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How to Be Happy: Quotes from Famous People on Happiness

Updated on July 8, 2016

Wise Words on Happiness

From the beginning of time, wise people have spoken about how to be happy.

Everything that philosophers, authors, scientists, and successful people from all walks of life have said about happiness can be boiled down to just 15 rules.

If you want to be happy, just apply these rules to your life.

Everyone Wants to Be, and Can Be, Happy

Happiness makes you want to jump for joy.
Happiness makes you want to jump for joy. | Source

Rule 1: Recognize that happiness is important

Happiness is important. Not only is it a more pleasant state of mind than unhappiness, but scientific research shows that happy people are healthier and live longer.


Aristotle: Philosopher (Ancient Greece)

“Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life."


Audrey Hepburn: Actress

“The most important thing is to enjoy your life—to be happy—it’s all that matters.”


Rule 2: Understand that happiness is sometimes just not being unhappy

Happiness comes in all sizes, as does unhappiness. We should aim for the golden mean.

Being overwhelmingly happy all the time is not the goal. A steady state of contentment with occasional peaks of joy is ideal.


Charles M. Schultz: Cartoonist, Peanuts

Pigpen: What would you say you want most out of life Charlie Brown, to be happy?

Charlie Brown: Oh no, I just don’t want to be unhappy.


Doug Larson: Journalist

“The world is full of people looking for spectacular happiness while they snub contentment.”


J.D. Salinger—Writer

“Happiness is a solid and joy is a liquid.”

Rule 3: Don't think more money will make you happy

Money can't buy happiness. Actually, in some cases money can buy happiness. It is hard to be happy if you don’t have enough money for basic needs-such as enough food to eat and a place to live. However, once these basic needs are met more money does not lead to greater happiness.

It is nice to have nice stuff, but more stuff won’t bring more happiness. It may give you an emotional lift when you first get it but when the newness wears off so does the happiness.


Epicurus: Philosopher (Ancient Greece, Stoic)

“A man should so live that his happiness shall depend as little as possible on external things.”


Benjamin Franklin: One of the Founding Fathers of the United States, printer, scientist

”Money has never made man happy, nor will it; there is nothing in its nature to produce happiness. The more of it one has the more one wants.”


Goucho Marx: Comedian, film and television star

“While money can't buy happiness, it certainly lets you choose your own form of misery.”

You are as happy as you think you are so think happy thoughts.
You are as happy as you think you are so think happy thoughts. | Source

Rule 4: Think happy thoughts

If you think you are happy, you will be happy.

Be an optimist, not a pessimist. And it is a tired cliché, but still good advice—think positively.

Don’t obsessively worry over problems. Everyone has problems. Just have confidence in yourself that you can deal with them.


Abraham Lincoln: 16th president of the United States

“Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”


Ray Bradbury: Writer

You can make yourself happy or miserable. It's the same amount of effort."


Seneca: Philosopher (ancient Greece)

“A man is as miserable as he thinks he is.”


Martha Washington: The first First Lady of the United States

“I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances."

Anonymous

“Worry doesn't help tomorrow's troubles, but it does ruin today's happiness.”


Meher Baba: Guru & Bobby McFerrin: Musician, singer

“Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”


George Henry Powell; Song writer (Most famous for this WWI marching song)

”Pack up your troubles in an old kit bag and smile, smile, smile.”

Fyodor Dostoevsky: Writer

“Man is fond of counting his troubles, but he does not count his joys. If he counted them up as he ought to, he would see that every lot has enough happiness provided for it.”


Have an attitude of gratitude. Remember to be thankful for all the good things in your life, no matter how small.
Have an attitude of gratitude. Remember to be thankful for all the good things in your life, no matter how small. | Source

Rule 5: Have an attitude of gratitude

One way to keep thinking happy thoughts is to cultivate an attitude of gratefulness.

It’s easy to be grateful for the big things, but take a moment to notice the small things that happen every day—you got a phone call from someone special, you found a bargain in the store, a stranger smiled at you, the baby took a really long nap, you enjoyed a great dinner and you didn’t have to cook it—small things like that.

Oprah Winfrey recommends keeping a gratitude journal. She suggests that each day you write down the things, both small and large, that you are grateful for.


Albert C Clarke: Writer (science fiction)

"In our daily lives, we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but the gratefulness that makes us happy.”


Oprah Winfrey: Actress, TV show host, magazine publisher, entrepreneur, film director/producer

“The more thankful I became, the more my bounty increased. That’s because what you focus on expands, and when you focus on the goodness in your life, you create more of it.”


Denis Waitley: Motivational speaker, Writer

“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.”


Dale Carnegie: Self-improvement Writer, lecturer

“Happiness doesn’t depend on any external conditions; it is governed by our mental attitude.”

Rule 6: Work hard

Working hard will make you happy? It sounds a little counter-intuitive at first. Perhaps work gets a bad rap because it is something that we have to do even when we would rather be doing something else .

We may think we are happiest when we go on vacation and sit on a beach all day. But that gets old fast. Real and lasting happiness comes from achievement, and achievement usually takes hard work.

There is a well known saying that is attributed to many different people--“Life is what happens when you are busy doing something else.” Perhaps this is true for happiness also-- happiness happens when you are busy doing something else.


Franklin D. Roosevelt: 32nd president of the United States

“Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.”


Henry Ford: Founder of the Ford Motor Company

“There is joy in work… There is no happiness except in the realization that we have accomplished something."


Dr. Samuel Johnson: Essayist (18th century)

“Labor, if it were not necessary for existence, would be indispensable for the happiness of man."


The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work
The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work

Most people think that if they are successful, they will be happy. The author shos us that it is the other way round--happiness leads to success.

 

Rule 7: Do things that you enjoy


If you want to be happy do things that make you happy. Simple, right? But how often do we stay in a job we hate, or in a marriage that does not work for us, or even socialize with people we don’t especially like because we feel obligated to do so.

Find the activities and situations that you enjoy. And then make time to do these activities. All work and no play make Jack an unhappy boy.


St. Augustine: Early leader of the Christian church

“Man wishes to be happy even when he so lives as to make happiness impossible.”


John Lennon: Singer, songwriter, member of the Beatles

“Time that you enjoy wasting, is not wasted.”


Rule 8: Enjoy the things you do

Sometimes we have to do things that we don’t enjoy, but we can train ourselves to find something good about everything we do. I call it “Finding the Joy.”

Do you every read the comic in the newspaper, Rose is Rose. Jimbo has to take out the garbage. Not always a pleasant task. But he goes outside and has a “garbage moment.” He stops to enjoy the night—the stillness, and the moon and stars above. That is an example of finding the joy.

Do you want to be successful? Then love what you do.


James Barrie: Writer

“The secret of happiness is not in doing what one likes, but in liking what one does."


Albert Schweitzer: Medical missionary in Africa, winner of Nobel Peace Prize

"Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful."

Rule 9: Be a good person

Do good. Be kind. Be generous. Do not lie steal or cheat. “Don’t be evil”, as they say at Google.


Aristotle—Philosopher (Ancient Greece)

[Happiness comes from the] “perfect practice of virtue.”


Ogden Nash: Poet

"There is only one way to achieve happiness on this terrestrial ball, and that is to have either a clear conscience or none at all”

Rule 10: Focus on love; banish anger

We are all going to have negative emotions sometimes. It is a healthy reaction to some things. To maximize happiness, minimize anger. Loving, showing compassion, and forgiving—these are the feelings that make us happy. Try to work through anger and replace it with more pleasant emotions like love, compassion, and forgiveness.


Oliver Wendell Holmes: Former Supreme Court justice

"Love is the master key that opens the gates of happiness."


George Sand: Writer

"There is only one happiness in this life, to love and be loved."


The Dalai Lama: Religious leader

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”


Ralph Waldo Emerson: Poet

“For every minute you are angry, you lose sixty seconds of happiness."


John Connolly: Writer

“There is a nobility in compassion, a beauty in empathy, a grace in forgiveness.”

If you want to be happy, make other people happy.
If you want to be happy, make other people happy. | Source

Rule 11: Make other people happy

There is an anonymous adage: "In seeking happiness for others, you find it for yourself."

We make other people happy the same way we make ourselves happy. We have a positive attitude; we practice love, kindness, and compassion; we are ethical in our dealings with them. We use our empathy, our innate ability to understand how another person is feeling, and then we do what we can to make them happy.


Ralph Waldo Emerson: Poet

“Happiness is perfume you can't pour on others without getting a few drops for yourself.”


The Dalai Lama: Spiritual leader

"The wiser course is to think of others when pursuing our own happiness."


Karl Marx: Philosopher

“The most happy is the one who made the most people happy.”

Rule 12: Accept unhappiness

Sometimes you are going to be unhappy. Accept it. How would we even know happiness if it were not for the ability to contrast it with unhappiness?

If you are unhappy, ride it out. Happiness will return. And your acceptance of the unhappiness will hasten the return of the happiness. In short, if you are unhappy about not being happy, you won’t be happy.


Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: Poet

“Be still sad heart and cease repining;
Behind the clouds the sun is shining,
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life a little rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.”


Moliere: Playwright, actor

“If you suppress grief too much, it can well redouble.

Rule 13: Let go of grief

Yes, we have to experience our unhappiness, but we also have to know when to let go of grief. We have to be able to put the past behind us.


Euripides: Philosopher (Ancient Greece)

"Waste not fresh tears over old griefs."


William Shakespeare: Playwright

"What's gone - and what's past help - should be past grief."

Rule 14: Don’t seek happiness

People who are obsessed with finding happiness almost never find it. Throughout history many philosophers and writers have observed that seeking happiness and trying to determine if you are happy will only lead to unhappiness.


C. P. Snow: Physicist and Writer

“If you pursue happiness, you’ll never find it.”


John Stuart Mills: Philosopher

“Ask yourself whether you are happy and you will cease to be so.”


George Bernard Shaw: Playwright

“The only way to avoid being miserable is not to have enough leisure to wonder whether you are happy or not.”


Edith Wharton: Pulitzer Prize winning writer

“If only we’d stop trying to be happy, we could have a pretty good time.”


Henry David Thoreau: Writer, poet

"Happiness is like a butterfly. The more you chase it, the more it eludes you.
But if you turn your attention to other things, It comes and sits softly on your shoulder."

Eleanor Roosevelt: –First lady of the United States)

“Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product.”

Source

Rule 15: Just BE happy

Let rules 1 through 14 guide your thoughts, behavior, and choices until they become a part of your unconscious.

You may just surprise yourself and suddenly realize that you are happy.

Now you are ready for the Zen-like Rule 15: Just ---Be---Happy!


John Barrymore: Actor

Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn’t know you left open.”


Bronnie Ware: Writer, songwriter, nurse

Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.”

Check out this book for more happiness tips:

10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works--A True Story
10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works--A True Story

An inspirational memoir that has been called engaging, gripping, and hilarious. Follow Dan Harris as he discovers a different approach to happiness. You'll learn a little bit about the science of happiness and the self-help tools to discover the path to your own happiness.

 

Want more happiness? Watch this video.

How Happy Are You Right Now?

Mood surveys show that 70% of people rate themselves as happy at any random moment. How happy are you right now??

See results

I do public speaking. One of my speeches is "Deconstructing Happiness." I show the video of the babies laughing during the speech, and I can feel the happiness level rise in the room.

© 2014 Catherine Giordano

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    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Thanks pstraubie48. I hope you have a very happy day today. Happiness is contagious. Just by being happy, you may make someone else happy. I having an attitude-of-gratitude moment right now for you comment and votes. Thank you.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 2 years ago from sunny Florida

      #11 says it all. Giving happiness away brings it back three fold to our lives. I honestly subscribe to the motto..what goes around, comes around. As you do to others, so shall it be done to you...maybe not by the person for whom you do it, but maybe someone else will lift you up when you need it most.

      Nicely done Catherine,

      Voted up+++

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 3 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Ahmed--Thanks for reading and commenting. There are so many ways to be happy and I am happy that you have found yours.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 3 years ago from Orlando Florida

      So glad I made you happy. Thanks for reading and commenting. You have made me happy.

    • chateaudumer profile image

      David B Katague 3 years ago from Northern California and the Philippines

      Enjoy reading this hub. Now I am happy. Cheers!

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 3 years ago from Orlando Florida

      And thank you VioletRose for your lovely comment. I think accepting unhappiness might be the hardest rule on my list.

    • VioletteRose profile image

      VioletteRose 3 years ago from Chicago

      Beautiful :) I really like what you have said here, and especially the point of accepting unhappiness sometimes as it is. Thanks for sharing the positive thoughts!

    • Ahmed delli profile image

      Ahmed maher 3 years ago

      In my opinion if you want to be happy you just need to believe in God and very important to understand him. because because the God create us to be happy. If we do that we will able to understand the wisdom behind any thing happens for us . We has been created to be happy not important how we live and what the circumstances around us .. great article CatherineGiordano .. thanks a lot

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 3 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Thank you, Pennyseeker. You clearly understood the message of my hub and boiled I down to it's essence. It makes me happy to know that you enjoyed my piece.

    • pennyseeker profile image

      pennyseeker 3 years ago

      Happiness is very important in life. In life we may not have many things but we can still be happy if we are grateful for what we have and if we really appreciate what we have. Really enjoyed reading your article!

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 3 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Thanks Sue. Sometimes it's the littlest things that make us happy.

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      Sue from UUU 3 years ago

      I so enjoyed this article that Cathy wrote. Thinking this thought...Instead of worrying about something, know that whatever happens I will be able to handle it...will help me to achieve happiness. I do agree that to be happy - content- should be everyone's purpose in life.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 3 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Thank you for letting me know that you enjoyed my article. I think writing it, first as a speech, and then as an article has helped me be happier.

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      Lydia Green 3 years ago

      We don't always think about whether or not we are happy. I started thinking about being grateful a few years ago and that moved my happiness meter. Thanks for all the great thoughts and quotes.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 3 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Thank you, Eiddwen. I like that one too. Did you see Rule #14? I'm happy that you enjoyed my quotes. I wish you happiness.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

      Henry David Thoreau: Writer, poet

      "Happiness is like a butterfly. The more you chase it, the more it eludes you.

      But if you turn your attention to other things, It comes and sits softly on your shoulder."

      This one has to be my favourite but I liked them all and thanks for putting together this great read.

      Eddy.