Happiness is part of being human. It’s a feeling. Neither luck nor material affects can influence happiness. Happiness comes as it pleases. You need quick reflexes to pluck it out of the air as it flitters by your heart.
Here are twelve tips to help you embrace happiness. One for each month.

  1. Accept
    Everything happens for a reason. Which isn’t the same as saying: shut your eyes to social injustice and land consumption, the two most worrisome problems on the planet. Don’t be ashamed if things don’t go as planned: at least you gave it a try. Next time will be better.
  2. Be positive
    Sometimes, some of our guests tell me about their bad experience in a famous restaurant. I don’t listen to them: negative thoughts create negative energy. Optimism doesn’t depend on facts, but on perceptions and expectations.  Today will be better than yesterday and tomorrow will be better than today. Every change, for me, is a challenge. I’ve erased negative words from my active vocabulary. Instead of saying “I’m stressed”, I prefer to say “I’ve got a lot on my plate right now”. I won’t speak of general problems, but specific challenges or opportunities.
  1. Forget
    To truly experience the present, I shouldn’t begrudge what happened in the past. I’m often the object of criticism for my radical stance. I’m not offended, quite the opposite actually: I listen and forget about it. Forgetting means shaking off negative feelings which stop us from obtaining true happiness. Hate is a feeling. The act of hating stops us from feeling accomplished. Shrug off your grudges and stop hating.

  1. Respect
    Broaden the scope of your actions, brighten up the lives of other people, improve the world. Respect others and what surrounds you, improve the world by starting with yourself. I love myself. I try to listen to what I really think. Respect means not finding excuses and shouldering our responsibilities, learning from our failures. Constantly. Without waiting for the approval of other people. Happy people are true to their hearts.
  1. Stop
    Frenzy is a synonym of anxiety. Every day I need a bit of me time: maybe fifteen, twenty minutes. Sometimes, I just listen to myself breathe, or I sit back, relax, and let the thoughts come rushing over me. Chaos has no role during my me time. That order makes me happy. When I go for a walk into the forest, I’m always happy, regardless of the season or weather. I walk and think how to solve personal or business issues. I can focus on my steps, on the growing larches, follow an animal’s trail: that’s when I’m truly happy. I try to eat well. I don’t eat a lot and I do it slowly, and a glass of good wine is always by my side.
  1. Be daring
    Have the courage of saying things as they are. Criticise the powerful elite, but also be strong enough to think outside the box and do something new. Strong. Be daring, don’t be afraid, because fear is not real. We create fear. Have the courage to think things and translate them into actions. Be daring enough to believe in a better world.
  1. Listen to music
    Take a vinyl record in your hands. Look at its cover. Smell that unmistakable scent. Now place it on the record player. A melancholic text by Fabrizio de André. A riff by Jimy Hendrix. The genius of Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa. Tom Waits’ voice or psychedelic Nico from Velvet Underground. Music has always awoken strong emotions in me.
  1. Be grateful
    I’m grateful for all I have. I don’t really know what envy is, and I try not to compare my life to that of somebody else. I don’t want what other people have. I live my life as I always do, thanking whatever good star decided to place me here in this beautiful country, carrying out a job I love. I am thankful for my quite good state of health.  I say grace before and after every meal, when I’m about to fall asleep. I’m ever so grateful for the kitchen staff, for all the hard work they put in. I thank my right hand for efficiently running the family business. I thank my family, who always understands me, and I will always thank my wife for all the smiles she blesses me with
  1. Be conscious about what you do
    It’s a secret, but it works: at night, in the shower, I forget about the client who talked about the overcooked pasta. In that moment, only the hot water running down my back exists. It’s the small things that count: the taste of freshly ground coffee first thing in the morning, the mesmerising beauty of the sun rising, the smile of my nephew. Leaving that humdrum state of everyday existence. Pay attention: our habits repeated countless times become second nature. Our ‘good mornings’ or ‘how are you’ are pleasantries, nothing more. Focusing on our actions steadies our nerves. I am conscious that I am not my actions, not my thoughts. I am not what people think I am. By shifting my focus, I become free.
  2. Be kind
    Collect money for those weaker than you; send an encouraging text to a friend going through a rough moment; buy flowers and send them for no obvious reason at all. These are truly good actions.
    Helping other people is good. In the last years, our foundation has helped exiled Tibetans, has endorsed projects in Uganda. We have fun in creating new projects, collecting money for the weaker, and implementing new ideas. However, even the smallest of actions count: sending an encouraging text to a friend going through a rough moment; buying flowers and unexpectedly sending them to an acquaintance. These are truly good actions.
  1. Do not get angry
    Nobody can truly anger us. Their words don’t really irk us: it’s the effect they have on us which irritates us. I’ve developed a thick skin over the years. If somebody is angry with me, I picture them in a glass bell. They fret, their anger reddens their puffy face, but I can’t hear them. Our anger manifests over past events: one day ago, one minute ago, even one second ago. Becoming angry messes up our system.
    As soon as I feel my anger making its way to top, I look deep inside myself and stare it down, and say “Ah, you’re back, are you?”. I don’t push it way. I look at it and look at myself. Then, I make fun of myself, smiling “How silly of me”. If I still become angry, I won’t be angered at the fact I failed to keep my cool. I’m not here to judge.
  1. Dream
    Dreaming helps you reach the goals you’ve set by opening, and not closing, your mind. It gives you a rose-tinted outlook on life. In those sad moments, I close my eyes and dream. And sadness vanishes.

I know, I know: we don’t need rules, really. Maybe all we have to do is think that every day of our lives is a gift and happiness resides in us. It all depends on us, because happiness is a choice. To be even happier, I promise to focus on what I can change in my everyday life. I would like to apologise to those I‘ve hurt. But I will make amends, today is a good day. Today is the first day of the rest of our lives.

Michil Costa