12 Priorities for Living a Happy Life

By: | January 2, 2015 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

family-155562_1280Do you desire family harmony?  Is it your dream to live wisely and well?

H. Jackson Browne is an American author who spent a year on The New York Times Best-Seller List.  He is most famous for his work, Life’s Little Instruction Book.  Clearly, his area of expertise is advising readers how to have more quality lives which is the theme of my blog.

Browne wrote a list called “21 Suggestions For Living Wisely and Well.”  This post will elaborate on how you can achieve twelve of them. 

  • Teach by example.

Recently, I’ve been teaching about the Chinese philosophy of Confucianism.  Confucius stepped up in ancient times to tell the Chinese how to avoid stress, and “Teach By Example” was his answer.  While my post is about how to achieve family happiness, Confucius applied this adage to the ruler.  He explained that if the ruler is kind, the people will stop their hostile ways and be kind too.  This is the gist of this step to achieving family harmony.

If you model good behavior for your children, they will behave in kind.    I recently saw Into the Woods.  The title of the big song from what was originally a play is Children Should Listen.  Children do listen, and as my husband likes to say, “It’s too late to go back and unring the bell.”

If you don’t want your children to curse, don’t curse.  If you don’t want your children to be hostile towards you or their siblings, model treating others with kindness.  If you want your children to stay calm in a crisis, you should let them see that you do too.

The expression “Do as I say, not as I do,” does not fly.

  • Never waste an opportunity to tell someone you love them.

There is no excuse not to tell someone you love them, and I made excuses for years.  The biggest is that the person won’t say it back; we all fear rejection.  When they didn’t say it back, it didn’t matter since at least they knew how I felt.  When they did return my feelings, I was pleased but had no expectations that they would.

  • Do something every day that maintains your good (mental) health. 

When I was at my lowest, my mother used to give me two pieces of advice.  The first was to take a bath.  Are you even kidding me Mom?  I’m coming to you for comfort, and that’s what you’ve got for me, a bath?!  So, I would take the bath, and you know what?  I actually felt better.  I would use my favorite scented bath salts (which I still use to this day), and soak.  I had quiet time which was calming.

The second piece of advice my mother gave me was to read a book.  Not an obvious solution to chasing away the blues, but common sense says it’s a practical idea.  Books take us away from our problems since we’re preoccupied with the characters’ lives.  To quote a song from the movie Tangled, “Mother knows best.”

  • Take family vacations.

Brown’s advice is to take the vacations whether you can afford them or not.  The reason is

Browne says you should leave the home to bond with your family on vacation, but you don't have to go far.

Browne says you should leave the home to bond with your family on vacation, but you don’t have to go far.

clear–it’s not about how elaborate the vacation is.  It’s about making memories.  I know people who had a better time on a low-budget vacation playing a board game with their children than in a luxury suite.  Can I make up a phrase?  It’s about the bonding not the bucks.  (You may quote me.)

  • Judge your success by the degree that you’re enjoying peace, health and love.

I once heard a saying that you can judge your success by the number of people who comes to your funeral.  However, you don’t need to be dead to ascertain your success.  I know I’ve done right by looking at the people I’m surrounded by, and I feel blessed.

  • Be devoted to your spouse and dedicated to your children.

Based on personal experience, I’m advising in that order.  Of course be a good parent; your children should be your priority.  However, I didn’t invent the empty next syndrome.  Kids grow up and leave.  If you don’t want your spouse or partner to leave first, heed Browne’s advice in that order.

  • Have courage when things go wrong.

This sounds like Browne’s first piece of advice, “Lead by example.”  If you are strong, your children will learn to be couragous during adverse times.  I’ve adopted an expression, “It’s just not meant to be.”  It cheers me up when the tide doesn’t turn in my direction.

  • Maintain a grateful heart.

Count your blessings.  People say it becomes habit if when you wake up, you recite a list of what you are thankful for.  Often, when our mood is down, we struggle to remember what we are grateful for.  I wrote How to Find Gratitude about what helps me remember what I’m thankful for even when I’m blue.

  • Discover the power of forgiveness.

I told a very principled man recently a quote I’d read on Pinterest.  “Apologizing does not mean you’re wrong.  It means you care about your happiness more than your ego.”  How about this Pinterest quote: “Forgive others not because they deserve forgiveness but because you deserve peace.”  Enough said.  I agree with Browne.

  • Look for the good.

This goes further than counting your blessings.  My husband advises me not just to look for good, but to surround myself with it.  If I surround myself with upbeat people, I will be more likely to be upbeat myself.  Why? Their aura?  Their influence?  Does it matter if you’re happier?  No.

  • Hope for the best.

“Hope for the best, but expect the worst,” is not an expression Browne made up.  Trite cliché’s become cliché’s because they are true.  If you expect the worst case scenario, you can never be disappointed.

  • Don’t overlook life’s simple joys while searching for big ones.

My readers might know by now that I am NUTS for Broadway musicals.  To quote the musical Pippin, “Simple joys have a simple noise that says, ‘Why not go ahead?”  So… go ahead and enjoy the simple things in life.  I have been accused of enjoying “cheap thrills”.  I don’t think I’ve ever been so flattered.

In closing, I’ve referenced the musical Pippin in this blog postIf you haven’t seen the show which came out in both 1972 and 2013, Prince Pippin spends the two-hour course of the play looking for happiness.  He wants to be extraordinary because he believes it will bring him joy.  If he had read this blog post, 12 Priorities For Living a Happy Life, I could have saved him the trouble of searching.

If you are curious as to what Browne’s other nine suggestions are for happiness, here are his 21 Suggestions for Success.

Readers, are there any other suggestions you can think of for having a happy life?  Are there any of Browne’s suggestions that have worked for you?  Do you disagree with any of his suggestions?  I look forward to your views.






  1. Trisha

    Thanks so much for sharing – love dot point 2! Making telling those I love them at every opportunity a priority for 2015.

    • Janice Wald

      I didn’t want to get depressing in my post, but…
      My dad was dying of cancer. The pain meds he was on made him loopy. However, whenever I told him I loved him, he became clear and told me he loved me back! The power of love. I knew my dad was dying, so I told him a lot that month, but sometimes, often times, we don’t know, so I agree, it’s important to say it for this reason too. Thank you so much for reading what I wrote and writing me! Fun to discuss. Janice

  2. morningmotivatedmom

    Teach by example is so important! Kids pick up on EVERYTHING…good & bad.

    • Janice Wald

      Children WILL listen. I’m glad you liked Browne’s suggestion. I agreed with all 12 I responded to. Did you see the others? It’s not that I didn’t agree with the others, but… I think one was religious, and I’m not a terribly religious person and don’t expect others to be or I had nothing more to elaborate on. I got a kick out of #1, it gave me a chance to write about Confucius! It’s hard to find connections to history ordinarily. Thanks for reading what I wrote and writing me.

  3. sophiebowns

    Hello- I really love your tips. They are simple, yet very effective!
    It’s so important to tell people that you love them….you never know what might happen!

  4. Mim

    Thank you so much for sharing these wonderful tips! Happy New Year 🙂 Mim 🙂 #weekendbloghop

    • Janice Wald

      Thank you for your kind words and letting me know where you found my link. It always helps to know what traffic is working.
      Happy New Year to you!

  5. John Doe

    I think your recent blogs are blueprint to happiness, successful relationships and a wonderful parental/friendship interaction with their children. Keep the advice coming. All your followers are better off improving their lives by following your advice.

    • Janice Wald

      What a nice thing to say! Definitely validating. Giving advice is rewarding for me, and the more tips I offer, the greater the chance people can even find one that will help them. Win-win.

  6. icantalkoutloud

    Absolutely love reading your posts, I always try to look for the best in people. Nobody is perfect I know this from experience and people can change.

    • Janice Wald

      Thank you so much. You are one of my most frequent commenters! I have written three in a row including today’s giving advice. They seem to be well received, and trying to help others is so rewarding!
      Thanks, as always, for writing and for your support.
      Happy Sunday!

      • icantalkoutloud

        For sure, I love your style of writing it’s brilliant and is always a pleasure to read. Keep up the good work 🙂

        I Can Talk Out Loud

  7. Suzi T

    such a lovely post especially for those like myself who sometimes go through low days xxx

    • Janice Wald

      Hi Suzi,
      Everyone finds themselves in the doldrums periodically. It may not lessen the down mood, but I know I always appreciated knowing I wasn’t alone.
      Thanks for your kind words. I was fortunate enough to come upon Browne’s words right before the holidays, and I thought to make a blog post out of it, so I can’t take all the credit =). Thanks for writing me. Happy Sunday.

  8. ellytreehugger AKA elly stornebrink

    Such great suggestions Janice on leading a happy life. I agree with a soak in the tub and reading, the latter due to ‘escape.’ 😉 I also agree with not having expectations as when I do, I am always disappointed, though I prefer the way you said it: hope for the best. Wishing you a happy 2015! 🙂 <3

  9. Pingback: 15 Secrets of Marital Longevity
  10. Blogitudes

    All of your suggestions are great ones. I especially love “look for the good” – because when I do that I usually finally it …. and that’s a great way to help me stay happy. Excellent post. Thanks so much for sharing it. 🙂

    • Janice Wald

      First of all, I love your name–Blogitudes. Creative and very funny. Second of all, I appreciated your comments so much, I added part of it to my Testimonials page–anonymously of course. I’m glad you liked them, and thank you again so much for the supportive comments.

  11. cassandrassirensong

    This was a nice reminder that sometimes the smallest things make the biggest impressions. Thank you for sharing!!!

    • Janice Wald

      I agree. Someone put it in my box at work, and I agreed with you and made a blog post out of it! I was happy I could link to his full list, so people could read the others. Thanks for reading what I wrote and writing.

  12. liveitthebest

    Living a dream life can begin at any time. The sooner you put your mind and heart into knowing what your goals are and what success is for you, the sooner you start your journey to achieving your dreams.

  13. Rifat

    Interesting blog.It would be great if you can provide more details about it. Thanks you

Would you like to share your thoughts?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: