post written by: Marc Chernoff

10 Things Happy People Never Do Again


10 Things Happy People Never Do Again

“Happiness is not a goal; it’s the by-product of a life well lived.”
―Eleanor Roosevelt

We all make mistakes in life, but the people who learn and grow from their mistakes are the happiest ones in the end.

And that’s precisely what we discuss in today’s video…

Video Blog Post:

10 Things Happy People Never Do Again (video transcript):

Life is change.  Everyone has gone through something that has changed them in a way that prevents them from being the same person they once were.  But as my grandmother always told me, this is a very good thing.  As long as you keep learning and stretching yourself, change is growth.

Sometimes you have to accept the fact that things will never go back to how they used to be, and that this ending is really a new beginning.

Over the past decade, Angel and I have helped thousands of coaching clients and blog subscribers (subscribe here) get their lives back on track.  In the process of doing so, we have discovered that the people who have the greatest potential for renewed happiness seem to have specific “aha” moments that totally change the trajectory of their thoughts and behaviors.  Once this “aha” light bulb goes off in their minds, they awaken to a new reality that motivates them to never go back to their old way of doing things.

In short, these “aha” moments mean they got it.  Whatever it was they were doing or thinking that was holding them back, is now a lesson learned and a thing of the past.

Although life has many important lessons to teach us, Angel and I have observed and studied ten specific gateways – or “aha’s” – of learning that the happiest people go through, never to return again.

Happy people never again…

  1. Try to be anyone other than who they are. – In everything you do, you must ask, “Why am I doing this?  Is this helping me grow?  Does it represent who I am and who I hope to become?”  Truth be told, trying to be anyone else is a waste of the person you are.  Be yourself.  Embrace that individual inside you that has ideas, strengths and beauty like no one else.  Be the person you know yourself to be – the best version of you – on your terms.
  2. Attempt to be everything to everyone. – It’s impossible to please everyone, and you shouldn’t try.  Period.  Some people will constantly tell you what you did wrong, and then hesitate to compliment you for what you did right.  Don’t be one of them, and don’t pay attention to them.  Once you get that it truly is impossible to please everyone, you begin to live more purposefully, trying to please only the right people.  (Read The Mastery of Love.)
  3. Try to change other people. – You can’t change people; they can only change themselves.  Instead of trying to change others, give them your support and lead by example.  If there’s a specific behavior someone you love has that you’re hoping disappears over time, it probably won’t.  If you really need them to change something, be honest and put all the cards on the table so this person knows what you need them to do.  When you realize that you can’t force people into doing something, even if it’s for their own good, you give them freedom and allow them to experience the consequences.  And in doing so, you find your own freedom as well.
  4. Make the same exact mistake. – You have to respect the wise words of Albert Einstein: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  So whether you’re in a business situation that isn’t making any progress, or a broken relationship that has proven to be unhealthy, you should never step back into same situation, expecting different results, without something specific and measurable actually being different.
  5. Choose short-term pleasure over long-term happiness. – You have to do exactly the opposite – sacrifice short-term pleasure for long-term happiness.  Happy people are more interested in something being effective than they are in something being easy.  While everyone else is looking for the quickest shortcut, they look for the course of action which will produce the best results over the long term.  Living out this principle every single day is one of the most fundamental differences between people who live truly rewarding lives and those who don’t, both personally and professionally.  (Angel and I discuss this in detail in the “Goals and Success” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
  6. Expect people and situations to be perfect. – It’s natural for us to be drawn to situations and people that appear to be amazing.  We love excellence and should always be looking for it.  We should pursue people who are great at what they do, coworkers and employees who are high performers, mates who are extraordinary people, friends who have stellar character, and business partners who excel.  But never lose sight of this simple truth: Nothing and nobody is perfect.  Period.  No one and no thing is flawless, and if they appear that way, and you expect them to always be that way, you will only disappoint yourself.
  7. Let one dark cloud cover the entire sky. – Take a deep breath.  It’s just a bad moment, or a bad day, not a bad life.  Everyone has troubles.  Everyone makes mistakes.  The secret of happiness is to count your blessings while others are adding up their troubles.  For happy people, no one event is ever the whole story.  They remind themselves of this fact each and every day.
  8. Neglect responsibility for managing their life situation. – Simply put, happy people don’t blame others or defer their authority.  They take complete responsibility for their actions and outcomes, or their lack thereof.  They know it’s up to them, and only them, to assess and manage their circumstances.  Laziness just won’t cut it.  No matter how good something looks at first, it is only by owning your situation and taking a deeper, diligent, and sincere look that you will find out what you truly need to know: the truth that you owe to yourself.
  9. Classify themselves as a victim. – Yes, it’s unfortunate that sometimes bad things happen to the best of people.  Life can be unfair, unkind and downright unjust.  However, being stuck in a victim mentality does not nurture your ability to move onward and upward.  You’ve got to stand back up and take positive steps to heal and grow.  One of the biggest differences between truly happy people and others is that in every difficult life situation – relationships, career, business, money, etc. – happy people always ask themselves, “What part am I playing in this situation?  And what are my options from this point forward?”  (Read Second Firsts.)
  10. Allow external achievements to overshadow inner happiness. – We are happy and fulfilled mostly by who we are on the inside.  Scientific research has validated this time and time again.  And our internal lives largely contribute to producing many of our external circumstances.  The problem is that when we think we have to “look” for things in life like love, meaning and inspiration, the “looking” implies that these things are somehow hiding behind some bushes somewhere, just waiting to be discovered.  So we start looking for these things in places that lead us further and further outside ourselves, which is not where our happiness lives.

Afterthoughts

If you’re struggling with any of the points above, know that you are not alone.  We all struggle with these things at times.  Sometimes we repeat mistakes many times before we are able to say “aha” and finally get it.  Just do your best to look for the patterns that are holding you back, and then gradually eliminate them.  That’s really it…

Your task, in life, in relationships, and in business, is to observe what is NOT working for you, and never go back to doing these things.

Your turn…

What’s one “aha” moment that has helped you find more happiness?  What else has been hurting your happiness that you need to never do again?   Leave a comment below and let us know.

Photo by: Amanda

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34 Comments

  • Wonderful overview of how to live life happily and skillfully.

    It’s taken me close to five decades to figure a lot of this out for myself — wish I had read your work in my 20’s!

    One lesson I would add from my own experience is to stay agile in your approach to life. Never again get too comfortable.

    Switch up your fitness regime from time to time, avoid strict diets, find different ways to quiet your mind (meditation, walking in nature, or simply turning off your phone and the radio while driving), explore different paths that branch out from your passion.

    We’re meant to be happy — not the excited, over-stimulated kind of happy all the time, but the calm, content kind of happy that living as you describe brings about.

    We need to get quiet enough to be able to hear our hearts, to be able to sense our true state of mind, so that we can make adjustments if necessary.

    Thanks for the inspiring post!

  • This post was timely and amazing. I have been hurting my happiness in more ways than I can count, but I’m making progress…

    So thank you yet again. Every few days I am sure to read one of your posts or a few pages of your book. They really give me the extra strength to move forward and fight for my honest existence. Little by little I am gaining more courage to forget my dark past and overcome my fears. Your words are like bullets of positivity hitting me from deep within, and through them I’ve found many of the answers I’ve been searching for.

    My “ah ha” – through your writings, realizing I was doing your first two points in this post over and over and over.

  • The most important lesson I have learnt is that happiness is a choice first and foremost. For the longest time I sabotaged my own happiness simply by choosing to see negative in every situation.

    While it may be true that many of our circumstances, environment and surroundings can affect how we feel and how we view life, but ultimately, how we choose to feel and react is our own choice (at least for those of us not battling clinical depression, etc.).

    I have also learned that it is important to appreciate the ‘bad’ as much as the good. Easier said than done, but as the wise saying goes, ‘There would not be a rainbow, without a little rain.’

  • Ravikumar Chekoru
    July 20th, 2014 at 11:50 pm

    Really good article and video! Thank you.

  • Great points! I wish you could take them to heart that easily - but I guess it’s a long process in order to truly learn them.

    I especially love Nr. 5 - I believe being able to prioritize long-term benefits over momentary pleasure is the key to success in anything (you won’t stay fat for long if you’re able to turn down that chocolate bar in exchange for finally getting in shape!)

  • I just spoke to my friend about keeping herself happy and then just happened to read this post.. One “aha” moment I had recently is about the “Trivial Many and Vital Few…based on the Pareto principle - Focus on the vital few things (actions) that could keep us happy, productive and accomplished and reduce the trivial many thoughts, worries in the mind and it helps us become happy people!

  • I like the days’ message about stopping the things that don’t make you happy. Two years ago my then husband was cheating on me while I was taking care of our sick son out of town. We got divorced and he kept wanting to get back together based on the happiness we once had. The rest of your message clarifies how the experiences we have sometimes won’t allow us to go back to the way we once were, and that you cant change a person who doesn’t want to. We tried getting back together I think 8 times. He continued to be quick to anger, yell a ton, take me for granted, and run to another woman the second something was a little tough.

    You know, new love is easy and repairing old love is a ton of work. He’d rather take the easy way out but I’d just rather not allow him to hurt me again because I’ve learned that life without him makes me happy. I dont get daily insults and demeaning treatment, yelled at, cheated on, or expectations to stroke his ego or jump when he says jump. A good friend of mine just kept watching me repeat my mistake of trying to go back to o him when he said so. She would ask when I told her what left a sour taste in my mouth, “…and you want this why?” I am through taking his crap and short term pain and loneliness will pass and I will look long term for the right person not rush into something new like him. Certain events in our 20 yr marriage will never allow us to go back to the “happy” we once were. B

  • I appreciate this article. But how does one stay happy if the same person betrays you again and again…? Do you hold your head high and move on, or try to question your destiny??

    I am at crossroads today. Any advice, anyone?

  • I am a fairly new follower and I know how important it is to start your day off with the right mindset. Your blog is a great resource for me.

    One thing that is hurting my happiness is my fitness goals. When I try to accomplish a goal, 75% of the time I only get 50% of my goal accomplished. I have realized that I feel satisfied enough half way through(enough to be ok with stopping), but not truly happy that I accomplished my entire goal.

    Thank you for your video!

  • I like you’re article, been reading a lot of you’re posts and they have been helping a lot.

    What’s hurting my happiness is thinking about someone everyday who doesn’t care about me. I spent too long putting her first and not looking after my own feelings. Trying my hardest now to be happy, for me :)

    Thank you.

  • Thank you for these very important lessons. Over the last few years, one of the things I have been very intentional about cultivating in myself and others is point no 9.

    I also like that you mentioned that it often take repeated attempts before reaching your “ah ha.” I’m learning to be more patient and compassionate with myself when I falter. Rather than sitting in shame, we can get up again and move forward, knowing that we have a plan to eliminate negativity from our lives.

  • You two… never fail to hit the right topic at just the right time. All my life I have felt this responsibility for everyone to be happy. In my job that I started 7 months ago, there is without doubt sour nasty atmosphere at times. My vicar at church has had injury to his ankle, I sent him e mail.asking how he was, could I pray healing for him? He replied Please!!! My aha moment is to help those who can’t help themselves, and at the same time realise I am not responsible for everyone else’s choice of mood or behaviour, be it colleagues, strangers, my children or husband. I am responsible for me, so I encourage everyone to try this, be at peace with yourself and forgive others for their ‘off’ days.

  • I guess the best “a-ha” moment I have had recently is that the only way I can change another person’s behavior is to change mine first. When I am completely frustrated at work, it actually spreads to my team. So now I focus on options, am less frustrated, and the team has started doing this as well.

    It works even better in your personal life.

  • @Irene - I’ve recently let go of a few people that I love very much. I found Marc and Angel’s site while looking for advice on the subject.

    It’s hard to let go, but if someone is hurting you and either can’t or won’t change what he/she is doing to you, then there are not a lot of options for you. Like this post says, “You can’t change people; they can only change themselves.”

    I’m struggling, but with the help of wonderful articles like this, I am putting my happiness first.

    I’m starting to see a good future for myself, without the constant pain of past hurts and constant fear of the next one. I’m doing something different, rather than repeating the same things.

    It’s hard–really hard–but for your own happiness, please don’t let someone betray you over and over again. You are worth more than that.

  • This is a great list! Definitely worth reading or watching more than once.

    I’d add that happy people don’t wait for others to understand or approve of their goals before taking the first step. Happy people are okay taking action on their own.

    Thanks! :)

  • Like others have said, great video and post.

    I would add that happy people never again allow the same person to make them feel worthless. If someone has proven that they don’t have your best interests in mind, believe it.

  • Love your blog posts! They are very positive and practical. The thing I should NEVER ever do again is worry about my kids and feel guilty! It sends negative messages and makes me feel terrible. Good to remind myself often!

  • @Cheryl

    Cheryl, I came to this website today looking for inspiration as well. This being the first article on the site of course I read it. I like to take the time to read others comments as I like to get acknowledge others people points of view as they never fail to surprise me. Anyway, I wanted to thank you for your comment to Irene, feeling the way I do, experiencing what I just have I wanted to say I really really very much appreciated it. As it was literally the exact thing I needed to read right now. Thank you so much for your words of encouragement, I hope you continue to share them as they were truly inspiring. As so is Marc and Angel, thank you.

  • Great tips here as always.

    I now appreciate the concept of “this too shall pass” and am more patient and accepting of things I don`t really like. An example : there is a lot of noise near my house due to construction, but it does not bother me very much (as it would have 5 or 10 years ago) since I know it will end in a week or 2 and everything will return to normal.

    It is also very true that you can not change anybody. They will only change if they want to do so.
    I have had to cut many toxic people out of my life, some of them close family members, because they will not change their ways. I currently have a very supporting S.O. and a couple that we get along with very well. Apart from that, my social support is non-existent. But even if I did not have a single positive and supporting person in my life, I would rather be completely alone, living in a forest, than to be around toxic people at this point in my life, having been forced to be around so many of them for so many years (as a child and young adult).

    Thanks for this post and all your posts on this life affirming blog !

  • Hello again. #10. I know my “aha” moment must come from within, by loving myself. I keep trying, small steps, but get knocked down almost every time. I admit that it’s hard to get back up and try again, but I am. I need to find this “aha” moment soon. Every setback just makes me feel more lousy. Am I doing this to myself? And if so, why? I want to be loved again. I so need to find my “aha” moment. Thank you all.

  • I feel that by appreciating things, more good things have come my way.

  • Abdallah salum massoud
    July 21st, 2014 at 11:43 pm

    Hi marc and angel, thanks for good post. The ‘aha’ means discovery, so the moment that helped me to find more happiness is when I stood back up after an adversity and took new positive steps to heal and grow. I realized I could heal. Also the thing that’s hurting my happiness that I never want to do again is holding back on my love, meaning and inspiration - I need to express it. Thanks.

  • balanescu elena
    July 22nd, 2014 at 2:25 am

    Great words… helpful indeed, but easier said than done of course. Everybody wants happiness and we do anything to find it, to feel it, even for a short time. I find myself in these 10 things and my life I would spin in the same circle making the same mistakes, trying to find a loophole to the happiness.

    Thank you for this article and for giving me something positive to think about.

  • I have hurt someone I love deeply. It happened some time ago and we are working (struggling) to find our way back to the way we were. Your post today made sense to me. It’s about our world now and moving forward. Unlike the woman and man in the 20 year marriage where he didn’t change - I have made the changes necessary to show her my love and commitment. In this new world - she’s the center of it for me again. I see her kindness and love and realize how much she means to me. Having always been best friends - I acknowledged I abandoned and betrayed her. Now, as time moves forward - we have been stuck trying to make it like it was - I understand that won’t happen - and that now we need to embrace our happiness and our new world and be honest about its value and importance. We love each other and want to move forward. My aha moment came today and realizing that it doesn’t have to be the way it was - and that’s ok. Now we need to embrace the “new” us.

    Thank you for your article.

  • @Cheryl: Thanks a lot. :) I don’t feel as alone and lonely at the moment because of your caring words… and I will remember all that you have said.

    And thanks Marc n Angel, as always…

  • I love your stuff. #4 & #5 I am still working on. This is all a process. Wish I had seen your stuff earlier in life, but some of these things only come to you through the school of hard knocks.

  • This is fantastic, especially the last item. Research HAS indeed shown time and time again that happiness does not come from external sources. Truthfully, this was probably one of my biggest ‘ahas’. Also love how you specify: “the “looking” implies that these things are somehow hiding behind some bushes somewhere, just waiting to be discovered.” Reminded me of a great quote: “Now and then it’s good to pause on our pursuit of happiness, and just be happy”

  • One thing I need to never do again is be afraid to try new things and make mistakes. They are inevitable and a part of growth. Really love reading your blog and watching these videos! Allows me to step back and reflect well. Thank you. =)

  • I have been following you guys for over a year now. I also have read aloud on air some of your pearls of wisdom to our ( Inner Child ) when we studied The Master Key System. Your message always inspires, causes one to look within and we so appreciate you. Many blessings to you both.

  • Exactly. Change is growth - that was my aha a few years back. Sometimes it’s tough to deal with, but it’s necessary.

  • @Mathias: No doubt about it - good things take time. Keep going my friend. :)

    @Vinodhini: A very wise use of the Pareto Principle. Way to go for reaching out and helping your friend see brighter days. We all need more friends like you.

    @Bridgette: Although it’s sad when a relationship like yours doesn’t work out, it’s always for the best. It sounds like have a great head on your shoulders. Keep focusing forward… on yourself and the ideas that move you. Best of luck on your journey.

    @Irene: I think Cheryl left you a truly insightful response. If the same person incessantly betrays you, it’s time to let them go. Maybe this means drastic measures, or maybe it simply means distancing yourself for awhile and seeing how the distance helps you see the bigger picture. Either way, it’s time to put your best interests in mind.

    @Cheryl: Thank you. :)

    @Tom Jenkins: Great point about not letting the small things get to you. Couldn’t agree more.

    @Betsy: It’s about taking small steps and appreciating each day’s little victories. Sometimes the best “aha’s” are found in the appreciation of what is.

    @Robert: Your perspective is sound and beautiful. Thank you for sharing a piece of your story with us. Cheers to lessons learned and better choices going forward.

    @All: Thanks, as always, for taking a moment to share your thoughts with us. We love reading your comments.

  • Great points. I especially appreciate the reminder to be yourself and not expect others/situations to change. I think those are so important. We must find happiness in who we are, and stop expecting that we “should” be like others. Thank you for the reminder!

  • I found this video very useful. Also in the world there are 2 kinds of people: “person people” who actually build energy through interaction with people; and “task people” which lose energy through interacting with people. Just an important thought to keep in mind when interacting with others.

  • This year has not been good… broke up with my long time boyfriend, we had been battling trust issues and i kept begging him to always fight for this even when it was him in wrong. I lost my self confidence, i acted desperate and only realized he was toxic to me after the break up. I am looking forward to a happier life with myself and these articles have really inspired me and encouraged me to see life differently.

    THANK YOU!

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