I was giving a talk at a conference recently and the organizers asked me iI had any quick, summary tips to share with the audience, based on my talk. I'm not usually the master of a few words or quick summaries. But I decided it was a good exercise to try and highlight some of my absolute core learnings about becoming happier in a short list.
Here's what I came up with.
These lessons, written in as few words as I could muster, are some of the most important ones that have helped me -- after decades of chasing all the wrong kind of happiness in all the wrong ways -- nurture a sense of well-being that feels real and one that I'm not afraid with disappear any minute.
10 Commandments of Happier-ness
- Happier-ness isn’t something you feel, but something you do. It’s a skill every one of us has and can improve by regularly practicing the scientifically-proven habits of gratitude, kindness, and mindfulness.
- It’s OK to be not OK. True emotional well-being is not the absence of negative emotions. It’s the practice of strengthening your emotional immune system so that you learn how to be OK even when not everything is OK.
- “I’ll be happy when…” is the surest way to never feel happy enough. Genuine emotional wellness can only be nurtured from within.
- Gratitude, kindness, and mindfulness are the three anchors of happier-ness practice. Make them a non-negotiable part of your day, put them on your to-do list, and do them even if you don’t feel like it.
- Be Here Now (however now is). When you become awake to what is and how you feel right now, without judgment or expectations, you gain clarity and strength.
- You can practice gratitude in every moment, even when life sucks. When you look for something, however small, to appreciate, your brain releases serotonin and dopamine, both of which make you feel better. Gratitude is magic medicine that never runs out.
- Be kind without expecting anything in return. Do it because it feels better to be kind than not. You experience 100% of emotions you give to others, so when you act kindly, you feel kindness towards yourself.
- Seek meaning more often than happiness. The simplest acts, if meaningful to you, will bring you closer to feeling full, alive, and happier.
- Don’t try to be fearless. Accept your fear and move into love, commitment, passion, and dedication for what you are doing.
- You can’t give what you don’t have. Taking care of your emotional well-being is the greatest gift you can give to people you love.