If you want to be happy, learn from happy people.
The right teacher can help you learn anything.
You’ll need to find someone who is happy in the first place. If you ask science, the happiest people are monks. But not everybody has one meditating in their backyard.
I’ve spent almost a year living amongst hippies on a small island in Thailand. They and the locals are some of the happiest people I know. Whatever happens, they always find a way to deal with it and wake up with a smile the next day.
Here’s what I learned from them.
Radical Acceptance Saves You From All The Suffering
The easiest way to become happier is to remove unhappiness.
I know what you’re gonna say. “Life is a shitshow sometimes! How am I supposed to not suffer when I fight with my partner, my boss gives me overtime, and I struggle to pay the bills?” Fair question.
The answer lies in your attitude.
Happy hippies practice one thing above all others – acceptance.
If it rains, it rains. If they feel sad, they feel sad. If their favorite restaurant is closed, it’s closed.
I know this seems simple, but compare it to your normal reaction. Subconsciously, we often resist what is – we wish for better weather even though clearly, there’s nothing we can do about the grey clouds.
This resistance creates suffering.
“It may look as if the situation is creating the suffering, but ultimately this is not so – your resistance is.” – Eckhart Tolle
This doesn’t mean you should stop trying to change things. Don’t stay with a shitty job for decades. But if you’re in it right now, accept it for what it is.
Any emotion it causes is just an emotion. It’s neither positive nor negative. Your mind loves categorizing things, but being sad, hungry, or angry isn’t bad. It’s part of the human experience, which can’t always be full of unicorns pooping rainbows.
Look at your life and accept what you resist.
This puts you in a position of power because you’re no longer feeding an internal fight.
Stop resisting and you’ll end the suffering.
Focus On Less, You’ll Appreciate It More
By western standards, people here have next to nothing.
Most Thai families don’t have a car. Many shower, live, and sleep at the back end of their shop. They wear clothes until they fall apart.
Yet, they smile. They laugh. They bring good vibes. When you first see it, it’s crazy – until you understand why.
My happiest moments weren’t when I bought a fancy gadget, wore my new sneakers, or showed my possessions to the world.
They were the simple moments when I sat on the beach or watched the stars at night in nothing but my swim shorts.
Most of the hippies here aren’t rich. Like the Thai people, they don’t own much. But when you have very little, something interesting happens.
You start to appreciate the small, basic things.
A little sunshine. The sand on your feet. The trees that give you shade. Your body that works like a miracle every day, breathing air, pumping blood, and digesting food.
It’s this appreciation and gratitude that causes happiness, not the things you possess.
You don’t need massive possessions. Multi-billion-dollar brands will tell you their products are essential to feel good, be enough, and enjoy life. They aren’t.
They just keep you running after the next big thing.
Learn to appreciate all the wonders happening around you every day.
Quite often, less is more.
Feel To Heal, Heal To Be Happy
We all wear a heavy, invisible backpack.
Most of us never take it off. It weighs us down and keeps us from flying high. What is it I’m talking about?
It’s a bag full of repressed feelings, unprocessed experiences, and limiting beliefs.
Sometimes, the deadweight shows – when something triggers us in conversation, when we sabotage our career success, or when we fall into the same toxic relationship patterns again and again.
Every time I’m on this island, I do a bunch of hippie workshops. Breathwork, meditation, tantra, mantra singing, sharing circles, and lots more. They’re different tools that all help me do the same thing.
Tapping into the emotions that I bottled up.
Every time, I take a few stones out of my backpack so I can walk around lighter, smilier, and happier.
Observe yourself. Why do you feel so down at times? Why do you end up in the same situations? Why do you get triggered? Find out what’s underneath.
Then, use a tool that works for you to process. Journaling, meditation, breathwork – whatever it is. Feeling is healing.
And a healed soul is a happy one.
Connect Freely, Openly, And From The Heart
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from traveling, it’s this:
It’s always about the people. No matter where you go, having a few good friends with you will make everything ten times better. This isn’t just hippie stuff – science confirmed this over and over.
An 80-year Harvard study found your relationships with others influence your happiness most. Maybe that’s why on hippie island, people are so happy.
It’s easy to make friends here. People don’t hold back behind pretentious masks or worry about how others will perceive them.
They just open their heart and help you do the same.
How many connections with others do you have that feel empty? How many times have you gone through meaningless small talk? How often have you merely scratched the surface?
Better connections will make you happier. But to build them, you’ll have to make yourself vulnerable. You’ll have to share and be willing to go deep.
Truth be told, you won’t connect with everyone. Some people will think you’re weird. Others like your openness but are too afraid to reciprocate.
But open your heart and over time, you’ll find the ones you can bond with.
Apply The Life-Changing Power Of Sabai Sabai
The Thai way of life is very different from the Western world.
It’s normal for people to close their shop after they earned enough to eat for the day. Even in big cities like Bangkok, people don’t rush. It’s like the word stress doesn’t exist in their language – but another one does.
Translated, it means “comfortable comfortable.” But it’s more than just a simple phrase. It’s a way of life. It’s the attitude that lying in a hammock with nothing to do is something worth doing.
However, it doesn’t translate to laziness. A bum who doesn’t work is just as frowned-upon as anywhere else. But the end goal is different.
In the western world, we often want to be more productive so we can get more done. In Thailand, it’s all about sabai sabai – finding time to enjoy life, to exist, and to be happy.
Truth be told, I had a hard time adjusting when I got here. I couldn’t wrap my head around people being so chill about everything. My monkey mind wanted me to do more and achieve my goals faster.
Then, I tried sabai sabai. Every Sunday, I block my whole day and allow myself to be completely unproductive. I just do what I feel like, which usually involves some grade-A weed, time in nature, and hanging out with my friends. It’s balm for the soul.
The attitude also trickles down into the rest of my week.
I’m more chill about what happens. My default pattern isn’t “How can I do more?” but “How can I enjoy life more?” Instead of stressing myself out, I allow myself to be.
With every sabai sabai you invite into your life, you also invite happiness.
How To Be Happy The Hippie Way
I never thought I’d learn this much from a few hippies wrapped in linen or locals who sell the same meatballs on the same street corner for decades.
But the right teacher can help you learn anything, even happiness.
Give it a go. Apply these lessons to your life. See how you feel after.
- Accept the present moment without resistance.
- Focus on less because you’ll appreciate it more.
- Feel to heal, heal to be happy.
- Open your heart and connect with people deeply.
- Add a little bit of sabai sabai to your life.
If you want a happy life, bring your own happiness.