Happiness is an attitude we act upon. We either make ourselves miserable, or happier and stronger. The amount of work is the same.
“My body sometimes feels sore, but it works. I don’t sleep well most nights, but I do wake up to experience another day. My wallet is not full, but my stomach is. I don’t have all the things I’ve ever wanted, but I do have everything I need. I’m thankful, because although my life is by no means perfect, it is MY life and I choose to be thankful in it, as I continue to do the best I can.”
That’s an entry from my grandmother’s journal, dated 7/20/1977. It’s one of a few entries I photocopied a decade ago, and still have hanging on my bulletin board today. And it continues to remind me that happiness is valuing what you have, and enjoying the people, places, objects and events in your life for what they are. It’s not about making massive breakthroughs every minute… sometimes it’s simply about being, appreciating, and making small tweaks. And you can almost always enjoy the things you have and make the best of the events happening around you if you decide firmly that you will.
No, life isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty darn good. You just have to…
- Embrace your humanness. – Do not endlessly search of sanctity, sacredness, and purity – these things are found after this life, not in it. But in this life you can search to be human – to feel, to give, to take, to laugh, to dance, to get lost, to be found, to love and to lust… to be so unapologetically and beautifully human in every imaginable way.
- Realize your greatness. – Contrary to what others may say, you do not need to rise to the top, or be the cream of the crop, before you can feel great about yourself. For you are not a failure because you’re not perfect, got rejected or laid off, struggle to make ends meet, or have a family with issues. You are great because, despite your circumstances, you keep loving, you keep getting back up after every fall, and, above all, the little steps you keep taking, you take with grace.
- Exercise your inner power. – This life is yours, and yours alone. Take the power to choose what you want to do and do it well. Take the power to love what you want in life and love it genuinely. Take the power to walk in nature and be a part of it. Take the power to control your own life. No one else can do it for you. Take the power to make your life happy.
- Choose differently. – A big part of your life is a result of the little choices you make every day. If you don’t like some part of your life, it’s time to start tweaking things and making better choices, right now, right where you are.
- Accept yourself just the way you are. – Too many days are wasted comparing ourselves to others and wishing to be something we aren’t. Everybody has their own strengths and weaknesses, and it is only when you accept everything you are, and aren’t, that you will truly find happiness and success.
- Stop looking for external validation. – You don’t have control over what others think about you, but you do have control over how you decide to internalize their opinions. Leave them to their own judgments. Don’t feel threatened and don’t conform just to please them. Let others love you for who you are, and not for who they want you to be.
- Embrace your quirks, and ignore those who don’t. – Don’t try to be normal; there’s no such thing. Life is all about spending it in your own way. Always be yourself and walk comfortably in your own shoes. Anyone who tells you you’re doing it wrong… is wrong.
- Mind your own business. – Who others think you are is their business. Who you know yourself to be is your business. Confidence isn’t walking into a room with your nose in the air, and thinking you are better than everyone else, it’s walking into a room and not having to compare yourself to anyone else in the first place. (Angel and I discuss this in detail in the “Self-Love” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
- Choose your own thoughts. – The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another. And oftentimes this means choosing your own thoughts over the opinions of others.
- Say what you need to say today. – Speak your truth. There is no greater sadness than holding on to the words you never had the courage to speak.
- Dedicate time every day to meaningful activities. – What you do every day matters, but WHY you do what you do matters more. Continue to work hard at what you love no matter what the odds are. And if you only have fifteen minutes to spare, no problem – make those fifteen minutes meaningful.
- Enjoy the process of learning and growing as you go. – You have to acknowledge your troubles but gather strength from them, and laugh at your mistakes but learn from them. Getting second chances in life is about giving yourself the opportunity to grow beyond your past failures. It’s about learning as you go and positively adjusting your attitude and efforts toward future possibilities.
- Look for and appreciate the lessons. – Rather than just regretting something, question specifically how it has helped you grow. Has your past equipped you to be determined, self-reliant, perceptive, tough, aware, compassionate, etc.? Focus on what you have gained rather than lost from adverse past experiences.
- Celebrate how much stronger you are now. – You can’t possibly know you are strong if you’ve only ever had wonderful things happen to you.
- Stop resisting what is. – Flow with reality, not against it. And don’t be trying 24/7 to fix everything. Some things don’t need fixing… they just need acceptance. What you resist only stays with you longer. When you fight something, you only make it stronger.
- Let the uncontrollable GO. – Never force anything. Give it your best shot, and then let it be. If it’s meant to be, it will be. Don’t hold yourself down with things you can’t control.
- Let things BE. – Things will happen that you will not always understand, but maybe you’re not supposed to understand everything. Maybe you’re just supposed to have faith, accept it and let it happen.
- Do what you can right now. – It’s not as much about acquiring new things as it is about using what you already have. Don’t let what you can’t do stop you from what you can do. No more excuses, no more wasting precious time. This moment is as good a time as any to begin doing what matters most. Start exactly where you are right now. Do what you can with what you have right now. Stop over-thinking and start DOING.
- Take it just one easy step at a time. – Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life. Tiptoe if you must, but take the step.
- Measure your progress, no matter how small. – You may not be where you want to be yet, but look how far you’ve come. Be thankful that you’re not where you used to be. If you have no other testimony right now, you have this one: “I’m still here trying.”
- Exercise your faith. – Seriously, take pride in how far you have come and have faith where you can go tomorrow. Faith is being sure of what you hope for and certain of what can’t be seen.
- Appreciate each day for what it’s worth. – If what you did today didn’t turn out as you hoped, tomorrow is a new opportunity to do it differently, or to do nothing at all. What’s important is to realize that you have a choice. So no matter how tough the day was, always try to end it with a positive thought, knowing that a new beginning starts in the morning.
- Leave the negative past alone. – You might not be proud of all the things you’ve done in the past, but that’s OK. The past is not today. (Read Loving What Is.)
- Let hate GO. – Holding hatred is poisonous. It eats you from inside out. We naively think that hating is a weapon that attacks the person who harmed us, but hatred is a curved blade. And the only harm we do, we do to ourselves.
- Forgive. – Sometimes we don’t forgive people because they deserve it. We forgive them because they need it, because we need it, and because we cannot let go and move forward without it.
- Give your love willingly. – What you give to another person is really what you give to yourself. When you treat others with love, you learn that you’re lovable too. So love like there’s no tomorrow, and if tomorrow comes, love some more.
- Spend more time around those special people who truly care. – You grow to be like the people you spend most of your time with. So surround yourself with only those who are going to lift you higher.
- Set a great example. – How would your life be different if you walked away from gossip and verbal insults? Let today be the day you speak only of the good you know about other people and encourage others to do the same.
- Do just a little bit of good today. – The fact that you can plant a seed and it becomes a flower, share a bit of knowledge and it becomes another’s, smile at someone and receive a smile in return, is proof that YOU can make a big difference.
- Give what you can. – Remember, you must give to get. But it’s not an eye for an eye situation. Don’t wait to give. You sometimes must give twice as much without expectations to eventually get something in return. The more you give, the more you eventually get. It’s an investment in generosity, helping, and faith, which attracts good things back to you in the long run.
- Do something nice for yourself today. – The trick is to enjoy your life today. Don’t wish it away by waiting for better days ahead.
- Fill your time and mind with positivity. – Do what you can, and smile. Be so busy loving your life and the people in it that you have no time left for hate, regret or unnecessary stress.
- Distance yourself from negativity. – Saying yes to happiness means learning to say no to the people and things that hurt you. Be wise enough to walk away from the negativity around you.
- Disregard the daily drama. – You can’t let one bad moment spoil a bunch of good ones. Don’t let the silly little dramas of each day get you down.
- Smile, even when it feels like things are falling apart. – Smiling doesn’t always mean you’re happy; sometimes it simply means you’re strong. And smiling will help you feel better.
- Be grateful. – Gratitude is simply the awareness of what’s right. Count the blessings in your life, and start with the breath you’re taking right now. (Read The Happiness Project.)
- Value your physical body and present beauty. – Take a picture of your face and remember that in ten years time you will be amazed at how gorgeous you were. Be amazed now.
- Be present. – Do not dwell so much on creating your perfect life that you forget to live.
- Pay attention to the little things. – …because when you really miss “the good ol’ days,” you miss the little things the most, like just laughing with someone special.
- Schedule in some dedicated down time. – Find the time… the time to read, to smell the flowers, to take a walk in the wilderness, to share a laugh, to learn a fun craft, to try a new recipe, to explore somewhere new, to really be with someone you love, to paint your dreams, or even to just do nothing and relax for a while.
The floor is yours…
What would you add to this post? What’s something you do on a regular basis that has helped you find more happiness in life? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.
Photo by: Porsche Brosseau
Kevin Benson says
What I have learned during my life is that, to a degree, we have to go against this world. Because if we follow everything that society has told us is the correct path to follow, we will likely not succeed or find happiness. Most of us are only focused on the following: graduating from grade school, high school, college, getting a 8-5 job, getting married, having two kids, working for 40 years, retiring and waiting to go to the grave.
This model works for some people, but sends many of us into a tailspin of depression. We spend all our time chasing things, and not enough time enjoying what we have.
Happiness is not about having the latest in cellphone, car, appliances, TV, a perfect looking significant other, etc. Happiness comes from the little things, like a sunshine filled day, the sunrise and sunset, a marvelous landscape, a great conversation, the taste of a fresh fruit, a healthy body, etc. And this in one of the reasons I fell in love with your blog, book, emails, etc. – much of your writing reminds me that happiness and success is not found in excess, but in simplifying life to focus on the essentials.
Epic post! I have been reading your posts and emails for a long while and have found immense benefit in them. Today I felt I needed to get off my silent seat and leave a comment. Thank you so much.
My addition: I sit and meditate when I first wake up. With my eyes closed, I focus on feeling and hearing my breath for 15 minutes every morning when I first awake. It helps me start my days with intention, which helps everything… including my happiness.
Susan Rae says
One of the primary reasons I read both your blog and your book, is to alleviate my attachments to various expectations that have been driving me and my husband nuts for far too long.
To live with less expectations is how I have found more happiness. One of my favorite reminders: “Is it sweeter to get what you expected or sweeter when you didn’t expect, and received?” I now understand that having too many expectations is spending too much of my time in the future and not enough time in the present. I work at this daily. Thank you for all the lessons.
Cheryl Magyar says
More happy comes with less stuff, the saying and the thought is absolutely true. Have the bare minimum, appreciate it and live life from there. Travel lightly through life…
Lyrical Treasure says
Marc & Angel, overtime I have learnt from you guys to choose simplicity over everything else. And this has been a big step for me.
Today I can say that I don’t break out in a cold sweat fearing for the material. Am content to let things be and to let go of stuff I have been chasing for so long.
These positive choices have given me the energy to do seemingly small things that have filled my days with peace. I am at peace after a very long time. And I rejoice in keeping it simple.
How does one ‘distance yourself from negativity’, when the person perpetuating the negativity is your senior parent? Someone who I admire and appreciate for the knowledge and talent and creativity, but who demonstrates a negative disposition that tires me out. The way my parent speaks about other people behind their back makes me feel like I too am the target of disappointment. Of course you grow up wanting to please your parents, but that is impossible in this case and so I need to please myself.
Donna Danielsen says
Hi Marc and Angel, First I just wanted to let you know I received your books and thank you so much for signing them. My sister loved hers! And, I also absolutely love what your grandmother wrote. And it is so true. We forget what we really are blessed with!
Hi, I really love this article, very motivating. I like this point: “Never force anything. Give it your best shot, and then let it be. If it’s meant to be, it will be. Don’t hold yourself down with things you can’t control.” This is really true, for as long as you know that you did your best, there should be no regrets… just let it be. Thanks for sharing.
Marc Chernoff says
@Philomena: I think bullets 5, 6, and 7 of this post will help you: 7 Smart Ways to Deal with Toxic People – The key is to separate their behavior from who YOU are. Don’t identify with it. How they behave is their business, not yours. Easier said than done, I know. But it’s the truth, and it’s worth working on.
@Donna Danielsen: So glad you received your books. Thank you so much for supporting our work. Please give your sister a big hug for us.
@All: I love the rest of your remarks. Keeping things simple is the key – when we let go of the excess that has been proven to not help us, we make a lot more space for the people and experiences that will.
Don’t be afraid to say “I’m sorry” or “I was wrong.”
Thank you for this post – very inspiring! We all get so caught up in what we “think” we should be doing or should have in order to be happy, that we often forget to stop & appreciate what we do have. I have two young boys and I often find myself telling them, rather than always wishing for more, be thankful & grateful for what they have or have been given, whether it be an object or activity. Myself, I am trying to practice what I preach and one thing I’ve started doing regularly on my days off is to start my morning by sitting outside to drink my coffee and just enjoy the quiet sounds of the morning rather than running around the kitchen doing what needs to be done. It’s a beautiful to start the day…
This list literally made me smile. I’ve gotten back to meditating and it’s made me more focused, resilient, and less forgetful.
Dave Nordella says
I read one of your posts daily to focus my attention on what life has already given me. I pay attention to my full potential at least once a day. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us.
Laura G. Jones says
I had gotten worn out from trying to write a blog post that just didn’t want to get written, and this is just what I needed to read. Thank you!
One thing I would add: Give yourself what you need, not what you want. For instance, right now I wanted to finish writing that blog post, but I needed a motivation boost and a reminder to be grateful for what I have and switch away from victim mode. I got what I needed and now I feel much more free to go after what I want.
Brilliant article. Especially liked points 2, 6 and 7. We can be extremely happy if we recognize our abilities and potential, love ourselves and accept ourselves the way we are. Once we can do that, we will be unstoppable 🙂
Loved this today. Great reminders of what I do my best to do everyday. Thank you for always hitting the nail on the head 🙂
Maria McAdams says
I don’t miss a word, it serves me well.
I spend time with those I love, and this always helps me smile, even on tough days.
Dear Marc and Angel,
Thank you for your amazing work. I have only recently found my way to your website. After being diagnosed with breast cancer late 2012 – my quest to find calm and peace has been magnified. Your work talks to me – thank you. I remember the exact moment I was told that I had cancer…my mind was frantic – my beautiful little girls and my husband – I didn’t just want to exist I wanted to LIVE. All I could do at that moment is tell myself to breathe. So that is what I did. I just took one breath at a time…I consciously told myself to breathe in and breathe out. That is all I could do and it worked. It is now April 2014, I am here, with my beautiful girls and incredible husband and I am grateful for every breath I take. 🙂
Excellent, inspiring thoughts. Several of these are worth working on almost immediately.
I just recently discovered your blog and since then I have read an article every day… and it has improved my life. Thank you for sharing with us. I start my morning by reading your blog and it helps me stay focused and appreciate what’s important in my life… especially the present moment.
…after a good rain always…
…after a good night always…
My mother, the Buddhist from Bayside, is my relentless cheerleader, critic, fan and fashion police. For someone who has lived a long life of over 90 years and is unapologetically happy, or perhaps a better way to describe her is blissfully content in the moment, I am grateful to have learned how to be like her as best as I can.
This is what she says to me on a regular basis:
“Listen up, do the best that you can and be happy to put your head down on your pillow at night knowing you have just been given a day of glorious life. ”
It sounds much more colorful in Cantonese while cooking dumplings on a Sunday for a roomful of hungry relatives!
Keeping things simple and sharing them is the key for my mom and me.
Thanks for your list!
Points 5, 6, 15 really resonated with me.
Behind the Mirror says
I love this post! I just recently started reading your blog and it is so nice and inspirational. I couple weeks ago I put up a similar post with 5 simple changes for a happier you. They are a little less deep to say the least, but I still think they make a difference. Check it out if you have some time.
Marc Chernoff says
@Aiyana: I couldn’t agree more. We try to meditate first thing ever morning for at least 15 minutes.
@Jody: You’re an inspiration. We’re often guilty of overlooking the simplest things that can have the biggest impact. Thank you for sharing and thank you for the great reminder.
@hoongyee: Sounds like someone we would love to meet someday. 😉
@All: As Kelly said, having a more simplistic approach to life will always lead to more happiness. Thank you for giving us the pleasure of reading your comments, always a bright spot of my day. 🙂
I. Hooshmand says
Thank you for the work, enery, time and enthusiasm you’ve put in. I find it very exciting and useful to recommend your blog to anyone who has the same interests as we do have. I feel more life heading toward my priorites in life, for I receive inspiring and thought-provoking notes and hints by the means of your post. I’ve made a voa not to cease reading your posts. I’ve got the picture of you–Angle and Marc, on my cell phone’s background to reminds me of happy successful spouses. Your perspectives on life keep me moving on with my life and add spice to it.
Your truly faithful follower, I. Hooshmand, from Asia, Iran, Shiraz. 🙂
I loved this blog post because it made me sit back and think about the great stuff I have in my life. I have been blessed with so many things but I seem to always focus on the negative things. One point that I loved is that forgiving makes your life so much happier. I agree with that so much because holding on to hate weighs you down and darkens your world. This is by far one of the best blog post I have ever read because I really can relate to those things. I try to live my life by every point you made in your post. And I live a great life.
Thanks for such an amazing post!
The one about smiling no matter what struck me. I think it can be a healthy thing because it means you are strong, just what you said. #35, I think!
All the way from South Wales in the UK, I have followed your daily Facebook updates for a long time. I thought it was about time that I ordered your ‘1,000 Little Things Happy Successful People Do Differently’ and just a few pages in, I’m loving and relating to everything you have written. Thank you for sharing your beautiful wisdom. xx
Hi, I am reading your posts for more than an year. I’m very grateful that a friend of mine recommended it to me.
I love what you’re writing. Maybe I didn’t read every post of you, but each one I did came to my eyes in some key points of my life and made me reevaluate everything.
Here i would add “Love and respect yourself as you would like the others to love and respect you. Be the most important person for yourself.” 🙂
Adelina – Bucharest, Romania
andy roberts says
Thank you for these lovely words, especially your grandmothers diary ! My mum passed away unexpectedly recently and thats focused my attention on living in this moment. I hiked with my partner up to a beautiful rock pool high in the mountains in North Queensland last week. Lying on the rocks looking at the waterfall it started to rain soft, warm drops. It felt amazing just to feel those amazing gifts. My partners a maori and they have some beautiful words for living life :
“The birds call. The day begins. Behold I am alive”
“Korihi ake ng? manu. T?kiri mai te ata. Ka ao, ka ao. Ka awatea. T?hei mauri ora ”
Your grandmother had it right…
Andy Koehn says
Be Where Your Feet Are…and learn what perspective means. Most things that suck us dry don’t amount to a hill a beans when it comes right down to it. (Not sure why I’ve adopted a grandpappy drawl just now.) We get WAY too wrapped up in how we want the world to behave…and mostly it doesn’t respond to our schedules. That can really rattle a person.
Thanks for the list, nice to read though. I think number 36 is the key one for me, the attitude of gratitude.
The right attitude brings you so much in life.
I am so grateful that you took the time to post this blog for people like me. I must tell you, everything you have written somehow clicks, even though I have read about these concepts before… But this time it seems like it clicked and helped me changed some of my old habits that were not serving me well. If someone says something about me that’s not true like a rumor or even if it is true but its more of a gossip than anything constructive, I usually would confront them. But now, I just let them be. It takes effort from my side – I have to consciously remind myself to focus on “MY BUSINESS” as you call it, be grateful for things I have NOW, forget what and whom I cannot change and focus on the little good things of the day – could be a laugh I had with someone 🙂 THANK YOU !
I feel blessed that I found your blogs and I look forward to reading them on a daily basis. You say so many truths and in my case I print your blogs and keep them in a folder for regular reading. These provide so much guidance, strength and inspiration. I am learning that I am an ok person, I am not so hard on myself for past faults and I am learning to love myself. I also recently received your book and I can’t thank you enough for the valuable information that you provide. Please continue to write more blogs and books as evidently you are changing so many lives and are a blessing to so many people!
Loving everything you said. Finding happiness in what you already have is important because it helps you live your life fuller and happier. Each day I think of what things can make me more grateful and that has helped me endure the challenges of my daily life.
My fav post 🙂
Starting my day with devotions and exercise works for me. Quiet time with God, giving thanks for everything in my life, blessings and disappointments , followed by a good workout, leads me to have a happy day everyday.
This post is pure GOLD. I’ve bookmarked it to read daily, because I felt markedly happier when I finished it than I did before I began. I just need little reminders now and again to focus on what’s REALLY important. Thank you for writing these words – you’ve made this reader’s life better by sharing this!