My Seven Secrets to find Happiness

By Gyles Brandreth

Compiled by Gyles and Dr Anthony Clare – the ultimate guide collection of principles and concepts – they are simple and all you need!

1.     Cultivate a PassionTo be happy you must have something that you enjoy doing – something that will sustain, distract and delight you when all else fails.

Examples – Margaret Thatcher’s passion – what else – politics!

–       Queen Elizabeth – her own horse, Estimate won the Ascot Gold cup this year, the first time a horse owned by the monarch had won the race in its 207 year history – horse racing is the queen’s passion and this meant everything to her

–       Me!  What could mine possibly be?  Feng Shui naturally – need I say more

It does not matter what it is – cultivate a passion

2.    Be a leaf on a tree – To thrive, you have to be both an individual with a sense that you are unique and that you matter.  At the same time you need to be connected to a bigger organism – a family, a community, a company, a club.  You need to be part of something bigger than yourself.  Research shows that people who are best protected against certain physical diseases e.g. cancer, heart disease are likely to be part of a community of some kind, are likely to be socially involved.

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3.    Break the Mirror – It won’t bring you seven year’s bad luck, it will bring you years of longer life.  Break the mirror – stop looking at yourself.  Stop thinking about yourself and avoid introspection.  Prince Philip, according to his son Edward, is a very modest man and his best piece of advice he gives everyone is to talk about everything else, do not talk about your self, no-one is interested in you.  Self awareness is good but self-regard is fatal – introspection is a killer!

4.    Don’t Resist Change – Change is important and people who are fearful of change are rarely happy.  We don’t mean massive change but enough to keep your life stimulated.   People are wary of change, particularly when things are going reasonably well because they do not want to rock the boat – but a little rocking can be good for you.  This, for me (Gyles and me) is the most challenging of the seven secrets.  Instinctively, I do resist change, I am extremely conservative – I like things as they are (or better still, as they were!).  But the evidence is there – happy people are rarely sitting around, they are usually involved in some ongoing interchange with life – coping with change and embracing the new.  Uniformity is a tremendous threat to happiness, as are too much predictability, control and order

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 5.    Audit your Happiness – How much of each day are you spending doing something that does not make you happy?  Check it out and if more than half of what you are doing makes you unhappy, then change it.  Dr Anthony Clare stated that frequently people came into his consulting room complaining about everything – they did not like family, their work, even what he had to say to them.  The reply – well, what are you going to do about it?

It was found that people who spent an hour or more on their journey to work were found to be significantly less happy than those who did not commute and that happy people live 14% longer than unhappy people, increasing their longevity by seven and a half to ten years.

Consider therefore changing your job (or the place where you live) to reduce the time you spend commuting – it could add more than seven years to your life span.  Assess exactly how you spend your time and how it makes you feel.  Audit your happiness and then, if you fancy living longer, do what you can actively to increase the happiness quotient in your life.

6.     Live in the Moment What does this mean – concentrate, keep focused, live in the here and now.  Whatever you are doing, be aware of it and stay involved.  Stop thinking about what is coming next, stop checking the mobile and relish what is happening now.  Seize the day – for all you know, it is the only one you have got.

7.    Be Happy – Finally, if you want to be happy – be happy – act it, play the part and put on a happy face.  Start thinking differently.  ‘Choose to be optimistic’ says the Dalai Lama ‘It feels better’.  If you are feeling negative, simply say to yourself – I am going to be positive – and that, in its-self, can trigger a change in how you feel.  That is it!  And it works.  It really does – I am happy to say.