I'm reading a rather insightful book called How We Choose to Be Happy (website). The authors asked people for the happiest people they know and interviewed these happy people to learn why they're happy. They also interviewed many people who ought to be happy--due to riches, fame, etc.--and yet are not. They've been able to summarize their findings in nine steps happy people tend to follow.
- Intention -- Happy people start each day planning to be happy today.
- Accountability -- Happy people take responsibility for their actions. They don't blame themselves or others.
- Identification -- Happy people figure out what they want out of life in order to be happy.
- Centrality -- Happy people make sure to do in their daily lives what they want to be happy, and to avoid things that make them unhappy.
- Recasting -- Happy people find the bright side of a situation and make difficult events into learning experiences.
- Options -- Happy people are open to possibilities and don't insist that events must go as planned.
- Appreciation -- Happy people are thankful for the good things and good people in their lives.
- Giving -- Happy people help their friends and their community/world in general without expecting anything in return.
- Truthfulness -- Happy people are honest with themselves and others and do not allow themselves or others to disrupt their plans for happiness.
This is a pattern language for being happy, best practices for having a satisfying life. Like a lot of best practices, some of this stuff seems obvious. But also like a lot of best practices, to the extent that you're not being as successful as you might like, you might ask yourself if you're following these best practices as well as you can. And if you were to follow these best practices better, would that help?