How To Be Happy – All The Time

Published by 36 Comments

Before writing this post, I was unhappy. A lot had happened in the hour since I woke up in the morning!

Then I said to myself, “If you’re going to write about always being happy, why not try out what you’re telling others to do?”

So I did. It worked. I felt happy.

And then, I sat down to write this – for you.

Wouldn’t you like to know more about an approach that can take you from being unhappy to being happy – in five minutes or less?

Here it comes… How to be happy – all the time!

Why Be Happy?

As entrepreneurs, we’re often seized by the “WHY?” question. It’s sheer survival dynamics. If we grab every idea that passes by, we’ll have little time for doing anything. So we look for a compelling reason before taking action.

Here’s what being unhappy will affect in our entrepreneurial lives:

  • Efficiency – It’s hard to get motivated to do something well when you’re feeling blue, lonely and hopeless, like it all doesn’t matter. The simplest action seems forbidding and overwhelming.
  • Productivity – Anyone with disgruntled employees understands how significantly this impacts your business. Tiredness, lethargy and lack of focus are all symptoms of unhappiness.
  • Innovation – When was the last time you had a great idea while you felt sad? Me neither. Creativity peaks when the mind is agile, active and stimulated – not when you feel dull or depressed.
  • Fulfillment – Doing something you love and enjoy gives a deeper sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, and doing it happily multiplies this feeling. When you’re unhappy, you lose this sense of purpose and achievement.

And that’s why you are better off being happy than sad.

But happiness has never been available “on tap”, has it?

After reading this, you may be surprised!

“How Can I Always Be Happy?”

There are only TWO ways to be happy all the time.

  • 1. Have Whatever You Want
  • 2. Want Whatever You Have

Simple things are usually powerful. Like pithy quotes and short parables, the impact created by basic but universal truths resonate through our lives. The more we think about them, the deeper their message gets.

Here’s a simple diagram. I call it the ‘Happiness Paradigm’.

WANT HAVE
YES NO
NO YES

Take a close look at this. Let it sink in fully. Think about it a little.

Then, we’ll talk about it some more.

Having Whatever You Want

This sounds like a nice way to be happy. But let me tell you the story of a Gambler who died. He entered the pearly gates and was given a warm welcome, led to a huge casino, and turned loose.

Happily the Gambler played baccarat and the slots. He won, and kept winning. He tried backgammon, roulette and blackjack. It happened over and over. His winnings mounted.

He grew more daring. Bet larger amounts. And won again.

His excitement mounted – until, after a few hours, he realized that no matter what he did, he was always winning.

The Gambler called out to God. God appeared, and asked him: “What can I do for you?”

“Listen, Lord, I love being in Heaven, but couldn’t I lose just once in a while?”

God looked surprised. “Heaven? Whatever gave you the idea you’re in Heaven?!

That’s how it can be when you always have whatever you want.

Apart from being impractical.

Because, let’s face it, no matter who you are, how powerful or influential or networked you may be, there simply is no way you can have everything that you want (or will want in the future).

The human state being what it is, whenever we get something we’ve wanted badly, our mind tends to want something more, something better, something different. That’s just the way we are!

When you have one decent suit or one pretty dress, you’re happy – for a while. Then, you start wishing you had another. A costlier one. A prettier one. One just like that guy or girl has. Oh, and it would be nicer to have three of them – after all, your friend or neighbor or boss or someone you know does.

Before you know, you’re no longer happy with your one nice dress… you’re unhappy about it!

Pegging your happiness on such an impossibility as always having whatever you want condemns you from ever enjoying your life.

So that’s a dead-end. Let’s look at the alternative.

Wanting Whatever You Have

This is big. Really BIG!

It gives you a deep sense of appreciation and gratitude to everything you already have.

Like, maybe two legs!

If you have only one leg because you lost the other in an accident, you’re still better off than the guy who has none because he was born with a birth defect.

If you’re having something you don’t like for lunch or dinner, you’re still lucky – because many folks don’t have ANY kind of food to eat.

If you come from a broken family, or are going through divorce, or struggling at work, you’re still the envy of someone who doesn’t have what you’re unhappy about having… a family, a spouse, a job, anything!

Here’s another story.

This is about a billionaire. He lost a fortune when the stock market crashed. Almost overnight, his personal wealth dropped by $300 million.

Ouch!

He was so upset by what happened that he committed suicide.

He chose to die because he lost $300 million.

He could have chosen to live – because he still had $700 million!

Yes, this is an extreme example of how perceptions can be distorted to keep us unhappy. You may not lose $300 million… but you don’t have to in order to understand this message.

On a smaller scale, this is representative of everyone’s life – including yours and mine.

We refuse to acknowledge and appreciate our generous blessings and gifts that a kind destiny has showered upon us. Our lives. Our bodies. Our minds. Our intellect. Our upbringing. Our necessities. Our little (or big) luxuries. Our friends and family.

We ignore them all – and focus instead upon the things we don’t have… but want.

That makes us unhappy.

You Can Choose To Be Happy

You have a choice – to decide to want whatever you have.

That changes everything. And it leaves you happy – all the time.

It’s better still, because now YOU have all the control over your state of happiness.

You can choose how to react to what’s around you. To what you have. To what you don’t have.

You can decide to feel regret, frustration and anger at all the burdens Life dumps on your weary shoulders.

Or you can see it all from a different perspective – and appreciate, nurture and treasure everything anyway… because it’s more than some others have (or ever will).

Since writing this post, I’ve had a chance to view this exact mindset in action – by a good friend and role model who recently faced a disaster in his personal life, and is dealing with it like a champ. This friend is a guy you know and love too. It’s Yaro Starak – read his post “The Day My Life Changed” – then think over this message again.

Won’t That Kill Any Ambition?

This post you’re reading came about from a discussion with my little girl on a long drive to the railway station. After listening to me quietly, she asked:

“If I’m happy with whatever I have, won’t I lose any ambition to improve? I’d just stagnate, and waste my talents!”

“Not necessarily” I replied. And explained.

Even as you’re happy with all that you have, you can choose to be happier if you get something else. That new ‘something’ now becomes desirable, motivating you towards it, fuelling change… but with a difference.

You’ll always succeed at everything you try – even before you begin.

Because in one sense, success is about being happy about whatever you do. And being perfectly happy exactly where you are, with only the upside potential of being happier still if and when you attain your new goal, you are already successful!

It’s a frame, for sure. But an intelligent frame for your goals and targets.

True, being unhappy or dissatisfied with where they are in life is usually a powerful motivator for some people to seek to change. Unfortunately, the mindset of discontent usually persists in whatever new, altered life they attain – so they end up being unhappy somewhere else, with someone else, or something else.

Let me tell you one MORE story to illustrate…

The Wisdom of A Gatekeeper

A man arrived at the outskirts of a village, and was stopped by the gatekeeper.

“What do you want here?” he asked.

“I’ve left my village and am looking for a new place to live. Tell me, what kind of people live here?”

The gatekeeper stared at him for a long moment, and then asked:

“What kind of people lived in your village?”

The man thought for a moment:

“Oh, they were the worst. Cheats. Liars. Small minded people. I hated it all. That’s why I left.”

The gatekeeper looked sad.

“You’ll find the people here just the same.”

The man shook his head in disappointment, turned around, and walked away.

A few hours later, another traveller arrived at the same village for the same reason. Again the gatekeeper asked him:

“What kind of people lived in your village?”

“Oh, they were wonderful folks. Kind, generous, warm-hearted. I didn’t want to leave. I wish I could have stayed forever!”

The gatekeeper said:

“You’ll find the people here just the same.”

He opened the gate and smiled as he welcomed him in.

This is a powerful story – because it’s so true.

The world ‘outside’ is just a reflection of the world ‘inside’ us. It’s like a mirror, projecting back to us the attitude, feelings and worldview we have adopted and developed over years.

When we try to alter our inner state of happiness by focusing on external events or possessions or people, it usually fails. Lasting change can only begin on the inside. By the way we think, feel and view our reality.

And then, almost magically, the same things manifest on the outside.

Within each of us lies the seed of our personal greatness. We already have everything inside us to attain it. We have the power to always be happy.

To the extent that we seize our opportunities and maximize our potential, we will fulfill our greatness

And be happy as we do.

But when, instead, we obsess over other people’s achievements, or what they have that we don’t, we tend to lose our inner balance, grow unhappy and desire change for the sake of it – which never brings deep, inner joy.

We end up shifting the arena, never the game.

Instead, play the game.

Play to win.

Aim to be happy… no matter what.

Dr. Mani

.

About Dr. Mani

Dr.Mani is actively engaged in spreading awareness about congenital heart disease (CHD) and fundraising to sponsor heart surgery for under-privileged children in India.

An ardent group of volunteers and donors have embraced this noble purpose that is bigger than any individual or group, and grown it into a global movement that has touched and saved the lives of 87 little children. You can help too. Learn how at http://www.DrMani.com

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36 Comments

  • Nice article Doc

    We can’t be happy all the time, it’s not possible. We have to grow, and seeing or feeling contrast makes us grow.

    If we focus on what we don’t have, we create more of that. It’s great to want, but “wanting” for the sake of not having it, is not beneficial.

    Want it, feel as if you have it already, then take action-not before

    Tony

    • Thanks, Tony. I just read this today morning in Adam Jackson’s book, “The Flip Side” – a quote by Oscar Pistorius (a man without both legs who has broken TWENTY SEVEN world records in track and field events!!!):

      “I have few disabilities but I have millions of abilities. I’m not going to let my disabilities overshadow my abilities”

    • jorge

      what you beleive is what you get

  • Thanks for that message Dr. Mani… That was really good. Opened my eyes a bit. I’m generally a happy person but there are always those times when we get down. I’ll keep this in mind next time for sure..

    Wish you the best

  • Awesome Dr. Mani.

    I am totally impressed by your thought. As you explained very well and also with simple example that what is REAL SENSE happiness.

    I got it all in my mind fixed as now its cristal clear that I will live always happily right from this moment.

    I like two statements very much which is most powerful and enough only to understand this cycle of happy and sad.

    They are:
    1. We refuse to acknowledge and appreciate our generous blessings and gifts that a kind destiny has showered upon us.
    2. The world ‘outside’ is just a reflection of the world ‘inside’ us.

    Thanks a lot for this wonderful sharing which really started working on me from this moment only.

    • Glad you liked it, Meg. Once we shift perspective to focus on all that we have, it becomes easier to feel happy than sad. More so when we contrast it against what so many others do not have.

  • I’ve always heard from friends that if you simply smile or think happy thoughts, that it is hard to not be happy. Positive thoughts so to speak will drive, I have tried it myself and its hard to not be happy when I do that.

    -Jean

    • I believe it has been proven scientifically that the very act of smiling (or laughing) makes you feel happier. Happy thoughts make it easier to smile, so it’s a positive cycle :-)

  • i’ve ever heard that smile can makes me happy, i try to do that, and happy is really come to me ! thanks for Dr.Mani, this is a good article…

  • Nice Article Dr.Mani.But I disagree with you on at least one thing that being happy with whatever you have is not going to affect your ambitions.Human emotions and our wants are an essential part of evolution .Think about the people who lived on this planet 300 or 400 years ago if they would have remained happy with whatever they have then we would not see cars,mobile phones,skyscrapers ,computers etc.Unhappiness with “What We Have”is an important factor why people are motivated to invent something better.I agree with your point of view that we need to find happiness within us and not in the external world .But I think that if we will not be unhappy,under stress sometimes then we simply cannot work.These are a part of life and maybe it is possible to be happy always in an ideal world but as we know we are not living in an ideal world.

    • Thanks, Hamza. I take your point. Motivation and drive come from many different elements. Dissatisfaction with the status quo is certainly one, and it has certainly fueled progress. There’s also a way to be motivated to do more without being dis-satisfied or unhappy where one presently is – and imho, it’s a more positive approach than the other… but I won’t argue if you disagree with that one :-)

      • Thanks for Reply Dr.Mani .You correctly identified my point that Dissatisfaction with status quo has fueled progress.I wanted to write about this but when I was writing previous comment even I didn’t knew that what I want to say.And now I agree with you that your approach is a more positive one.Just Yesterday I read “There are lots of ways to reach peak of a mountain but view from the top is always same irrespective of how you reached there”.And one more times thanks for replying to my comment .

  • Happiness has many definitions-just like love. I believe you can be satisfied with who you are and what you have, but eager for more.

    -Tony

    • Nice analogy, Tony. Happiness and love – I like that parallel :-)

  • Hi Dr. Mani,

    What an amazingly beautiful post! I was just thinking about happiness as I was coming home today from a walk through town. The most life-changing solutions are the simplest, like being happy because you want to feel happy.

    I’ve thought about this quite a lot and I’ve found that I’ve experienced much more success since I took a step back from all my wanting and just lived in the moment, feeling appreciation for what comes into my life.

    An awesome message, Doc!

    All the best,

    Josip Barbaric

    • Josip, ah, another person who thinks about happiness while walking! :-) Thanks for your comment, very true. Simplicity and living in the moment, though not intuitively easy, certainly make things a lot more fun!

  • Now THAT is sound thinking, Dr. Mani.

    Thank you!

  • Very Well said. You need to be happy where you are in order to move forward to get what you want. If you walk around being negative all the time you really are not allowing yourself to move forward.

  • Thanks for this wonderful message. It’s quite revealing…why we should be greatful to God for our blessings. Count your blessing and see what the Lord has done for you! Wherever you are today, you should be thankful. Those things you don’t have for now should not make you unhappy. Think on those you have, for those you don’t have will surely come.
    The bottom line is…we have to be greatful to God even though human want is insatiable.
    Thank You!

  • [...] Mani has just written a great post over on Yaro’s blog about being [...]

  • Hi Dr. Mani, great post. Being happy makes one life fun, easy and attracts good vibes. When you are surrounded by happy people, it felt like all the problems were gone. I believe just by being happy, one can changed life. Though people didn’t get happy all the time, you can still have a positive attitude and positive spirit to overcome the problems that is coming our way.

  • I love the thought of being happy with what you have.

    I’ve often wondered why my late daughter Sara was the happiest person I knew. After meningitis at 1 month, she never walked independently and by the time she was 15 she couldn’t even feed herself. Sara lived to 25 — in and out of hospitals. Yet, she always smiled and laughed. What make her so happy? She was surrounded by a big family, friends, and music. She was grateful for what she had. Life and love.

    Thank you for helping me solve this mystery Dr. Mani.

  • Your Message
    Hello there!
    I really like what you say but in truth “it’s easier said than done”.
    I really wish I could feel happy….but I’m mostly unhappy and angry all the time! I feel trapped in this state of mind and can’t seem to shake it off!
    The reflection: “the world outside is just a reflection of the world inside us”. Probably true! But how do you turn off the self- destruction mode?
    When your down and in trouble, most people “run like rats in a sinking boat”. I had “friends” who for 17 years spent almost every weekend together…who behaved in a very nasty manner with me…and when I asked: “what’s going on?” did I do something to offend anyone…the answer was…”your always unhappy and sad, an d we’ve decide to exclude you”. What really hurt was the fact that I considered them my friend they knew exactly what was going on…and naive little me thought that “I could be myself around friends”…that I didn’t have to put up an act! Guess I was wrong! Nobody ever came to me to ask me how I was…or to say they care…they all sat down at a table and decide to “exclude” me..and actually said they felt bad for my husband because he’s always fun to be around! Little do they know that it was all an act!
    the worst thing is that one of my sons is in the same mode and it’s simply destroying what little we have left!
    “happiness brings happiness”. How? It sounds so simple yet I can’t seem to do it!

    • It is harder to do than to say it but if you focus on the good things in your life and work hard to make it better more often than not hings will fall into place.

  • that’s really important. love your job and u are successful already

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  • I think this is great advice. Learning to want what you already have is a great way to stay positive, motivated and fulfilled. I try to think about all of the things I have to be grateful for everyday and it really helps put things into perspective. Thanks for the post!
    Jack L.

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  • just accept who you are then you will live a happy life

  • Dr. Mani.
    Thanks for this article.
    I have shared your link on my blog.

  • Thanks Dr.Mani,
    What a wonderful post!
    And so true. God bless you!
    Re. Ambition being killed…
    True ambition can be fulfilled best by a happy person. You yourself stated that you cannot have a great idea or innovate when you are sad.
    Now, when you are happy & content with what you have, your happiness is secure. With this security, you will automatically strive for greater heights without the fear of failing because you are already happy with what you have. This lack of fear will assure you of success, without any preconditions to the source of your happiness. Edison was content and happy – i’ve seen his documentary always, even when he was ousted from school, he was happy that his mom was there to train him. So ‘wanting what you have’ is truly the mantra for lasting happiness. ‘Count your blessings’ is a hymn we sing in church. Your post has given that hymn more relevance for me. Thanks…

  • John Mike

    Thank you so much !! After reading this article I became like the happiest person of the world ! I found my inner happiness and I Told this whole article to a lot of unhappy people and made their life as good as mine :) You are the best man ever in the world !!Love you

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