I have big goals. I want to achieve a lot for and with the people in my life. I am an entrepreneur and it can be one hell of a rollercoaster ride. For the past 15 years, I have lived with a huge array of emotions with life’s wins and loses, false highs and very real lows, a few tough times, some great moments, plus plenty of tears of frustration, loss, joy and overwhelm, the good and the bad kind.

Recently, nothing has really changed except that I am really, really happy a lot of the time. I have come across two questions to ask yourself that will help you be more happy, more often. Try it and please let me know how you get on.

That’s the power of the two questions I want you to start asking yourself anytime you feel unhappy. I want you to ask yourself right there in that moment of unhappiness. Don’t do it a while afterwards as this is the time you start asking the wrong questions, the negative questions that make you feel small or wrong. These are neutral questions that are there to help you reflect in the moment and come out on top, winning and happy! They are actually positive questions (when asked in context) in a convincing neutral question disguise…

But first, I want to talk about something else, the ingredients of happiness. You may well have heard of these three ingredients to happiness: Autonomy, Connection, and Accomplishment (or some similar list with different wordings).

These are three main things that people need in their lives to feel happy personally.

I am not talking about the joys of having a great partner and family, being a part of a successful team or the wins you feel when an individual, cause or group you support wins.

I am talking about you, personally.

These are the two questions you need to ask yourself when you find yourself doing something that isn’t making you happy. First, why am I doing this? And second what about this am I grateful for?

Let’s put them a bit bolder and clearer — come back to them up here if you need to. Ask these of yourself as soon as you start feeling less than happy in what you are doing.

1. Why am I doing this?

2. What about this am I grateful for?

So how do I break this down and put it into practice then?

Let’s start with autonomy, the feeling of being in control in your life.

If you find yourself doing anything begrudgingly, anything at all, you need to reflect upon why. It will be because you are looking at things from another person’s determination. You are doing something that someone else wants you to do. You are turning up on time to your 9–5 because you need to, in case someone else has a problem with it. Even as a kid, you feel you are putting out the garbage or doing the dishes because someone else wants you to.

Turning begrudging into positive reflection gets you to confront your purposes, at which point you can affirm change (or gratitude) with regards to your actions. Either you’ll stop doing what makes you unhappy, or you will have realised the purposes behind why you are doing what you are doing and now be happier about it.

Here’s a personal example: sometimes I feel stuck looking after my son, especially when I have a new idea that I want to get out of my head before it disappears. I’m far from perfect, and I do not always remember to follow my advice, but when I do I ask myself why am I doing this?

Well, I love my son and enjoy his company, and I love my wife and want to see her doing stuff she wants to do too, I don’t want her just looking after our son 24/7 without time and space for her happiness.

Then I ask what about this am I grateful for?

I have an awesome family, they are healthy, beautiful and thriving and add so much to my life. The time I spend with my son can be incredibly creative, productive and pleasurable. It’ll benefit all of us, and I should do everything I can to enjoy these precious moments and try to show my son my take on the world. I quickly realise I am in control of what I am doing in this moment.

I am also connecting with my son, and I am taking the opportunity to help my son grow, with every action I take that is positive with him he has a better chance to succeed and be happy now and into the future, I am accomplishing something here too. Begrudging over, who cares if I forget some aspect of my idea, this time with my son is what’s amazing and a source of my happiness right now.

Happy means more happy

Happiness is a positive feedback loop. You keep doing it, doing it right, by reflecting why you are doing something that seems to be making you unhappy and what about it you are grateful for, and you get to be happy a lot. You’ll also bounce back quicker if you have a down moment, something goes wrong, or you are just off your game without knowing why. Another great thing about happiness, the greater capacity to be happy you have now, the more you can further increase your happiness in the future.

Here’s another example — the person that hates his 9–5 and just wants to do his own thing, whether something entrepreneurial or just party all the time. You’ll quickly find that whether or not you are happy or remain happy is whether or not you are doing something good. Accomplishment could be refined to constructive accomplishment or growth.

Asking yourself the two questions, why am I doing this? and what am I grateful for about this? gives you clarity and keep you on a positive purpose.

Perhaps you are doing the 9–5 because you have obligations, and you are grateful that you have a job that pays the bills and your boss is okay. You can get behind this for now, and you will also be more motivated when you finish work to do something that brings your goals closer to reality, and not substitute your reality with someone else’s on the TV.

What if you are unhappy?

If you cannot answer the two reflecting questions positively, you now know that you have to stop doing what you are doing. Preferably immediately.

Happiness is not stopping what you are doing for the evening or the weekend and then going back to something you hate. Happiness is a state you should be working to have all the time. You deserve it. Everybody deserves it.

Hacking it won’t make you happy.

The next thing to know about happiness is that accomplishment isn’t about shortcuts or hacks. Eating a bar of chocolate sends the same neural signals to the brain as exercising. One is really good for you and one isn’t. One is harder to accomplish than the other too. Positive acomplishment via correct effort is a pattern in the universe and is why accomplishment is such a big part of personal happiness — pretty much any drug or bad habit that is not constructive in your life fakes the feelings of accomplishment without the effort. Don’t fall into this trap, keep asking yourself why am I doing this? andwhat about this am I grateful for?

If it isn’t a positive answer that covers accomplishment, connection and autonomy, scrap it and do the thing that does give you a positive answer.

Finally, let’s talk about connection. How come some people that quietly get on with stuff, accomplish things or have complete autonomy get depressed? You see this a lot, multimillionaires that hate their lives, famous people that are miserable, very successful people that are just not happy. It is because they do not have meaningful connections. Fans can only take you so far; they are good to have and you should have them if it fits into your purposes (more on fans, as well as haters, later). Fans are people you have the attention of, having other people’s attention is a natural by-product of becoming truly happy through autonomy, accomplishment and connection. ~You become noticeable and people aspire to be like you.

Creating meaningful connections and giving them the respect and value that everyone deserves plays a huge part in your happiness. Give them happiness and they’ll give it back with interest.

Surround and connect with positive people that you can give positive answers to the two reflective questions, i.e. why am I connecting with this person? And what about this connection am I grateful for?

Okay, I am asking myself these questions, now what?

Let’s go back to autonomy. What is it? Well, yes being in full control of your life, fate and destiny is a major part of it. Doing what you want to do when you want to do it is a big part too. But when you take autonomy down to its most basic level what it means is that you can just be you. Everyone is honourable, respectful and wants to help others and accomplish positive impact on themselves, the universe, and everything in between. Anyone fixated on something bad or negative and is unmovable just isn’t being themselves. Rid yourself of people that are not being themselves.

Autonomy is about being who you want to be, yourself. In one phrase:

BE YOURSELF AND NEVER APOLOGISE FOR BEING YOURSELF.

Let’s move back onto accomplishment. What is the one thing that any accomplishment relies upon? Action. And if you want to accomplish BIG you have to Do big. This isn’t “being busy” or doing something without purpose. This means do stuff, really well, with intention, focused on the outcome. It is also doing it with the right amount of effort to get the results you are after. The more purpose, intention, focus and effort put in, the greater the accomplishment. Effort here means work, persisting on a course and not being held back by obstacles. It is not about how hard you try but how hard you work at it. And of course, if you have lots of people supporting you whether actively or as fans, and have the autonomy to do it completely on your terms, then all the better.

Accomplishment is about getting what you want done, done. In one phrase:

DO IT. DO IT PURPOSEFULLY, INTENTIONALLY, WITH FOCUS, AND WITH ENOUGH EFFORT TO ACHIEVE THE OUTCOME.

Finally, back to connections. There are two types of connection, and you do well to have both. Work to build meaningful connections, connections you can provide the most value to and serve best. Never take these for granted, cultivate these connections and keep them alive and growing.

Secondly, respect and value your fans. Fans are people that you have the attention of. So they can be your biggest fans, friends, critics or your biggest haters; everyone that you have the attention of.

Do not distinguish between them, all attention on your autonomy, accomplishments and connections is positive. Give them all value and pass on your happiness.

In one phrase:

CULTIVATE MEANINGFUL CONNECTIONS AND PROVIDE HAPPINESS TO THOSE YOU HAVE THE ATTENTION OF.

Happiness Recap:

The more you do these three things, the happier you will be and the more able you will be to further achieve greater happiness, bigger accomplishments, more connections and more autonomy:

BE YOURSELF AND NEVER APOLOGISE FOR BEING YOURSELF.

DO IT. DO IT PURPOSEFULLY, INTENTIONALLY, WITH FOCUS, AND WITH ENOUGH EFFORT TO ACHIEVE THE OUTCOME.

CULTIVATE MEANINGFUL CONNECTIONS AND PROVIDE HAPPINESS TO THOSE YOU HAVE THE ATTENTION OF.

You don’t have to do it all at once, just try to remember to ask the right questions of yourself when you are unhappy and aim to do these three actions 1% better tomorrow.

For me, entrepreneurship is the fastest and most likely way I can achieve the most happiness possible. I get to help the most people, stay true to my goals, make meaningful connections and add value to those that I have the attention of, and I get to do it every single day. A 9–5 job just doesn’t do it for me. But working on my businesses, building partnerships and reaching out does.

How about you? What’ll you do in your life to be happier?

Remember, ask yourself the two questions for more happiness whenever you feel down…

why am I doing this and what about this am I grateful for?

…and keeping work at being yourself, get the stuff done that matters to you and build meaningful connections that you provide your happiness to.

If you read this and want more, I will be doing posts from time to time, you are welcome to connect with me.