Live Happier By Taking Notes, Asking Questions & Changing Your Vocabulary

by @deanyeong | Sign up to weekly newsletter here

One day two students of the teacher Chang Hu came to his home. They sat down at the table as they should. And Chang Hu put a golden cup in front of one of his students, and in front of the other student, he put an old and cleaved jar. Both the cup and the jar were filled with water.

“Help yourself.”, Chang Hu said.

The student who got the golden cup drank the water and with gratitude bowed to his former teacher. The student, whom the old jar was given to, looked at the teacher with reproof and asked:

“Tell me honourable Chang Hu, do you treat your former students so differently, that you offer one of them to drink water from a golden cup and for another one from an old and cleaved jar? After so much time spent learning from you, I still can’t tell whom you prefer more?”

Chang Hu smiled and said,

“My dear students, the golden cup, that is stored in my house for many years, I place before the most honoured guests. Not everyone is allowed to drink from it because it is a valuable thing. But I myself never use this cup. However, every day I drink water from my favourite old jar that faithfully serves me for so many years. This jar is valuable to my heart. I know every crack and cleavage on it. So, my dear students, how I treat both of you, only you can decide. But remember one thing – in this house I don’t have any dishes apart from a golden cup and a cleaved jar. And into both of them, I simply pour water.”

Happiness Comes Within Us

I’m going to conclude all the success, fame, goal, love and other things we want to achieve as one – happiness. Think about it, we make a decision or take an action because we think it’s going to make us happy.

We want to lose weight, because it makes us look better, in turn, it makes us attractive and popular among our circle – that leads to happiness. We want to increase our income, so we can buy better things or experiences that we think they are going to make us happy.

So, what’s the moral of the story? I love the statement of Teacher Chang Hu when he say, “… how I treat both of you, only you can decide…” With that said, happiness comes within us, not from things outside us.

Most people try to chase happiness by seeking things from the outside world, and after they gain something that makes them happy, they start to compare with others. This is a guaranteed path that leads to unsatisfied and unfilled life.

Guaranteed Path

So what leads to true happiness? One best way to start living a happier life is by practicing gratitude and appreciation. Rather than focusing on what server the teacher use, appreciate for the water.

And here is how we can start to appreciate more in our life.


It doesn’t require much – simply a pen/pencil and a tiny notebook. Start taking note each day. State down 3 persons you like to thank and why. No one you like to thank today? What about 3 events that you should appreciate?

Some of us might find this hard. But the truth is that it’s not a difficult task at all when you remove your original definition and attachment of what is good and bad, what is luck and misfortune.

  • Appreciate life challenges instead, rather than feeling pissed about them
  • Thank your employer (even he’s rude) for the opportunity to learn and grow
  • Enjoy the slow process of achieving great things in life because what matters the most is the journey


Beware about the question you ask yourself in your head, because that’s how thoughts and self-judgment formed. When you’re asking yourself, “Why me?”, “Why am I so useless?” or “Why no one likes me?”, your subconscious mind is seeking for the answer to prove yourself right.

In order to practice appreciation and live a happier life, ask yourself the right questions every morning. Why morning? Because that’s when our mind is clear and our willpower is high, provided you wake up with a good amount of sleep.

So, ask yourself these:

What am I feeling proud of right now? You can be proud of yourself – start paying attention to what you have and how far you have come, even it’s just a tiny achievement. You can be proud of people around you – celebrate small wins of your spouse and your children.

What am I feeling grateful about right now? Again, this is a question you can ask yourself when you’re taking your daily gratitude journal. Recall the moment of someone did something kind for you or any event that makes you feel lucky.

It works the same way here. When you ask these questions in your head, your subconscious mind will seek for the answer to prove you right.


This final way to practice appreciation is my favorite. Most people never aware of this, but by changing your vocabulary, you’re changing how you feel. If you never know or understand the word “heartbroken”, you simply can’t and won’t feel it. It works the same way when you turn it around when you describe an event with the word “heartbroken”, you’ll unconsciously link the feelings with the event, even the impact is smaller than you think.

To make yourself appreciate people, thing and event in life, replace “have to” with “get to”. Rather than complaining or feeling bad about things you “have to” do or challenges you “have to” go through, think a little differently. You “get to” experience and do them.

For example:

  • I have to work every day for 10 hours → I get to work every day for 10 hours.
  • I have to take care of my parents → I get to take care of my parents
  • I have to please and pamper my wife all the time → I get to please and pamper my wife all the time

Appreciation is Just The Beginning

Don’t just read, act now to implement these strategies and start practicing appreciation. The truth is that practicing appreciation is not just a regular routine that leads to a happier life, it’s more than that.

Practicing appreciation is a keystone habit. It changes many things around you. You will start to see things and people around you with a different len, you will start view life in a new – better – perspective. Imagine what it can do to your relationship, your health, your productivity and even your business. Ready? Start appreciate.

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  • kr aravind

    Fantabulous said…. Awesome

    • Thanks for coming by and taking the time to read the article. I’m so glad that I can provide you some real value here!