These are my own golden rules. They don't guarantee happiness, but they are a good way to avoid misery, in my experience
- Decide what your value system is and stick to it. The level of honesty and openness you display, the laws you follow and the rules you break are personal things. Every person needs to decide what their own personal values are -- it can't come from other people. There are certain constants, of course, self-evident 'rights' and 'wrongs' but beyond these everyone follows their own conscience. If you are continually compromising your values to save or earn a buck, or to win friends, you'll lose your self-respect and without that, happiness is just a pipe dream.
- Don't waste your time on people who bring you down. This doesn't mean that you shouldn't spend time to help a friend in need, just that you should look critically at the people around you and decide if they really are friends. There are those who are always willing to lend a shoulder, but who are never interested when things are good -- these aren't your friends, they're parasites, feeding off your unhappiness, they have a vested interest in keeping you miserable. Friends celebrate the good times too.
- Choose your battles, and fight to the death Don't make everything in life a battle -- let other people have their way when it's more important to them than to you. But when it really matters, fight.
- NEVER sleep with your ex. Not even if you still love them madly and what you want most right now is to have their body next to yours, nor if they are in tears and begging you. If it's over there's a reason, and that isn't going to go away. A sympathy fuck, either as donor or recipient is only going to make it worse.
- Be your own best friend. Inevitably there are times when you will be alone. If you can like yourself, and enjoy your own company, you can minimise the loneliness.