9 Tips for Happiness

In my last post, I talked about Living Life with No Regrets.  The 5th most common regret people have is “I wish I let myself be happier.”  On this topic, Jyri Engestrom shared in his talk the 9 tips for Happiness – what we can practice in our everyday lives to be happy.  I broke them down into four categories with comments to help me remember.

Happiness tips we know but have a hard time following

  • #5 – More money will not improve your moment to moment mood. Your time and energy are better spent elsewhere.  We don’t need a lot of money to be happy.  But money can be very alluring and we over use it as a measure of success.  For example, what our salary offer is weighed heavily toward our decision to take an offer vs. other equally important aspects (nature of work, level of travel, do you have boss you respect and can learn from etc..).  I still struggle with this myself.  Being naturally competitive, I like my salary to be high although I know I live modestly enough to be able to accept a much lower salary but work in something I truly love.
    How to practice:  Go against your competitive instinct, put aside your ego, and take a job that may pay less but allow you to be happier.
  • #2 – Spend as much time as possible with people you love and like.  It always seem like we don’t spend enough time with family or friends until it’s too late.  Why? Because we often prioritize them last or we think they can wait.  Perfectionist for example, will spend another hour or two at work aligning boxes or wordsmithing sentences on a powerpoint, when in fact, he or she could be home playing games with the kids.
    How to practice:   Prioritize non work time in the top 3 and use all your vacation time every year.  I think this tip also means it’s important to work with people you like.

Happiness tips about looking for the good in yourself, others, and life

  • #7 – Be overconfident, with positive self-bias and positive illusions about how awesome your partner is. This is optimism and it is the key to everything.  I was raised to know how to self-criticize as self-praise in the Chinese culture is bad and equates to boasting.  Since growing up though, I have learned that if I can’t have a positive image of myself and my partner, no one else will either.
    How to practice:  Think of one positive aspect about yourself and your partner every day.  Even better, tell someone about it.
  • #1 – Do what you are good at as often as you can (know your signature strengths).  This requires optimism and true self awareness.  Someone too humble will not actually know what he or she is good at.  How can that person then do what she is good at when she is not sure what that is
    How to pracitice:   Find out what you are truly good at.  Do a self assessment and ask at least 3 people (colleagues and friends)
  • #4 – Savor the moment, don’t let your mind wander. When not in the moment, savor happy memories or look forward to something good.  This tip is about both being present and also looking forward to good things in the future.  It’s amazing how our moods can affect our motivation to do great things.  Those with optimism and a positive perspective on the past and the future are ones that will have more core energy to live life to the fullest
    How to practice:   Every week, ask yourself, what is the one thing you are looking forward to this week?

 Happiness tips that may be counter intuitive

  •  #6 – Avoid doing what is easy and strive to master something ambitious. You will be happier working.  I think we often mistaken that happiness means life should be easy.  We have no worries about money, no stress, etc… Well, this tip highlights why an easy life will not lead to happiness.  If we are not challenging ourselves, learning and striving everyday, then we will feel like something is missing.  I struggle with this now.  I had made choices that gives me much more work life balance but my work is not challenging me.  Can I find better work that is challenging while still have time for family?  That’s the quest I am on right now.  Wish me luck.
    How to practice:   Forget about whether you can do it today, just answer the question – What do you want to master?
  • #3 – Give to create a feedback loop. Helping others reach their goals brings you joy.  Many of us on the corporate ladder are takers – people who will only give if we get something equal or greater value in return.  We think that’s the way to success.  Well, perhaps not.  A new book called Give and Take by Wharton Professor Adam Grant says the opposite and agrees with this tip.  Givers are the rarer breed of leaders that will be more successful in the long run.  I have just read a few chapters and will let you know more when I finish
    How to practice:  Look for ways to give without expecting anything in return.

Tactical happiness tips – to be practiced everyday 🙂

  • #8 – Get your sleep, you can’t cheat on it and it is vital because your mood in the morning affects your mood all day.
  • #9 – Frequency beats intensity, so stop thinking about big events, live in the little things of everyday life and don’t bother to try and reduce the bad so much as you increase the good.

Your comments:  What are you doing to be happy?  do these tips help?  What’s the most challenging one for you to follow?  Share your comments below.

Best wishes to your career success.  I am always in your corner


5 thoughts on “9 Tips for Happiness”

  1. I had a phenomenal philosophy professor in college. Dr. Virginia Ringer. The kind of teacher that brought every bit of energy, passion and enthusiasm she had into her subject and into her classroom. I took two years worth of philosophy classes from her. There are still a lot of things I remember from what she taught me. (Partly because I kept all my class notes and the books)! Perhaps the one thing I remember most vividly, and have referred to in my life most often, is when she began one class by telling us that she thought that Americans were uniquely, and sadly, overly focussed on happiness. She started that class with this question “What is the most damaging legacy of the Declaration of Independence?” The answer is found in the last part of this phrase “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” By using the word happiness Jefferson and his colleagues had condemned the future Republic’s future citizens to the pursuit of the wrong life goal.

    Her viewpoint was not as popular or well understood as it would be now in the age of the Positive Psychology movement and all the research it has engendered on happiness. What this extensive research, thinking, and discussion have shown is that happiness is fleeting, self-focused and impermanent. A search for meaning, and constructing a meaningful life, is more likely to lead to fulfillment, satisfaction, giving rather than taking, gratitude rather than materialism, and durable positive feelings. These folks sum up the research well;

    To quote Todd Kashdan, Professor of Psychology at George Mason University:

    “Think about what you want written on your tombstone.

    Here lies Todd Kashdan, a man who put every ounce of effort into being a happy person.
    Here lies Todd Kashdan, a man who strived to be a good friend, a good husband, a good father, while trying to make the world a slightly better place.

    Like Professor Kashdan, I chose the latter long ago.

    “Be in the present moment, be open and curious, and devote your life to what matters. Do this and you are liable to catch happiness along the way (or you might not). There are better things to live for than the pursuit of a perfect mix of thoughts and feelings inside our brain.”

    I like to think Dr. Ringer would be cheering.

  2. Your article on happiness provides very sound advice! I am currently practicing several things to maintain happiness, including taking time to myself and focusing on things I enjoy doing, such as crocheting, writing, art, and reading. In addition to that, I also am focusing on set goals to maintain a purpose in life. Having a purpose gives me happiness. To not fall in the pitfall of monotone, I am also working and attending university to gain happiness in success and knowledge.

  3. I LOVE this article! It reminds me of advice that I would get from my favorite author, Susan Spira author of three great books, “Happy Shorts”, “The Happy Tips Book”, and “One-Liners For Life.” I love advice that is uplifting and encouraging and gets me motivated to take life by the horns! Thanks again!


  4. Great article. This has definitely given me some food for thought.

    What’s making me happy right this now is knowing I’ll be going to Crete next Friday (I’ve changed my wallpaper to a palm tree to really get me in the spirit) but what made me smile earlier today was my success and the fact my success was acknowledged with those two powerful words “well done”.

    At every opportunity I can I’ll give praise to others. Sitting so close to a sales team means I hear their telephone conversations and I will always tell them if they’ve had a good call. I guess it’s because I’m driven to help people. I won’t stop until I see a smile.

    This article has made me want to try #7. I think very highly of my partner and he makes me happy. I feel that I should be giving him the same praise I give my colleagues.

    Simple acknowledgement of success can make someone’s day (it made mine today) and working in recruitment for http://www.emptylemon.co.uk, you hear how many recruiters fail to respond to unsuccessful candidates. Even saying they interview well but weren’t successful is better than nothing at all!

    If only there were such thing as “guaranteed satisfaction” stickers for job adverts, not just tins of beans.

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