The Mindset You Must Adopt To Live A Happy Life

Matt Lillywhite

Focus on everything you can control, instead of what you can’t.

Photo by Glen McCallum on Unsplash

Most people live in a constant state of mediocrity. They’re afraid to follow their dreams, find their purpose, and accomplish everything they’ve ever wanted.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Without even knowing you, I can tell that you want to create a happy life, and to live each day with a sense of optimism. But only thing holding you back is a lack of clarity on where to start.

It sucks.

You don’t need to trap yourself in a negative mindset, and consequently, never fulfill your potential. Because when you adopt a different way of thinking, I’ve discovered that you’ll create a very different future. The Roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius, said it best:

“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.”

Fortunately, there is a solution that will help you to create a much better future. Because if a lack of optimism is preventing you from creating the life you desire, all you need to do is adjust your mindset to become the person you aspire to be.

Here’s how.

Define & Live By Your Values

Too many people have no idea how to be happy. Nor do they have a set of principles that guide their daily actions. To be honest, it’s not surprising that a lot of people feel lost in life.

So what does this mean? It means that you need to define a set of personal values, and then do whatever you can to live by them each day. Because when you focus on yourself, it’s much easier to stop worrying about the actions of other people. As Marcus Aurelius once said:

“Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.”

Here’s the thing: I’ve learned that you cannot control the actions of others. But no matter what you face, you can always choose your response to anything that happens.

For example, you cannot control what other people do or say. But if you value treating everyone with respect, it’s much easier to avoid arguments or anything else that can cause tension in relationships.

You can easily become the type of person you aspire to be. But that will only happen when you write down the habits of your ideal self and implement them into your daily life.

If you’re struggling to come up with a list of values, don’t worry. Here are a few of mine to get you started:

  • Respect. Treat others how you’d like to be treated. It’s that simple.
  • Honesty. Even if the truth might be uncomfortable, people will always respect your ability to remain honest during any situation.
  • Forgiveness. We all make errors. But you can’t expect others to forgive you for your mistakes if you’re not willing to do the same.

You get the idea. You’ll significantly improve your life when you build a mindset that prioritizes kindness and empathy. Because when you show compassion to other people, they’ll likely reciprocate.

Practice Gratitude For The Present Moment

There’s a quote from Seneca, which beautifully speaks about the importance of being grateful for everything you have, instead of wishing for what you don’t. He says:

“True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so, wants nothing.”

You cannot avoid feelings of anxiety or sadness as they are natural human emotions. But if worrying about something won’t change the outcome, what’s the point? There is none.

For example, I’m not thrilled that I’m in quarantine during the middle of a Pandemic. I’d much rather be in the Rocky Mountains, enjoying the beautiful scenery of Alberta.

I cannot change the fact that I’m stuck in the United Kingdom, with no way back to Canada for the foreseeable future. So instead of worrying about it, I’m spending my days writing, learning new languages, and other things that can help me to become a better version of myself.

I recognize that practicing gratitude for everything that happens is a difficult mindset shift for most people to make. I respect that. But if you want to live a happy life, you need to let go of what you cannot change, and focus solely on what you can. Epictetus said it best:

“There is only one way to happiness, and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will.”

Whenever you encounter adversity, it’s easy to get depressed as you want things to be different. I understand how you feel. But instead of seeing it as a negative experience, try to use it as an opportunity to become a better person.

Similarly, Ryan Holiday wrote:

“There is no good or bad without us, there is only perception. There is the event itself, and the story we tell ourselves about what it means.”

I love that quote. Although we cannot change what happens to us, we can always change our perception and how we respond to any given set of circumstances.

So each day, focus on what you can do in the present moment to create the future you desire. Because when you start taking take small steps towards becoming your ideal self, every aspect of your life will quickly change for the better.

Starting now.

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