Don't Worry Be Happy: 5 Rules

I create characters in romance novels that have been popular with readers. By the end of each book, my characters have learned how to be happy. Notice I say learned because for many people, happiness is a learned skill.

Sometimes it seems a lot of people don't know how to be happy. They seem to have a hard time enjoying life.

Maybe writers think about stuff like this more often than most people. I know I spend a lot of time thinking about human nature--trying to figure out why people do what they do because knowing that makes creating believable characters easier.

One thing that's true for fiction and real life is that most of us seem to make the same mistakes over and over as we bumble our way along the road of life. From the standpoint of my many years of experience in making mistakes, I came up with these 5 rules that might help.

1. Don't take advice from anyone who's more screwed up than you.

Everyone likes to give advice, but always ask yourself if the person dishing out the advice is living life more effectively with less hiccups than you. If not, smile and nod and feel free to ignore what they say. Unless what they tell you is based upon what they learned from their own bad experience of doing the opposite.

2. Do learn from others who have been where you want to go.

Model their behavior. Find out how they did it and adapt their method to your efforts, assuming what they did was honest and ethical. Never go against your own beliefs and integrity. You can't model negative behavior without far-reaching negative consequences.

3. Do learn how to work more effectively.

Nothing is worse than working your butt off at stuff that really doesn't matter. Work hard at the stuff that really matters.

4. Do enjoy yourself more.

You have to have a good balance between hard, effective work and play. Never neglect the playing because it's like the old axiom: "All work and no play makes Jack or Jill a dull person."

5. Do change your attitude about work.

Sometimes when we describe an activity as work -- even though it's something we truly adore doing -- the activity, in our mind, becomes linked to work which equals unpleasantness. The more you enjoy something; the less it should seem like work. If you hate what you're doing, change what you're doing or change your attitude.

Takeaway Truth

Life is to be lived and loved. Always remember that life doesn't have to be perfect to be enjoyed


  1. Joan, I need a lot of help figuring out how to live in the moment and not worry about everything. All through our vacation last week, I worried about the van breaking down on the busy highway in the extreme heat, even though it had a recent tune-up. Nothing bad happened. All that worrying for nothing!

    1. Susan, it's very hard. It's a learned habit. Life is never perfect and seems to grow more challenging as you get older. It's easier to deal with the curve balls life throws at you when you have an optimistic attitude. Happiness is a learned attitude that is acquired by working at it every day. I think I'll do a follow-up post about this because everyone struggles with this.