1. Happy people savor it. Old cliches like ‘stopping to smell the roses’ and ‘it’s the little things in life’?” are true. The happiness researchers call it ‘Savoring.’”
Savoring an experience is “mindfully attending to and appreciating a positive stimulus,” includes enjoying music, eating a gourmet meal, soaking in a warm bath, receiving a compliment, spending time with a good friend, or winning an honor or award.”
2. Happy people don’t compare themselves to others. Focus on you. Indeed, the psych research shows that the way we stand relative to others changes our sense of subjective well-being. It’s for this reason that having a higher status than your immediate peers is a better predictor of subjective well-being than getting paid.
3. Happy people are grateful. People who are prompted to feel gratitude — for a sunset, a friend, or just being alive are happier than people who haven’t been primed to graciousness. Advice: just appreciate what you got.
4. Happy people don’t rehash the past. Emotionally unstable (previously known as neurotic) people tend to ruminate over the things that have happened to them — rehashing, rehearsing, and reliving slights. This mental habit can damage well-being.
5. Happy people meditate.
6. Happy people find their own definitions of happiness.
7. Happy people hang with other happy people. Find people who are kind and genuinely care about you, whose company you enjoy. These are not very easy to find, so make sure you hang on to the ones you do meet. Forming strong friendships with people who care about you will buoy your well-being.
8. Happy people eat well. .”
9. Happy people are funny. But be aware of the contents: self-defeating humor has ill effects on well-being, while self-enhancing humor, naturally, helps you. Have a sense of humor about everything. Especially the disgusting, horrible, and depressing stuff.
10. Happy people earn enough money to absorb unforeseen financial setbacks. “Money’s not everything / not having it is.” People need a base level of income (like $75,000 a year) in order to deal with unforeseen costs and not be exhausted from having to scrutinize every purchase.
11. Happy people get enough sleep. Lack of sleeps makes people irritable, impulsive, and stupid.
You feel proud of yourself
You’re proud of yourself and for everything you’ve been through because every turning point in life leads you to another. Every change leads to a new destiny. When one door closes, another door opens. No matter what happened in the past, you are who you are because of everything that’s happened and you’re proud of who you’ve become.
You feel happy with where you are and where you’re headed
You know that you’ve done well in life when you’re happy with where you are and where you’re headed. You might not be where you dream of ultimately achieving but you’re happy that you’re on the right path. You know who you are and you’re doing things that align with your values. You don’t do things that go against who you are at the core. You are in touch with your soul, with yourself, and you know that no matter what happens, you will be okay. Life will lead you down the right path.
You are better than you were yesterday, last week, and last year
You might not be the best you could be yet but at least if you’re better than you were yesterday and the day before, then you’ve done well in life. Sometimes we do stupid things. Sometimes we do things we should not have done. But as long as we realize this and aim to become a better person each day — mentally, emotionally, physically, and intellectually, then you’re further along in life than most people.
Your relationship with your family has improved
Not everyone grow up having the perfect relationship with their family. Most of the time we don’t. Personality clashes are common occurrences. As we get older, we realize that no matter how bad our parents might seem at that time, they’re our parents. We learn to understand their circumstances and upbringing that shaped them up to be who they are. We are now mature and wise enough to learn to manage our emotions and handle conflicts with the only people in our life we can never completely detach from — our parents.
As we get older, we realize that there’s not much time left for us to be with them. So instead of feeling bad about the hurtful past, we re-create the bond with our parents and make sure they know how thankful we are for the love and care they’ve ever given us.
You’re passionate about your job, your hobbies, and your life
After all, what is there to enjoy if we don’t enjoy life? You know you’ve done well in life when you love your job, have hobbies that you enjoy doing, and just love waking up everyday. You feel excited about what the day will bring and whom you will meet.
You live in the present
Instead of focusing on the past and wish things were different or worry too much about the future, you focus on the present. You realize that everything is fleeting and that life is uncertain. You know you’ve done well when you focus on making the moment in front of you the best moment it could be. You are mindful and know that our wandering thoughts can create illusional emotions that shouldn’t be there to start with. The only way for us to truly enjoy life is to live in the present.
You know who your true friends are
One of the most beautiful things in life is true friendship. They are the people who accept you for who you are and no matter what happens they’re there by your side. You know you’ve done well in life when you know you have a group of people you can turn to to celebrate your success and to be your shoulder to cry on. They are the people you can trust wholeheartedly. Having these people in life means that you’re a true friend to them yourself. Being a true friend is a reciprocal process. You just don’t form a strong friendship if you only take and take, you have to give and you have to take. If you have a group of people who are there by your side for years to come, you know you’ve done well in life.
You realize that you’ve become more non-judgmental and open-minded over the years
One of the things that can show our maturity is how we care for others. Over the past years, has your horizon been broadened? Have you become more open-minded, non-judgmental, and more understanding of the world and of people around you?
No matter who you are as a person, no matter what you do, if you have no sympathy for others and no understanding of the world, then you might be missing out on something good in life. Life is more than just about work and play. Life is about experiencing and understanding other human beings and other culture. Life is about experiencing love, joy, happiness, tears, and sadness. Life is about escaping from suffering as much as it is about pleasure.
You know how to manage your emotional well-being as well as your mental well-being
As good as it sounds to be smart and successful, it is never a true success if your home is a mess, your family life is in chaos, and your emotional health is nothing to be proud of. Your emotional intelligence is even more important than your intellectual intelligence. It is never good to be an aggressive, abusive boss who is successful and can close any deals. It is never nice to be a strong breadwinner of the family when you abuse your wife and scream at her under pressure and stress.
You know you’ve done well in life when you have your emotional well-being under control and when you no longer feel like you’re falling apart inside because you’re breaking down. Stress is sometimes inevitable in life. However, learning to manage it and getting better at this is crucial and essential to a happy and healthy living.
You do things that are good for yourself, body, and mind
Some people work too hard that they forget to take care of the most important things in their life — their health, body, and mind. Without good health, life is not enjoyable. What’s the point of being wealthy if you don’t have time to enjoy life with the people you love? You know you’ve done well in life if you make your health and well-being your priority. You make sure you eat well, exercise, and take some time off to relax and recharge. You meditate. You read. You do things that vitalize your soul. At the end of the day, no matter how big your home is, your body is your true home.
You don’t regret anything you’ve done because life is about moving forward, not backward
There are always things we did in the past that we are not proud of. If we could turn back time, we might actually not start doing it. However, there is no point thinking about it this way. If you’re smart enough, you learn from your past and have become a stronger and better person because of it. There’s no point in looking back and regretting, because everything happens for a reason and it leads you to where you are today.
You know you’ve done well in life if all you look forward to is moving forward. You focus on making today and tomorrow better. That’s the only outlook on life that one should have.
You feel thankful and are excited about life and the future
Your life can be truly amazing and wonderful, however, if you don’t appreciate what you have, then you’d never feel truly happy. You know you’ve done well in life if you feel thankful for being alive and appreciate what you have, rather than looking at what you don’t have. Life is a gift in itself. The key to this is to look at it with gratitude. After all, it is what it is. Everything and every person come into your life to teach you something. See it as a passing experience and learn from it. Be thankful for whatever has happened because without it you would not have grown and be as well-equipped as you are today.
* The texts are extracts – summaries essence of my favorite books and articles
by Davor Gasparac
Success is a lie. Let’s think about it for a second. What does it mean to be successful? Success means the fulfillment of a goal or ambition. You want a hole in one, and you shoot a hole in one, and therefore you successfully shot a hole in one. You want $200,000 a year, and you spend 20 or 30 years working hard, and then you make $200,000 a year.
And so, in a simple sense, success is saying “I want to do X” and then doing X. People have been setting goals and achieving them for quite some time, and will continue to do so. A caveman can set a goal. The world runs on people who are scurrying around frantically trying to ‘live their dream’ and ‘achieve their goals’. But success is not a stasis; it’s not some sort of be-all end-all destination point. It’s like the steak you hold in front of a wild beast on a treadmill. You just keep chasing it but it’s not something you ever really reach. If you rely on externalities for your happiness, outside of basic food, shelter and love, you will run into a seemingly infinite degree of complications.
As they say, “When you get there, there’s no “there” there.” And so, allow me to repeat: success is a lie. Ambition is suicide. Desire is vanity, etc, etc, you get the idea.
Success is a lie simply because it relies on attachment. You must bet X amount of time on some sort of outcome. You either achieve the outcome or you don’t. If you achieve it, you feel satisfied briefly and then must forge a new future attachment to bet more time on, like a problem gambler. If you don’t achieve it, you feel like a failure. Sounds like a lose-lose situation to any sane person. And yet people continue to convince themselves that their convoluted goals and ambitions are worth sacrificing the world’s resources, personal contentment, relationships— even basic health. People will work jobs that ruin them mentally and physically just to excel towards something that no human has ever attained through materialism: a state of true contentment.
“Success” means shunning notions of success, wealth, fame, and all that, and looking within. Whatever makes you feel successful is already in your monkey brain; it’s just waiting to be teased out by mindfulness and proper mental discipline. Work on yourself, look within, and stop trying to beat the piñata of the world into giving you a few ephemeral pieces of candy.
The whole of the spiritual path may be summed up in the term non-clinging, because through non-clinging love comes, through non-clinging the door to the Unconditioned opens, our heart and our will purified and prepared to receive the Will of God. The Buddha taught liberation through non-clinging: not holding to anything as me or mine, not grabbing something or pushing something else away. Most of our human problems and all our difficulties in the spiritual path result from clinging, from attachment. We take anger as me, as my anger, rather than simply a feeling that will pass, that I can let go of. We take the desire for more as my desire, to be acted upon, rather than as simply a thought or feeling that will pass. We take all our thoughts and feeling reactions far too seriously, as if we were just thoughts and reactions. When we cling to a thought, we become that thought.
On the road to freedom, we must let go of everything as me or mine. One wonderful aspect of the practice of non-clinging is that partial results accrue to us, even early in our path. If we learn not to identify with just a few kinds of thoughts or emotional reactions, we discover a little freedom and lightness, more joy as we walk through life. Non-clinging serves as its own reward.
Non-attachment should not be confused with detachment. On the contrary, non-attachment is the antithesis of detachment. Through non-attachment we free ourselves to love, to be wholly engaged in life, with family, friends, and profession. In non-attachment we disengage from the barriers that separate us from others. Detachment fortifies the cold walls of separation.
If someone slights me, a whole train of thoughts and emotions may ensue and persist for hours. If I am awake enough at its beginning or even in the midst of it, I see how I cling to the hurt feelings and thoughts. If through that seeing, I am able and willing to release the grip of my reactions on me and release my grip on them, then they subside on their own. I am left breathing easier, unburdened and free to respond or not to the original situation. My energies are conserved for better uses, such as joy and mindfulness. My will is a little less caught in the habit of a self-reflexive stance, in creating a false sense of myself as a person who was hurt by someone’s slight.
Paraphrasing the Buddha, non-clinging is an invaluable practice at the beginning of the path, in the middle of the path, and at the end of the path. The price of admission to the spiritual depths, to the Unconditioned, to the presence of God is to give up our clinging. The gate to the deep place only allows those to pass through whose hearts are purified, at least temporarily. We might catch a glimpse of the Divine though, if even for a moment we can relinquish all attachment, all grabbing and all pushing away.
Because approaching the Divine requires complete non-clinging, life itself serves as a strict, uncompromising taskmaster and teacher on our path. For example, whenever anger arises in me and I identify with it, justifying to myself why I should be angry, I need to notice this situation and let it go. This can be very hard indeed, but very necessary if I am to free myself of clinging. This is not to say that I shouldn’t take appropriate action to defend myself. On the contrary, we need to love and respect ourselves, as well as others. But to respect ourselves is to let go of clinging to anger, to greed, to fear, to wanting and to not wanting. This is our situation and our difficulty, where we must bear the true heavy-lifting of the spiritual practice of non-clinging, a heavy-lifting which consists of relaxing, relaxing the ties than enmesh us in mud, relaxing our attitude, releasing our grip on the lower to reach for the higher.
Non-clinging depends on being able to let go. To be able to let go requires more than just thinking “I should not cling to this.” It requires changing our being. The best way to do that is a regular daily practice such as meditation. This brings more peace of mind. It brings the ability to see our mind, to see our attachments more clearly, to see that they are mental phenomena that we do not need to buy into.
If you want to move on, you start with acceptance of who and where you are
I must start with acceptance, acceptance of both the light and darkness: my bad habits, my kindness and irrationality, my impatience, my defensiveness, etc. I must just say to myself, so here am I warts, faults, failures, past mistakes and all and that’s alright. It can’t be other than alright because I can’t go back and do it all over again. Blaming myself just blocks any healing available. So, if you want to move on, you start with acceptance of who and where you are. It just may be true that you have to accept yourself before you can accept others.