There was a recent survey about happiness being just as simple as a small amount of volunteer work. It’s amazing that simplistic modern non-committal solutions are suggested with the same people not understanding anything about the subject, making broad and invalid generalisations. This is more a band-aid approach, with people thinking a life long disability can be cured by applying a small protective patch. Unhappiness; just open the can and apply it.

Happiness is a way of life. Nobody is happy all the time because of it, but it needs to be worked at and developed by your attitude to life, and the recent study is equivalent to the idea that people who are healthy have the right vitamin balance, so taking vitamins will make you healthy.

Voluntary work is quite often undertaken if you feel OK about things, and want to keep busy or do something in return. It’s not doing voluntary work makes you feel OK about things.

Happiness is not something that has a value 0-10, somebody’s 5 being better than someone else 6 and somebody’s 3 being worse than somebody else’s 1.

Volunteering is a good idea if you haven’t got anything else to do, but at the moment it would on average shorten anybody’s life over 50. The same people say that giving up smoking will length your life on average by 7 years. So the best thing to do is take up smoking and immediately give up as you will live 7 years longer.

What you need to study is not a set of numbers and formulas but what is meant by happiness.

The first key is ‘do something you enjoy doing.’ Without this you are performing somebody else’s idea of enjoyment. I have lost hours of the day doing something I like, and have commonly missed meals, forgetting to have them. I worked hard non-stop and felt great when I finished it.

‘Idle hands make for the devils work,’ is rarely quoted these days, but it’s not just attributing evil to idleness. A person, even wealthy, who is doing nothing worthwhile feels of less value, so is more likely to do something for effect to fill the space. Quite often it will be bad, especially if you value others less than yourself. Serial killers can do what they do because they see their victims as just objects, and get really upset if anything personal about them is shown. The more that is personally like themselves is presented, the more they hate it, unless it’s another serial killer, then its admiration and competition. You see it in the interests and the literature they read and keep.

The second key is ‘do something you feel is worthwhile.’ I know somebody who is a lot wealthier than me but does a job that he has total contempt for the product. He supports the firm but will never use the product because he regards it as rubbish. He likes the money but complains a lot, especially about other workers and other people.

The third key is ‘don’t worry about other people doing less.’ I like doing work and I enjoy doing it. I feel sorry for those that don’t because they usually have no drive, relying on being driven. I will get on with something without being asked, and find not doing something a waste of my time.

The fourth key is ‘don’t take things too seriously.’ Whoever invented life was a comedian. The bad quite often get rich and have an easy life, and the good quite often stay poor and have a hard life.

The fifth key is ‘set your own standard and try and live to it.’ Also referred as ‘To thine own self be true.’ If you live by other people’s standard you will be as unhappy as they are if they try to live by yours. Usually only certain people and cream rise to the top, then they go off. The only person who should be in charge is somebody who doesn’t want to be. Think ‘I don’t care if they are doing that, I’m not joining them.’  Whatever you do, do it to the best of your abilities. Don’t thin ‘this will do,’ think ‘how can I improve this or do better next time.’

People’s ability is pretty similar, and a lot of experts knowledge isn’t way above others although they think they are. Nobody is usually above average off subject, and some of the greatest barriers to learning another area is learning of one area. I tried once to teach an emeritus professor computers without any success. His assistants had no problem. I taught somebody with learning difficulties who in the past would have be called ‘backward.’ He was slower than others, but he mastered word processing, spreadsheets, and presentation software, so the popular time based standards of achievement and ability are pretty suspect. Some people take longer than others, but can be better than others.

The sixth key is ‘don’t be so hard on yourself.’ You cannot live up to standards that are impossible for heath, physical, mental or a social life. But judge yourself and be lenient, let yourself get away with things occasionally.

A person who is quick to judge others rarely uses the same criteria on themselves, expecting other to live by their standards when they don’t even match up to those standards themselves. Do as I say, not as I do is commonplace in this world.

The seventh key is ‘apply the sixth key to others.’ Let people get away with things occasionally and laugh about it, not resent it.

The eighth key is ‘Don’t believe everybody else is doing better than you.’ They’re not. Success is how you measure it, so make sure you are measuring the right things; thing you find important. Star Wars, Princess Leia, ‘If money’s all you want, money’s all you’ll get.’

The ninth key is similar. ‘Don’t believe what everybody tells you.’ Add to this ‘don’t tell them that.’ Let your friends and family have their delusions. Some peoples feet don’t touch the ground, so don’t think you can make them do so or punish them so that their ‘feet won’t touch the ground.’

The tenth key is ‘don’t think you are 100% right,’ nobody is, but telling them so doesn’t make them wrong or you right, only resentment.

The eleventh key is ‘have a short memory.’ Don’t bear a grudge and forget what has happened in the past. Today is a new day. Throwing the past back at people and you’ve lost.

Twelthly, start each day looking forward to it, even if it’s only your first coffee. Life has a habit of getting in the way, and put a missed opportunity on tomorrows list at the end of the day. Things may or may not come around again, but be prepared to start from the bottom.

Thirteen. Don’t project. Begin by giving the benefit of a doubt and studying what people say and do. Dislike and resentment breed’s dislike and resentment. A person with chips on both shoulders is not well balanced and often blames only others for their mistakes in life. Their own failings have nothing to do with it, it’s always everybody else’s fault. A long string of failed careers, deals, relationships, marriages, everybody else has got it in for them, when there’s a single person responsible that is common to all of them. Lowest common denominator.

Too many people have illusions of entitlement. Respect needs to be earned, not a right, and if you start off by insulting, being aggressive or demanding things, you may get them, but at a cost of continual resentment and only respect when you are in earshot. The rest of the time people will want to bring you down and work at it.

You don’t usually have it all without working for it, only those lucky enough to be born into a family that has it all, and then their ancestors probably worked for it. If a family has it all by cheating then it’s likely that they have a built in terminal flaw that will bring the family down through the generations. Children can choose to be different than their parents, but a parent that cheats and regards others with contempt often instils these virtues in their children. They quite often have a wealthy life but an unhappy one, as the first thing they do is feel they can cheat and disregard others.

No person is an island, what you do effects everyone around you, and if you aren’t part of the community you are just taking from it and not giving anything back to it.

A king, queen or lord may think they are why the community or country survives, but the fact is that without them a community would do better than with them. In war and battles leadership is needed to protect the predators from their prey, but history has shown that warriors first protect their people from those predators, but then decide that those same people are now their prey.

Everybody realises too late the wolf fighting off the other wolves will turn on them when they’ve finished.

Lastly, never give up. If life knocks you down, get up and keep trying until they nail you down.

People can change if you let them, but try and force them or demand they do, they will instinctively react and fight or push back, but first look at yourself, as you can’t demand somebody do something you aren’t prepared to do yourself.

Compromise is not a fault and don’t expect things too big too fast.

Small steps, but keep on making them. Longevity is really down to keeping active. Let others rest while you live.

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