Four life lessons that bring happiness


Four cups of coffee

We all want to be happy. Book stores have aisles and aisles of self-help books, many of which include chapters on how to be happy.

Here is a list of four lessons I have learned that bring happiness:

1. Assume the best.

Recently I had a difference of opinion with a friend and was concerned that she would tell mutual friends that she was wronged by me. I was feeling defensive, but the truth was I did not know whether she had said anything to anyone about the disagreement. When I assumed the best, that she kept our interaction confidential, I felt at ease and open-hearted to her and my other friends.

2. Seek first to understand others, then seek to be understood.

When two people see things differently, both people often feel compelled to tell the other person their side so that the person will agree with them. So, what you have, is a situation where both people want to get their point across first. This can often result in one person speaking and the other person not listening and not hearing. When we first seek to understand the other person, we are open to hearing their point of view, we may learn something, we may agree, or we may disagree, but at least we listened to another point of view.

3. When people are angry, they may also feel hurt.

Recently a friend of mine lashed out at me saying, “I am angry. I do not care about my harsh language, I am mad.” She was indeed angry, but as we talked about the situation, she softened and was open to hearing that I cared about her welfare. She felt hurt by a decision that was made and felt left out. When she was yelling at me I did not feel open to hearing what she had to say. When she talked about feeling hurt, I felt open-hearted and sorry she was hurt, and so we were able to resolve what happened.

4. When two people are angry, they may both have the same feelings about what transpired.

When I have talked with people after a disagreement, and we both share our feelings, it always amazes me that we both share the same feelings. When your children are arguing, ask them what they are feeling and you will most likely find they have the same feelings. When they realize this, they will feel better toward each other.

What are some of your life lessons?


7 Comments. Leave new

  • Ann Becker-Schutte
    January 23, 2011 10:50 pm

    Thank you so much for this wise, kind article. As I read it, I could feel my heart lifting. I was most struck by the suggestion to assume the best. I know that, in my own life, when I am able to pause and identify my “worst-case” stories, I can change my mood very quickly. This is definitely something that I regularly discuss with clients as we explore the power of our internal stories.

  • Thank you for writing, Ann. It is my hope to touch people in the way you have described responding to the article. I appreciate your phrase “power of our internal stories” – well said!

  • Learning to be tactful! Recently my sister called to recommend a website that could help my situation, when I recommended one to her she turned me down before even trying as she dies not like accepting help from others. I went on to say that she cuts her nose off to spite her face and that she should not feel obliged not to accept help, if people are willing to help her. She hung up on me.

    I was FURIOUS! How rude!

    After contemplating things from her point if view I realised that she was calling to help me, and I offended her with my bluntness. I need to be much more tactful in how i present things. I apologised to her and she has accepted my help in applying through this website which in turn will help her enormously.

    I didn’t realise how big my ego was until that point but I’m glad I had the skillfulness

  • My life lesson is to always pay attention to Saddhamala no matter what. I have been doing this for years now and she
    enriches my being every time. Also, many thanks to the person who noted this on Facebook.

  • Caroline-

    Learning to be tactful is a wonderful life lesson. And, contemplating things from another person’s point of view is essential when we are communicating with family members, colleagues and friends!

    Thank you for sharing your example and life lesson ;)


  • Janet,

    Hope you are doing well and keeping warm! Thank you for your comment ;)



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