Satisfying your needs for love, self-respect, money and fulfilment.
True happiness isn’t contentment (from doing the same things) but
creativity (doing new and difficult things).
Where are people happiest?
According to the World Happiness Report,the world's happiest countries in 2013 were :
America was 17th and Britain 23rd.
How to be happy (the 4 L’s)
a) find somebody to share your life with
The happiest partners are best friends with the same aims and values.
Friendship is more important than sex.
b) give family and friends your time and attention
They will return your love and be there when you need them.
c) help others even when it hurts you
Selfishness kills happiness, because people won’t love you so much.
If you feel down, do something for someone else!
But don’t forget yourself. To love others, you must love and respect
d) know yourself
Your relationships will suffer, if you don’t:
- accept your problems (as the first step to solving them).
- use your strengths to love others.
e) be yourself
People won’t like you, if you try to be something you aren’t.
f) forgive and forget
Abandon resentment and wipe the slate clean!
- always love new ideas, new knowledge and new experiences.
- continually improve yourself.
- learn from failure, disappointment and difficult times like bereavement.
a) be healthy
Lots of exercise with a healthy diet including:
- more fruit and vegetables (at least five portions a day).
- less sugar, salt and fat.
b) value life
Be grateful for what you’ve got and take full advantage of your opportunities with passion and
Use every minute to make your life better and more worthwhile.
c) enjoy beauty
Look for it in art, music, relationships and nature.
Do what you want to do but remember your responsibilities to others (see point 1 above).
Enjoy the material things like good food and drink.
But don’t be so preoccupied with making money that you:
- neglect your family and friends.
Simplify your life – make do with fewer things, so you don’t have to earn so much.
f) overcome suffering and stress
- avoid bitterness (so forgiveness helps).
- face problems with courage and compassion.
- walk (exercise breaks up negative thoughts).
g) write a thank you letter
Writing connects you with other people and makes you feel good.
How can you laugh, beat stress (see also stress management) and find peace
a) be positive
- always be optimistic about overcoming your problems.
- remind yourself of happy moments in sad times.
- don't think everyone is out to get you.
Life is difficult enough, so laugh about it.
c) high aspirations, low expectations
- aspire to do great things.
- don’t expect too much to avoid disappointment.
- have a realistic view of your ability.
d) get the right work-life balance
- find enough time for your leisure, family and friends.
- relax and get enough sleep.
e) don’t be a perfectionist
Have high standards but accept that sometimes you will fail and things will go wrong.
f) values and beliefs
- believe in something worthwhile.
- have the right values (e.g. love) and live by them, so you have a clear conscience.
g) solve your problems
- deal with them straightway, even if it’s painful.
- share them with other people, so they can help you.
Key quotes explained
“Good conscience, good health, occupation, knowledge and
- Thomas Jefferson’s (American president, pictured right) definition of
Peace of mind, virtue, health, liberty and worthwhile activity are vital to happiness.
“The glow of a warm thought”, Jefferson also said was worth more to him than money. Notice he
doesn’t mention what you look like – being beautiful inside is much more important.
Another American president, Harry S. Truman,
described his workplace (the White House) as the world’s finest prison. He wasn’t totally happy because he was
imprisoned by the awesome responsibilities of his job.
He and Jefferson would have agreed with the Greek philosopher, Epictetus: “Anywhere is
a prison if you don’t wish to be there”.
“Happiness depends on wisdom”
- Sophocles (Greek
playwright, pictured right)
A happy person continually thirsts for knowledge (including self-knowledge) and the character building that
comes from challenging and exciting experiences .
“Happiness lies not in the mere possession
of money, it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative
effort”, said the American
president,Franklin D. Roosevelt.
“The love you take is equal to the love you make”
Beatles (from their Abbey Road album) - pictured
Love and self-sacrifice make you happier than anything else. The most miserable people are self-centred and
“It is more blessed to give than receive”, Jesus said.
“True happiness is...to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon
- Seneca (Greek philosopher).
Live for the present and don’t be weighed down by the past or the future. Count your blessings and have a clear
“The happy man is one who possesses what he wants and wants nothing that is evil”, St. Augustine said.
“No man is an island”
Donne (English poet, pictured right)
You need other people to be happy.
Charles Handy (pictured right) , The Age of Unreason (1989)
The happiest people have “portfolio” lives with a combination of different types of work:
- Wage (or salary) work – regular paid employment.
- Fee work – pay for a single job e.g. a consultancy project.
- Homework – jobs in the home (shopping, cleaning, etc.).
- Gift work – unpaid work outside the home e.g. charity and community work.
- Study work – education and training.
(see The Age of Unreason for more
detail in the Business Books section)
Erich Fromm (pictured
right), To Have or To Be? (1976)
What you have (having) is much less important than being - who you are and what gives meaning to your life (like
love). Examples are:
- having authority and being an authority.
- having knowledge and knowing.
- having love and loving (love is not coercively taken but freely given).
Consumer philosophy (I am what I have and what I consume) leads to spiritual emptiness and unhappiness.
David Myers (pictured right)
, The Pursuit of Happiness (1993)
Don’t want what you can’t have or can’t do, and be thankful for what you’ve got.
You need talent as well as effort, so find something you can do well.
Alvin Toffler (pictured right) , Future Shock (1970)
To help with change and stress, we need “stability zones” like family, friends, religion and hobbies.
right), Nicomachean Ethics (350 BC)
To be happy, you must think about your life, use all your abilities and be a good (i.e. virtuous) person.
Dale Carnegie (pictured right), How to Stop Worrying and Start Living (1944)
Count your blessings. To remind himself of this, Carnegie stuck this rhyme on his shaving mirror:
"I had the blues because I had no shoes,
Until upon the street, I met a man who had no feet”.
Timothy Ferriss (pictured
right), The 4-Hour Working Week (2007)
Do what you think is worthwhile and seize your opportunities in a shorter working week (using technology to save
Virginia Satir (pictured
right), Conjoint Family Therapy (1964)
Happy people are created in families which develop their self-esteem through love, non-critical acceptance and
recognition, and open, honest two-way communication.