8 simple rules for a happy life, according to psychology

Avatar by Lachlan Brown | March 19, 2024, 1:40 pm

Life, as we know, can be complicated. But what if I told you there were simple rules to make it happier?

As Lachlan Brown, founder of Hack Spirit and a student of mindfulness and Buddhism, I’ve spent years delving into the realm of psychology to uncover the secrets to a fulfilling life. You’d be surprised how straightforward some of these rules are.

Let me share with you 8 simple guidelines that psychology suggests for leading a happier life. These aren’t just abstract theories; they are practical, everyday tips that you can start implementing right away.

Let’s get started. 

1) Embrace the present

Living a happy life isn’t about chasing the future or being stuck in the past. Instead, it’s about embracing the present moment and living it to the fullest.

Psychology suggests that our happiness levels are directly linked to our ability to stay present and mindful in our daily lives. This concept, often referred to as mindfulness, is a staple in Buddhist practices and is now backed up by numerous psychological studies.

When we allow ourselves to truly experience the present moment, we’re not just taking in the surrounding sights and sounds. We’re also acknowledging our feelings without judgment, which can lead to a sense of peace and contentment.

The first simple rule for a happier life? Live in the here and now. It might seem obvious, but it’s astonishing how often we overlook this simple truth. Embracing the present moment – with all its ups and downs – can lead us down a path towards true happiness.

Mindfulness is not about perfection – it’s about practice. So take a deep breath, observe your surroundings, and give yourself permission to just be. It might just be the first step towards a happier life.

2) Practice gratitude

Another simple rule, yet one we often overlook, is the act of being thankful. Gratitude, in its most basic form, is about appreciating what we have rather than focusing on what we don’t.

As someone who’s immersed in the teachings of Buddhism and mindfulness, I’ve found that an attitude of gratitude can profoundly impact our happiness levels. It shifts our focus from lack to abundance, from what’s wrong to what’s right.

Thich Nhat Hanh, a renowned Buddhist monk and mindfulness expert, once said, “The seed of suffering in you may be strong, but don’t wait until you have no more suffering before allowing yourself to be happy.”

His words carry a profound truth. We can choose to be happy by acknowledging and appreciating our blessings.

How do we practice gratitude? It can be as simple as writing down three things you’re grateful for each day or taking a moment to appreciate the beauty around you. Over time, this practice can cultivate a positive mindset and lead to greater happiness.

Gratitude is a choice. Choose to see the good in your life and watch how it transforms your perspective and enhances your happiness.

3) Accept impermanence

Life is constantly changing, and nothing stays the same forever. This is the principle of impermanence, a fundamental concept in Buddhism. It’s a raw and honest truth about existence that we often struggle to accept.

But why is acceptance of impermanence important for happiness? Because clinging to the way things are or yearning for the way things were can lead to discontent and suffering. On the other hand, understanding and accepting that everything is transient can free us from these negative emotions.

Buddhist wisdom tells us that joy and sorrow, arrival and departure, birth and death – all these are part of the natural flow of life. Accepting impermanence doesn’t mean becoming indifferent or passive. Instead, it encourages us to appreciate every moment, every experience, and every person in our lives while they’re present.

It’s not always easy to face the reality of impermanence. But if we can learn to flow with the tides of change rather than against them, we may find a deeper sense of peace and happiness in our lives.

4) Cultivate Mindfulness

Mindfulness, at its core, is a simple concept: it’s about being fully present and engaged in the here and now. However, in our fast-paced, digitally-driven world, cultivating mindfulness can seem like a daunting task.

Psychology suggests that practicing mindfulness can significantly contribute to our happiness. It encourages us to slow down, pay attention to our thoughts and feelings, and engage fully with the world around us. This heightened awareness can lead to a greater sense of peace and contentment.

But what does it mean to be mindful? It’s about more than just ‘living in the moment’. It’s about acknowledging our thoughts and feelings without judgement. It’s about seeing things as they really are, not as we wish them to be.

Cultivating mindfulness isn’t always easy. It takes practice. But the rewards are worth it. As we become more mindful, we can learn to respond rather than react to life’s challenges, leading to greater balance and happiness in our lives.

Take a few moments each day to simply be. Pay attention to your breath, your thoughts, your feelings. Observe without judgement. You may be surprised at the tranquility and happiness that this simple practice can bring.

5) Let go of your ego

In our journey towards a happier life, one of the biggest hurdles we often face is our own ego. The ego can lead us to compare ourselves with others, strive for perfection, and hold on to past mistakes – all of which can hinder our happiness.

As someone who has explored Buddhist teachings in depth, I’ve found that learning to let go of the ego is key to living a happier and more fulfilling life. In Buddhism, it’s believed that our suffering stems from our attachment to the self or ego.

In my book, Hidden Secrets of Buddhism: How To Live With Maximum Impact and Minimum Ego, I delve deeper into this concept and offer practical steps on how to live with less ego.

Letting go of your ego doesn’t mean losing your sense of self. It simply means embracing humility, acknowledging that we’re all interconnected, and understanding that our worth isn’t determined by external factors. This shift in perspective can significantly enhance our happiness and well-being.

Happiness isn’t about being better than others; it’s about being the best version of yourself. And sometimes, that means letting go of the ego and embracing the beautiful imperfections that make us uniquely human.

6) Practice compassion

Compassion, in essence, is a deep awareness of the suffering of others and a desire to alleviate it. According to both Buddhist teachings and psychological research, cultivating compassion towards others – and ourselves – can significantly contribute to our happiness.

In our pursuit of personal goals and successes, we can often overlook the simple act of being kind to others. But numerous studies have shown that compassion can increase our own sense of well-being and happiness.

Buddhist wisdom emphasizes the importance of ‘Metta’ or loving-kindness towards all beings. It suggests that when we open our hearts to others, we not only help alleviate their suffering but also create a sense of inner peace and contentment within ourselves.

Practicing compassion can be as simple as offering a kind word, being patient with someone else’s shortcomings, or forgiving someone who has hurt you.

Compassion isn’t about being a doormat or allowing others to take advantage of you. It’s about recognizing the common human experience that we all share – the highs and lows, joys and sorrows – and extending empathy and kindness whenever possible. This simple act can truly transform our lives and lead us on the path towards happiness.

7) Seek inner peace

One of the most fundamental truths about happiness is that it comes from within. All too often, we seek external validation or material possessions to find happiness, only to realize that these things are fleeting and unsatisfactory.

In the pursuit of a happy life, it’s crucial to understand that true contentment and joy stem from inner peace. This is a concept deeply rooted in both Buddhism and mindfulness practices.

The Dalai Lama, a renowned Buddhist leader, once said, “We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.” These words hold a profound truth. Inner peace is not just the absence of conflict or stress; it’s a sense of harmony, acceptance, and contentment within our own minds.

Cultivating inner peace can involve practices like meditation or mindfulness exercises but it also requires letting go of negative self-judgment, forgiving ourselves for past mistakes, and learning to accept things as they are.

Seeking inner peace doesn’t mean avoiding challenges or difficulties. It means learning to remain calm and centered amidst the storms of life. It’s about finding that quiet space within you that remains undisturbed, no matter what’s happening outside. That’s where true happiness resides.

8) Embrace discomfort

This may seem counterintuitive, but one of the keys to a happier life is learning to embrace discomfort. Mindfulness teaches us that it’s not the discomfort itself that causes suffering, but our resistance to it.

In our quest for comfort and ease, we often avoid situations or feelings that make us uncomfortable. But growth and learning happen outside our comfort zone. When we open ourselves up to discomfort, we not only become more resilient, but we also discover a deeper sense of fulfillment and joy.

Practicing mindfulness can help us face discomfort with grace. It encourages us to stay present with our feelings of unease, observe them without judgment, and acknowledge them without trying to push them away.

Discomfort is a part of life. It’s not something to be feared or avoided, but something to be faced with courage and openness. By embracing discomfort, we can learn to navigate life’s ups and downs with a greater sense of peace and happiness.


And there you have it – eight simple yet profound rules for a happier life, according to psychology and the timeless wisdom of Buddhism and mindfulness.

Remember, happiness is not a destination, but a journey. It’s not about having a perfect life, but about embracing life as it is, with all its ups and downs. I hope these rules inspire you to seek happiness within yourself and in the simple moments of everyday life.

If you’re interested in diving deeper into the wisdom of Buddhism and its relevance for modern life, I encourage you to check out my book, Hidden Secrets of Buddhism: How To Live With Maximum Impact and Minimum Ego

. It offers practical insights and strategies to help you live a more mindful and fulfilling life.

Remember, the key to a happier life is not out there in the world; it’s right there within you. All it takes is a little introspection, a little courage, and a willingness to embrace the beautiful messiness of life itself. Here’s to your journey towards a happier life!

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