What makes people happy?

In pursuit of a great life and happiness

In our careers and lives we are all searching, we are all constantly pursuing something better.

We work hard to get that promotion, to get that advanced degree or professional designation to further our career goals.

Having aspirations and ambitious goals are good things, as long as they are in balance with what really matters in life. Too many people climb the corporate ladder only to find out at the end of their lives that it was leaning against the wrong building.

Many people seek material things: bigger houses, more expensive cars, a bigger pay cheque, a coveted title…

Only to find that at the end of their lives none of these things really mattered. Many hospital and elderly nursing homes staff have said over and over that their dying patients regret chasing after material things that didn’t matter. Or they regret the things they did not have enough courage to do.

What makes people happy?
I have lived in several big cities around the world: Hong Kong, Vancouver, Toronto, and Beijing, China. One of my interests is observing what makes people happy. I may write a book about this topic later.

I’ve interviewed people who were in their 20’s and 30’s, as well as people who are near retirement age 60 or 70. Interestingly, but not surprising, their responses differ.

My peers generally want to make more money, get an apartment or buy a house (which is a challenging feat in the expensive Vancouver housing market), start their own business. Respectable goals.

I’ve asked an experienced CA (Chartered Accountant) who is my mentor and is near retirement, and he talked about leaving a legacy. He talked about the importance of God, health, good attitude, relationships and family. He is one of the wisest man I know.

Find a mentor who has walked down a similar path
I am blessed to be surrounded by the inspiration of my ambitious peers and the wisdom of older and wiser mentors. It would be foolish and arrogant if I thought I knew everything about life and how to make good decisions without consulting mentors who have been along this path I’m on.

We all choose the path we take. For me, I’m very career driven, but at the same time I know the importance of friendships and relationships. Balancing the two keeps me on track and enjoy maximum happiness.

Pursuing my own dreams have also added to my happiness. Pursuing my dreams meant I had to take significant risks but the results were well worth it.

Life philosophy
I enjoyed studying philosophy in university. Philosophy used to be a very important subject in university decades ago. That’s why doctorate degrees are called “Doctor of Philosophy”, or Ph.D for short.

Over the years, I’ve studied the life philosophies of great and important people such as U.S. President Abraham Lincoln’s great leadership and Chinese entrepreneur Jack Ma of Alibaba. When I study successful people, I realize they have a lot in common, which I’ll save for a future post otherwise this post will be super long!

Here are some questions to ponder:

1. What is your life philosophy?

2. What is *really* important in your life?

3. What are your priorities in life?

4. Do you make decisions based on values or impulse?

5. Are you realizing your dreams or just trying to survive?

6. Do you make your own decisions or do others make them for you?

Living an extraordinary life
To live an extraordinary life, and a meaningful one, we must ask ourselves these hard questions. But more importantly, it’s the courage and actions we take that determine the results of our lives. Most people regret the things they did *not* do rather than the things they did do.



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