Happiness is something that comes from within. How we view and react to situations can often bring us down and consume us. Most of the time, happiness is a matter of perspective on things that happen every day. Sometimes, just the smallest tweak in thinking will help you achieve a happy mindset.
As I change my perspective towards life, I see an uptick in my mood and attitude. No more agonizing over decisions or possibilities. I remember to focus on the positives of what life has to offer and embrace the twists and turns that life brings.
Here are the 5 most important rules I live by:
Always be forward looking
I think it is human nature to think about the past and the choices we’ve made (could’ve, should’ve, etc.). It’s easy to question the decisions that we’ve made, especially if they did not turn out the way we had hoped.
We must remind ourselves to look forward. It is highly detrimental to dwell on the past and wish you could’ve done things differently. As the famous golfer Ben Hogan once said, “The most important shot in golf is the next one.” Imagine living your life always second guessing your decisions. I think it would drive anyone insane!
A big part of forward looking is getting over mistakes. Recognize that things don’t always go our way or sometimes we are just unlucky. The ability to get over mistakes — and learning from it — is key to being successful in life.
We all make mistakes in life. For me, I think of certain investments I’ve made. I bought shares of Apple stock in 2001 shortly after the iPod was introduced. I thought it was a cool gadget and believed the stock would climb higher. I sold Apple the following year with a nice profit. Looking at the price of Apple stock today, I can’t even begin to imagine how much my investment would be worth if I had kept the stock over the years. Despite making that mistake of selling Apple, I never stopped investing and learning along the way.
Don’t stress about things that are out of your control
Every day in our lives, we make decisions based on a set of what may very well be imperfect information. None of us can foresee the future, so it’s important to believe that we’ve made the best decision given what we know.
Things may or may not work out as we hoped or intended; all we can do is plan for contingencies in case it doesn’t work out. Anything beyond that is out of our control. As someone’s parent, children, or spouse — we humans have enough things to worry about. I remind myself constantly not to stress about things I can’t do anything about anyway.
Don’t dwell on the negatives
From work to home, we all know someone who will complain about anything and everything. They excel at pointing out the injustices in their world and how much they suffer as the victim. Sadly, most of these people do not try to change their situation and rather stay in their misery. In any given situation, they will always see the cup as being half empty.
I constantly remind myself to look past the negatives and look for the positive. I try not to dwell on the problem, but instead focus on finding a solution. It’s easier to get past our “slump” if we’re actively doing something to change it. The longer we allow the negatives to flourish, the harder it is to change our mental state.
Be honest with people and especially yourself
I know this may sound obvious, but you will find yourself becoming a happier person if you are more honest with people and with yourself. This means that you will no longer make excuses for yourself and others. Instead of committing to something expensive and time consuming, opt for more flexible schedules which will save you money and the feeling of guilt when you can’t follow through.
Also, I find that many people have a false illusion of their performance or their abilities. It’s important to be critical of yourself and assess how you can improve. This will help your relationship with your partner, your friends and co-workers. If you don’t know the answer to a question at work, it’s usually perfectly acceptable to say I don’t know, but I will look into it and follow up. The worst answer in that situation is to make something up and have people think that you are not trustworthy.
You get what you fight for, not what you think you deserve
Last, but not least, I think this is one of the most important perspectives that can cause unhappiness. I always hear stories about how people feel that the company they work for is unfair and that they deserve to earn more money; or that somebody deserves to find happiness in a romantic relationship.
Unfortunately, in this world we don’t always get what we deserve — or rather, think we deserve. Either way, we shouldn’t feel like a victim of our own circumstances. We should take responsibility and make things happen for ourselves.
Tell yourself that you have the power to change your current situation, whether it’s at the office or in a relationship. Nobody finds happiness being the victim, which implies that you are powerless and you cannot influence the outcome. Take the bull by the horns and make the best of it. Life is too short to not fight for the things that matter the most to you.