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


3 Thoughts on “9 Tips for Happiness

  1. Jessica Remter on June 13, 2013 at 5:20 am said:

    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.

  2. Becky on May 24, 2013 at 12:35 pm said:

    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!

  3. 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, 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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