How to Live Happily


I was surprised when I asked, what topics I should write about, someone suggested “how to live happily in the world”.

Not sure whether this is a traditional leadership topic, but I thought I would look to share an approach that I decided to take this year, and how it’s going 🙂

As I started this post I looked for a definition of happy, and it seems that there are many definitions, including things like feeling fortunate, being lucky, but I don’t really think that these are good definitions.

The one I chose to go with is the following:

Happy = feeling, showing, or expressing joy.

The reason I chose this definition is because, when you look at this definition, it’s can be argued that happiness is a choice.

I can choose to feel happy; I can choose to show happiness; and I can choose to express joy.

It’s my reaction to my surrounding, the things that happen during the day which determine whether I am happy or not, and I can get to choose how I react.

My happiness is actually determined by me.

Although, we often give that choice to someone else, such as our bosses, our partners, or other people who may not have our best interests at heart. Why would we do that?

This year my new years resolution was to be unconditionally happy.

I decided that I would be happy for no reason at all, other than I wanted to feel happy.

My happiness wouldn’t be determined by how much money I had in my pocket; how people treated me; or how well my football team were doing.

No. I would just choose to be happy and would not allow anyone, especially someone I didn’t like or respect, to make a different choice for me.

This is quite a liberating approach, it means you don’t need a reason to be happy, as that would make it conditional. You can just be happy because you want to be.

I shared this resolution with my wife and a few friends, and they said things like, “ok, so you will still be happy if your boss treats you badly”.

I said “yes, otherwise I have now made my happiness on how my boss treats me, why would I give him that power”.

“ok, how about if the project you’re working on is a disaster, would you be happy then”.

Again, making my happiness dependent on project success, means that I am making my happiness conditional, and it might be conditional on something that is outside of my control. I will be disappointed if the project fails, but disappointment and unhappiness are not the same.

I can be disappointed, but still choose to be happy. Clearly I am not referring to expressing joy about the failure of the project, I am talking about how I feel in general.

This approach requires a conscious decision, and it does need you to work on it.

But once you understand that it’s your choice how you feel; your choice how you react to things; then you understand that your happiness is your choice.

So why not choose to be happy.

This does work for me, although I will admit sometime I forget to choose to be happy, and I do need to remind myself that it’s my choice and I need to choose happiness.

So, those are my thoughts on happiness, why not give it a try and let me know what you think.

You never know you may just end up being happy for no reason at all.

Gordon Tredgold

Leadership Principles