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Your Personal Code for Living a Better, Happier, More Successful Life

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The most important part of being happy is being happy with yourself. This chapter provides eight simple rules that you can follow to enrich yourself and your personal satisfaction. These rules focus on things you can do to improve yourself.

I've divided the Rules of Life into five areas—you, your partner, your family, your social circle (including work and friends) and lastly, the world—to represent the five unconscious circles we all draw around ourselves.

Let's begin with the most important of these, the Rules for ourselves—personal rules, rules for us. These are the Rules that will help get us out of bed in the mornings, face the world with a positive air, and navigate our way safely and successfully through our day, no matter what may arise. These are the Rules that will help reduce stress levels, give us the right kind of outlook, encourage us to set our own standards and have goals to aim for.

I guess that for each and every one of us, these Rules will have to be adapted to take into account our upbringing, our age, and our situation. We all need to have personal standards to live up to. They will vary from person to person, but it is vitally important to have them. Without them, we are adrift and unable to monitor how we are doing. With them we have a firm center, somewhere we can get back to, somewhere to touch base and recharge. They are our benchmark for personal progress.

But it's not all about standards; it's also about lightening up, having fun, enjoying life.

Rule 1: Keep It Under Your Hat

You are about to become a Rules Player. You are about to embark on a life-changing adventure, possibly, if you choose to accept your mission. You are about to discover ways to become positive, happier, more successful in everything you do. So there’s no need to say anything to anybody about it. Keep quiet. No one likes a know-it-all. That’s it. First Rule: Keep it under your hat.

There may well be times when you do want to talk to other people about what you’re doing because, quite naturally, you want to share it with somebody. Well, you can’t and you don’t. Let them find out for themselves with no clues from you. You may think this unfair, but it is actually fairer than you believe. If you tell them, they’ll shy away. And quite rightly so—we all hate being preached at. It’s a bit like when you give up smoking and suddenly find this new healthier way of living and you simply have to convert all your old smoking friends. Trouble is, they aren’t ready to quit yet and you find they label you as smug or a prude or, even worse, an ex-smoker. And how we all hate those.

So the first Rule is, quite simply, don’t preach, propagate, try to convert, shout from the rooftops, or even mention this.

You will get a warm glow from changing your attitude to life and having people ask what it is you have done, are doing, and you can say that it’s nothing, merely a sunny day and you feel better/ happier/livelier/jollier/whatever. There is no need to go into any detail because that’s not really what people want to know. In fact, it’s exactly the opposite of what they want to know. It’s a bit like when someone asks how you are. What they want to really hear is just the one word, "Fine." Even if you are in the very pits of despair, that’s all they want to hear because anything more requires commitment on their part. And for a casual "How are you?" that’s most certainly not what they want. What they want is just "Fine." And then they can be about their business without any further involvement. If you don’t say "Fine," but instead unburden yourself, they will back off pretty quickly.

And it’s the same with being a Rules Player. No one really wants to know, so keep quiet. How do I know? Because when I wrote The Rules of Work, which turned a lot of people on to the ability to be successful in the workplace without having to resort to underhand means, I suggested the same thing and found it worked. Just get on with it, do it quietly, and go about your daily life happily and smugly without having to tell anyone anything.

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