I have just spent the last two weeks in Thailand and I am currently writing this blog on the 13 hour flight back from Bangkok to London. Thailand is an amazing country. I have experienced it’s two extremes – the busy streets of Khaosan Road in Bangkok and the peace and tranquillity around islands such as Phi Phi, Koh Lanta and Ao Nang. I was fortunate enough to experience things such as:
Passing my open water PADI Scuba diving course 18 metres under the Andaman sea with green turtles and leopard sharks to keep me company.
The one thing that struck me above everything is the entrepreneurial spirit of the Thai people. The less the person had, the more they tried. When you are on a remote island where there are no shops for miles, the locals set up stores in their houses to serve the community around them. Locals on the streets were working all hours of the day selling fruit for small amounts of money that the western world would not consider worth picking up off the floor. By western standards the low pay, long hours and shanty town living would deem their quality of life as unlivable. However, on the whole, the people seemed very happy. The holiday made me feel very humble and gave me some time to reflect on how lucky I am and the things that have helped make me happy. I wanted to turn these thoughts into two tips to help you live a happier life.
Someone who is homeless and has nothing would probably be very happy if you were to buy them a hot drink or something to eat. A princess may be upset because she couldn’t find a new dress for her latest social event. Most people reading this will be somewhere between the two. In reality nothing is ever that bad and there is usually someone worse off than you. Whenever you feel that life is treating you badly and you are unhappy, consider how lucky you are in comparison with others less fortunate than yourself.
In the above video Rory Sutherland uses the example of the London Underground. He says the single biggest improvement in customer satisfaction was when they introduced a digital sign telling you when the next train was due. It turns out that the frustration you experience whilst waiting four minutes for a train, when you don’t know how long it is going to take, is significantly higher than if you know it is going to arrive in four minutes. This proves that perspective affects your happiness. What ever life has thrown at me, I refer back to these three quotes which have always served me well.
- Everything happens for a reason
- There is a silver lining to every cloud
- If it doesn’t kill you, it can only make you stronger
Something I learnt from Simon Sinek changed the way I look at the world and the way I operate in it. It was his idea of “starting with why“. He talks about how to motivate people to take action and he uses it in the context of how to motivate other people. I used this idea to help me figure out what it is that motivates me. Simon explains the “Start with why” idea around having a cause, purpose or belief that you are working towards. Most people would say theirs would be to make money. He explains this is a result and not “your why”. When I was young I thought my purpose was to make lots of money. After watching this video it took me a while to start to figure out what my purpose was. This is what I have come up with;
I believe everyone who does good in the world can do it better using the internet.
The way I have re-branded my blog and the work I do in the future will hopefully help serve this purpose. To be happy you need to have some kind of purpose that drives you in your life. It needs to be a long term desire to make something fundamentally change in the world or spread an idea. It needs to be a cause you are are passionate about communicating. You can work towards this goal with other like-minded people for the good of something other than yourself. This purpose can act as something which can help you make decisions in your life about what it is you do and don’t do. For example if you were offered a substantial pay rise to work in a new job that would not allow you to work towards your purpose, perhaps you shouldn’t take it. After the initial appeal of the extra money wears off, you will not be happy.
Research has shown that people are much happier when they live in the moment. This means trying to stop your mind wandering, thinking about positive or negative things, past or future. The research is explained in more detail in the video below.
If you can find your purpose, have a good perspective and live in the moment I think you will be well on your way to living a happier life. There’s no guarantee this advice will make you successful in business but it will hopefully make you happier in your life, which means you will enjoy the process of achieving whatever level of success you achieve.
I would love to know if you have tried any of these ideas or if you have any tips that you think I have missed out?