How to Be Happy Again (5 Golden Rules for Happiness)

By Sean Ogle •  Updated: 02/01/22 •  12 min read

When you read the title of this post, your first thought may be of the biblical “Golden Rule” of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Great advice, and a great rule to live by.

But that’s not the point of this article.

The Golden Rules I’m referring to here, have a different goal, and that’s to improve the quality of your life little by little each day that you stick to them.

Perhaps you’ve been beaten down. Things have been tough. After going on 3 years of a pandemic, it’s no surprise you might feel that way. This post is all about how to be happy again.

Over the last few months, as I ebb and flow out of really productive periods of time, and others that are remarkably unproductive, it got me thinking about what tasks and habits I have in my life that lead to my happiness – especially during a time of so much uncertainty.

What are the things that may not always be obvious or easy, but that lead to a general sense of well-being when they’re adhered to.

The more I thought about this, the more the concept of the “5 golden rules” began to feel like a really good idea.

How to Be Happy Again: 5 Simple Steps

So, what are the 5 golden rules? It’s simple, really.

These are the 5 things you can do that will help you learn how to be happy again.

Here’s the thing, we’re all at different points in our lives. My struggles are going to be different than yours. The things that make me happy, may not be the things that make you happy.

So therefore, my rules will be different than your rules.

But the bottom line is I created my list because I was finding little consistency from day to day and week to week. I wasn’t doing these things regularly enough, and when I’d slip – my happiness waned.

When I did each of them for a few days in a row? I felt awesome.

For the past month I’ve been taking note of the things that made me happy. And not just the spur of the moment, type happy. You know, like if you win 20 bucks on a scratch-it ticket.

But rather, the specific things that lead to long-term, sustainable happiness.

how to be happy again.

Sometimes? We’re happier than others.

My Golden Rules for Happiness

So what are they?

Well for me, working for myself and having a lifestyle business so much of my personal well-being is tied up in the business. So productivity tends to be a big element of my happiness.

If you’re a stay-at-home parent, have a more traditional job, or are by nature an extremely productive person – your golden rules will probably be very different than mine.

But here are the ones that I’ve come up with for myself.

1) Put on Workout Clothes at Least Once Every day

The older I get the more important health and fitness is becoming. I don’t always want to work out, but I always feel better both physically and mentally if I do.

I phrased it this way, because it’s an easier goal than saying “I have to work out for at least 30 minutes a day.”

If all I have to do is put on exercise clothes, then 9 times out of 10 I’ll go do the workout.

It’s all about creating the fewest barriers to entry possible. And even if say I’m sick or exhausted, and I don’t want to do a full workout, if I put on the clothes, I’ll at least then do 5 minutes of stretching, or something else that I wouldn’t have done if my golden rule was something more difficult.

Check out: How to Run a Marathon (Without Training)

2) Create the Following Days Plan, Every day

The vast majority of the time that I don’t have a productive work session is when I fail to have a plan.

I always have stuff I could, or should be doing. But if I haven’t clearly articulated what those are, or made a priority list, then often I’ll spin my wheels and fail to get much of anything accomplished.

So to combat this, the last thing I do on any given workday or during a work session is to create my “top 5”. These are the 5 most important things I need to get accomplished the following day.

I write them in order of how I will do them, so there’s zero question about what I should be doing.

It only takes 5-10 minutes, but it helps make my working hours so much more effective, which leads to a much greater sense of accomplishment and happiness.

Check out: My Best Secret for Killing Procrastination and Getting Stuff Done

3) Write 500 Words Every day

Let’s make this as simple as possible:

The more I write, the more successful I am.

My business is all about content. This could be blog posts, creating courses inside Location Rebel Academy, sending marketing emails, writing video scripts – or any number of other types of content.

When I’m writing a lot, I have more to share, and the more I share? The more people join our email list. The more people who join our email list? The more people who join the Academy. The more people who join the Academy? The more money I make, and the more people I’m able to help.

It might seem like a stretch, but the single most important factor in my business is how much I’m able to create on a regular basis.

So I make it my goal to write at least 500 words everyday. Notice I didn’t say a 1,000, even though I’d love to do that.

But again, path of least resistance. Usually, if I write 500 words? I end up writing much more than that. But the goal is to make it easy to achieve so that you do it everyday and are able to start creating positive momentum.

And if 500 words seems like too much? Consider less, as I did for this year.

Want help doing this in your own life?

Check out:

4) Do Something for Me Every Day

I used to half-jokingly say that when given the opportunity I’d always choose play over work. I think that served me well for a long time, but now the businesses are big enough that this isn’t always possible.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that play has a very important role in life and success. If you work too hard all the time without giving yourself a chance to remember why you’re working so hard, it can backfire and lead to depression and lack of balance.

So everyday, I do something fun for myself. Even if it’s small.

It could be as simple as spending 20 minutes reading a book for pleasure, or playing guilt-free video games for awhile. It may even be just taking 5 minutes to express gratitude and think about how grateful I am to be where I’m at in life.

Other times I might take a full day off to go play golf, or even a few days off to travel.

I’m fully aware this lifestyle of freedom and flexibility is a privilege rather than a right, it could go away at any moment. But I’ve also built it this way so that I can do the things I enjoy on a regular basis. And every time I do, it’s a reminder of why I’ve worked so hard to get here – and a motivator to keep going.

5) Do Something Nice for Someone Else

It’s easy to get wrapped up in your own life. By all accounts, I’ve lived a relatively selfish life. Sure my businesses are all about helping others, but as I mentioned above, I have a lot of freedom to do the things want to do.

But I usually am happiest when I’m able to help someone else, and make their day better.

So each day a I try and do something nice for another person. It could be sending an unexpected gift or text, or it could be taking a few extra minutes to give a reader a more detailed response to their questions.

Whatever it is, I truly believe that the more you’re able to help other people get what they want, the more you’ll get what you want in return.

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So, What are Your Golden Rules Going to Be?

There you go, those are my 5 golden rules. When I do each of these things every day, I’m a happier, healthier, and more successful person.

Each day I do these, I get closer to getting all the things I want in life.

So how do you figure out your golden rules.

For starters, spend some time thinking back about the times you’ve felt the best. What were some commonalities of that time period? Were you working on something you loved? Were you eating better, or exercising regularly? Were you more or less social?

Make a list of the things that have led to previous success, and then think about the things you’re always trying to do.

What are the things you’re striving to achieve each day. Make a list.

Now that you have both things that have made you happy in the past, and a list of the things you’re always working towards.

Write them into rules, and simplify.

Use mine as an example. Rather than “exercise every day” it’s simply put on exercise clothes.

Rather than write a 1,000 words or more, it’s just to write 500.

The easier your rules are, the more likely you’ll be to actually accomplish them each day.

So what are your “golden rules” and how are you going to make sure you are devoting time to them each day?

When All Else Fails, Do This One Thing to Be Happy

I’ll leave you with one last story, that may help you in your quest to learn how to be happy again.

I was recently on a ski trip in Vail, Colorado.

They had 40 inches of snow in the previous 10 days, including a solid 6 inches the night I arrived. When I woke up in the morning to clear blue skies, everyone around me seemed like they were drunk on happy pills.

Seriously, you’d assume the mountain had never seen a powder day before.

I got out of bed early and was on the lift by 8:30. For the next four hours, I was treated to one of the most epic days of skiing imaginable. Big, wide-open back bowls full of untouched powder.  It was a Wednesday, so it wasn’t super crowded, and I easily could have gone on skiing like this all day.

But I didn’t.

At 12:30, I went in, took a quick nap, and then spent the rest of the afternoon working.

Why on earth would I come to Vail for a ski trip, and during the most amazing ski day of the season, stop after only a few hours?

The answer is pretty simple: because I wanted to.

Working in Vail, Colorado.

Working in Vail, Colorado.

One of the toughest habits to kick in life is that of always doing what you feel you’re supposed to do.

should have spent the entire day skiing.

But I knew I’d be happier buckling down and catching up on work – even if everyone would think I was crazy for it.

How many times have you done something just because you felt like it was what you should do?

In college how many times did you really want to stay in on a Saturday night and watch a movie, but went out because it was what you felt you were supposed to do?

Maybe at some point, you bought a house and took on a mortgage because that’s what all of your friends were doing.

It’s taken me a really long time to get to this point, but one of the primary reasons I’m so happy with my life isn’t because of the business, the flexible hours, or the freedom (I mean, yes, that’s all fantastic) but it’s because I’ve started doing what wanted, rather than feeling obligated to do what others might have done.

If I’m in a foreign country, I used to always feel like time was wasted if I wasn’t constantly out exploring or seeing the sights. Now maybe I’ll do that, or maybe I’ll just hang by the pool with a book.

The idea here is that once you make the conscious decision to only do the things you want to do, you’ll be much happier in the long run.

“But what about all of those things you’ll miss out on?”

FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) can be a really powerful force.

Even during my ski trip I had pangs of “man, I’m missing out on some snow that I may only see once this season.” But I felt immeasurably better by starting to push some new projects over the edge that I’ve been sitting on for way too long.

Seems like a weird day to finally start working on those things – but hey, that’s when I got inspired.

You’ll never be able to do everything. You’ll always be missing out on something. Once you accept that and just focus on doing the things you want, for the reasons that are important to you, a huge source of stress is lifted.

Sure there are plenty of other things to stress you out in life, but if you focus what will make you happy, you’ll be way ahead of the game.

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Sean Ogle

Sean Ogle is the Founder of Location Rebel where he has spent the last 12+ years teaching people how to build online businesses that give them the freedom to do more of the things they like to do in life. When he's not in the coffee shops of Portland, or the beaches of Bali, he's probably sneaking into some other high-class establishment where he most certainly doesn't belong.
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