All humans have one thing in common, and that’s the universal desire to be happy.
Strangely enough, we spend so much of our precious time and energy so profusely focused on the negative.
I don’t know if it’s Hollywood’s fault or our own innate desires to just be perfect at everything, but for whatever reason, it seems like everyone has become addicted to acting like they’re a victim in life.
It’s always something, isn’t it?
Your job is kind of meh, your apartment is always a disaster, you can’t lose the last 10 pounds, your social life sucks because everyone is married or pregnant, your mom is always nagging you, your cat needs an operation that’ll cost you an arm and a leg, and so on and so forth.
People just never run out of things to complain about.
In my case (and a lot of other people’s cases too), life has been all about obsessing over good grades, finding a safe and respectable office job that pays well, trying to lose a ton of weight so I can be skinny and attractive, trying way too hard to impress would-be boyfriends and ex-boyfriends, spending stupid amounts of money on expensive clothes or things I don’t even need, and seeking approval from acquaintances or people I didn’t really care about or totally disliked.
But none of those things guarantee success or happiness, even if everyone in the entire world says they do.
The proof is in the people who actually do get good grades, have really great jobs, are skinny and attractive, are in relationships with partners who adore them, maintain a great sense of fashion and have a lot of friends/coworkers/acquaintances who seemingly love them on social media.
A lot of these people are still secretly miserable.
This has repeatedly been a huge slap in the face throughout most of my mid-twenties.
It wasn’t until around last year when I really decided to figure out what the hell I even want out of life, what my own idea of success and happiness looks like, and what specific routines and activities I need to do to maintain a good attitude every day and avoid falling into the trap of becoming a depressed wreck all the time — which happened all too often in my past.
Through my own trek into darkness and out toward better times, here are seven things I honestly think everyone should do on a daily basis to feel a little happiness.
Are they easy?
But they’re simple, and they’re worth it, and they become second nature to you after you’ve practiced them for a while.
Wake up every day with the intention to do everything on this list, and you’ll be on your way to living your own misery-free life.
Get healthy for your mind — not just your body.
I used to kill myself with intense cardio workouts and restricted eating just so I could look a certain way.
Now, I focus on my physical health mainly to improve my mood, have enough energy throughout the day, and stay focused on whatever I need to get done.
I’m not going to go into scientific detail, but it’s important to understand that your brain is positively affected in all sorts of amazing ways when you get active and feed yourself right.
Your brain uses 30 percent of the calories you consume.
Feed it junk, and you’ll feel like junk.
For me personally, anxiety and depression used to be daily mental monsters in my life, and it wasn’t until I started geting serious about maintaining a regular exercise routine coupled with proper eating habits when I realized how much of a fundamental component they were for supporting good mental health.
I’ve gotten to the point where physical appearance isn’t even a main priority for me.
I take care of my physical body now just for the benefits of feeling good.
Set short-term and long-term challenges for yourself.
If you’re anything like me, you have a hard time getting out of your comfort zone.
Don’t be mistaken into believing that comfort equals happiness, because it definitely doesn’t.
Just think about all the people you know who haven’t been able to become happier people by working more, having a family, earning lots of money, getting a hot body, buying a huge house, driving a fancy car, and so on and so forth.
Why do you think that is?
I’ll tell you why — it’s because they’ve got deeper issues about not knowing what they really want, and thus have nothing significant or worthwhile to really work toward.
Challenge is what sparks fire inside of people and puts them on a path toward figuring out what they really want out of life.
Set both small and big challenges for yourself, and become an explorer.
The scarier, the better!
I know it sounds crazy and completely terrifying, but it works.
Some of the smaller challenges I have set for myself include posting on this blog at least once or twice a month, being able to deadlift a little more weight in a few weeks, and scoring a new writing or editing gig for work.
Some of the bigger challenges I have include publishing a book one day and public speaking to a large group.
I’m terrified of public speaking and of course would much rather sit behind this computer screen forever, and it sure would be comfortable, but I’d be miserable if I actually did that.
Fear of screwing up or failing completely I think comes with the territory, but the fear or missing out is always worse.
Set challenges for yourself and go for them.
Listen to, watch, or read something about personal development for at least an hour every day.
Out of everything, this is probably the most essential misery-free rule I need to follow that makes the biggest difference in my life.
I’ve literally spend thousands of dollars on books, seminars, ecourses, audio programs, you name it — all on personal development.
I read in the morning and at night, I listen to audio programs in the shower and in the car, and I watch videos on my lunch break or after I’m done work.
It all adds up to at least an hour a day.
And let me tell you — if you work on yourself more than you work on anything else in your life, everything else will become so much easier.
My favourite motivational speaker and author is Brendon Burchard.
His teachings have helped transform me from a mostly frightened, depressed, lost, and pathetic little person into someone who actually has confidence, goals, and a positive outlook on the world.
And if you’re one of those people who doesn’t think they need any personal development whatsoever, then I’m sorry, but you really need to get off your high horse and open yourself up to trying something new that could potentially change your life — even if that means becoming a little bit vulnerable.
Everyone needs personal development, no matter how miserable or happy you already are in life.
Have “growth” friends.
Here’s a little thing I learned from Brendon that I probably never would’ve figured out for myself.
You have two types of friends: “maintenance” friends and “growth” friends.
Your maintenance friends are the friends you’ve probably known for a long time and get in touch with every so often really just for the sake of catching up and finding out what’s going on in their lives.
Your growth friends on the other hand are the friends you see a lot more frequently, and they’re the ones you call up to seek out new experiences with based on your shared interests.
Having a few good growth friends can make a big difference in a person’s state of happiness.
This one is a little tricky for me mainly because I’m severely introverted and I cling to the best friends I’ve had since high school — but only now am I realizing that my once very fun and close group of growth friends are slowly but surely turning into my maintenance friends as they become more career focused, marry off, move away, and plan to have hoards of kids.
I think it’s pretty common practice for people to become way too preoccupied with their careers, love lives and children than it is to focus on having extravagent social lives well into adulthood, so the idea of going out and finding new growth friends never really crossed my mind.
But even as someone who’s introverted and rather antisocial by nature, I totally get the importance of having growth friends, and one of the challenges I’d like to set for myself is to establish some good new friendships by joining some kind of club or group of a relevant interest, getting involved around my community, or trying that Meet Up website.
Great experiences are best shared with awesome people you know and really care about.
It’s something I know I have to work on.
Volunteer for something that makes you feel valued.
We all desire to offer something of value and often be recognized for it.
Some people are lucky enough to experience all the recognition they ever wanted in life through their jobs or with their families, but if you really want to take it a step further, go ahead and volunteer for an organization or a cause that you’re passionate about.
It’s strangely satisfying and humbling to feel so good about doing something not for any money or for building up your ego, but for the simply act of helping other people or the environment just because you can.
Decide to consider the positive side of things when you automatically identify the negatives.
Most people are so used to focusing on everything negative in life that they haven’t even realized they’ve turned themselves into a complete pessimist.
I used to call myself practical and a realist, but really, I was a pessimist.
One of the hardest things to do is to make a conscious decision to just be a happier person overall, especially in the midst of all the chaos and things in your life that don’t seem so awesome.
That’s why you have to support that decision with the rest of the things in this list.
Being happy isn’t easy.
If you want easy, play the victim card.
Happiness takes effort and hard work, but you are in complete control of that.
All you have to do is decide, and take action.
Last but not least, I could never stress enough the importance of gratitude.
As you wake up every morning and go to bed every night, focus on all that you have and how lucky you are to have them.
Not only does it help banish any negative thoughts that might pop up in your head, but it also helps keep you grounded.
I often practice gratitude through mindful meditation, and it makes a huge difference in my mental state when I’m feeling frustrated, envious, or discouraged about something.
People get way too hung up on every little thing that doesn’t go their way, or they fail to appreciate what they already have by getting too wrapped up in the endless cycle of focusing too much on everything else they want to achieve.
Whenever you reach a goal or accomplish something, stop for a minute to celebrate it.
What could be better than feeling so thankful and appreciative of all the awesome people, events, accomplishments, and experiences that have been a part of your life?
Be grateful every day, multiple times a day.
It’s the last essential component on this list, and it will make you so incredibly happy.
Photo via Ginny Szapucki
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- The divided self: Why we care way too much about what other people think - August 14, 2016
- What everyone gets wrong about “being authentic” - July 3, 2016
- 7 eye-opening ways to forget about your goals so you can let happiness flow - June 20, 2016
- Why you won’t do all the things you want to do this summer - June 13, 2016
- 50 everyday things you can give up to make time for more important stuff - April 30, 2016
- How to go from waking up miserable to exhilarated every morning - April 18, 2016
- How to align your mind to get exactly what you want - April 3, 2016
- Why we’re so bad at sticking to good habits (and what to do about it) - March 19, 2016
- 6 useful tips for dealing with an all-around bad day - June 30, 2015