The 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People by David Niven

\What Scientists Have Learned And How You Can Use It

Introduction: All I Can Do Is Point and Hope You Look

In life, most things are not inherently good or bad, success or failure etc. Humans like to focus on short term effects of decision making. Point and hope others will look. The book draws ideas from research on happiness. There are a total of 100 simple secrets of happy people.

  1. Your life has purpose and meaning. We are all connected and you are not just born to fill space. If you consider your life to have a purpose, chances are that you will feel happier.
  2. Use a Strategy for happiness. Let yourself be happy. Do things that make you happy. Define what you want and a plan to get it. Be optimistic and think about happy events in your life.
  3. You don’t have to win every time. Being ultra-competitive may lead you to be being unhappy. Setting too high goals and wanting to win may lead to unhappiness.
  4. Your goals should be aligned with one another. Goals must not be in conflict or life will be haywire. Your goals on education, family, career must be consistent. Do not simply trade one off for another.
  5. Choose your comparisons wisely. If you compare with those ahead of you, you will always feel disappointed. Compare with those that will make you feel grateful for what you have.
  6. Cultivate friendships. Rekindle past relationships. Care about others and hope they will reciprocate.

Close relationships, more than personal satisfaction or one’s view of the world as a whole, are the most meaningful factors in happiness. If you feel close to other people, you are four times as likely to feel good about yourself as compared to if you do not feel close to anyone. – Magen, Birenbaum, Pery 1996

  1. Turn off the TV. It is distracting. It might inhibit your ability to carry a conversation. Only watch it if you have a programme that you really like.
  2. Accept yourself – unconditionally. You are everything that you own and your character etc. Learn to accept yourself. Believe in your values.
  3. Remember where you came from. There is comfort in knowing your heritage. It gives you a sense of place in the world. Learn about your past and the culture of your race etc. It is associated with higher life satisfaction.
  4. Limit yourself to thinking about one subject as you lie down to sleep. Only think of one subject at a time. Thinking about too many times will lead you feel stressed. The better the quality of sleep you have, the happier you will be.
  5. Friendship beats money.

The primary components of happiness are the number of friends, closeness of friends, closeness of family, and relationship with co-workers and neighbors. Together these features explain about 70% of personal happiness. – Murray and Peacock, 1996

  1. Have realistic expectations. Value things that are within your grasp. Make things better. Have realistic and attainable goals. Achieving your goals will make you feel good about yourself.
  2. Be open to new ideas. Never stop learning and adapting. Being open to change will lead to happiness levels remaining constant even when circumstances changed.
  3. Share with others how important they are to you. Relationships are built on mutual appreciation. It is good to be vulnerable and tell others that you care.

Research on unemployed adults has found that the length of unemployment was less important to a person’s self-esteem than the amount of social support received from parents, family members and friends. – Lackovic-Grgin and Dekovic

  1. If you’re not sure, guess positively. Give the other person the benefit of the doubt. Try to see the positive in every situation.
  2. Believe in yourself. Have faith and confidence. You can do it.

Across all ages and all groups, a solid belief in one’s own abilities increase life satisfaction by about 30%, and makes us happier both in our home lives and in our work lives. – Myers and Diener 1995

  1. Don’t believe in yourself too much. Be open to criticism and understand that you may make mistakes once in a while. Do not think too highly of yourself. Disagreements may persist if you are too stubborn.
  2. Don’t face your problems alone. Problems can be unsolvable. Learn to share your problems with others. Ask for help if you must. Sharing your problems can make you feel better about yourself.
  3. Age is not to be feared. Senior people often report that they lead serene lives. Revel in age. Older people tend to have less worries in life. Age is unrelated to levels of personal happiness.
  4. Develop a household routine. Set a schedule for your housework chores and it will seem less painful. An orderly schedule will help you. If you have a regular household routine, your life satisfaction will improve by 5%.
  5. Don’t be overprotective. Let your loved ones lead their own life. Do not keep worrying over them. Everything has a risk associated with it. If you shelter your kids too much, they won’t see the experiences of the world for themselves.
  6. Pay Attention. You may have what you want. The human tendency is to always want more. But it is better to be grateful for what you already have.
  7. Don’t let your religious beliefs fade. Religion teaches us to understand that the world is complex and provides some form of clarity. Research has revealed that religious people can lead more fulfilling lives.
  8. Do what you say you were going to do. If you keep breaking promises, you lose credibility.

Nothing kills progress or deadens enthusiasm more than someone who talks but never follow through. It is crucial in both your home life and your work life that you stay focused and committed to whatever you say you will do. – David Niven

  1. Don’t be aggressive with your friends and family. There is nothing to be gained from being adversarial.
  2. Root for the Home Team. Support a home team in your community. You will have something in common. You will have something that binds you with the next person.
  3. Don’t confuse stuff with success. What constitutes a happy life? Write it down. Do not simply live day to day.
  4. Every relationship is different. You may not get along well with everyone. Face it.
  5. Don’t think ‘what if’. It is counterproductive as it is reflection on the past and not the future, per se. Don’t wallow in self-pity.
  6. Volunteer. Give time to help others. You will feel that you are helping others. Volunteering helps to generate happiness and create a purpose in life.
  7. If you can’t reach your goals, your goals will hurt you. Let your goals evolve with your life circumstances. Your goals cannot be incongruent with your abilities.
  8. Exercise. People who exercise enjoy life more. It is proven that exercise increases self-confidence. Brisk walking can increase happiness by 12%.
  9. Little Things Have Big Meanings. Tiny things can communicate volumes. We pay attention to facial expressions. Display sensitivity in communication.
  10. It’s not what happened, it’s how you think about what happened. Your life is based on a judgment. The same event can be viewed positively and negatively.
  11. Develop some common interests with loved ones. Common interests are definitely important.

Each common interest between people in a relationship increases the likelihood of a lasting relationship and results in life satisfaction of about 2 percent. – Chand, 1990

  1. Laugh. Just enjoy the laughter. A little laughter makes for a better employee. Learn to laugh sometimes.
  2. Don’t let your entire life hinge on one element. You can experience joy from other aspects of your life. Learn to diversify. Diversify your hopes as well. Through this, you will be better able to cope the difficulties that life throws at you.
  3. Share of yourself. Don’t hold your feelings back. Be more open and start explaining things to others.
  4. Busy is better than bored. Find something to do.

In studies of college students, those with more demanding schedules were 15% more satisfied with life. Despite the more demanding schedules, the individuals studied did not experience any more stress than those with less to do. – David Niven

  1. Satisfaction is relative. It is relative and depends on what you compare it with. What do you feel about your home life is very important. Everyone usually experiences the same stuff in life. You just need to know which you prefer.
  2. Learn to Use a Computer. It can help bring people together. Self-esteem improves as a result of computer usage.
  3. Try to think less about the people and things that bother you. Don’t ignore them but don’t focus on them. Forgive and let go.
  4. Keep your family close. It is easy to neglect your family. However, it is wiser to maintain good relationships with them. Keep in touch. Family is very important.
  5. Eat some fruit every day. Fruit eaters feel better about themselves. Keep it as a snack and eat more of it. There are both emotional and physical benefits associated with it.
  6. Enjoy what you have. Value what you have. Appreciate what you have in life. Do not always focus on the things you do not have.
  7. Think in Concrete Terms. Your progress must be measurable. What do you mean by you want to be a better worker? Make your goals clear and direct. Think about what you can achieve. Set attainable goals.
  8. Be Socially Supportive. Help those who are in need. You will feel good over your efforts.
  9. Don’t blame yourself. Any situation is the result of things that are in your control. Deal with outcomes. Blaming yourself won’t solve the problem. Do not form negative conclusions on yourself.
  10. Be a Peacemaker. Be their voice of reason and reconciliation. Difficulties must be faced in a peaceful manner.
  11. Cherish animals. The closer we get to them, the more love we receive from them. Dogs can offer unconditional love.
  12. Make your work a calling. See work as an expression of yourself, as a part of you. The work you can do your work well, the more people will like you. Life satisfaction increases a lot if you see work as your calling.
  13. Never trade your morals for your goals. Do not compromise what you believe in.

Being happy and being moral buttress each other. People who feel they lack morals report they are half as likely to feel happy compared to those who feel they are moral. – Garrett 1996

  1. Don’t pretend to ignore things your loved ones do that bother you. Raise your disagreement lovingly and constructively. In a relationship, you need to be freely able to communicate your concerns.
  2. Get a good night’s sleep. Don’t sacrifice sleep. It is very important for your functioning. It pays dividends in every aspect of your life.

Quality and quantity of sleep contributes to health, well-being, and a positive outlook. For those who sleep less than 8 hours, every hour of sleep sacrificed results in an 8% less positive feeling about their day. – Pilcher and Ott, 1998

  1. But what you like. Buy things which you need and can appreciate every day. However, do not place too much emphasis on material goods.
  2. Accomplish something every day. Make sure you are working towards your dreams. Keep moving and you will see progress. Move towards achieving your goals.
  3. Be flexible. Think about what others want too. Spend time together. Be accommodating to the activities which your friends want to go for.
  4. Events are temporary. Bad things might happen. Time will heal wounds, but it takes time. Life is not wins and losses, it’s how you live every day.
  5. Be your own fan. Pick yourself up when you’re down. Michael Jordan didn’t give up. Learn to reinforce your own self-confidence.
  6. Join a Group. People in groups feel more comfortable. They are less lonely and feel more comfortable. In group-work, there is unity. People feel connected to one another.
  7. Be Positive. Be the person who exudes optimism. It be reflected back to you. We gravitate to people with approach life with pleasant expectations. It is your beliefs and attitudes towards what you have that depends your happiness.
  8. There will be an end, but you can be prepared. Think of the things which you might regret not doing and start doing them now. Prepare yourself for your mortality.
  9. How we see the world is more important than how the world is. What is the shape of the world? We are actually looking at this through our own lens.
  10. Keep a pen and paper handy. If you write down your thoughts, you will feel more in control. There are too many ideas running across your head and you might forget some of them.
  11. Help the next person who needs some minor assistance. Pay attention to your surroundings and offer help. Being friendly will make you feel good about yourself. Altruistic activities result in a greater happiness.
  12. Take care not to harshly criticize family and friends. Rely on your close ones for support. Love them for who they are. Always be constructive and not just criticize.
  13. Some people like the big picture, and others like the details. Think in terms of the totality you have achieved. Think about the big picture. Even if you look at the details, you can still find satisfaction.
  14. Do things you are good at. Take on responsibilities where you can excel. If you feel competent at what you are doing, chances are that you will feel happy.
  15. Go visit your neighbour. Neighbours can provide a great source of friendship and make you feel better at home. Most of us don’t talk to our neighbours at all. Community interaction can improve happiness.
  16. Smile. Your smile makes others happy, which in turn makes you happy. Humans tend to mimic those around them.
  17. Don’t accept TV’s picture of the world. It often paints negative perceptions of the world.
  18. You always have a choice. Think of the positive reasons why you go to work. Do not always think you are forced to do things. Sometimes, try it as you are doing this because you value it. If you have a sense of autonomy, it feels much better.
  19. Be agreeable. Make it easy for people to deal with you. If you are in the wrong, be quick to apologize.
  20. Don’t ignore one part of your life. You are happier when pieces in your life are in good shape. Take into consideration your needs and priorities when pursuing your goals.
  21. Listen to Music. Music brings you to different levels. Music has positive effects at any age.
  22. Let Your Goals Guide You. Pursue your goals whole-heartedly. In life, you need a plan and you need follow-through.
  23. Use your job positively. Appreciate what your job gives you. Use your job to show what you can do. Work gives you self-respect.
  24. Don’t forget to have fun. Try to enjoy at least a little every day. It should form an essential part of your day.
  25. Believe in ultimate justice. Good will eventually prevail. Believe in karma. Believing that the world is just will make you happier.
  26. Reminisce. Think of the happy times you did together. Look back at your fond memories.
  27. Be conscientious. Care about what you do and do it well. You will feel good if you do a good job. Have the discipline to be dutiful in your work.
  28. Don’t dwell on unwinnable conflicts. Don’t spend time on things you can’t change for sure.
  29. Enjoy the ordinary. Enjoy what you do every day. Even on regular days, there are things to enjoy. Appreciate the smaller things in life.
  30. Focus not on the world’s tragedies, but on the world’s hope. Have hope for the future. Learn to be a friend to everyone.
  31. Get a hobby. It can be consistent and provide an element of fun. For example, reading can be your hobby. It can be really fun. It can increase life satisfaction by at least 6%.
  32. Envying other people’s relationships is pointless. Do not try to replicate what others have. Instead, build your own support system. Do not compare yourself with others.
  33. Give yourself time to adapt to change. Give yourself time to adjust to new circumstances. It is normal to feel nervous about change.
  34. Focus on what really matters to you. Do not join competitions where you do not want the prize. Let the real goals guide you.
  35. Realize that complete satisfaction does not exist. Strive to improve, but not to be perfect. Perfection can be too far out of reach.
  36. Surround yourself with pleasant aromas. Make your home smell nice. Try aroma therapy. Good smells can reawaken your senses.
  37. Don’t let others set your goals. Think about what you really care about. Set meaningful goals.

People do not have to succeed in absolutely everything they do to feel happy. But, people do have to believe they have maintained control over their own life. – Kean, Van Zandt and Miller, 1996

  1. You are a person, not a stereotype. You are happiest when you can express your personality to the fullest. If you need to cry, just do so. Do not be too concerned over what others think of you.
  2. Know what makes you happy and sad. Know what is causing your unhappiness and how the situation can be rectified. All science is about noticing patterns. Scientists like to see connections. When dealing with emotions, we need to be like scientists and notice patterns.
  3. Keep reading. You can both learn and be entertained by it. Regular readers are about 8% more likely to express daily satisfaction

Those who read books benefit from what they learn and the entertainment they receive. But in addition, they get to exercise their brain, and when they do that, we feel satisfied that we are spending our time wisely. – David Niven

  1. We must feel needed. Those who rely on you feel needed. What sends people into retirement is when they feel they are no longer needed on the job. We still need to feel needed.
  2. Say ‘so what’. Your life is not shaped by the acquaintances you meet.

Sometimes we look at what other people have and we want that instead of thinking about what really and truly motivates us, what we really and truly want and need. Don’t take someone else’s accomplishments as evidence that you are doing anything wrong. – David Niven

  1. Have a purpose. You need to have a purpose.
  2. You have not finished the best part of your life. The older people enjoy their older days of their lives. Be happy now. Live in the present.
  3. Money does not buy happiness. Lottery ticket winners are rarely happy. There are a group of people who try to be minimalists.
  4. What does it all mean? The answers are within you.


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