Mush Talks #9: Become Happier through Gratefulness

Last week I talked about how happiness affects our relationships, work, health and success in life. So this week, I start talking about ways to increase our level of happiness – starting with gratefulness. Not mentioned in the video, but being happy and grateful for everything we have doesn’t mean we can’t strive for more and better.

Some beautiful quotes on gratitude:

  1. Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some. –Charles Dickens
  2. Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance. –Eckhart Tolle
  3. If a fellow isn’t thankful for what he’s got, he isn’t likely to be thankful for what he’s going to get. Frank A. Clark
  4. If you want to turn your life around, try thankfulness. It will change your life mightily. –Gerald Good
  5. Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. –Melody Beattie
  6. He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has. –Epictetus
  7. Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough. –Oprah Winfrey
  8. Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful. –Buddha
  9. It is impossible to feel grateful and depressed in the same moment. –Naomi Williams
  10. This a wonderful day. I’ve never seen this one before. –Maya Angelou

You may watch Mush Talks 1-8 here, and please feel free to share 🙂

Hector and his 23 Observations about Happiness!

Hector and the Search for HappinessI watched ‘Hector and his Search for Happiness’ movie on a recent flight and loved it! It’s about a psychiatrist who feels guilty of dispensing recommendations to his patients that never change their conditions or make them any happier. So he sets out on a journey to find what makes people happy. It’s quite funny, interesting and inspiriting. During his ‘research’ he makes the following 22 observations:

  1. Making comparisons can spoil your happiness***
  2. Happiness often comes when least expected
  3. Many people only see happiness in their future
  4. Many people think happiness comes from having more power or more money
  5. Sometimes happiness is not knowing the whole story
  6. Happiness is a long walk in beautiful, unfamiliar mountains***
  7. It’s a mistake to think that happiness is the goal***
  8. Happiness is being with the people you love; unhappiness is being separated from the people you love
  9. Happiness is knowing that your family lacks for nothing
  10. Happiness is doing a job you love***
  11. Happiness is having a home and a garden of your own
  12. It’s harder to be happy in a country run by bad people
  13. Happiness is feeling useful to others***
  14. Happiness is to be loved for exactly who you are (People are kinder to a child who smiles)
  15. Happiness comes when you feel truly alive***
  16. Happiness is knowing how to celebrate***
  17. Happiness is caring about the happiness of those you love***
  18. Happiness is not attaching too much importance to what other people think
  19. The sun and the sea make everybody happy***
  20. Happiness is a certain way of seeing things
  21. Rivalry poisons happiness
  22. Women care more than men about making others happy
  23. Happiness means making sure that those around you are happy

*** These are my favourites. Which one is yours?

“When I grow up I want to be happy, just like I am now.”

Wow, one of the best TED videos I’ve ever watched!

In this inspiring 11-minute video, mature-beyond-his-years teenager, Logan LaPlante, explains why he thinks youth should be taught to be happy and healthy, and how “hacking” his education to follow his dream is helping him do just that.

And with over 270,000 views on YouTube since his talk was published in February, I think he’s on the right path to inspiring other people to do the same.

Action for Happiness!

greatdream_full_400Just found this great website dedicated to our favorite topic, happiness. In their own words: Action for Happiness is a movement for positive social change. We’re bringing together people from all walks of life who want to play a part in creating a happier society for everyone.

Check it out for facts, tips, resources and action steps for creating happiness for yourself and those around you. This is one of the posters that you can download from the site.

“Western neuroscience has now confirmed what Eastern wisdom has known for a long time: happiness is a skill we can learn. Research shows that happiness, compassion and kindness are the products of skills that can be learned and enhanced through training, thanks to the neuroplasticity of our brains.”

For daily tips and resources on happiness, motivation and success, also check out Dinchack Facebook page 🙂

As happy as possible – by Leo Babauta

Reblogged from – one of my favorite blogs about minimalism.

“I believe I’m as happy as it is possible to be.

I’m not crying out in ecstatic pleasure, or streaming tears of joy, but I am very happy. It’s not a peak of happiness, but a plateau of happiness that can go on for as long as I live.

This is a happiness I wish on everyone alive. The question then is, what are the factors that contribute to my happiness?

Here’s what I don’t have:

  1. A huge house
  2. Massive wealth
  3. Fancy clothes
  4. A nice car
  5. A powerful job
  6. Cable TV

And I don’t believe having any of those would contribute to greater happiness than I already have. Here’s what I do have that contribute to my happiness:

  1. Time
  2. Loving relationships
  3. Meaningful work
  4. Health
  5. Books
  6. Enough

The first six are seen as the goals of society by many people. The second six make me very happy, and I believe I have them because I decided to forgo the first six. I recommend this path.”

Read more about happiness in my new book: Dhinchak Life

4 reasons why today is your best day!

A piece from “Today is Your Best Day” by Roy Lessin:

It’s not your best day because you feel like it is, or because you prevent that it is. It is not your best day because everything is going perfectly, or because you are living in ideal circumstances. It is not your best day because you are in optimum health, or because everything is going you way.

Here are four reasons why today is your best day:

  1. Today is your best day because you are here. God has placed you in this moment of time for a purpose, and the things that happen to you today will be an unfolding of that purpose.
  2. What happened to you yesterday, however easy or difficult, was used by God to help prepare you for what he has for your today.
  3. God will use what happens today to prepare you for what he has for you in future days.
  4. God has used your past and worked it all together for the good, and he will use this day to add to the good that he has already worked on your behalf.

God doesn’t make bad days for your and good days for you. God makes each day fit perfectly into his plans for you.

[Photo of sunrise from one of the McLehose Trails in Hong Kong]

Read more inspiring pieces in my new book, Dhinchak Life

8 Happiness Facts

I just read these interesting facts on Action for Happiness site:

  1. Our happiness is not set in stone: Although our genes influence about 50% of the variation in our personal happiness, our circumstances (like income and environment) affect only about 10%. As much as 40% is accounted for by our daily activities and the conscious choices we make. So the good news is that our actions really can make a difference.
  2. Optimism helps us achieve our goals: Research shows that people who are optimistic tend to be happier, healthier and cope better in tough times.
  3. Positive emotions make us more resilient: Our emotions affect our long-term well-being. Research shows that experiencing positive emotions in a 3-to-1 ratio with negative ones leads to a tipping point beyond which we naturally become more resilient to adversity and better able to achieve things.
  4. Happiness is contagious: Our happiness influences the people we know and the people they know. Research shows that the happiness of a close contact increases the chance of being happy by 15%. The happiness of a 2nd-degree contact (e.g. friend’s spouse) increases it by 10% and the happiness of a 3rd-degree contact (e.g. friend of a friend of a friend) by 6%. [Related post]
  5. Together we’re stronger: Having a network of social connections or high levels of social support has been shown to increase our immunity to infection, lower our risk of heart disease and reduce mental decline as we get older. Not having close personal ties has been shown to pose significant risks for our health.
  6. Happier people live longer: Happiness doesn’t just feel good. A review of hundreds of studies has found compelling evidence that happier people have better overall health and live longer than their less happy peers. Anxiety, depression, pessimism and a lack of enjoyment of daily activities have all been found to be associated with higher rates of disease and shorter life spans. [Related TED video]
  7. Happiness is a skill you can learn: Western neuroscience has now confirmed what Eastern wisdom has known for a long time: happiness is a skill we can learn. Research shows that happiness, compassion and kindness are the products of skills that can be learned and enhanced through training, thanks to the neuro plasticity of our brains.
  8. Happiness leads to success: Most people think that if they become successful, then they’ll be happy. But recent discoveries in psychology and neuroscience show that this formula is backward: Happiness fuels success, not the other way around. When we’re positive, our brains are more motivated, engaged, creative, energetic, resilient, and productive.

I was a bit surprised to read about genes contributing up to 50% of our happiness, and have started reading some more about it, but the rest of the facts seem to support most of my views and other posts about happiness. What’s your take on the above?

The best tips on productivity, motivation and dealing with depression

I recently had the privilege of connecting and interacting with one of the happiest and most successful people I’ve ever known. He started as a salesman and built one of the biggest direct sales companies in the region. I always admired how he found time for leisure and everything else that he enjoyed doing, even during the busiest times of his business. He retired early and rich, while the company runs on the systems he had built. In the following note, he shared with me his thoughts on motivation, productivity and dealing with depression:

Books: Two books that helped me greatly are:

  1. How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World by Harry Browne
  2. The Happiness Purpose by Edward De Bono

And my favorite now for ageless wisdom is The Portable Thoreau edited Carl Bode.

Work Habits: 

  • Keep a ‘time diary’ for 10-30 days. Log everything you do from wake-up to sleep – every phone call, every meeting, every cup of coffee. Review and you will find there is much wasted and unproductive time, which could be spent constructively on work or quality leisure. Make the adjustments.
  • Do jobs IMMEDIATELY and FINISH them.

By doing these two things I accomplished the same in one third of the time than most people! Now I am stress-free and have lots of leisure. Continue reading

Ron Gutman: The hidden power of smiling

Ron Gutman reviews a raft of studies about smiling, and reveals some surprising results. Did you know your smile can be a predictor of how long you’ll live – and that a simple smile has a measurable effect on your overall well-being? Prepare to flex a few facial muscles as you learn more about this evolutionarily contagious behavior.

37 things we take for granted, every day!

‘Take for granted’ in the sense that we don’t notice, acknowledge, enjoy these things fully, and even complain about sometimes…

  1. Waking up alive in the morning – thousands die every day
  2. Seeing everyone else in the family also waking up alive and safe – no disasters
  3. Having running water for brushing, shave and shower – millions in the world don’t
  4. Having a choice of hot or cold or warm water for shower
  5. Wearing nice clothes, with lots of choices and matching shoes and bag and jewelry
  6. Eating breakfast and other meals – millions are starving to death
  7. A job to go to – how many are jobless in your city/country?
  8. A car, or other means of transport that allows you to get to work on time
  9. Traffic that keeps moving
  10. Weather that’s live-able – would you rather be at the poles or Sahara?
  11. People trusting you with their problems at work
  12. Appliances and technology that (seem to) make life easier – imagine life without a microwave, washing machine, mobile phone, computer…
  13. Stable electricity – many places have daily power cuts
  14. Getting paid on time
  15. Our ability to see, hear, taste, touch, read, write, think, walk, talk, work, pray, love…
  16. Our education, knowledge, skills, experience, values…
  17. Having a home with furnishing and comforts
  18. Someone waiting for you at home, someone to wait for
  19. Someone that loves you, someone you love
  20. Kids – so what if they are not like us
  21. Friends, and people who care about you, people you care about
  22. Home-cooked meal
  23. Enough clothes to change a couple of times within a day
  24. The air we breathe, water we drink, the variety of food we eat
  25. Money in the pocket, money in the bank, credit cards – millions live under $1 per day
  26. Newspapers, magazines and books to read
  27. TV with 100 channels, and movies to watch
  28. Games to play
  29. Clubhouse or gym to workout
  30. Parents – they are the reason for our being
  31. Good health and fitness – thousands of hospitals in the world full of millions of sick
  32. Functioning government
  33. Good school for kids
  34. Weekends, public holidays
  35. Faith, religion, beliefs and values
  36. Nice bed to sleep in, pillows, blankets, reading lamp, alarm clock…
  37. Trees, flowers, sunrise, sunset, stars, moon, sea, mountain, rivers, breeze…

How different would our days (and therefore life) be if we noticed, acknowledged, enjoyed and were grateful for even half the things we take for granted every day? Would we be happier, more cheerful and have more enthusiasm? Would we complain less? You bet.

Right now, I am grateful for the long battery life on my mac, the comfortable sofa, the cushion on my lap absorbing the heat from the notebook, the lamp, the cool breeze from the window, the family sleeping quietly, the calm of the morning (4 AM), WordPress, Facebook, people who ask me when they don’t see a new post on my blog… a fridge full of stuff, mostly healthy!

Please share through comments (here or on my Facebook page) what else we usually take for granted, every day. Thanks for reading and sharing.

[Self photography during a beautiful drive in Surabaya yesterday, feeling the rain and breeze]

Trick your brain into happiness

It’s not often that I get a forwarded email with good content. This came from a friend yesterday, without the name of the author or the source. And I am copying it as is, because I believe this is true. I have been practicing and preaching this concept for many years. Try it…

Did you know that you can actually “trick” your brain into thinking you’re happy? Dr. David Lykken, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at theUniversity of Minnesota says, “Emotions are a combination of internal feelings and physical responses that provide feedback to your brain.” In effect, you can consciously initiate or provide the mental and physical conditions that your brain will naturally translate into feelings and emotions — you basically have the power to influence your mood. Try it for yourself.

Smile even when you don’t feel like it. You’ll think it’s silly but studies have shown that people who force themselves to smile eventually develop a more positive attitude towards challenges and setbacks. Smile the moment you wake up. Smile as you put yourself to sleep. Smile at everyone you meet.

Laugh at the pettiest things. Get some air into those lungs! More oxygen, more energy, brighter day! Ten minutes of laughter a day –- that’s all you need to ensure a life of contentment. You’ll be surprised that in Asia, some companies have employed a daily “laughter break”. Employees have to walk to a park, form a circle, and force themselves to laugh non-stop for 15 minutes. Company executives swear that this relaxation break has caused worker enthusiasm and productivity to soar!

Stand tall and walk fast. Remember your teacher in second grade? She tapped you with a ruler, screaming, “No slouching! Chin up! Walk tall!” You had no idea that she wasn’t just insisting on good posture, she was also making sure you developed a bright and confident outlook in life!

Stretch – better yet, exercise! Don’t “think” about your workout, just do it! If you pause, to think about the sweat, the pain, the monotony and the time, you’ll find one excuse or other not to do it. So, don’t rationalize. Just get up and do it. You know that at the end of the workout, you’ll feel good you did it. And if you’re not exactly the workout kind, try dancing!

Think only positive thoughts, speak only positive words. Every time you start to think or say something negative, stop. Change your sentences into the positive. Pessimists complain about their problems; optimists think of solutions. Advise, rather than criticize. Encourage, inspire, motivate –- yourself and others. Pick up a lesson, rather than blame. And always count your blessings.

These are just a few of the many ways you can jumpstart an overall feeling of happiness and contentment. Remember that your emotions are dictated by your perception of the world around you. And your reactions are a product of choice — you can “choose” to be happy, angry or sad. As Ecrivain Lesage wrote in “Histoire de Gil Blas” in 1735, “I am happy and content because I think I am.”

[Photo from the window seat while flying from Dubai to Colombo]

Click here to go to Mush’s Page on Facebook

Why not a “Happy New Day”?

It’s wonderful to see most people getting excited about the new year – the greetings, fireworks, cheer, and most importantly, the optimism for the year ahead.

I wonder why can’t we greet each new day with the same cheer and optimism. Isn’t waking up each morning a reason to be grateful and happy? Isn’t every day a chance to celebrate life and everything it has to offer? If that seems a bit too extreme, then how about ‘happy new week’? Could we not be as excited about the challenges and surprises that each new week brings?

This year try new month resolutions at the start of every new month. I can tell you from experience, they work much better than new year resolutions.

Next time you get a ‘happy new day’ or a ‘happy new week’ greeting from me, you’ll know why 🙂

PS. I started a Mush’s Page on Facebook to spread the ideas about enhancing life further. It also makes it easier for you to ‘like’, ‘comment’ or ‘share’ with just one click. Check it out.

[Photo of sunrise this morning by Sara]

Happiness, Health and Productivity – best of 2010

Here’s a collection of links to some of the most popular posts on my blog during the last 12 months. I hope you find them useful and consider sharing with friends. These may have some ideas for your New Year Resolutions too:

On Happiness:

On Health and Nutrition:

On Productivity:

Please let me know which ones did you find most useful.

[Photo taken during a hike in Rotorua, NZ – Nov. 2010]

35 Steps to an Enhanced Life

We all want more happiness, better health, increased productivity and improved relationships. We want to be able to motivate ourselves to do the things we know we should do to enhance our lives. I try to help myself and others to achieve all that through this blog.

Here’s a collection of posts from the last couple of years that I consider to be the best, considering the popularity and comments from the readers. Most articles are short, and take only a few minutes to read. Please let me know through your comments if this collection could form a useful ebook…






Please take a few minutes to tell me about your most favorite articles, through comments below. Thanks.

[Photo of Kuk Po hike near Tai Po in Hong Kong, taken last week]

Be The Best You Can!

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.’” (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

“Do the best you can, where you are, with what you have, now.” (African-American proverb)

“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.” (Leonardo da Vinci)

“Make the most of yourself, for that’s all there is of you.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

“Doing the best at this moment, puts you in the best place for the next moment.” (Oprah Winfrey)

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4 Tips for Instant Happiness!

The happy cobbler“If you want to be happy, be.” Leo Tolstoy

Feeling sad, depressed or unhappy? Does life look gloomy, and the world seems dreary? Try one of the following tested and proven tips to achieve an instant shift in your emotions and feelings:

1. Be grateful for the things you usually take for granted…

  • Being alive and healthy
  • For the basic stuff: food, water, clothes, shelter, electricity…
  • Your skills: reading, writing, thinking, driving, writing, and other
  • People in your life: family, friends, people you love, people who love you, those who had a positive influence in your life

2. Make someone happy…

  • Compliment people: for their appearance, intelligence, skills…
  • Appreciate others: for what they do for you, for their helpfulness… your family, co-workers and others; say ‘thank you’
  • Listen without interrupting, without offering advice, without judging Continue reading

Dan Gilbert asks: Why Are We Happy?

Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert says our beliefs about what will make us happy are often wrong — a premise he supports with intriguing research, and explains in his accessible and unexpectedly funny book, Stumbling on Happiness.

It is wonderful that a modern philosopher can come to the same conclusions as the Buddha 2,500 years ago. He said that when we learn to accept things as they are we find happiness. When we cease to strive for happiness in the future we find it in this moment. Getting what we want doesn’t make us happy, being happy with what we have does. Craving causes misery, acceptance and peace makes us happy.

Beware: Happiness is Contagious!

0909 happinessAfter seeing Dan Ariely’s video on TED, I started reading his blog and found the following post really interesting:

Social scientists used to have a straightforward, if tongue-in-cheek, answer to the question of how to become happy: Surround yourself with people who are uglier, poorer and shorter than you are – and who are unhappily married and have annoying kids. You will compare yourself with these people, and the contrast will cheer you up.

Nicholas Christakis, 47, a physician and sociologist at Harvard University, challenges this idea. Using data from a study that tracked about 5,000 people over 20 years, he suggests that happiness, like the flu, can spread from person to person. When people who are close to us, both in terms of social ties (friends or relatives) and physical proximity, become happier, we do too. Continue reading

Weekly Recommendations

For the week ending Sunday, 28/06:

Happy reading.