post written by: Marc Chernoff

8 Ways to Simplify the Pursuit of Happiness


8 Ways to Simplify Your Pursuit of Happiness

There are specific disciplines and ways of seeing the world that you have to understand before you can awaken to a simpler, happier life.

Sometimes we make life more complicated than it is.  We attach our happiness to achievement and then look for it in all the wrong ways and in all the wrong places.

Of course, you don’t have to live like this.  If you feel like you are, it’s time to simplify things.  It’s time to clear the air and get back to the basics.

Simplifying your pursuit of happiness is not seeing how little you can get by with – that’s poverty – but how efficiently you can put first things first, and use your time accordingly to pursue the things that make a difference and mean the most to you.

Here are eight ways to do just that:

1.  Lose yourself in something that moves you.

To truly flourish in life you have to let go a little, lose yourself in the moment and become fused with other people, experiences, and tasks.

This happens sometimes when you are engrossed in a challenge, or when the artist inside you becomes one with the creative task at hand.  It happens sometimes while you’re playing sports, or listening to music, or lost in a good book, or when you feel completely enveloped by another’s love.  And it happens most when you emotionally connect with someone who shares your visions.

In other words, long-term happiness isn’t just about conscious achievement; it’s also about the unconscious part of your mind naturally intertwining with the ideas, passions, work, people, songs, and stories that move you.  Read The How of Happiness.

2.  Know what you want and commit to it.

The words ‘aware’ and ‘commit’ are so powerful.  It’s amazing what you can do once you’re aware of what you want and you commit to doing it.  If you can honestly say that you are fully aware of your desires and what they entail, and that you are devoted to doing what it takes, you are already in a high spirited state of mind.

Being aware and committed means you are informed – alert, knowledgeable, prepared – and you have the mindset to visualize, strategize, focus, and achieve.

The more aware you are of life and its difficulties, and the more committed you are about how you handle both good and bad situations, the less stressful life will be in the long-run.

3.  Guard yourself against dream crushers.

Stop sharing your dreams with people who try to hold you back, even if they’re the people who are supposed to support you – parents, siblings, friends, etc.

If you’re passionate about something out in the world that you want to explore – an interest that’s a little different than the norm – something that makes you a bit EXTRA-ordinary, you’ll never get there if you listen to people who keep telling you you’re not extraordinary.  Instead, you’ll likely settle into the comfortable, ordinary role they expect of you.  And that’s not likely a happy place for you.

4.  Find the right day job.

Lack of passion is fatal.  Happiness is spending your life in your own way.  This is especially true when it comes to lifelong work.

Your day job should be the place where your interests meet the world’s needs.

If you want to pursue happiness through your work, don’t look at a list of popular trades, pick one at random and dedicate your time to learning it.  Rather, find something that truly interests you… like writing, and indulge your mind in the infinite possibilities of fusing your thoughts with the written word.  Or maybe for you it’s boating, in which case pursue a position in the maritime industry and allow yourself to long for the endless immensity of the sea.  Or…

You get the idea.  When you appreciate what you do for a living, happiness and success tag along.  Read The 4-Hour Workweek.

5.  Focus on the way you want to feel.

You will begin to become happier and more successful the minute you decide to be.

Knowing how you actually want to feel is the most potent form of clarity that you can have.  Generating these feelings is the most powerfully creative thing you can do with your life.

Your thoughts create your reality: A positive context leads to positive actions, thoughts, and feelings, which gradually lead to positive results.  This mindset is the magic ingredient that helps you persevere in the face of challenges, setbacks, pain, and even personal injury.

6.  Maintain a flexible, constructive perspective.

Forget all the reasons it won’t work and figure out the one good reason it will.  It’s possible that you won’t get the exact results you had anticipated, but that’s OK – it’s still progress as long as you learn from the results you do get.  And perhaps with your newfound understanding you’ll discover a way to achieve even better results than you had originally thought possible.

Your choice of perspective has the power to build or demolish.  Your mind has the uninhibited ability to take any experience and create a meaning that deprives you or one that can literally make you jump for joy.  Read Awaken the Giant Within.

7.  Drop the comparisons.

Sometimes the hardest part of the journey is simply understanding that you’re OK just the way you are.  Don’t let the silly little dramas and dilemmas of each day get you down.  There is no reason for you to feel sorry for yourself, and there is no point in acting in such a way that others feel sorry for you.

Forget about where others are in their lives.  You aren’t competing against them; you are supposed to be right where you are.  Every life is unique.  You were born to do things that have never been done, to understand things that have never been understood. And you’re doing it.  The aches and pains you feel are the side effects of personal growth.

How would your life be different if you stopped making negative judgmental assumptions about your life and how you think it should be?  Let today be the day you look at the positive aspects of this journey that is uniquely yours.

8.  Help others smile.

In your pursuit of happiness – as unique as it may be to your own specific needs – don’t forget that you’re a member of a world that is far greater than yourself.

There are simple things you can do daily to lift the human spirits around you – things that are effortless and free and related to your pursuit.  And best of all, happiness begets happiness; when you do these things to help others, you don’t just lift their spirits, you lift your own as well.

Photo by: Raymond Larose

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24 Comments

  • Awesome. Again :)

  • After reading several of your privious posts over the past year, I have started practicing several of these tips in my life and am already noticing a difference. Thank you.

  • My father who just celebrated his 95th birthday has similar points tacked to the bulletin board in his den; it was printed in a newspaper many years ago, in a different form, and he liked it. So I have to say I agree with these points, because they must be working. My father is still living independently and is as happy and healthy as a 95 year old can be.

  • I doggedly pursued happiness with someone who gradually made me very unhappy. I compromised myself so much I went from being a person of value to an option. He has now moved on with someone else who on paper is much more suited to him but this only serves to make me feel more inadequate. I will work to apply your tips in my life. Thank you.

  • Dear Marc,

    I have a question pertaining to the post? When poverty strikes or when someone is in a hospital with deep pain, how do you deliver this advice properly to these people?

    Me being a life skills trainer have asked this question to myself many times and I am asking this in an open forum for the first time because I feel all of us can come together to figure out a solution to help ease pain and poverty from this world.

    Looking forward to hearing from you and also my other friends who are regular readers of marcandangel.
    Luv,
    Rafi

  • “You will begin to become happier and more successful the minute you decide to be.”

    That is probably one of the most powerful truths. Happiness is a choice.

    Thank you for another insightful post.

  • What you say about commitment resonates with me. It’s an often understated value, but so necessary in order to feel that you are progressing in life.

    Few things cause as much bitterness as knowing what you want, but doing nothing to achieve it. Lack of commitment can stem from many limiting beliefs, but the chasm between what you desire and what you are doing to accomplish it can cause great unhappiness.

    Commitment can be scary. It entails work. And sacrifice. But without it, nothing remarkable can ever be achieved.

    Cheers!

  • Love this post, Marc and Angel. Your words inspire me as always.

  • I’d also add, “When in doubt, toss it out.” Did you know that material possessions can add to your anxiety and make you unhappy? If you’re surrounded by stuff you need to take care of on a daily basis, you could be suffocating. Clean out your closets, garages, basements, attics, and sheds and get rid of the ’stuff’ you don’t or haven’t used in years. Simplify your life by living within your means and not outside of your means. You’ll be happier and feel lighter once your rid yourself of the ’stuff’ that’s been a burden instead of a joy to you.

  • I think equating simple and happy is a key point here.
    #5 is critical because although we (think) imagine the world as we see it, it’s through our senses (feelings) that we experience it.
    And #7 is a maxim that should be a guiding principle for us all - drop comparisons. Comparison, as is said, is the “thief of joy.”
    Good list! Thanks.

  • Thanks for the wonderful post and all the positive energy here!

  • Rony Eduardo Castellanos
    January 7th, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    I am so blessed to be able to read this article. My mentor liked your page Facebook and ever since I have been hooked to reading your amazing blogs.
    I must say, life has changed for me. I’m a working progress and thank you so much for helping me through your readings. You make this world a better place all the time.
    Love and blessings,

    Rony

  • i been reading most of you post and they are helping me alot with getting better and better and thinking that the world can be a better place if that’s what we choose to make it…

    @Kat…. don’t let him define who you are don’t let that boy make you think you u less let him be on you past and move on knowing that better things will come you way if we close the window to our pass and let it rest it will hurt but is better to know how that to have invest years of you life with someone who doesn’t care. good luck to everyone.

  • @Merril: Awesome! 95 and loving life. That’s living the dream.

    @kat: Don’t let anyone else hold the key to your happiness. Let this negative influence in your life GO, for good. You’re better off in the long run. Best of luck to you.

    @Inspired Citizen: This is a difficult question to answer. The key is to stick to the positives. In every situation – no matter how troubling – there are positives, and there are small steps that one can take to get their emotions moving in a constructive direction. Sometimes it’s group therapy, sometimes it’s one and one coaching, sometimes it’s meditation, etc. If you want to assist someone who is in a dire situation, you have to truly evaluate their individual circumstances and come up with a unique plan.

    @Bina: Glad you resonated with that.

    @Trevor: Again, you knocked it out of the park with this comment. I couldn’t agree more.

    @Amandah: No doubt about it. A cluttered space is unproductive. And unproductive people rarely achieve their long-term pursuit of happiness.

    @Geoge Altman: Thanks for expanding on that. I totally agree.

    @Kathy: Wise insights and advice for Kat. Thank you.

    @All: Thank you for your feedback. Feel free to add more suggestions to the list. We love hearing what you have to say.

  • 3 is such a daily battle, a worthwhile battle, but it’s still tough. Each day I’m confronted with people who seem to think that failure is an option, and a good one too, how wrong they are.. It’s taken time to focus on the way that I want to feel, but again, it’s worth it. Timeless, priceless information here, thanks!

  • Great Post! I especially like number 4! I think It’s absolutely essential for you to find something you can do to make a living that you genuinely enjoy doing. There’s a quote I heard once that said something like “find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” I completely agree!

    There are too many people who simply slog away at the job they have or whatever one they could get at the time just for the paycheck - even though they don’t like it (or even hate it). And I understand why someone might take a job they don’t really enjoy if they’re not working and just need to make some money. But there should come a point where you really figure out what it is that you enjoy doing and then find a way to do that to make a living instead!

    You spend so much time at your job, or running your own business, or doing whatever you do to make a living that it would be crazy not to have it be something you enjoy!

  • What a great post. Especially #3….someone very close to me frequently does this. I frequently tune it out, but it’s difficult when it’s your spouse.

  • I agree with these ideas. In order to be happy, one needs to look for places to act happy.
    In response to Rafi: My daughter was in the hospital and shortly thereafter my other daughter fell ill. I have since divorce struggled financially… and I am a very happy person. When my daughters were sick, I said “Things can only get better, because this is the worst.” When I didn’t know how I was going to pay a bill, I found a way… sometimes in the last possible moment. Life is how you look at it. I choose to always look for silver linings and positive experiences and I am happy!

  • Marc and Angel,

    Really great tips to get people moving towards greater happiness.

    Great job in touching on the 9 essentials of happiness: Wellbeing, Environment, Pleasure, Relationships, Outlook, Meaning, Involvement, Success, and Elasticity (easier to remember as your WE PROMISE needs).

    For anyone looking to be happier, I recommend using the tips in this article and applying them to your top needs, something we focus on helping you discover through our Happiness Planner.

  • This is a very helpful article for finding long-term happiness.

  • One of my favourite posts from Marc & Angel so far!

    This whole post is really the essence of what happiness is all about & also what I try to portray through my blog Happyologist & my coaching services.

    Life is really about doing what you love, living life with passion & making others smile while doing it :)
    One of my favourite lines (& a message I try to convey as much as I can): “Your day job should be the place where your interests meet the world’s needs.” - Brilliant!

    And the best news is if you live a happy life, you’re bound to be successful (research has shown this repeatedly!).

  • @Nick: Focusing on positivity is vital. Sounds like you’re on the right track.

    @Vance: No question about it, when passion meets work happiness and success come along almost naturally.

    Karen: Perhaps it’s time for a chat. Let your spouse know how their comments are making you feel. Be kind, but be honest.

    @Rochelle: Spot on advice. Thank you for sharing.

    @Ken: Thank you. I almost forgot about the WE PROMISE acronym. ;-)

    @Susanna: Thank you for the added insight. Glad you enjoyed the post.

  • Your blog never fails to inspire me. :)

  • Thank you so much Marc & Angel. Your blog makes me see things differently, blessings to you!!

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