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10 Rules Happy People Make. And Follow

by Vidya Sury June 22, 2014 39 comments
Happy People Vidya Sury (4)

I read an article in Oprah magazine about rules happy people make and follow. It was a fun read. And I was curious to see if I was following any of those. Who doesn’t want to be happy?

I decided to make my own list of 10 rules that happy people make and follow. Here we go, then.

10 Rules Happy People Make. And Follow

When you only have two options, find a third

Usually, when there are two choices and both are not entirely suitable, happy women pick a third. Yep. I had that time in my life back in 2004 when I thought I had no option but to quit my job. My Mom’s health got worse and I wanted to be with her. We also needed the money, what with mounting medical expenses. So staying at home with zero income was also not an option.

What did I do? Yes, I quit. But a third option popped up. Would I work from home for the same salary? Oh yes, I would. I did. The rest is history. Best decision I ever took! And I’ll eternally be thankful to my Mom for suggesting it. She encouraged me to dare to dream.

Yes, there are always more than two options. Sometimes, you just need two brains to remember that.

Find little things that make you happy

I wasn’t quite sure what that meant. Possibly because I am a vegetarian. But it works in principle. I got the gist of it. Have I learned something amazingly simple – simple yet amazing that has improved my daily life? Yes. And that – is this: to get the smell of onion or garlic off my hands, all I do is rub them against a steel vessel or plate. And voila! Gone. Like magic. It is the little things sometimes that bring on the Eureka moment!

Never skip your wake-up sun

There is scientific proof that some exposure to early-morning sun can make you feel better all day. “Natural light calibrates your body’s clock for the rest of the day,” says Michael A. Grandner, PhD, a research associate at the Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology at the University of Pennsylvania. 

Oh yes, to that. Makes complete sense. Especially because the early morning sun is the only sun we can actually tolerate at this point in summer. Heh! So yes, I am up early to stand on my balcony with a hot mug of coffee warming my hands and my insides, the pigeons watching me dolefully and probably smirking thinking of how they can mess the place later.

We enjoy a peaceful ten minutes with our own thoughts in the glow of the morning rays of the sun, getting our dose of vitamin D. I don’t have to fake it till I make it because I have my own private balcony to enjoy it in.

Honor thy “someday” list

I am a self-confessed list freak. I have a growing daily too-much-to-do and my to-don’t list and always have stuff spilling over to the next day…make that next year sometimes. There are daily priorities. And there is the wishlist-ish type of thing. The daily priorities are all about grocery shopping, clearing that clutter, cleaning the closet, making stuff in the kitchen sort of thing – which definitely gets done.

The priority list has broader things like my stack of books to read, books to review, visiting that friend, the list of places I want to go to, and so on. This also, to some extent, gets done.

The wishlist has things like writing a memoir, writing books, starting a new project, tackling my book of ideas for DIY crafts and other items, plan a trip to Europe – things that can be postponed indefinitely if I don’t grab them by the…er… grab them and get going.

Okay, so clearing out my garage has somehow slipped into this list but that’s not the point. There’s just no time frame to this list. Experts say that when something has been on the list for longer than six weeks it probably won’t happen at all.

I shudder to think of that. The point is to make that someday list the “now list”. So, as that article suggested, I decided to pick something from that wishlist and get started on it. I am happy to say I have. And it feels really good. More than that, it makes me hopeful that I’ll get to the other things on that list, too!

Be like a Girl Scout. Always prepared

This one’s a winner for me. I carry the things that make me comfortable, the things that I’d miss if I didn’t have them. It all started with my Mom’s advice decades ago – about never going out without my own wallet no matter who I was going out with. Solid gold advice.

Today, that must-carry list includes my book, my pens, my phone, my charger, my water bottle, my snack box, and my prayer beads. And yes, since I love kids and happen to meet some almost every day, I also carry a bunch of the freebies we get with several products so I can gift them off. And so, yes again, I am a duffel bag kind of person. None of those teeny-weeny handbags for me.

One step at a time. Enjoy the process

Sometimes there’s no need to plan everything before we move forward. You might end up never moving forward at all! This reminds me of our house cleaning process. Now I, well, I used to take stock of what has to be done and systematically get going. And I’d insist on finishing everything on the list. Sometimes it would take an entire day and spill over to the next day. If something unexpected came up, don’t ask. The house would be a worse mess than before.

Sury would gently suggest that we tackle one area at a time. Not only doable but less tiring. Plus the satisfaction of completing what we started. For years I didn’t listen to him, even though he proved that his method made sense over and over.

Finally, I saw sense four years ago and now, plan things based on the time available. I am definitely a happier woman even if it means playing with my dust bunnies.

Sometimes we get so caught up with getting everything just right, we tire ourselves out and lose out on the pleasure of enjoying the small victories.

Don’t put up with sh*t

Translate this to if there’s something you don’t like, that makes you unhappy, don’t put up with it. Walk away. This includes toxic people, toxic situations, and toxic food. This took me some time to learn. I have suffered from the inability to say NO. But sometimes you just hurt yourself when you put up with crap, you know? Nobody else cares. One life is all we have. Let’s make every moment count.

Sleep over it

When you are well rested, everything looks easier to deal with. Truth. I believe in sleeping over anything that is bothering me. Everything looks better in the morning!  When I feel low, I take a nap. Or I just chill doing nothing. Sometimes I switch on the TV, put my feet up and relax back against the cushions and snooze off. It helps. Mommy was right, you know.

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade

Which, simply translates to “stop complaining“. When something doesn’t go as I expect it to, I try to change it. If I can’t change it, I change myself. Simple.

Be Grateful

This one is obvious. Gratitude makes everything look more wonderful and transforms the way we see life and live it. I am grateful for all I have. I am happier for it.

Can you add to my list of rules for happy people?

And because I am linking up with Unknown Mami for Sundays in my City, here are some pictures from my visit to a Crafts fair earlier this week. Click on any pic to have them pop out in their full size with captions. Navigate using the arrows and then, click anywhere on your screen to come back here.


Have a happy week ahead!


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Claudya June 22, 2014 at 11:12 pm

Love it. I guess I would add, always be grateful to the list.
Claudya recently posted…Lake Tahoe (Sundays In My City)

Vidya Sury June 23, 2014 at 10:10 am

🙂 Thank you Claudya. One of the things I am most grateful for on my list is the SIMC meme, thanks to you.
Vidya Sury recently posted…Leather Puppetry An Ancient Indian Art Form

shesha Chaturvedi June 23, 2014 at 1:22 am

Even I was curious about how many rules I have been following. Each and every point is relevant and true here. Happiness is an art- though sometimes we fail in practicing it and sometimes we learn it from others… 🙂 We just need to have the right attitude!
P.s. awesome pictures and too colourful- loved them 🙂

Vidya Sury June 23, 2014 at 6:03 pm

Attitude is everything, Shesha! Well said! Thanks 🙂
Vidya Sury recently posted…Life Measured In Memories

Eric D. Greene June 23, 2014 at 2:51 am

Very good list! I would also add – stay away from drugs and alcohol. These substances may give temporary highs but really it’s an escape from life. Eric
Eric D. Greene recently posted…Folsom Sunset

Vidya Sury June 23, 2014 at 10:09 am

Thank you Eric! You are absolutely right. Illusions are usually temporary and that’s what substance abuse offers – a mirage.

I loved your sunset photos!
Vidya Sury recently posted…Life Measured In Memories

Leovi June 23, 2014 at 2:53 am

Some beautiful photos! I love the wonderful color!

Vidya Sury June 23, 2014 at 10:06 am

Thank you, Leovi! I took over 200 photos of the Fair and all the stalls were stunning!
Vidya Sury recently posted…Leather Puppetry An Ancient Indian Art Form

Birgit June 23, 2014 at 5:50 am

I love your list and we are always wanting to get more done than we can and then we feel we have not accomplished anything. I would add, don’t look at what you used to but what you can still do now. I used to clean my whole kitchen in a day. I would be sore but it would all be done. 2 weeks ago I cleaned the walls and front cupboards. Last weekend I cleaned the upper shelves where I have knick knacks and my knick knack shelf.(I love knick knacks). I was down because I was in so much pain and could hardly move. It didn’t come to me until days later…I can still do it! It may take me longer but I can do it. My body may fail but my mind (hahaha) is still good and I can change my attitude. I love the one to not put up with toxic people, things and other crap too-so agree
Birgit recently posted…For the Men

Vidya Sury June 23, 2014 at 10:05 am

Birgit, I am so with you on that! I’ve learned to take it slower and do things in parts. And yes, to that mind-body sync. 😀 such as it is!

I am planning to clean up my kitchen this week. Years ago, I would have wanted to do it in a day. Crazy.

🙂 Hugs!
Vidya Sury recently posted…6 Easy Natural Ways to Detox

Pratibha (@Myepica) June 23, 2014 at 8:51 am

I never skip the morning sun. For me its healing. Loved your list, just an affirmation of what I need to follow!
Pratibha (@Myepica) recently posted…PuneMusings – Vol 1 {PuneMusings}

Vidya Sury June 23, 2014 at 11:08 pm

Good girl, Pratibha! Thank you!
Vidya Sury recently posted…Leather Puppetry An Ancient Indian Art Form

Rajlakshmi June 23, 2014 at 10:41 am

those are wonderful pints. I always miss the early morning sun!! No matter how much I try, and the cold here isn’t helping much either 😛
Rajlakshmi recently posted…Sunday Smiles: Of Monsters & Mommy

Vidya Sury June 23, 2014 at 11:11 pm

Rajlakshmi, I remember – long ago, we went through a winter that was terribly cold, at least for India. One morning, my Mom cut out a sheet of yellow chart paper to resemble flames and stuck it on the wall near the bed – and drew a border around it – a pretend fireplace. The next thing we did was stick a cutout of the sun on the window! Hope the sun shines for you soon! Thank you for commenting!
Vidya Sury recently posted…Life Measured In Memories

Carol Graham June 23, 2014 at 10:52 am

Wow — I had no idea how much we think alike, Vidya. I related with each point on your list. I am a list freak and handle it the same way you do. I recently had my sister (who is a pro at this) make me some weekly and daily must do social networking charts. Saves me from having to remember everything I need to do or taking the time to write it all on my lists.

I ALWAYS sleep over it – that comes from experience and would have had a lot less grief in my life if I did that when I was younger.

Get away from toxins – people, food, drugs, ideas!

And, I have finally learned how to say NO and it feels so good.
Thanks for a great post! Loved it
Carol Graham recently posted…My New BFF – Hurley the Sheep

Vidya Sury June 23, 2014 at 11:12 pm

I love what you wrote, Carol! What a nice warm feeling to sync.in thought! 😀 I loved your latest post! Hugs!
Vidya Sury recently posted…On Writing

BLOGitse June 23, 2014 at 11:19 am

Morning sun, aah, it’s grey and almost raining right now BUT I try to think that it’s a sunny morning! 🙂
(We can’t change the weather so it doesn’t help to blame it to spoil our feelings…)
I agree, a post writing needs space. It’s too hard too read a text if it all is one long sentence…
Have a good week ahead!
BLOGitse recently posted…Nuuksio National Park part 1.

Aditi June 23, 2014 at 1:29 pm

Fabulous list and your words and experiences always inspire Vidya! I love to go to my balcony and take a deep breath, agreed even if just 5 min the morning Sun makes your day start on a happier note!
Aditi recently posted…Inspiration from Little Sunshines

Kalpana Solsi June 23, 2014 at 6:21 pm

I agree with you , Vidya when you said there’s a third option too.Sometimes I go with the flow and at times I sleep over the problems and they ARE solved to some extent with any heartaches. Loved your post.
Kalpana Solsi recently posted…Last day of my life.

Vidya Sury June 23, 2014 at 6:28 pm

Thank you, Kalpana! It is amazing what can happen when we open our minds to the possibilities!
Vidya Sury recently posted…6 Easy Natural Ways to Detox

Ed June 23, 2014 at 6:41 pm

Really great list! My addition would be to focus on the present. That’s where happiness always lies no matter what else is going on in our lives.
Ed recently posted…Do What Matters

Fran Sorin June 23, 2014 at 7:08 pm

Dear Vidya-

Any one of the above 10 rules could literally change how a person walks through her day.

It truly is the little things that bring inner happiness. The BIG moments in life may bring momentary joy, accomplishment, etc. BUT ultimately, we experience our lives second by second. And with each second, we have a choice on how we experience it.

As always, you inspire me Vidya- With gratitude and love- Fran
Fran Sorin recently posted…The Power of Connecting Face To Face

Kathy Combs June 23, 2014 at 8:16 pm

I love your list. I would only add… find reasons to laugh when there is no reason to laugh! Laughing helps me a lot. It breaks the tension and makes things appear not quite as dark and dismal as they might really be. It makes life flow lots better. ♥
Kathy Combs recently posted…It’s Time!

Betsy/Zen Mama June 23, 2014 at 8:28 pm

I love your list Vidya and find that many of the same things are on my list of being happy. I would add do something every day that is your passion! Even if it’s for 10 minutes.
Have a wonderful day!!
xoxo Betsy
Betsy/Zen Mama recently posted…Oh The Possibilities…

My Inner Chick June 23, 2014 at 9:19 pm

**Find little things that make you happy**
I’ve found that the “little things” have continually made me the happiest. For example, looking out my window and seeing my purple flowers dancing!

Love you more than dancing flowers in purple dresses!

Also, I love the title “Grabbing Your Readers By The Eyeballs!!’ xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
My Inner Chick recently posted…21 Things I’ve Learned Since My Sister’s Murder

Debbie June 24, 2014 at 12:03 am

Love this post, Vidya! I’m not a huge list person, and tend to be somewhat disorganized, so I will definitely consider this. One thing especially struck a cord here:
“Experts say that when something has been on the list for longer than six weeks they probably won’t happen at all.” This is so much bullshit! The number one item on my mental Bucket List, exploring Greece, was there for over 50 years and we finally got there last year. Never give up your dreams, yes? 🙂
“Take No Shit” is right! Life is too short to put up with crap. Another chord struck here, along with “Find little things that make you happy”. This can certainly make a difference between a good day and a bad day. That and laughter. Gratitude is so important to get you through the rough times. No matter how bad things seem for you, there is always somebody worse off. Thanks for reminders and have a great week.
Debbie recently posted…PHOTO FRIDAY: SIMPLICITY

Michelle Stanley June 24, 2014 at 5:07 am

I’m up with the sun Mondays to Fridays, enjoying its beauty with my coffee before I prepare my son for school. Weekends are more laid back, but I still appreciate the morning glow. Your post is wonderful Sury, and like your list. It gives me something to think about.

Victor June 24, 2014 at 6:17 am


I kept reading this list, thinking, check, check, check…Loved them all! I loved the “Don’t put up with sh*t…” That was my laugh out loud one, and I absolutely loved the first one, which is making a third option when you have two. That really resonated with me and was an empowering thought. Thanks for sharing! 🙂
Victor recently posted…How a Bad Salesperson (Or Anything) Can Overcome Limitations | VictorSchueller.com

Sebastian Aiden Daniels June 24, 2014 at 6:48 am

Don’t put up with sh!t, sleep over it, and make lemonade are ones that have really helped me and increased my happiness. They are all great advice. I would have to add exercise : D.
Sebastian Aiden Daniels recently posted…The Zen of Surfing – Part 2

Fab June 24, 2014 at 11:27 am

This is a really sensible list!! Emphasizes the fact that happy people ‘create’ their own happiness instead of waiting for it.
Fab recently posted…Morning Musings

Beloo Mehra June 24, 2014 at 4:17 pm

Such a happy post, Vidya 🙂 I love the part about needing two brains to remember that there always is a third option. A very helpful tip! The colourful pictures add so much to the happiness quotient of the post 🙂 Thanks for this post.

Vidya Sury June 25, 2014 at 1:06 pm

Thank you, Beloo! I appreciate your comment and your presence here!

Ankita June 24, 2014 at 6:23 pm

amazing! that are really helpful! i always try to wake up early to watch sunrise but sigh… 😛

Ankita recently posted…Bits & Pieces 2

Found In Folsom June 24, 2014 at 11:15 pm

Vidya, I don’t know if you write only positive posts of this kind or it is my luck to encounter such a post on the few times I drop by here. 🙂 I am a list person too..:P though I have a smart phone, but I never use it to make lists. You know I said NO to someone who was very close to me and pressed the Delete button out of my life, and I feel so happy and proud of myself now 🙂 And I could relate to so many things…I always like to think about the third option as well.
Found In Folsom recently posted…I don’t know the Cab Number!!

Vidya Sury June 25, 2014 at 1:03 pm

I do tend to write positive posts. I choose to see the brighter side of things, Latha! I avoid negativity, not realism though – what is life without both ups and downs? I like it that people who frequent this space feel good.

Saying “NO” is one of the most fulfilling things, especially if are not the sort of person who can easily say NO. The great thing is, it boosts our confidence tremendously, as if we’ve achieved something amazing. We have. 🙂 Hugs! I am very glad you enjoyed this post.

Proactive Indian June 25, 2014 at 1:09 pm

A positivity promoting post!
Offhand, I can think of only one item to add: read this list at regular intervals to check whether you’re following all the rules.
An observation: the rules are related to one another. For example, people often put up with sh*t because they think they have no option!
Proactive Indian recently posted…Service with a smile!

Vidya Sury June 25, 2014 at 2:01 pm

Well pointed out, Pro! This post was easy to write because I follow these rules. Some of them, learned the hard way! 😉

Vishnu June 25, 2014 at 6:04 pm

Vidya, I like the lemonade approach to happiness. Not only making good out of bad situations but trying to see the good in bad situations. Trying to shift our perspective so we see the blessings in disguise – everything happens for the right reason.

My two happiness favs others are forgiveness and gratefulness. A little of each every day adds happiness to my life.

Balaka Basu April 12, 2018 at 12:18 pm

Awwww Vidya you always make me smile.


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