The 18 Rules of Happiness - Karl Moore


The 18 Rules of Happiness, by Karl Moore, is a very short book which simply lists 18 ideas for how to get happier along with short explanations for why they are good ideas.

Here are the 18 rules.  (My quick summary follows each one):

1   Stop feeling sorry for yourself - Don’t wallow in self-pity as it is self-defeating.  Learn to accept the situation and find out what actions you can take to improve your situation.

2   Be grateful -  Make a daily or twice daily habit of looking at the good things you have going.

3   Say ‘yes’ more - Learn to ‘go with the flow’ and say yes to outings and activities you might normally not get involved with.

4   Follow your bliss - Push your overall direction into doing things that you truly enjoy.

5   Learn to let go - Recognize when certain negative emotions are holding you back.  Learn to let go of these negative emotions so they don’t destroy your happiness.

6   Do random acts of kindness - Doing things for other people naturally makes you feel good.

7   Happiness is only ever now - Decide to frequently enjoy the moment - without focusing all your energy on the past or the future.

8   Experience, don’t hoard - While money and property are helpful to a point - you actually get more happiness after this point by having interesting or exciting experiences.

9   Appreciate both sides of the coin - If you have the perspective that some sadness in life is normal - then you will have a better way of viewing your life and be more satisfied with it.

10 Be more social - Connect socially with a large group of people.  Make yourself more attractive to potential friends by being positive (don’t moan and be depressed).

11 Love more - Try to love and enjoy the world more.  Friends (the good and the bad of them) and loving and accepting the world as a whole.

12 Have a dream - Find a great vision, dream, or goal in order to achieve more in life.

13 Intention sets direction - Learn to expect the best and often this will come true.  Have a sunny and positive outlook - and this often becomes self-fulfilling.

14 Enjoy simple pleasures - Find and enjoy the simple pleasures that are available in life.

15 Accept what is - Learn to accept things about the world that you cannot change.  Don’t get ‘bent out of shape’ over things that you cannot change.

16 Exercise and eat well - No explanation necessary.

17 Zoom out and don’t sweat the small stuff - Gain some perspective on your whole life and what it means - so that you don’t get caught up in (and overemphasize) small problems in life.

18 Laugh, dance, smile! - Try to jump-start the process of being happier by actually acting happier and doing things that indicate (to others and yourself) that you are happier.


Good Things About The 18 Rules of Happiness

Easy to Understand - There is nothing overly deep or complicated about The 18 Rules of Happiness.   It is simple and direct, which is nice sometimes.

Contains Good ideas - I can certainly endorse a lot of the concepts discussed and in particular the following rules: 1,4,5,9,12,14 (to a point),15 and 16.

Bad Things About The 18 Rules of Happiness

Not enough book:  I don’t see there being enough ‘book’ here to have a large influence on a person’s happiness.

Why are there only 18 rules?  The book never says why only 18 rules are included.  You get the feeling that, given the level of advice offered at times (like eating and exercising well) that The 18 Rules of Happiness could easily have been The 300 Rules of Happiness.

Rules lack context, precision, and hierarchy - While some of the rules are happiness-promoting,  other rules are much more trivial and potentially contradictory.  For example,  should I focus on my long-term dream (which might require sustained, hard work) or just enjoy simple pleasures, laugh, dance, smile, and enjoy the moment without looking at the past or future?  The book doesn’t contain enough material to tell the reader when one approach is better than the other.

The author lists “Have a dream” as just another point along with “Be more social”.  To be more useful, this book needs to emphasize the core requirements of happiness (even if it still includes the more trivial points).  Which aspects of life are the ‘must haves’ for happiness and which things are simply tricks or techniques to try to improve your mood in the short term?  To me, having a dream (i.e., a longer-term goal that is meaningful to you) is probably the fundamental issue when it comes to most people’s happiness.  A person’s overarching goal sets the parameters for everything else he does.  Knowing that this is the top, or one of the top, issues let’s you determine when enjoying simple pleasures, for example, is and is not appropriate.

Doesn’t clearly distinguish short-term joy from happiness - 'The 18 Rules of Happiness' refers to, but doesn’t clearly distinguish between simple joy (the short-term pleasures that he refers to) and long-term happiness.  The two notions are jumbled together in the discussions but are implicit in many of his rules.  (For example, the rule about appreciating both side of the coin is really about gaining an appreciation for how long-term happiness is benefited by understanding short-term sadness.)


There is nothing particularly bad about The 18 Rules of Happiness.  It is a short list of ideas for making oneself happier.  Some of them are pretty good rules.  The overarching problem with the book is that it doesn’t delve deeply enough into the subject to provide appropriate context for the rules, to identify the essentials for happiness and to separate these essentials from more trivial issues.  I believe because the deeper material is missing, the effect on the reader's happiness will be minimal.  I can recommend this book only as the barest start to an approach to happiness - for someone without the time to read something better.