We often come across maxims or principles which sound simple, but are difficult or even impossible to put into practice. “Choose happiness”, “accept what is”, “be the best you can be” — these are supposed to be inspiring but are often so unachievable that they end up being meaningless at best and depressing at worst.

Most of these precepts make a lot of sense, which is why they are so appealing to us. When we read or hear about them, we can understand why it would make us happier if we could put them into practice. However, understanding something at…

The last five months since my baby was born have taken on that strange elastic quality where the time has flown by, but also feels like about 100 lifetimes. There have been many tears (hers and mine!) and many moments of happiness as we have got to know each other and I have learnt how to look after her.

As I reflect on what I’ve learnt so far in my short career as a parent, I’ve realised that the lessons fall into two categories. The first category is the practical stuff — how to feed, change, bathe, soothe her. …

Did you know that, when it comes to happiness, you actually have two selves? You have your “experiencing” self and your “remembering” self.

The “experiencing self” is the one that experiences life moment to moment. In any given day, we each experience a whole range of emotions — anxiety at being late for work, joy at meeting a friend for lunch, frustration at our spouse for forgetting to run an errand. The experiencing self rides this emotional rollercoaster with us, feeling each emotion as it comes and goes.

We’re told that an ordinary life is a boring life. To live life fully, we need to do something different, something special. We need to stand out from the crowd and be someone memorable.

The problem with this way of thinking that, by definition, we can’t all be extraordinary. If we all did something extraordinary, it wouldn’t be extraordinary any more. Therefore the vast majority of us are “doomed” to live completely ordinary lives.

Well, I am here to tell you that it’s okay to be ordinary. Ordinary doesn’t have to mean dull, boring or unfulfilled. Read on to find…

Other people are both the best and worst thing about life.

Strong relationships are the greatest source of our happiness. We are social beings and a connection with other people is fundamental to our well-being. Other people can lift our spirits, make us laugh and support us when times are tough.

However, other people are also the greatest reason for our misery. Colleagues irritate us, friends disappoint us and partners betray us. The parent-child relationship, despite being the strongest human bond (or perhaps because of that) is often fraught with anger, guilt and resentment.

We need to be aware of…

We hear these words time and again and, if you’re anything like me, they strike guilt and fear into your heart. I don’t know what my passion is and being told that I need to find it makes me feel like a failure.

If you want to feel less like a failure, read on to find out why passion is overrated.

Being told I need to find my passion just makes me feel bad…

Stop looking around, start looking in

A few weeks ago, I was on holiday with my sister and her boyfriend. They live in Queenstown, New Zealand, where they spend their summers mountain biking and their winters skiing. Listening to them talk about the joy they…

If you ever feel lonely, you’re certainly not alone: 9 million people in the UK say that they are either always or often lonely.

That’s a staggering 14% of the population and it’s not just old people who are affected, as you might think, but people across all age groups.

Loneliness is the curse of the modern, affluent society. Not only does it make us unhappy, it is actually damaging to our health — research has shown that loneliness is as damaging to our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

But why is loneliness such a big problem? There…

The average persons spends 90,000 hours at work over their lifetime.

Pretty scary when you put it like that — especially as, for most people, work is something to be endured rather than enjoyed. It’s much more common to hear a friend or family member complaining about work than to hear them talking about how much they love their job. I think a lot of our disgruntlement comes from the fact we “have” to work and most of us hate being forced to do things. …

Do you dream that life would be better somewhere else? Do you wish that you could pack up your things and head off to a new place where life would surely be more exciting than life at home?

In 2013, I did just that when I left England and moved to Dubai, in search of a “better life.” …

Who’s the happiest person you’ve met?

The happiest person I’ve ever met is a seventy year-old Bolivian lady, who lives in the Amazon jungle. She’s had her life threatened by the Bolivian government and she’s survived a near-fatal caiman attack. Yet despite all setbacks, she’s dedicated her life to preserving and protecting the rainforest.

We met Rosa Maria when we were travelling in Bolivia. We arrived in the northern town of Rurrenabaque, the jump-off point to the Amazon rainforest, and a fellow traveller recommended that we head to Serere, an eco-lodge created and sustained by indigenous people in a remote…

Emma Mehrabanpour

ontheroadtohappiness.org — helping people take responsibility for their own happiness

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