be happy depends on the small daily changes
you are willing to make.
Training is at the core of any improvement in a skill.
This basic truth is applicable to all areas of your life.
You will achieve the most through establishing new routines in support of any new principle
you introduce to your life.
There is nothing romantic about ambitious failures.
Repetition is the key activity of any form of fitness.
Incremental advances, constantly pursued, become permanent successes.
You conquer a summit by chipping away at the mountain trail.
Happiness is not the result of erratic change.
Back your intent with small, conscious shifts in your daily conduct.
Making up our minds A 92-year-old, petite, proud lady was fully
dressed that morning by eight o'clock.
Her hair was fashionably coifed, and makeup perfectly applied.
She was moving to a nursing home that day.
After a long wait in the lobby of the nursing home, she smiled sweetly when told her room
As she maneuvered her walker to the elevator, she was given a visual description of her
tiny room, including the eyelet sheets that had been hung on her window.
"I love it", she stated with the enthusiasm of an eight-year-old who had just been presented
with a new puppy.
"Mrs. Jones, you haven't seen the room yet, please just wait."
"That doesn't have anything to do with it!", she replied.
Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time.
"Whether I like my room or not doesn't depend on how the furniture
is arranged... it's how I arrange my mind.
I have already decided to love it.
It's a decision I make about my life every morning when I wake up."
A FEW LAST WOROS This book was not meant to be a scientific
masterpiece nor an empirical research document.
It had a simple aim - to draw your attention to the dynamics of personal happiness.
There is so much more to say, but we are going to leave it at this.
We want to end with a personal note of encouragement.
We would like to invite you to take full responsibility to further your own level of happiness.
We appeal to you to pursue a fulfilling life-don't wait for it to happen.
You are worthy of happiness, but need to actively reach out for it.
Wherever you go from here, whatever you decide to do with your life, live in love.
Allow this everlasting wellspring of happiness in your life.
Real love is not a feeling; it is giving without remembering and receiving without forgetting.
It is not something to search for; it is something to hand out.
There is no satisfaction greater than being loving- and being loved.
No fear can ever stand before the power of unqualified compassion.
Release the conditions you place on your love.
To truly care is the only door to heaven on earth.
Learn from pain, don't succumb to it.
Then move on.
We cannot always enjoy dominion over everything.
There is no perfection out there, so expect distress and setbacks from time to time.
If you are willing to learn from hurtful events, you prevent more of them from happening to
Don't take life personally.
And remember, no one owes you.
Talk with care.
Besides other people taking cues from your words, your mind listens to your commands
and your spirit takes on the sentiment you express.
Use this wonderful human ability to not be a victim.
Choose to be better off.
The more you opt to move forward, the stronger your sense of freedom will become, because
people who act gain personal liberty.
Define who you are.
Start now - and be the best of that person you can be, every day.
Happiness is a present state.
Don't wait for the future or other people to come to your rescue.
Work around your weaknesses, optimise your strengths.
Create your own reality.
Enjoy your own company.
Look after your body.
Harness your spirit.
Grow your competence.
Guard over your resources.
Act your age.
Happiness is the art of prevention.
Say no when you should.
Be a truthful friend.
Start in your own home.
Keep your word.
Never blame, not even yourself.
Keep a healthy perspective on life.
Steer away from radical viewpoints.
Learn to give a problem its rightful attention, not more.
Look for opportunities.
Don't get stuck.
Laugh more than you cry - much more.
Make sure you know why you live.
Only you can have that answer.
Start every day with purpose.
Live every day as if it is your last, because one day it will be.
You are the best person to determine your own destiny.
If you choose happiness and embrace some of the simple attitudes and actions mentioned
in this book, and consistently improve on them, happiness will find it difficult to
pass you by.
Remember, you don't have to be happy for the rest of your life, only now.