‘Teach Yourself Happiness’

Excerpt from Teach Yourself Happiness, published by Teach Yourself, an imprint of Hodder Headline, 2007.

08. be happy being yourself

In this chapter you will learn:

  • how to achieve the maximum satisfaction of your whole being
  • how you can run away to happiness
  • why you should learn to say ‘yes’ more often
  • why everything you do should express your personality

Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.

George Bernard Shaw

The summit of happiness is reached when a person is ready to be what he is.


When asked what makes them happy most people’s immediate reaction is to mention very tangible things. Sometimes they’re ‘big’ things, like houses and cars, more often they’re ‘small’ things like hearing their children laugh. But get down to the psychology of happiness and one issue comes up again and again. People are unhappy when they feel they’re constrained and they’re happy when they feel free to be themselves.

If you can’t be yourself you can’t be happy. That’s clear from what people say in surveys. You probably know it from your own life because very few of us are fortunate enough to be entirely ‘happy in our own skins.’ There’s always something we’re frightened of showing to the world. It can be for various reasons. It may be we had overbearing, over-ambitious, controlling parents and are now too inhibited to reveal ourselves. It may be the people who surround us are repressing us in some way.

George Bernard Shaw and Erasmus approach the question of who you are from different directions. The famous playwright was a man with little formal schooling who educated himself in the British Museum reading room. No wonder he saw himself as self-created. Erasmus, the 16th century Dutch scholar with a long formal education, saw identity more as something inherent which needs to be discovered.

As is so often the case, the truth lies in the middle. We’re born with certain characteristics, as studies of identical twins separated at birth have shown very clearly. Our life experiences then build on that foundation. In practice, the precise balance between ‘nature’ and ‘nurture’ doesn’t matter as much as that the blend of the two – the ‘real you’ – finds expression.

Maximum satisfaction

The shift comes about when we seriously ask ourselves: in what situation do I experience the maximum satisfaction of my whole being?

Arne Naess

Making up your mind to be what you want and do what you want is only the beginning of the solution. Because you now have to find out what it is that you want. What you really want. You might think you know. But you could very easily be mistaken.

Arne Naess is a Norwegian philosopher and ‘deep ecologist’. His advice that each of us should ask ‘in what situation do I experience the maximum satisfaction of my whole being’ is far more profound than it first seems. Think about it. The maximum satisfaction. Your whole being. Suddenly, things like watching television and shopping go straight out the window. We’re looking for things that are more fundamental and profound. More real.

So what are the things that give you the maximum satisfaction? What makes you feel physically, mentally and spiritually alive to the ultimate degree? Only you can answer that.

Try this

If you think you know the answer or answers then, for this exercise, write down the number of hours a week you spend on those things. For example, your list might start like this:

Things that give ‘maximum satisfaction’ Hours per week

Playing with my children 4

Making love with my partner 1

Hill walking 2

When you’ve done that, make a second list of all the other things, the things that don’t give much satisfaction, the chores, the routines, the boring minutiae of existence. It might start like this:

Things that give ‘minimum satisfaction’ Hours per week

Cooking and washing up 14

Commuting to work 15

Now compare the two lists. In all probability, you’ll find you’re spending at least six hours doing ‘boring’ things for every hour of ‘maximum satisfaction’. It could even be that you’ve never yet experienced ‘maximum satisfaction’.

Don’t assume that life has to be that way. Just because thousands of other people commute long distances to work doesn’t mean you have to. Just because thousands of other people do jobs they don’t enjoy doesn’t mean you have to. Just because thousands of other people live somewhere boring doesn’t mean you have to.

If the list you’ve just compiled is going to be more than an entertaining experiment you’ve got to make up your mind to take control of your life. You’ve got to be absolutely determined to increase the amount of time you spend on the ‘maximum’ things and reduce the amount of time you spend on the ‘minimum’ things.

Achieving the maximum

But the problem is that we don’t always know what gives us the ‘maximum satisfaction’. We tend to equate it with fulfilling our major ambitions and fantasies and those are usually handed down to us by other people. ‘I’d get the maximum satisfaction from driving around in a sports car.’ ‘I’d get the maximum satisfaction from being a celebrity.’

But if we ever achieve those kinds of fantasies we soon find the excitement palls.

So how can we find the source of ‘maximum satisfaction?’

Easy to ask. Very hard to do. When you have people expecting you to behave in a particular way, when you have people pressuring you to conform, how can you become the real you?

Running away to happiness

One Law for the Lion & Ox is Oppression

William Blake

From the time we’re very young we’re usually told we mustn’t run away from things. It’s also the message of countless books and films. The hero is a man or woman who stands up against all odds. Well, that’s fine in fiction. But real life is different. If you want to be happy you have to learn not only that you can run away but that sometimes you must run away. Otherwise you’re stuck with situations in which you arrived through somebody else’s choice, through your own ignorance or simply by accident. So run away and be proud of it because it’s the rational thing to do.

When you’re young and inexperienced you can’t know what makes you happy. You can’t know if you’re a lion or an ox. That’s something you can only find out from trial and error. If you don’t learn to run away then you’re going to be stuck with the very first thing you try. You’re going to be lumbered with the first girl or boy you ever go out with, the first employer who ever takes you on and the first town you ever decide to live in.

What’s more – and this is very important – you can’t even know what things you might like to try. It’s quite possible that the very thing that could make you happy is something you haven’t even heard of yet. But whilst you’re running you’ll encounter all kinds of new situations and, one day, you’ll find, perhaps purely by chance, the one that really makes you happy.

Let’s try to define what’s meant by ‘running away’ here. It doesn’t mean leaving home at age 15 without telling anybody. It doesn’t mean dumping your wife and children without support. It doesn’t mean leaving work without giving notice. But it is the very opposite of that old-fashioned advice: ‘You’ve made your bed and now you’ve got to lie in it.’ You haven’t got to lie in it. In fact, if you’re not happy, it will be better for everybody if you find another ‘bed’. Here’s why:

  • If you’re not very good at your job (because it’s not what you really want to do) then it’s not just you that’s suffering. It’s also the company and your fellow employees. If you change to a job you do like everyone will benefit.
  • If you’re not actually in love with your partner then it’s not just you that’s suffering. He/she’s suffering as well. A separation/divorce will give you both the chance to find true love.
  • If you’re not happy with your university course then it’s not just you that’s suffering. It’s your tutor, the university and the taxpayer as well. Changing to the right course is in everyone’s interests.

Of course, some people are happy with the very cards that fate has dealt them. You’re almost bound to feel comfortable in the place you were brought up. The landscape, the buildings, the climate, the way people dress and talk and behave will all be familiar. Somehow they’ll probably seem ‘right’ precisely because you’re used to them. That’s why so many people insist: ‘My country is the best country in the world.’

But not every country can be the ‘best country in the world.’ Isn’t it more sensible to try a few before deciding? And for ‘country’ you can also substitute ‘town,’ ‘job,’ ‘hobby,’ and plenty of other things.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

Mark Twain

Try this

While you’re ‘running away’ don’t run so fast that you haven’t got time to enjoy everything you pass. The more things you take an interest in, the more possibilities you have for being happy.

So for today, show an interest in everything. When you see a flower, stop and count the petals and take careful note of the colour of the stamens (the male bits that produce the pollen). When you pass a tree, stop and take careful note of the bark; touch it with your hand. Whenever you meet anyone, find out something unusual they do. When you’re confronted with a piece of equipment, find out how it works.

Running away to the sunshine

Quite a lot of people in northern latitudes dream of running away to the sunshine. Maybe you do. It makes good sense if you’re one of those people who feels low in winter. Quite simply, some bodies just don’t work very well when there’s too little daylight. Lack of light causes a reduction in serotonin (a neurotransmitter that makes us feel happy) and an increase in melatonin (which makes us sleepy). It’s a condition known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

There are three possible solutions.

1) To learn to be happy despite the lack of sunlight.

2) To enjoy ‘artificial sunlight’ every day in winter.

3) To move somewhere with more sunshine in winter.

Don’t forget that if you’re British, or, indeed, a citizen of any member of the European Union, you have the right to live and work in most other member states. A few members are not yet up to speed but, if it’s sunshine you want and need, then nobody can stop you going to find it in Portugal, Spain (including the Canary Islands, which are only just outside the tropics), the south of France, Italy or Greece, to name a few places. Don’t think only in terms of the coast. You’ll also find bags of sunshine in winter at altitude in the Pyrenees and the Alps – at 1,000 metres or more you’ll often be above the clouds while everyone else suffers. Of course, it won’t be hot up a mountain in winter but that doesn’t matter where SAD is concerned.

If you’re an American citizen you similarly have the right to live almost as far south as the Tropic of Cancer.

Millions of people have already done it. Why not you?

But if you can’t move for whatever reason, you can get some of the benefits of sunlight artificially by using special SAD light boxes. Here’s an idea of the light intensities:

  • Typical home or office lighting – 200 lux to 500 lux.
  • Cheap SAD light box – 2,500 lux.
  • Top end SAD light box – 10,000 lux.
  • Bright summer day – 100,000 lux.

Obviously, a light box that emits 10,000 lux will be effective in a much shorter time than one that only emits 2,500 lux (say, 30 minutes per session as opposed to two hours). So it makes sense to get the best you can afford. Having said that, you can get on with other things while you’re receiving the light therapy. Just sit close to it while you’re having a meal, reading or doing some office jobs, for example. (In fact, you shouldn’t look directly at the light.) So the highest power may not be vital in your case.

Doing what you want

If there is a path it is someone else’s path and you are not on the adventure.

Joseph Campbell.

In our lives we are often advised to follow the path less travelled. But, in fact, Joseph Campbell was absolutely right. Even that’s not good enough. Whenever you follow an existing path you’re not being yourself. You should aim to make your own path. If that happens to be very similar to many other paths that’s fine. But if, like the Starship Enterprise, you want to go where no man or woman has ever been before then don’t be put off. You don’t have to be afraid of being different. The important point is that it’s your path. Not a path someone else has told you to follow.

Sooner murder an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires.

William Blake

Ask yourself how many times things you’ve done have made you unhappy. Now ask yourself how many times you’ve been unhappy because you didn’t do something you wanted to do. In all probability you can think of ten times more of the latter than the former. The fact is, it’s what we don’t do that usually makes us most unhappy.

It’s the person we didn’t ask out, the time we didn’t say ‘I love you’, the exam we didn’t study for, the travel opportunity we didn’t take, the job we didn’t apply for… And so on.

This is the meaning of Blake’s proverb. He’s not actually suggesting anyone should murder a baby. In fact, the baby in the proverb is you. Blake is saying that if you don’t do the things you want to do in life then it’s as if you’d been murdered as a baby. You’re not fulfilling your promise. You’re not becoming what you could have become. The person you should have been is effectively dead. Murdered.

Learning to say ‘yes’

But if a man doesn’t break the string, tell me, what flavour is left in life? You’re young, you have money, health, you’re a good fellow, you lack nothing. Nothing, by thunder! Except just one thing – folly!

Nikos Kazantzakis (Zorba The Greek)

It’s very easy to say ‘no’. And sometimes, of course, very necessary and sensible. When you say ‘no’ you can usually predict the outcome with certainty. ‘No’ means that everything stays as it is. So ‘no’ is the safe option.

But sometimes it’s far more interesting to take the unsafe option and say ‘yes’. When you say ‘yes’ you embark on a journey whose outcome is unknown.

Of course, we have to get this business of ‘no’ and ‘yes’ into perspective. There are many things to which we must say ‘no’. But some people say ‘no’ to almost anything that’s new. They say ‘no’ to whatever threatens to disturb their routine and their security, ‘no’ to new ideas, ‘no’ to new situations. If you were utterly positive that the status quo is exactly what you want you probably wouldn’t be reading this book now. The fact is that lots of people say ‘no’ but regret it afterwards.

Keep smiling

I don’t suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.

Try this

If the following suggestions were made to you, what would you answer? Yes or No?

Yes No

  • Let’s go on holiday to a country we’ve never visited before
  • Let’s sell up and move to a new country
  • Let’s live on a boat
  • Let’s get backpacks/a motorbike and travel round the world
  • Let’s build or own house, exactly as we want it
  • Let’s make love in a position we’ve never tried before
  • Let’s find jobs/work doing the things we really want to do
  • Let’s give up our jobs and start our own business
  • Let’s have makeovers and completely change the way we look
  • Let’s take up an adrenaline sport
  • Let’s go to evening classes to learn a new skill
  • Let’s adopt orphans/take in refugees

There are 12 suggestions there. How many would you be willing to consider? Before you answer, let’s take a look at the true story of Richard.

Following his divorce, a horse trainer called Richard bought some land in the middle of nowhere on which he intended to live in a mobile home and lick his wounds, far from everyone. That was the plan. Today, he heads a charitable foundation that, in the peace and quiet of the countryside, helps people who’ve been traumatised. This dramatic change came about because Richard said ‘yes’. He said ‘yes’ to a woman he met by chance who told him his land was far too beautiful for him to keep all for himself. She suggested that he ‘shared’ it. And that’s what he did. Using horses, he helps diagnose and treat people who are troubled and depressed – a fascinating new approach known as equitherapy.

Today Richard is a happy man. A very happy man. He could easily have said ‘no’. Most people would have done. But he was curious to know what would happen if he said ‘yes’.

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.

Helen Keller

So back to those questions. To how many would you answer ‘yes’? Ten? Then you’re obviously very adventurous and optimistic. And a bit wild. You take risks and things sometimes go wrong but you probably don’t mind. Five? You’re certainly open to new ideas but you like to weigh them up before you act. Two? One? None? Then you need to ask yourself, are you simply very fortunate and contented or are you, perhaps, afraid of life?

These are big things. But, so often, happiness comes from seemingly little things. It could come when you’re hosing the flowers and you get the urge to spray your partner instead. It could come at a dinner party when you get the urge to make a controversial remark or tell a particularly risqué joke. It could come when you’re on a deserted beach and you get the urge to throw off your clothes and swim naked. It could come at a social gathering when you get the urge to put your arms round the two nearest guests and sing a song.

These may seem little things but actually they aren’t little things at all. Because they’re to do with the most profound issues of the human spirit. They’re to do with inhibition and liberation. They’re to do with being yourself. With self-expression. With being comfortable in your own skin.

There’s a lovely scene in the 1989 film Shirley Valentine in which, whilst decorating a room, Pauline Collins and Bernard Hill end up happily slapping gunk over one another. It’s a tiny moment in their relationship when they’re suddenly free – perhaps it was the only one in their entire lives together.

Of course, there are many laws, rules, conventions and manners we have to observe if we’re going to live alongside other people. Even, indeed, to live on our own. But some are imposed solely for the benefit of others. Some are based on old-fashioned ignorance and take no account of modern knowledge. Yet another category apply only to special situations, such as childhood, but nevertheless carry on into our adult lives.

What would happen if we actually did some of these things? Curiously, most of us admire the rare few who are that way. And yet we don’t dare to be like it ourselves.

Problem: I just don’t have time to do what I want.

Are you sure? How important are all those other things you’ve just got to do? Does it matter if the car isn’t shiny? Wouldn’t letting the grass grow be good for insects and birds? Do the kids really want you to take them to all those after-school activities? Are you certain it’s essential to have dinner with those people you don’t really like?

Always ask yourself:

  • To what extent will this give me the maximum satisfaction of my whole being?

You’ll probably find you have more time than you think.

Kill your inner child

We’re often told to get in touch with our ‘inner child’. We all know what it means. It’s the idea that our ‘inner child’ is playful and carefree and that by being childlike once more we can be happy as adults.

However, the reality of childhood is somewhat different. Childhood isn’t a free time. On the contrary, it’s a straightjacket, or rather the struggle to put you into a straightjacket. As a child you were told, you can’t do this, you can’t do that. You can’t do the other. And there are usually perfectly good reasons. As a child you lack the necessary qualities (knowledge, judgement, wisdom, strength and so forth) to deal with certain situations. The problem is that we carry these admonitions on into adulthood. No one ever says to us: ‘As from today that rule no longer applies.’ It’s just taken for granted that we’ll ‘grow up’. But we don’t. At least, not completely. At the back of our minds we still harbour those ideas. We still hear the voices of our childhood friends cautioning: ‘Um, you’re not allowed to do that.’

So get in touch with your inner child. And when you have…kill it.

Become an adult. Cut yourself free.

Keep smiling

Psychoanalysis is much quicker for men than for women. When analysts want to take patients back to childhood, men are already there.

Expressing the real you

You’ll almost certainly feel much happier if you express your unique personality in every way you can. That means being creative. Put your personal stamp on everything. Let’s start with one of the most obvious ways.

Clothes and hair

Take a look at your clothes. Take a look at your hair.

Don’t ask yourself:

  • Do I look pretty/handsome?
  • Do I look cool?
  • Do I look smart?
  • Do I fit in with everybody else?

Instead, ask yourself this:

  • Do I look like me?

Do you, in fact, even know what you look like? If your essence, your soul, if you like could walk and talk and dress would it look the way you look now? Or would it be something different? Would it have longer hair? Shorter hair? A moustache? Bolder colours? A longer skirt? A shorter skirt? A younger style? A more classic style? What?

Of course, it may well be the case that a conventional appearance does represent the real you. That’s fine. But if you feel differently don’t be afraid to show it.

You can’t be happy if you think, for whatever reason, that you have to keep the real you hidden away. Your clothes and your hairstyle are only the beginning.

Darren’s story:

I like to go horse riding and before I leave the house I put on the theme tune from The Magnificent Seven. Some people think I’m a little crazy. I even have a cowboy saddle, hat, chaps and spurs. But where’s the harm? On the contrary. I love that relaxed style of Western riding and I enjoy myself more. The music transports me very quickly. It helps me get ‘psyched up,’ especially if I know I might be going to face a challenging horse.


What work do you do?

  • The same kind of work as my father/mother/grandfather/grandmother.
  • The same kind of work as everyone else where I live.
  • Something completely original.

Most of us will spend something like a third of our waking hours as adults travelling to work and working. So if you’re not happy with your job you’re not going to be very happy with your life. According to one researcher, marital happiness was the greatest source of overall happiness but job dissatisfaction was the greatest source of unhappiness. In fact, you’re at an increased risk of depression if you find your work undemanding and boring but at an ever greater risk if you find it too demanding. Depression tends to be lowest when the demands of the job are just right, neither too low nor too high.

In general, people want to work. Work gives life meaning and, for men, it fulfils the role that used to be the function of hunting. A study in the USA concluded that for every percentage increase in unemployment, murders went up 5.7 per cent, suicides 4.1 per cent and prison admissions 4 per cent. In another survey, two-thirds of people said they would want to continue working even if it wasn’t financially necessary, although only one-third would continue with their present jobs. Not surprisingly, job satisfaction is highest among ABC1s, but only half as high among C2DEs.

What is it that creates the sense of satisfaction? One researcher found five key elements. A satisfying job:

  • Allows a measure of independence and discretion in making decisions.
  • Calls for a variety of skills.
  • Provides feedback on how successfully the job has been done.
  • Helps other people.
  • Involves distinct tasks which can be completed.

In addition, there are all the other things associated with work including, of course, pay as well as friendship with colleagues.

Since stress leads to unhappiness it isn’t a good idea, however, to have a stressful job. On a scale of zero to 10, being a miner was rated the most stressful job in Britain (8.3), followed by being in the police, a construction worker, a journalist, a pilot, and a prison officer. Being a manager was rated 5.8 and a diplomat 4.8.The most stressful jobs are clearly not the best paid.

The message from the research is clear. Get a job that:

  • Gives plenty of satisfaction
  • Stretches you but is within your capabilities

To that can be added:

  • Make sure your job reflects your real self.

The person who is a master in the art of living makes little distinction between their work and their play, their labour and their leisure, their mind and their body, their education and their recreation, their love and their religion.

They hardly know which is which. They simply pursue their vision of excellence and grace in whatever they do, leaving others to decide whether they are working or playing. To them, they are always doing both.

Zen Buddhist text.

Your home

Where do you live?

  • Within 10 miles of where I grew up.
  • Between 10 and 50 miles from where I grew up.
  • Between 50 and 250 miles from where I grew up.
  • In a different country from where I grew up.

Where you live could be vitally important to your external happiness. Because where you live dictates so much of what you do, who you know and even what illnesses you get. If you live close to where you grew up then, of course, that may be the place you’ll be happiest. But remember it was purely a matter of chance as far as you’re concerned. Where you live should be a conscious decision and a reflection of the real you. Take a look again at the section above on running away.

And what about your home itself? What does it say about you? Does it reflect your personality? If not, get busy and make it into a statement. If you want to paint the walls black, paint them black.

Rachel’s story.

We were watching a film together and it had a pretty sexy scene in it. You couldn’t see exactly what was going on but it was something that we’d never done together, although I’d always wanted to. And I looked at my partner and said: ‘We could do that.’ And he said: ‘Okay, let’s try.’ And it was great. But it was also kind of sad that I’d never dared to suggest it before.

Try this

You can express yourself in all kinds of other ways: photography, painting, sculpting, writing, flower arranging, gardening, cooking and much more. In fact, everything you do should be a statement about you.

1) Ask your partner and people close to you if they can answer the following questions about you:

  • Who did I vote for in the last election?
  • Can you name one of my favourite books/pieces of music/paintings/websites?
  • What job would I choose if I could do anything I wanted?
  • If money were no object, where would I go on holiday?
  • Can you name the thing I’d most like to do in my life?
  • What do you think I’d most like to change in my life?
  • Would you say I was happy?
  • Do you know my opinion on:


The legalisation of recreational drugs?

Gay marriage?

The chance of life on another planet?

The possibility of life after death?

The existence of God?

The probability of climate change?

The growth of world population?





The state of democracy?


20+ correct: you’re not hiding anything much and that’s very good for your happiness. 15 – 19 correct: you obviously let people around you know your opinion on most things but you could still go a little further. 10 – 14: you’re not exactly secretive but you’re far from comfortable with yourself – you’ll feel a lot happier if you can open up a bit more. 9 or under: you’re keeping yourself hidden away from other people and that’s having a negative effect on your happiness – try harder to overcome your inhibitions and reveal yourself to others.

2) Make a list of ten realistic things you’d like to do but have never dared. Then do them. If any involve or affect other people, discuss them with the person or persons concerned. If they don’t agree then, of course, you have to accept that. But it could be they’re suffering from the same inhibitions you are. Give them the chance to break free as well. And while you’re at it, suggest that they, too, make a list of the ten things they’d most like to do.

Problem: I’m too inhibited to do what I want

If you’re inhibited by your perception of what other people consider acceptable, bear in mind that other people are inhibited, too. If you take your lead from them you’re never going to break free and be yourself. Don’t be afraid to break new ground. Indeed, it may well be that if you take the lead, they’ll follow you.

Just take it very slowly, one step at a time. It’s important to move ahead but, on the other hand, there’s no rush. You have a lifetime to deal with your inhibitions and that’s often what it takes. But it’s great fun.

Our own life is the instrument with which we experiment with the truth.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Avoiding unhappiness

The flip side of doing what makes you happy is, of course, avoiding things that make you unhappy. A lot of Eastern philosophy tends to start with the proposition that that’s more or less impossible. That life is full of unavoidable suffering. That the only possible course is to get mentally prepared for it.

But is that really true? Actually, it’s not. In the West today life is very different to, say, the India of 2,500 years ago in the time of the Buddha when death was an everyday thing. Life then for many people was little other than suffering. But it isn’t the case for the majority of people in the West now.

Many of the problems people do suffer in the West are avoidable.

  • A lot of suffering is self-inflicted.

In Chapter 03 we saw the impact of negative thinking. In Chapter 04 we saw the impact of negative emotions. There are also negative actions. You’re inviting a negative outcome if, for example, you smoke, eat unhealthily, drink too much alcohol, or fail to have sufficient exercise.

So many problems we have in our lives are actually brought on by ourselves. Before you do something, ask:

  • Is this likely to make me happy at any time?
  • Is this likely to make me unhappy at some other time?

Plan your happy future

Put your stamp on the future as well as on the present. Don’t leave it to take care of itself or to others. Ask yourself:

  • What would I like to be doing in three months’ time?
  • What would I like to be doing in a year’s time?
  • What would I like to be doing in five years’ time?

Work out a strategy. Set the wheels in motion. It’s important for happiness always to have, at the very least, one project underway. And to look forward to it.

When you stand in that sliver of space that is completely and utterly you, then will you be truly awesome, wonderful, magnificent.

Joseph Riggio


  • If you can’t be yourself you can’t be happy.
  • Some of who you are was inborn but that still leaves plenty of scope for you to create yourself.
  • Aim as much as possible for the maximum satisfaction of your whole being.
  • Don’t be afraid to run away; it’s futile to stay in a situation which is unhappy for everybody – and while you’re running you’ll discover new things.
  • Running away to the sunshine is the best solution to seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
  • Don’t follow the well-trodden path or even the less-travelled path but make your own path.
  • Try saying yes more often.
  • Kill your inner child and let a fun-loving adult escape.
  • Be creative – express yourself in everything you do, from the way you dress to the way you decorate your home.
  • Job dissatisfaction is a major cause of unhappiness – find a job in which you can express your personality.
  • Devise projects for the future and look forward to them.

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

Harold Whitman

Keep smiling

‘Doctor, I keep thinking I’m a wheelbarrow.’

‘Yes, well, you must stop letting people push you around.’