[COMPETITION: This list features a competition. See item seven on this list for details] It is the weekend. If you in the northern hemisphere, winter is slowly heading to you and you may be starting to feel a little down. Politics sucks, everyone is mean to everyone else online, and the media does nothing but tell you why you should be miserable. Rubbish! Forget it all. Life is awesome and with a few little tips you can make that true more often that not. So here I present you with the weekend ramblings of a man who wants to make the world a little happier today. Good luck with the competition! Leave a comment. Smile—
—and read this too: 10 Tips for Success in Everything
Watch this video. I’ll wait . . . Did it make you laugh? Or maybe the better question is: at what point did you begin to? Tell us in the comments! I posted that clip to get you into a better frame of mind for the reading of the rest of this list—let’s hope it worked. Science tells us it does so I am presuming you are feeling better now than you were before you landed on Listverse today. Adding laughter to your life truly is the best medicine and hopefully this item has proven that to you more than my words can. Nevertheless, in brief, watch or do funny stuff regularly. It gets easier with time.
While Listverse readers tend to be extremely good at maintaining their composure during commenting wars, occasionally the pearl clutching gets a little intense and nerves are frayed (I am being so diplomatic right now!) A really good way to be a little happier—particularly if you frequent online discussions—is to let everyone else be right. That is not to say you need to state a belief in something you don’t agree with, but you also don’t need to try to convert everyone around you to your ideas. How much does your life improve when you convince someone to change a belief they hold? Probably not at all. Most of the time these people are not even in the same room as us. So why get so het up about things? Think about it this way: in 12 months, will the outcome of your argument matter? Will anyone’s lives have changed because of it? If the answer is no, it is probably not worth pursuing.
Obviously I mean metaphorical blinkers and I am talking specifically with reference to the past and future. Do not look behind, do not look in front. Be. The somewhat wise man Lao Tzu said:
“If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.”
What is done is done. You can’t undo the past. So why suffer at its hand? And as for the future: you can’t do anything about that until you get there so why spend so much time thinking about it? No matter how bad things may seem, you are here right now and you are not in the midst of the greatest crisis in your life (and if you are: what the hell are you doing on Listverse?!) Live for now.
Buy this book. “Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff” is probably the single best book you can own in terms of happiness. It has brief points to help out in your daily life and boy do they make you think. The book is broken up into 100 short one page (or thereabouts) entries, but even a cursory glance of the table of contents is enough to give you some life-changing advice that will improve your happiness level hugely. Here are a few of my favorites:
1. Make Peace With Imperfection
2. Seek to Understand
3. Let Yourself Be Bored
4. Think of Someone Everyday to Thank
5. Remember: Life Isn’t An Emergency
Buy this book. It will make you happy, and Listverse will be a few cents richer too! It is the only self-help book I return to time and time again. Actually, don’t just buy this book: buy ten copies and give it away to your friends.
Competition: I love this book so much that I am taking my own advice. 24 hours after the publication of this list, I will note the comments with the ten highest upvotes and I will send their authors a copy of this book (signed by me with a little anecdote added). In other words, there are ten copies to be given away to the best commenters. There are no restrictions on which country you are in.
What goes up . . . must come down. For the sake of propriety I will presume people here aren’t using illicit drugs but this item goes doubly for people who do. With a great deal deal of caution, a person who is a long-term user of prescribed drugs should meet with their doctor and evaluate the ongoing benefits. It is quite easy to get used to taking longer-term medication without bothering to make sure it is still appropriate for you. The human body is pretty amazing, and unless you have a very obvious need for medication (in the case of schizophrenia or acute nerve damage for example), it may well be able to cope on its own. Antidepressants fall into this category and are often needed only to get through particularly dark times. I am sure I don’t need to say it but: do not make any medication changes without the full knowledge and recommendation of your doctor.
If you do no exercise at all, I don’t advocate joining the gym. Start walking, or swimming, or even doing sit ups in your living room. Any movement is better than no movement. As I recently explained on Top 10 Things Your Ancestors Did Better Than You,Exercise releases endorphins and has been found to be more effective than anti-depressants in many cases. Beyond the physiological effects of exercise you also get to take time away from electricity’s vice-like grip on your life (don’t wear headphones!) and see nature as God intended it. This is effectively a form of mindfulness as you have no choice but to simply let life exist around you.
When we try hard to do something, we sometimes stumble. Oddly, the harder we try, the more we stumble. If you are anything like me you are your own harshest critic and that certainly doesn’t help matters either. To truly begin the process of being happy, you need to accept failure. You will never be perfect—nothing you ever do will be perfect, but the more you are willing to accept being a step away from that, the happier you will be and the more you will take pride in what you do. Listverse is not perfect, but I do my damndest to make it as good as I can. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t. Thank God I don’t except it to be perfect every day, otherwise I would have stopped seven days after I started! So be prepared to fail, and when you do: get right back up and go at it again.
I am being a little playful here with the title of this item. Remove the news media from your life. If you don’t read the news you don’t need to worry about whether it is fake or not (hint: it probably is). Politics and human misery can be put out of your mind. Let other people deal with that: why do you think we pay politicians so much money? Even if they do a terrible job what you can do? Okay so there might be a coup: but if that happens, you won’t be finding out about from the pages of the New York Times.
Don’t just be respectful of others. Don’t just treat others as you would want them to treat you. Go a step further. Be as nice to other people as you can be. You are doing them a service, you are doing society as a whole a service, but most importantly, you are doing yourself a service: because most people will respond to you in like Manner. It is very difficult to be rude or unpleasant when someone is being extremely nice. And remember: if the other person doesn’t respond in kind, you should first consider that they are in the midst of some awful life situation rather than presuming they are simply a rude person. We all have bad days.
When a person is unhappy the company of friends and family can go a long way to fixing things. At the very worst you will be distracted for a short time and your brain will have a chance to re-organize some of its thoughts, and at the best, it will start you on a path to complete happiness. This can be a particularly difficult thing to do when you are not feeling very good but it is one of the most important things to achieving contentedness in life. If physical visits are impossible or just too difficult, a phone call is better than nothing at all.