Do want to lose weight? Or find the love of your life and get married? Or maybe, you desperately want to graduate. Do you enjoy having these goals? Or, do these desires cause you pain? Many of us obsess about goals and desperately strive to achieve them, but think it’s okay to do so because we’ll get what we want later. And then, we’ll be happy. We’ll be happy once we lose those 10 pounds, get married, or graduate, right?

There are two problems with this approach:

  1. Once we reach our goals, we’ll feel happier for a little while, but then we’ll set new goals, and go back to being unhappy until we reach those new goals.
  2. We spend most of our time being unhappy—or at least not as happy as we could be.

I can already hear objections.

“But I really want to lose those 10 pounds! Should I not want that?” Yes, you should. Desires urge you to expand and grow.

“But then how am I supposed to be happy since I don’t yet have what I want?” 

Well, here is the truth behind goals:

We may think that our goals are to graduate, get married, get a promotion, make more money, live anywhere we want, or lose weight, but ultimately all those goals are nothing more than means to an end. We want them because we think they will make us happy; happiness is what we are really after. It’s just that some people look for happiness by losing weight, while others look for it by getting married or having kids, but in the end, everything we do is done because we think it will make us feel better.

The problem is that in our quest to happiness, we often forget to be happy now. As we strive to achieve our goals, we postpone happiness… for later.

We somehow think that even though all we want is to be happy, it’s ok not to be happy now, yet, happiness is a feeling.

Why not feel good now as we go after our goals and also feel good later, when we achieve our goal? Why not do both?

Today I have a simple trick for you to get happier. You can apply it right away, and you don’t need to wait until you graduate or find the love of your life to feel that happiness boost. What is it?

It’s kindness.

Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside, has studied happiness for more than 20 years. She has found that being kind is a habit that consistently makes people happier. Her research found that performing acts of kindness once a week leads to the most happiness. So, why not take advantage of today to get that happiness boost? Choose 5 happiness acts from below and start giving generously!

21 ways to practice kindness today and instantly feel happier!

  1. Open the door for someone else.
  2. Say “thank you”.
  3. Pay a compliment.
  4. Smile.
  5. Refrain from judging others. Focus on their positive side.
  6. Stop judging yourself and allow yourself to be as you are.
  7. Be encouraging to others.
  8. Allow yourself to dream BIG.
  9. Say “good morning” to someone you don’t know.
  10. Babysit for an hour.
  11. Give away something that you could live without.
  12. Let a fellow driver drive pass you.
  13. When someone talks to you, listen. Don’t distract yourself with a million thoughts and focus your mind on the other person.
  14. Pass along a book you read and liked to a friend.
  15. Post a positive message on Facebook to inspire your friends.
  16. Say “I love you”.
  17. Send a thank-you letter to an old friend or teacher.
  18. Help someone.
  19. Care for an animal.
  20. Spend a few hours volunteering.
  21. Pick up the phone and tell someone you care.

Being kind does feel good, and as Princes Diana said:

“Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.”

Which 5 kindness acts do you choose to practice today? Let me know in the comments below.

Are you truly happy? : 9 Tips in Life that Lead to Happiness

Featured photo credit: happy couple running on the beach via Shutterstock

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