Rules for happiness: something to do, someone to love, something to hope for. Immanuel Kant
So you want to be happy? Right?
Don’t worry, you’re not alone.
In fact, 8 billion people are searching the key to happiness every day.
And we have been searching for thousands of years.
No one seems to have found something that works permanently.
However, I have a few insights that can lead to the promised land.
I’ve spent my whole life trying tips and tricks on how to be happy.
Moreover, I’ve spent the last couple of days researching the best science about the topic.
So let’s get down to it.
Here are the 6 pillars of happiness you must know.
Table of Contents
Happiness Pillar #1: Your Health
The most important thing in your life is your health.
No health, no life.
You can have all the money in the world, the best family, the best friends, the best projects to work on, etc.
But if you don’t have your health, you have nothing.
It’s the basis of everything else in your life. If you want to be happy, start there.
A healthy man wants a thousand things, a sick man only wants one. Naval Ravikant
Now, there are 2 aspects to your health.
The first is physical health.
How can you improve it?
- Move and walk a lot. It will reduce your stress, the feeling of loneliness and boost your happiness (psycnet.apa.org).
- Go outside often during the day.
- Lift weights 3-4x per week. (See also: Lifting Heavy Weights: 7 Benefits, healthline.com)
- Have a regular sleep routine.
- Drinks lots of water.
- Make vegetables your primary source of calories. (See also: 50 Foods That Are Super Healthy, healthline.com)
- Avoid too much sugar and processed foods.
Remember what Michael Pollan said in his book In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto:
Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
Keep in mind we were hunter/gatherers for thousands of years.
So moving often, being active and eating real food is how we find back our nature.
The second aspect of health is your mental health.
How can you improve it?
- Don’t believe everything your mind says, especially after 10pm.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously.
- Don’t take life too seriously.
- Let go of grudges (regrets, past hurts, past relationships, etc.). Forgive easily and move on quickly. Life feels lighter this way.
- Learn to relax. Being busy all the time will burn you out.
- Learn to meditate. Studies found it could lead to more happiness. (1, 2, 3)
- Ask for help or talk to a friend when you feel down or lost. Call the National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.
- Do something you love every day. You can only take care of others if you know how to take care of yourself first.
- See your friends and family often, face-to-face.
- Find a place where you can retreat. Visit nature regularly. It has been found that nature can make you kinder, happier, and more creative. (greatergood.berkeley.edu)
And don’t forget to avoid:
- Too much news
- Too much social media
- Too much toxic people
Happiness Pillar #2: Your Mission
Having a mission helps you move forward.
It helps you feel alive.
If you don’t have mission, a purpose, I encourage you to find one.
Find something you would be willing to fight for.
Something you could build, something you could take care of, something you could make progress on.
Human beings love to feel they are accomplishing something. Momentum is a powerful stimulant.
In fact, the more personal and important what you’re trying to accomplish is, the more motivated and happier you’ll be.
But how do you find your purpose?
The trick is to experience lots of things. It doesn’t matter if you fail.
In fact, it’s important that you fail.
Because that’s how you will discover what you truly love.
If you truly love something you will be tempted to try again and again.
You’ll even have fun getting better at it.
Then, once you have a better idea of what your interests and passions are, you’ll have to ask yourself a few questions:
- What do you stand for?
- What are you against?
- What makes you angry?
- What would you defend?
- What would you do for free?
- What do you want to be remembered for?
- What have been your happiest moments?
- What looks like play to you but work for others?
- What do you think is missing in the world right now?
I believe in one thing, that only a life lived for others is a life worth living. Albert Einstein
Related: You can check out our purpose quotes here to help you find your mission.
Happiness Pillar #3: Your People
No man is an island.
Not even me as an introvert and independent person.
I’m truly happy when I feel understood, loved and connected.
In fact, we all love to feel special and respected. Right?
Now, what can you do about it?
First of all:
- Avoid people who make you feel inadequate.
- Avoid people who suck out your energy.
- Avoid people who “transact” with you.
- Avoid people who take more than they give.
Now that you avoid the wrong people, it’s time for you to surround yourself with the right people.
It means you’ll have to surround yourself with:
- People you love.
- People you admire.
- People who loves you.
- People who cheer on you.
- People who are mostly upbeat and positive.
- People who support you when things go bad.
- People who have similar interests.
The goal is to feel connected in some big or small ways.
It’s to avoid feeling lonely. It’s to share and give.
But here’s the kicker:
You don’t need to have dozens of people like this around you. You only need one or two.
When thinking about relationships think about quality before quantity.
People who are more socially connected, to family, to friends, to community, are happier, healthier and live longer. Robert Waldinger
Happiness Pillar #4: Your Discipline
Now that you have a good foundation of health, mission and people, you’ll need one more thing: discipline.
How do I define discipline?
It’s having some order.
It’s doing what you know you should do.
It’s eating your broccoli, having the hard conversations, doing what’s right and not what’s popular and being relentless in your pursuit.
The more self-discipline you have, the more you do the things you should do, the happier your future self will be. Maxime Lagacé
You’ll need to make your mission a top priority in your life.
You’ll need to make many sacrifices to realize your dream. Discipline will be the bridge to make it possible.
Can you imagine yourself in 10 years if instead of avoiding the things you know you should do, you actually did them every single day – that’s powerful. Jordan Peterson
99.9% of things are useless. Michael Saylor
You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks. Winston Churchill
Distractions are everywhere.
We live in a noisy world.
To become truly happy you will need to become a master at ignoring things that are irrelevant. You will need to become a master at focusing on the essential.
It means you will need to:
- Say no to most things.
- Ignore what makes no difference (emails, messages, anonymous phone calls, TV shows, social media, news)
- Have one clear goal in mind.
- Be consistent and show up daily.
- Work on the most important and impactful task even when you’re not in the mood.
- Live your life under your own terms and not what everyone else is advocating.
In the short-term discipline will seem hard.
But once you start to get results the tide will change.
You will learn to ignore the quick dopamine fixes society provides constantly. You will start to gain the long-term rewards.
You’ll start to have fun being disciplined.
Happiness Pillar #5: Your Love
Now you are on a roll.
You are healthy.
You are progressing toward your mission.
You are surrounded by good people.
You have self-discipline.
You need one more vital thing: love.
Indeed, the goal is to become more “human”, more tolerant, more grateful, more accepting, more loving.
I know it may seem contradictory to what discipline stands for, but love acts as the counterbalance.
After all a 100% disciplined life would be robotic and lifeless.
On the other side a 100% love life would be counterproductive.
Happy people know one thing:
Life is not only about accomplishing things. It’s also about appreciating the little things along the way.
Discipline will make you progress and make you feel “on the hunt” which is a powerful happiness feeling.
Love, on the flipside, will make you feel cool, calm and connected.
How do you “apply” love?
Here are a few ways:
- Live in the present moment (Too much future = stress. Too much past = regrets).
- Lower your expectations. Live more freely, spontaneously. Expect the unexpected. Love what happens.
- Forget about progress and discipline for a moment. Just let go of tension. Have some fun. Just be.
- Be generous with your time, your presence, your money, your kindness. Help others. Don’t count. Just give.
Ultimately, it comes down to this:
Know when it’s time to be disciplined. Know when it’s time to be loving.
Think “100% on” or “100% off”.
And when they played they really played. And when they worked they really worked. Dr. Seuss
Happiness Pillar #6: Your Mindset
The last thing you’ll need to be happy in life is this: the right mindset.
What do I mean by “right mindset”?
It’s knowing that constant happiness is impossible.
Yes you read that right.
Yet that’s what most people try to accomplish.
That’s the fundamental delusion – that there is something out there that will make you happy forever. Naval Ravikant
Don’t be deluded.
See reality for what it is.
Nothing is permanent which means your happiness won’t be either.
Relax. Nothing is under control. Adi Da
So if you can’t be happy forever, what should you do?
Aim for wisdom/understanding/inner peace instead of aiming for happiness.
nothing will satisfy you forever. And if you seek happiness constantly it’s because you admit you don’t have it now.
Aiming for wisdom means you’ll never be too excited and never be too depressed about life circumstances.
It also means you stay a little foolish since many things in life will seem unfair and cruel.
As an example, I lost my girlfriend in a car accident back in 2004.
Not all life events are supposed to make sense.
Each of us needs what nature gives us, when nature gives it. Marcus Aurelius
You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength. Marcus Aurelius
So, here’s the magic:
One of the best tools I’ve discovered to help me live a good and peaceful life is an 8-word mantra.
It’s “always do your best and f*ck the rest“.
It means you:
- Let go of the past. You are free.
- Focus on the present moment. You are responsible.
- Focus on what you can do right now. You are alert but calm.
- Ignore what you don’t control. You don’t worry too much.
- Never have regrets since you did your best. You sleep well.
As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so a life well spent brings happy death. Leonardo da Vinci
A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness. Albert Einstein
Finally, to be happy, remind yourself one last thing:
You only live once. So go for it, calmly, boldly, happily.
In the end, everything will be fine.
Call to action: Read 73 Life Tips To Live Your Best Life