5 Simple Tips To Live A Joyful Life

Live A Joyful Life - Kids Jumping


Our house sits at the end of a long, straight country road in a semi-rural area.

Every morning on my way out for the day, I pass one of our neighbors who walks the road after her child boards the school bus. I can see her from a half mile away walking towards my end of the road (and I know she can see me too).

I get ready to offer the same smile and wave that I extend at our passing each morning.

But, as is the case every morning, it is not reciprocated.

My neighbor does not even glance my direction or acknowledge my existence. I know she hasn’t simply missed my passing. I am the only other human being within a mile radius. Yet to her, I might as well not exist at all.

For the longest time, it drove me crazy wondering why she pretended I was not there. What in the world could I have possibly done to make her act this way? Isn’t it simple common courtesy to smile back and give a neighborly wave? What had I done to deserve this chilly reception every morning?

Eventually, I made peace with our odd morning ritual because I came to accept that, like most things in life, it is not always about me.

Just to be clear, I am not a self-absorbed type of person by any means. But like anyone else, I sometimes find myself internalizing events of the day and taking things…well, personally.

Taking things personally does not make you a narcissist. But it might keep you from living your full potential in life.

The term “narcissistic” is thrown around a bit too liberally in our society these days. Lately, it is used just as often to discredit the opinion of someone who thinks differently from us as it is to describe anyone with a selfie-stick.

I don’t think that most people are narcissists, but I do think we can get caught up in worrying about what other people think to the point that we stop living our lives authentically.  To live a joyful life, accept that things are not always about you.

If scientists are ever able to pinpoint the exact center of the universe, odds are, you are not it. Here are the top five times when things are almost never about you and what you can do about it to live a more joyful life:


1. When you aren’t noticed.

Sometimes you might feel invisible. But this feeling is actually a fear–a fear that you don’t matter, or a fear that you don’t belong. Combat this destroyer of your self-esteem by remembering that the other person might have something bigger going on that is monopolizing their energy right now.

Most people are too busy thinking about what’s going on in their world to have the time to worry about someone else’s. If you are simply feeling lonely, make plans with a friend–and be sure to choose an activity that gives you both plenty of time to connect with each other and share what’s going on in your lives.


2. When you’re wondering what you did to make someone else act a certain way.

Your friend didn’t return your call or answer your email. Now you are racking your brain to figure out why they are ignoring you. But chances are, it’s because of something going on in their life, and has nothing to do with you.

And even if they are, in fact, ignoring you on purpose--that’s still about them. Let it go. It’s their job as a mature individual to communicate what’s bothering them, not yours to try to read their mind or pry it out of them.


3. When other people can’t accept when you have to offer.

Don’t make the mistake of assuming that what you have to offer is what someone else wants or needs right now. Just like someone else can’t tell you what’s right for you, it’s not your job to decide what other people need either. Keep sharing what you have to offer with the world, and be confident that the right people will pick up what you’re putting down at the right time.


4. When someone won’t acknowledge you or give you credit.

It never feels good to be taken for granted, but remind yourself that someone else’s inability to sing your praises does not minimize your contributions or achievements. And it certainly does not mean that you need to work harder to win them over. Stand up straight and keep going.

Defining your value and worth by someone else’s actions, and seeking validation of such, is the very definition of people-pleasing. This is the opposite of living authentically and will only serve to rob you of the joy of being who you really are.


5. When someone is rude or critical.

People who criticize you or try to cut you down are only projecting their own envy, failures, vulnerabilities and fears onto you. Tune it out. When you put yourself “out there” in life, expect this to happen, and never let it stop you from pursuing your dreams.

Now that you know the most common events that we waste energy on while we really want to be living life to its full potential, change your thinking patterns and start reminding yourself that not everything is about you!

Your turn: Which one of these events is the toughest for you? How do you lift yourself up and remind yourself that it’s not about you?

About the Author:
Kristi Richert is a professional coach and consultant who is loving life and (still) smiling at her neighbors in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Get to know her at www.RichertCoaching.com, and take her free online course to get going in the direction of your dreams!


Image courtesy of pixabay

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  1. musawenkosi says:

    Good article indeed,it really does make sense

  2. Fran says:

    Never really realized how you can fall victim to some if not all the different scenarios described. This was a very good article

    • Hi Fran,

      It’s so true. I think we have all experienced these different scenarios at some point in life.

      In fact, they are such a basic part of being human that I’m not sure it should be our goal to avoid these situations, but rather to cultivate a practice of mindfulness about them that allows us to move through them and keep going.

      Glad you enjoyed the article!

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  3. Grace says:

    I recently berated a neighbour, as politely as I could, for not acknowledging me by holding the door when I entered our condo behind her. I am not a stranger to her; we’ve seen each other a handful of times in our book club. She immediately apologized and said her mind was somewhere else, that her daughter had recently died! OMGosh! Tears are coming to my eyes as I write this… I made it all about me. I had no consideration for this poor woman. Lesson learned the hard way.
    Thank you for this excellent article.

    • Oh my goodness, Grace…such a touching story. It’s true what they say–everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Your story is a perfect reminder to us all. Thank you for sharing it!

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  4. This is a great post Kristi. I love how you’ve identified that we feel so much the center of our own little universe, but in the grand scheme, we’re so not anywhere need the center. So too for people we meet who don’t reciprocate a warm smile or morning greeting, or ignore us, even the few who might do or say something negative against us – they’re acting from the center of their little universe and ours just happened to collide briefly – we can bounce off again and glide away on our own positive, happy trajectories.

    • I couldn’t agree more, Laura!

      I used to get so bothered by the way some people would drive in traffic….so much energy wasted becoming irritated by the person who cut me off, tailgated, or refused to let me merge.

      Now, I just make up a story of grace–I think that whatever they are going through at that moment must be very difficult that they do not see their impact on others. I imagine that wherever they are going must be very important to them…so much so that they aren’t aware of their surroundings. And then I make it my job to send them a little light and love–just a little positive energy–that might make things better for them.

      It has allowed me to completely release my once toxic energy and to continue traveling happily!

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  5. John says:

    Thanks, I needed this right now. All these things I can relate to and I’m not sure which is more difficult. I’ve lately been working with affirmations and trying to cognitively re-program my mind out of negative thinking patterns. It seems to be working, but it’s also not easy.

    I understand the “It’s not about me approach,” and it makes sense how you put it in your article. However, I also see it as an “all about me,” approach when it comes to re-programming how I interpret these situations when they come up in life. So, there may be some duality here, but no confusion. Thanks!

    • Hi John,

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the article. I completely agree with your ideas about “re-programming” how you interpret different situations–great insight!

      I wrote an article about this very topic a few years ago that you might like: http://bit.ly/19PTioz

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  6. Soham Amatya says:

    Hi Kristi,
    I have been called a narcissist and an egomaniac by my friends and colleagues all the time. It never really bothered me but, somewhere deep inside it made me question about my own conduct at times.

    I can totally resonate with your post here. Taking things personally does not make you a narcissist. But it might keep you from living your full potential in life. Couldn’t agree more with your words.

    Somebody calling you a narcissist, turns out isn’t about you but more about them.
    Thumbs up for such a great post!

    • Hi Soham,

      I like what you’ve said here because it is a reminder of the ways that our identity is, in part, a social construct. We form our beliefs about ourselves in many ways, including via the feedback we receive from others. This can be a powerful influence on us in life–in both positive and less-than-positive ways.

      I’m glad to hear that you liked the post!

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  7. Dustyn says:

    The main takeaway I got from this is;

    To live a joyful life, don’t let other peoples behavior effect you. They have their own life going on, and aren’t always thinking about how their actions may be affecting you directly.

    Don’t take other peoples actions so tough on yourself and learn to let it go like you said it crucial.

    Awesome post, loved it Kristi!

    • Hi Dustyn,

      Thank you for the kind words!

      I would expand upon your thinking…instead of “don’t let the behavior of other impact you”, I would say “build resiliency, confidence in your self-worth, and a courage practice that allows you to keep being you no matter what is happening around you”.

      I think it is a slippery slope when we say that we don’t want others to impact us because it is akin to building an impenetrable wall that cuts us off from others. Connection is at the core of being human, so the task is really about cultivating a practice of love and belonging that extends to others as well as ourselves.

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  8. Shelley says:

    I’ve always been a people pleaser so I’ve been victim to all the thoughts you describe at one time or another. Thanks for the reminder that it’s not personal and we can choose how we react to others. Excellent post!

    • Shelley, I share your heart! As a recovering perfectionist (another name for people-pleasing), it can be a daily challenge to “stay in my lane” and not compare what I’m doing to any perceived version of what’s “ideal”. I don’t believe this is something that anyone does perfectly–we are all subject to these thoughts. The goal is simply to keep cultivating a practice of courage, self-compassion and belief in our worthiness as a means to authentic joy.

      Glad to have you walking the same path!
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  9. Glenda says:

    Excellent post. I will share it with my friends. I fell victim to thinking it was my fault when a person I thought was a friend betrayed me to give himself a better image. I blamed myself for poor judgement. I learned that I had not done anything wrong. I trusted a friend but that is not a fault. It was tough, but I am better for having learned the lesson.

    • Thank you, Glenda–I’m glad you enjoyed it! I loved what you said about learning that trusting a friend is not a fault. Too often, I think that when we encounter situations like these, we try to put on armor to protect ourselves from future emotional risk and discomfort. All that really does is cut us off from joy, love, and connection–the things we want most. I admire you for maintaining your practice of wholeheartedness. You are an example for the rest of us to follow!

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  10. A very nice article 🙂 Kudos Kristi! I really liked all the points. But I specially liked the 3rd point as it plays a vital role in my life. I wrote a similar article before few days which you and your audience might like 🙂

    • Hi Nina,

      I’m glad you enjoyed it! This point could also be thought of as practicing mindfulness–being aware of when you are clinging to your way of thinking/knowing and trying to get others to “buy what you are selling” rather than authentically expressing yourself in a wholehearted way while allowing room for others to connect with you. Truly, this way of living only creates disconnection and moves us further away from joy.

      Definitely an important practice for all of us!

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