Happiness: Lower Your Standards!



The other day I met a friend of mine for coffee.  He’s an older gentleman who works in construction. He’s had to adjust his techniques as he’s gotten older because his body is “feeling it” from years of going up and down ladders, carrying heavy loads, and the like. And, by necessity rather than choice, my friend lives a modest lifestyle.

But yet he is happy—always cheerful.

That day when I asked him about his work, he told me he was on a job that was close to home and the weather was beautiful so working outdoors was a treat. With a matter-of-fact shrug, he added that it doesn’t take much to make him happy.

That statement struck me in a way that it never had before. Usually when I heard it—or said it myself—it’s said in a somewhat mocking and self-depreciating tone, suggesting that the person saying it has very low expectations. And there is the subtext that the person ought to be pitied for having such low standards.

But when my friend told me that it doesn’t take much to make him happy, I realized that he’s right! Our expectations for happiness should be very low!!

Life is too short to put requirements on what makes us happy: I’ll be happy when I make a million dollars; I’ll be happy when I’m married to the perfect spouse; I’ll be happy when I’m the head of the company or when my business takes off; I’ll be happy when I’m older or when I’m thinner…etc..

My friend is right. We should be able to find joy, beauty, inspiration, and grace everywhere we look. Our standards and expectations should be so low that we bump up against things that make us happy everywhere we go and every single time we turn around.


Your homework today is to lower your standards of what makes you happy. No matter where you find yourself, look for beauty, be open to unexpected moments of inspiration, keep your senses tuned to joy. Challenge yourself to look beyond what the world thinks ought to make people happy. Listen to your heart and soul and focus on what brings you pleasure and delight—the little things, especially.

You can do it! Go you!

I’m so proud of you! You rock!

Your Friend and Pep Pal,


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