Want to Be Happier? Live by These 4 Rules

Rules bring about order, and order is much easier to cope with than guilt of being selfish. So I'll share the only rules I live by, the ones that have had me traveling the world, falling in love, making big moves after cancer.
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I bet you cringe at this sentence: "You deserve to be happy." The idea feels selfish, demanding, too self-centered to utter out loud. "You deserve to be happy."

I bet the words enter your mind with a twinge of unsettled emotion. I bet, just like me, you write them off as silly, unrealistic words that don't really mean anything, especially when compared to your bills, your job, your relationships. Sure, you'd love to be happy. But you've got other, more important things to concentrate on... Or do you? Is anything really more important than enjoying your life?

It's only when personal struggle reaches our breaking point, me in that hospital and you in whatever you were forced to endure, that all those little fears start to fade away. The bills, the rent, the problems at work, they melt into empty walls and we can see clearly for years ahead and years behind. What if you and I simply tried to just remember what we could see from that vantage point, and look through it like a lens in our everyday life? I truly believe we can.

I know, after many failed attempts, I cannot demand of life to give me happiness, but I can create it for myself. Life is very giving that way; one can be very sick with cancer at age 17, and still find tools within the universe to create true, uninhibited happiness and joy.

I find that rules (my tools) rather than demands are much easier to access. Rules bring about order, and order is much easier to cope with than guilt of being selfish. So I'll share the only rules I live by, the ones that have had me traveling the world, falling in love, making big moves after cancer.

These rules are part of a five-day lesson series. See the full series here.

The 4 Ultimate Rules to A Happier Life


Give yourself permission to go after what you really want. Your permission is the only one that matters.

We spend too much of our time waiting for the approval or permission of other people to do what we truly want. And because of it, we keep from sharing the next great idea, from learning new skills, from meeting new people, from trying new food. Unless it's seen as noble, trendy, necessary, or beneficial to everyone else, we'll keep from taking a risk or putting ourselves out there.

But why are we in it only for everyone else? What if the only permission you needed anymore was your own, and it no longer required that it benefited anyone else? This is not selfishness, it's self fulfillment. And without first fulfilling your personal purpose and dreams, you will be of no use to anyone else. Unless you do your own homework, you can't expect to help or tutor on anyone else's anyway.

Stop worrying about what everyone's reactions will be to your next move -- talking to the guy at the bar, traveling to India, starting a blog -- and start living only by what you'll be proud of, or absolutely regret not doing when your very short life comes to an end. Because at that last moment, you will go forth out of this life alone, and you'll have wanted to achieved your own approval of the life you lived.


Make it a priority to do small things that bring you joy. Do at least one every single day.

Women, especially, please make this rule your No. 1 priority, even if just for today. You are deserving of a life full of small and simple pleasures that make you feel good, that remind you of your worthiness, and that bring you joy. Everyone around you will always have a list of 100 things you could or should do for them, but you are the only person who can give you the little pleasures you want to get you through each day. A hot bath, time alone to read a book, chocolate, a daily meditation practice. Even if it's just a mug that has a saying to inspire you. Give yourself little gifts of joy every day. I promise, the practice will be come contagious, and you'll be bringing yourself and everyone around you little joys too.


Surround yourself with beautiful things, and you will have a beautiful life.

In scenery, artwork, music, flavors and souls. Surround yourself with things that are truly beautiful, not only aesthetically pleasing, but also authentic, genuine, and natural. It is absolutely impossible for a person to not see how beautiful and incredible this world is whilst standing in front of Monet's Nymphaes. The same is true for a mountain view, a plate of freshly roasted vegetables straight from the garden, the works of Miles Davis, and a true and honest conversation with a very old friend.

It's simple, and it's true. Surround yourself with true beauty, and your life will become a beautiful experience.


Never let money, status, or other people make or break your sense of peace.

Never. Never. Never. A very wise, successful, award-winning lawyer (and, fortunately, my brother) once told me that money will always come and go; do what you love. And it's true, money and other people and other people's opinions will always come and go. Your peace will not. Your peace and contentment will wait patiently for you in the depths of your own heart while you base your happiness on fleeting things. Then when you're ready to let go of all that superficiality, your peace will welcome you and you'll see you had happiness and peace right inside you all along.

Look inward, not outward. Let you peace be derived from your simple, miraculous existence. From your beating heart. Nothing else.

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Rachael is an award winning blogger, cancer survivor and inspirational speaker, and the author of HerAfter.com, a women's site about conscious and stylish living. After years as a fashion journalist, she now writes women's lifestyle articles about life, love, style, and thriving after surviving not just cancer, but all of life's big battles. Catch up with her on Twitter ( @RachaelYahne ) and read more of her work on her website, and in her new ebook, Her Happier, Healthier After -- A Women's Guide to Building Happiness and Self-Esteem