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Two Simple Ways to be Happier

2013 January 18

What is happiness except the simple harmony between a man and the life he leads? ~Albert Camus

Two simple ways to be happierWhat is your definition of happiness? If you think about it, the term happiness is one of the most subjective concepts there is, because to one person happiness may mean being surrounded by a close loving family and plenty of friends, and to another it could mean a life free of commitment, a prestigious job and enough money to be able to spend time any way they want.

I think on some level we all understand that, on a day to day basis, happiness is a choice, so really what we’re talking about is happiness in terms of quality of life.

Let’s say you have a clear image in your mind of what true happiness will look like for you – the things, people and circumstances that must be present in your life in order for you to consider yourself completely happy. Now what?

Well, assuming your current reality falls at least somewhat short of your ideal, there are two simple ways to be happier.

Improve your reality … or lower your expectations.

Remember, I said they were simple ways, not necessarily easy. Let’s take an example to show you the difference between the two options.

In our example we’ll say you are a working parent who has been busy growing a career over the last couple of years, and as a result have spent little time with your family. Lately you’ve begun to think that, as much as you enjoy your job, true happiness and a more rewarding life is all about a close family and spending more quality time with your children while they are still young.

In order to improve your current reality, you’re going to have to find ways to spend less time at work (and come to terms with what that may mean to your career), and more time at home. You’ll need to determine exactly what “quality time” means to you, and not only that, you’re going to have to negotiate with family members to give up some of their own activities to fulfill your intention to spend more time together.

On the other hand, you could choose to lower your expectations – live with the life choices you’ve made up to now – make the most of whatever time you do have with your family, and hope that will be enough in the long run.

You see how this works? Life always comes down to choices we make.

The truth is, many people make a habit of setting their expectations as low as possible, so that whatever happens, they can be assured of avoiding disappointment. In some ways it’s easy to see the logic behind this approach, but our expectations have a way of becoming self fulfilling prophesies. If you expect little, that’s very likely what you’ll get.

So what’s the key to finding the right balance between reality and expectations? Self awareness. Learning to be honest with yourself about the things that matter, what happiness really means to you, and how much effort you are willing to put into creating the life you envision for yourself.

With self awareness you can empower positive expectations and discard the negative ones. You can find that balance between improving your reality, and setting realistic expectations that will allow you to achieve your vision for a happier life.

Ultimately, it’s up to each of us to choose happiness, whatever our circumstances. I’d like to leave you today by encouraging you to make the following promise to yourself …

Promise Yourself

To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind … To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person you meet …To make all your friends feel that there is something in them …To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true … To think only the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best …To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own … To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future … To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile … To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others … To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble … To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world, not in loud words but great deeds … To live in faith that the whole world is on your side so long as you are true to the best that is in you.

~Christian D. Larson, Your Forces and How to Use Them

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24 Responses
  1. January 30, 2013

    Thanks for yet another enlightening share Marquita. Simply loved the phrase “Improve your reality or lower your expectations” as this is true to the core . Few things in life have changed my perception in life and now I am a happier person . Accepting failures without regret and taking happiness as a choice makes me more content in life.
    Purnima recently posted..Kim Wilde Drunk Christmas Impromtu Performance on British RailMy Profile

  2. January 27, 2013

    This is such a very inspiring post! It made me realize that I have so many things to be thankful, and instead of always searching for something that seems to be lacking, I should be appreciative of all the things I have.
    Sarah Park recently posted..How to Buy a CondoMy Profile

  3. January 25, 2013

    Hi Marty this is my first time here and believe me this wont be my last. I Love Your Energy. This post about happiness was incredible girl. Happiness is a choice I have always told this to everyone.. You and you alone have the choice either you choose to be happy or you choose to be miserable the choice is yours. “Simple” Here is what I did when I was a bar manager I had all my employee’s wear a SMILE! Yep If they didn’t have it on they went home and you know what happened? People noticed! We were known as the Happy Team! And we were too. Love this Marty I am going to share this with everyone. Keep up the Great work Chery :)
    Chery Schmidt recently posted..The Conclusion “The Millionaire Mindset For Online Entrepreneurs”My Profile

  4. Steve Borgman
    January 24, 2013

    Marty, thanks for this inspiring post. So many times, we settle into “learned helplessness”. The problem is that we have often been our own worst teacher. It’s liberating to read that we have the power of choice and self-awareness. And we can empower ourselves to work toward a) enjoying our reality or b) working to create a better one.

  5. January 24, 2013

    Marquita great post thank you. I read an article not too long ago about a study that was done polling and interviewing people regarding what was happiness to them. At first I thought money was going to be at the top but it wasn’t. Money was far down the list. At the top was doing charitable work, education, family. It was nice to see that the main focus was not money even though when you talk to people it appears so. I guess people talk about money but don’t elaborate about what their why is. For me what makes me happy is being healthy and having close by.
    Lydia Brown recently posted..Why you should Ping your Website ContentMy Profile

  6. January 24, 2013

    Life does, indeed, come down to the choices that we make! I am so glad that you wrote that, because so many of us think that, when life deals us a hand, we have nothing to do but respond…but I say…MAKE A GOOD CHOICE FIRST!!

    Sorry for the caps, but this is something that I am passionate about in life. If we made better choices, we’d have happier, more fulfilling lives. It’s too simple. Thanks for this. It’s a huge deal for humans. I’m sharing… :)
    Christi Johnson recently posted..If You Have Ever Lied And Felt Ashamed About It…Read Here For Encouragement…My Profile

  7. January 23, 2013

    Hi Marquita,

    a very insightful post.

    Yes, we can become more self-aware and make choices which contribute to happiness.

    Revisiting our values is very effective.

    Years ago I learned from Ken Keyes to upgrade my expectations to preferences.
    This helped me to let go of the outcome and be more content.

    Thank you so much for providing this valuable post.

    Love and Light
    Yorinda recently posted..Imagine if we would choose to BelieveMy Profile

  8. January 23, 2013

    And as I’ve learned through Abraham Hicks, in the moment that you are NOT happy, ask yourself, what is the closest thought/thing that is happy for me?

    Good post. Thanks.

  9. January 23, 2013

    Such a lovely post. I especially liked this: “To make all your friends feel that there is something in them” Looking outside ourselves and shining our love on others is a great way to bring happiness back into our daily life.

  10. January 20, 2013

    Marty, hello!
    I am definitely guilty sometimes of doing what is expected rather than what I really want to be doing. Sometimes I’m proud to have done ‘the right thing’ and other times it makes my angry with myself and frustrated because I really wish I had listened to myself!

    Not having children I do not find myself in the position of choosing my business over my children as some of the ladies who have commented above but there are others vying for my time too! :)
    Sadie-Michaela Harris recently posted..Facebook Graph SearchMy Profile

    • January 20, 2013

      I hear you Sadie-Michaela. I don’t have kids either – well, I have a dog who I treat like my child, but otherwise it’s just me and friends at the point in my life. My greatest trial was during my marriage – very demanding husband who tried every way possible to reshape me into his vision of what a wife should be. I tried for nearly 15 years to live up to his expectations, and failed miserably. Finally liberated – it took a few years to find myself again, but have never been happier.

  11. January 19, 2013

    I love this post! The promise is fantastic too!! Life is about the choices we make!! We can choose to be happy, or not!! I choose to be happy… Can’t say I am always so, but when I become aware of where I am heading, I make those adjustments to be happy!!
    Holly recently posted..10 Simple Ideas To Get More MOVE In Your DayMy Profile

    • January 20, 2013

      Welcome back Holly, and I am so glad you enjoyed the article. I don’t know that it’s possible for anyone to be happy 24/7 – maybe we wouldn’t even want to, because then how could you truly appreciate the moments of heartfelt joy? :-)

  12. January 19, 2013

    Hi Marty,
    Great post and great reminder on how to align ourselves between what we want and what to expect.
    When we have clarity on what happiness means to us and when we have the recipe of what happiness means to us then all the rest is a question of mindset.
    Your promise is a great recipe that works for all of us provided we take time to listen to our heart and let go of fears, anxiousness, doubt, stress and what we allow to come in the way.
    Self awareness is the way.
    What is happiness to me?
    Remembering to expand my capacity for life, inner peace and joy in each moment,being present and grateful to what is.

    • January 20, 2013

      Thank you so much for taking the time to contribute to the conversation Patricia – always appreciated!

  13. January 18, 2013

    Hi Marty,

    I adore your promise! It will be my personal mantra from now on. Experiencing happiness is so important for your personal health and wellbeing. I especially like this line: To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble. Thanks so much for inspiring all of us to lead better lives.

    Love and Light,

    Shelley Alexander recently posted..10 Ways to Enjoy a Happy Healthy 2013My Profile

    • January 20, 2013

      Welcome back Shelley! I’m so glad you enjoyed the “Promise.” When I found that I knew it was very special, and I also have it in a prominent place where I can read it each day. :-)

  14. January 18, 2013

    This is awesome Marty!

    Without balance in our lives, we just seem to get anxious. When the kids were young, I had an office 3 blocks away. I remember running back and forth, and creating my appointments around their school activities, and especially dinner time.

    It was important to me to keep in touch with them through sitting around the dinner table. We did this for 2 hours discussing school and their social life.

    I would start work after I got them off to school. Then come home early enough to create a healthy diner. After all said and done, went back to work seeing my appointments until 9 pm.

    Then back home to monitor what they were watching on TV. It was all my choice because I valued my family just as important as my business.

    Thank God that is over with lol. Now I have more time to focus on my business. But when duty calls from my family, I’m there.

    The most important thing is that I don’t have anxiety about it. I focus calmly when I’m away with the kids and come back to catch up with my work.

    I chose financial freedom. I also chose to value my family. We can maintain balance with our choices.

    Donna Merrill recently posted..Balancing Act Of An Online EntrepreneurMy Profile

    • January 20, 2013

      Hey Donna, always appreciate your valuable insight! I think you’ve shared such a wonderful example that – while certainly not easy – when you are determined it is possible to balance career and family. I can’t help but believe the key to your success was that you felt you had a purpose and were honestly happy doing whatever you were doing at the time. :-)

  15. January 18, 2013

    I always have a hard time keeping focused on the prize or running into mindset issues. Your blog is where I go to get my head right. Thanks Marty!
    Clint Butler recently posted..Viral Content Is A Marketers Pipe DreamMy Profile

  16. January 18, 2013

    I love your promise Marty! I’ve copied it to a document, and I’m going to print it out and put it on my desk. I’ll read it every day so I remember.

    I was kind of like the first example you gave – when my children were young and teenagers (they were 13 yrs apart), everyone told me I spent way too much time on my career. So, I listened to them and wasn’t very happy about it and felt guilty. If I hadn’t listened, I’m sure I would’ve been much happier. I spent a lot of time with them on weekends, and we went on holidays together, and their Dad spent a lot of extra time with each of them, as well as their grandparents.

    Anyway, it’s a good lesson you wrote here – whatever decision you make, be happy about it. It’s surprising because if you’re happy, others around you will be more happy also!
    Julieanne vanZyl recently posted..How to upload and edit images in WordPress 3.5My Profile

    • January 20, 2013

      Hey Julieanne, thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. I couldn’t agree with you more! My mom never worked a day in her life and was miserable – and we all felt it every-single-day. But my dad was the last of the “great providers” and refused to allow her to have a job outside of the home. I think we each have to find our own way and believe, as you do, that when we’re happy those around us feel that positive energy and are happier as well.

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