How do I be happy?

Some background, some drama

Different things make different people happy. There is no one single definition of happy. Happiness in your business life and your personal life is often a matter of subtraction, not addition. People fail to understand this simple maths. Sometimes subtracting people, work, pain, gossip and negativity is all it takes to find the elusive happiness butterfly!

Do’s and Don’ts

It’s important to strive to be happy…in our work, our relationships and in our lives. The “How Do I" series tries to list down a few Do’s and don’ts to guide and help you to be happy.


  • Practice active gratitude. It reduces anxiety and depression, helps you become more positive and strengthens your relationships with others.
  • Look for the positive in all your experiences.
  • Determine your core values. Make choices that are value-congruent.
  • Show yourself self-compassion, kindness and generosity.
  • Love your body. Stereotypical “ideals" can cause a lot of harm.
  • Be honest with yourself.
  • Set meaningful goals for yourself in accordance with your core values.
  • Focus on people, not materialistic pleasures.
  • Stay close to friends and family.
  • Be compassionate.
  • Find happiness in the kind of work you do.
  • Make new friends, pursue new hobbies and learn new skills.
  • Be humble. Be a person of your word.
  • Stop caring so much about what other people think.
  • Stop worrying so much.
  • Stop thinking that you are too old to do something. You’re not.
  • Stop thinking you are too young to do something. You’re not.
  • Exercise, eat healthy and follow good relaxation techniques and rest as required.


  • Don’t start tackling humongous tasks. Start with the basics.
  • Don’t treat the blues with a “treat." Soon feelings of guilt and other negative consequences will set in.
  • Don’t insist on the best. Sometimes good enough is good enough.
  • Don’t nag. More work gets done if you reduce nagging.
  • Don't give up on your ideas. Don’t see these challenges as failures, but use them as learning experiences.
  • Don’t hang on to the past. Move on and let go of past baggage.
  • Don’t apologize for traits that are part of you, like your personality, your voice or habits.
  • Don’t compare yourself negatively with others.
  • Don’t gossip.
  • Don’t work so hard that you forget you also have a life to live.
  • Don’t think that it’s too late. It’s never too late.
  • Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know something. Stop thinking you have to know everything.
  • Don’t put people down to make yourself feel better.
  • Don’t procrastinate. It’s more taxing and stressful.
  • Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

Last words

Happiness is not a simple goal, but is progress as result of striving, seeking, finding and keeping self-actualizing work and fun, even when it's as elusive as ever. Being happy often means finding satisfaction/contentment, feeling joyful, and sensing that your life is meaningful. Nobody is jolly and elated all the time, but some individuals are definitely more fulfilled than others. Being happy is good for your health. It's easy to think of happiness as a result, but happiness is also a driver. Happy people accomplish more and lead a more balanced and fulfilled life

Sources and citations