Tie's 8 Rules for Happiness
I am an engineer, not a psychologist. However, anyone can observe
what improves his life and what worsens it. By observing my own life
for decades, and also by thinking about and applying observations
made by other knowledgeable sources, I have come up with a few
general rules for increasing happiness. Some of these rules may
at first seem at odds with each other, but if you understand them
correctly, you will see they are not.
Remember that happiness is all in your mind. It's a totally
subjective, mental experience. It's not about what is going on
outside you; it's about what is going on inside you. This may be
what Jesus Christ meant when he is reported to have said,
"The Kingdom of Heaven is
within you." As a mental experience, you have more control over
happiness than you may think. This control is a mental skill
(like learning to read or to play a musical instrument) that you
can improve with practice.
Do not accept the misconception that what makes others happy will
also make you happy. Your mental experience of happiness is unique
to you. It does not apply to anyone else. This means you should feel
free to tailor this list of general rules if necessary to meet your
Be grateful when possible. Gratitude is a large component of
happiness. If you focus on the good things in your life, your
perspective on your life will be more positive. If you pray, spend
a significant amount of your prayer time thanking God for the good
things in your life. If you meditate, and your meditation is the
type that allows you
to spend time meditating on the positive things in your life, do so.
What you are not trying to do is convince yourself through mental
effort that you are happy. Your goal should be only to spend some
time every day thinking about the things that are good in your
life, and allow your mental attitude to be whatever it naturally is.
Do not chase happiness. Chasing happiness makes you unhappy. I
discovered this rule decades ago. Many people have difficulty
accepting the veracity of this insight, but I recently found a
source with more
authority to back me up. In 2016, at a meeting of the Society for
Personality and Social Psychology, Maya Tamir and Iris Mauss presented
the paper, "Come On, Get Happy: The Ironic Effects of the Pursuit of
Happiness." They found that people who feel pressure to be happy are
actually less happy. "We found that when we prime people to value
happiness more, they become more unhappy and depressed," Mauss
stated. "Our findings offer an intriguing explanation for the vexing
paradox that even in the face of objectively positive life
circumstances, nations generally do not become happier." I think the
solution to this apparent paradox is to develop practices in your
life that are conducive to happiness without allowing yourself to have
an expectation of achieving happiness. In other words, learn the
mental practices that lead to happiness and perform them while
accepting your current level of happiness, even if that level is
Stop trying so hard to control yourself and others. This is akin to
trying to be happy. Trying to control others rarely works. What it
does do is cause you endless frustration. Exert a reasonable,
sustainable level of self control when it improves the quality of your
life, but do not exert so much that it makes you miserable.
Accept yourself and others as they are. Drop your expectations of
yourself and others, and you will not be disappointed when you and
they do not live up to your expectations. But, you will often be
pleasantly surprised when you and others exceed your mental pictures
Develop achievable goals for your life, but do not make your
happiness dependent on reaching them. Do not feel that you must
accomplish them. Goals bring meaning into all of our lives. They
are necessary for happiness. But if you fixate on them to the
exclusion of all else, you may experience misery, instead of
happiness. The one exception to this rule is fixating on something
you love doing (not someone) that is also helping you to meet your
goal. With this in mind, learn to value the journey more than
reaching the end of the journey.
Spend a significant amount of time doing things that you want to do.
You will have to be the judge of what "significant" means. For
example, if you
have a job that brings you no happiness, either quit as soon as you
can and find another job, or change your attitude about your current
job by seeing the positive aspects of it and/or by changing your job
to meet your need for meaning. Do the same with other activities
in your life.
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