8 Ancient Laws for Creating a Simpler, Happier Life


Life can be simple and you can be happy, and these 8 time-proven laws point the way.

According to Confucius, “life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” 

The statement that life is really simple might seem a bit absurd to you.

What’s so simple about the myriad demands, dilemmas, and dealings of everyday life that push and pull on our consciences, wills, and intentions?

What’s so simple about love and hate, success and failure, selfishness and selflessness?

Many times, life can appear overwhelmingly complex, and even downright abusive.

There’s another way of looking at things, though.

The most terrifying fact about life is not that it’s hostile, but that it’s indifferent. If life seems complex, it’s because we’re making it complex.

Well, if we have the power to make it complex, then we also have the power to make it simple. That’s what this article is about.

I’ve always been a sucker for simplicity. I like as much black and white in my life as possible and avoid as many shades of gray as I can. I like to be able to make decisions quickly and with certainty, and that requires simple, clear-cut standards.

I want to share with you 8 laws of living that go back thousands of years, and which have served me well.

If any of these laws resonate with you, give them a try and I think you’ll find they bring you closer to realizing your dreams, creating deep, meaningful relationships with others, and stripping life down to its joyous essence.

Law #1 for Simpler, Happier Living:

If you say you’re going to do something, do it. If you say you won’t, don’t.

Without your word, you’re of little value to yourself and others. The fastest way to lose a friend is to show you can’t be trusted, and that applies to yourself, too.

When you know that your word must be kept, even when it’s tough, it forces you to carefully consider your commitments.

Get into the habit of keeping your word once given, no matter what, and you will not only earn the respect of others, but more importantly, you will earn your own respect.

Law #2 for Simpler, Happier Living:

Don’t lie, exaggerate, withhold vital information, or mislead others.

Being honest just makes life easier to live.

Lies beget more lies and must be continually protected from collisions with reality. Statements of fact, however, require no further work on our part.

By lying, you’re not only building a false world that must be guarded from inspection or introspection, you’re showing how little you trust and respect others. 

It disengages you from life, and when it gets bad, you begin to lose touch of what’s even real anymore. Don’t do it.

Law #3 for Simpler, Happier Living:

Be on time. Always.

Technically this is a subset of law #1, but I think it’s important enough to be called out on its own.

Being on time is a basic courtesy with friends and family, but a vital necessity in business and work.

By showing up just five minutes late to an appointment, you can be perceived as disrespectful, disorganized, and disinterested. By showing up five minutes early, the complete opposite impression is made.

The temporal difference is a mere ten minutes, but the real-world ramifications can be quite far reaching.

Law #4 for Simpler, Happier Living:

Out-work everyone you know until you’ve made it. Then you can loaf, if you want.

If you haven’t accomplished your career and/or financial goals yet and you’re not working more than anyone you know to get there, you’re doing it wrong.

This law isn’t set in stone for me, it’s cast in titanium. Some people think it’s a shame. All that work and no play…what a miserable existence!

Well, what will things look like in a few years? I’ll have the financial freedom to do whatever I want, whenever I want, and they’ll still be griping about their crappy jobs and trying to enjoy their brief respites.

Life doesn’t have to be all hard work, and it’s certainly not all about money, but life sucks without either. 

Law #5 for Simpler, Happier Living:

Do the right thing, even when it costs you something.

You don’t need to read dusty tomes to know what’s right and wrong.

We’re hardwired with an incredibly sensitive moral compass, but unfortunately, we also have an equally intricate justifier mechanism for immoral behavior.

Lapses are permitted as nobody is perfect, but generally acting with integrity ripples out into the world and back into our lives in a million more ways than we could hope to envision.

Indian religion calls it karma. We know it as “what goes around comes around.”

It’s a law of life, and it either works for or against you. And life is much better when it’s on your side.

Law #6 for Simpler, Happier Living:

Always make time for personal growth.

“Iron rusts from disuse; water loses its purity from stagnation, and even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind,” wrote Leonardo da Vinci. 

Today’s culture makes it all too easy to go into a mental coma. Every time I turn around there’s another mindless reality TV show, video game, movie, or book blowing up. I swear if it were to all disappear tomorrow the streets would be filled with zombie-like husks of people, stumbling around, unsure of what to do or where to go.

It’s incredibly important to continue to grow as a person. You need to block out time for it every day, and if you’re about to say you don’t have time, please reconsider.

Quit watching TV, delete your Facebook and Pinterest accounts, and burn your copy of 50 Shades of Gray, and I think your calendar will suddenly open up a bit.

What to do instead, you ask?

Anything that involves learning is fair game.

Would you like to speak another language? Perfect. Start. How about playing an instrument? Awesome. Do it. Hell, even starting in on that pile of self-help books you’ve been meaning to read qualifies. Just go.

Law #7 for Simpler, Happier Living:

Never have debt. Ever.

I’ve had debt. I know how much it sucks to feel like a slave to the banks, to feel the pangs of guilt when you make a minimum payment because you bought a few non-essential things that month.

I no longer have any debt, and no amount of fancy junk bought on credit is more valuable than the peace of mind of knowing that you don’t owe a penny to anyone. 

And before you scoff at me thinking, “Yeah, that’s easy to say when you’ve made a bunch of money,” let me interject that I slammed this in before making any real money. My wife and I carefully lived below our means. No exorbitant rent or mortgage, no leased Hummer, no trips to Europe courtesy of JP Morgan Chase at 25% APR.

Furthermore, once you’re making money, it becomes even easier to sink into debt.

All of a sudden you can have hundreds of thousands of dollars in credit card room. The bank is practically begging you to take out another mortgage, and while you’re at it, why not finance that boat or $100,000 sports car that you want? Just sign here and it can all be yours.

I deal with money very simply. I buy things cash. If I don’t have the cash, I don’t get the thing. It works.

Law #8 for Simpler, Happier Living:

Build up an emergency fund of a year’s worth of expenses.

This ties into the last law. To use a nerdy Harry Potter analogy, whereas debt is the dementor of personal finances, a lack of savings the boggart.

When you peer into an empty bank account, it can give rise to many gruesome visions. When you’re a paycheck away from broke, it’s all to easy to picture yourself with no home, no food, and no hope.

Don’t put yourself in that situation.

Live below your means so you can save up at least a year’s worth of expenses, and don’t touch that money unless you absolutely  have to. 

You might be amazed at how it changes your outlook on life and work. It’ll probably lower your blood pressure, too.

Yo Ho, Yo Ho, a Simple, Happy Life for Me

Einstein said that you don’t really understand something until you can explain it to a six year-old. 

I like to think that applies to life, too. Living a good life is simpler than most people think. Give these laws a try and you might agree.


What do you think of these laws for simple, happy living? Have anything else you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments below!

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I'm Mike and I'm the creator of Muscle for Life and Legion Athletics, and I believe that EVERYONE can achieve the body of their dreams.

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