What Is the Secret to Living a Happy Life?

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Good Vibes, Good Life" by Vex King. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What do people mean by “vibes” or “energy”? What are some of the things that dampen your vibrational frequency?

There are a number of factors, both internal and external, that can lower your vibrational frequency. When you’re aware of the factors that cause you negative vibes, you can remove them from your life. Ultimately, anything that causes suffering will lower your vibration.

The following tips will guide you on how to surround yourself with positivity and keep off bad vibes.

1. Avoid Toxic People

One of the fastest ways to lower your vibration is by being around negative people. King explains how to surround yourself with positivity even if you have to be around negative people.

For example, if the person you’re with is constantly complaining, criticizing, gossiping, moping, and so on, you’ll probably end up in a bad mood, even if you are a positive person. These people can be anyone from friends and coworkers to family and partners. So if you continue to be around these people, you’ll be unable to maintain good vibes.

(Shortform note: In Primal Leadership, the authors second King’s argument that emotions are highly contagious and explain that this is because of our brain function. The emotional center of our brain, called the limbic system, is an open-loop system, meaning that internal factors are shaped by external stimuli. This means that our own emotions are highly impacted by the emotions of other people. So if we’re around positive people, we’re likely to end up in a good mood, whereas if we’re around negative people, our good moods can be tarnished quickly.)

However, distancing yourself isn’t the only option. If you’re honest with the other person and explain the toxic behaviors and their effect on you, they may be understanding and willing to change. Ultimately, you should aim to form relationships with positive people who are open to this kind of feedback and who’ll help you see the best side of things and raise your own vibrations.

Don’t Give Yourself to Energy Vampires

King explains that your energy and good vibes can be drained by people who rely on you as a support system. When we have a person in our life who’s struggling—whether it be with a breakup, financial issues, or depression—we often feel obliged to support them emotionally. However, this can be extremely draining when we’re pouring our energy and good vibes into them.

If you feel you’re in a good place where you’re strong enough to support them without being negatively affected, then go for it; however, if you leave the interaction feeling drained or depressed, you have an obligation to yourself to take a break and regain your energy.

2. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

King explains that comparing ourselves to others is pointless and often makes us feel that we’re lacking in some way—in reality, everyone’s at a different point in life at different times based on our priorities, values, and other external factors that are out of our control.

Consequently, another person’s life position is irrelevant to you because you’re a different person—you have different values, a different family and upbringing, and different life circumstances. While they might be in their prime now, you might be on the rise and reaching your prime while they’re on their decline.

King notes that many aspects of our society thrive by making us compare ourselves to others like social media and marketing campaigns for clothes, makeup, and other material goods—if we don’t have this thing, this life, or look this way, then we aren’t good enough. Consequently, you should distance yourself from social media and other pressures if you feel yourself falling victim to the comparison complex.

(Shortform note: King doesn’t recommend how we can stop comparing ourselves to others, but experts make a few suggestions: (1) Identify specific people or things that trigger you and come up with a list of why they don’t matter; (2) start a gratitude journal where you list all the things that you’re grateful for and remember them when you start comparing yourself; (3) document your achievements so you can remember the big and little things you’ve accomplished; (4) view other people as allies who push you to do better rather than threats; and (5) treat yourself like your own best friend—encourage yourself and don’t talk down to yourself.)

3. Avoid Negative Activities

When you do things like gossip, argue, judge others, or complain, you emit negative energy that will bring negativity back to you. King explains that these behaviors are impulses of our ego, and our ego’s ultimate goal is to feel superior to others. Whenever you’re operating with your ego, you’re emitting negative vibrations.

So when you feel the need to argue with someone or complain about something, for example, recognize that this is your ego, not you. This will allow you to overcome the negative thought or emotion.

(Shortform note: In A New Earth, Eckhart Tolle echoes this concept explaining that the ego has two primary goals: to gain an identity and make that identity superior to others’ identities. One of the primary ways the ego accomplishes this goal, Tolle explains, is by complaining. When we complain about others, this is an egoic tactic to express superiority over them. And when we do this, we strengthen our ego, which makes us exhibit more negative behavior. So, when we allow ourselves to do things like gossip, we dig ourselves further into negativity, making it more difficult to emit positive vibes.)

4. Don’t Focus on the Bad Things

When you think about hardships you’ve experienced in the past or bad things that could happen in the future, you’re focused on negative things and therefore emit negative energy. This goes back to the Law of Attraction—when you’re visualizing the bad things that have happened or could happen, you are essentially manifesting them back into your life.

Further, when you do this, you’re either living in the past or the future rather than the present moment. As we discussed, King explains that living in the present moment is one of the keys to achieving a state of perpetual positivity.

So, rather than regretting past mistakes or being angry about hardships you’ve experienced, King recommends that you have faith—remember that everything happens for a reason. Your hardships have taught you valuable lessons in life, and everything that has happened has led you to the exact moment you’re in right now. If even the smallest thing from your past was different, you might have never gotten your dream job, met the love of your life, or found your dream home.

How to Surround Yourself With Positivity

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Here's what you'll find in our full Good Vibes, Good Life summary :

  • Why the key to living your dream life is to have good vibrations
  • How to successfully manifest your dream life
  • Tips on how to avoid suffering and negative energy

Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

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