The pursuit of happiness is believed to be one of the basic human rights, but even with all the freedom in the world to pursuit it, a lot of people can’t seem to attain this elusive state of mind. We all get sidetracked by daily problems and goals like putting food on the table, so it’s easy to forget what it takes for you to be happy. True happiness is born out of daily effort, and there are certain lifestyle changes that you need to make in order to get starter down the right path.
1. Stop procrastinating and focus on the present
“Know the true value of time; snatch, seize, and enjoy every moment of it. No idleness, no laziness, no procrastination: never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.” – Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield
Planning and preparation are important if you want to reach your goals, but if you find yourself spending too much time thinking about what you want to do, instead of actually making moves and getting things done, then it’s time to make some changes. You see, once we actually get off the couch and start finishing all those little tasks and chores that we normally put off, we can deal with 80 percent of your to do list within a few hours. Not having to worry about obligations that are beginning to stack up will do wonders for your stress levels, and it only takes a few hours here and there to get most of the work done.
2. Take care of your body
“To keep the body in good health is a duty… otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” – Buddha
Our bodies are wonderful little biological machines that can adapt and survive in various harsh conditions, and the way we feel on an emotional level is closely related to how we feel physically. A lot of stress and anxiety comes from being unsatisfied with how we look, but a weak body that lacks proper nutrition will host a fatigued and unsatisfied mind. Common problems such as acne can be resolved with home remedies and a healthy diet, and just a bit more attention to personal hygiene and grooming can make you feel like a million bucks. On top of that, a few running sessions and a few workouts a week will help keep you happy and energetic.
3. Work out what it is that you need to be happy
“Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.” – Dalai Lama
Not everyone has the same vision of happiness, so chasing someone else’s dreams or trying to achieve happiness through a paint by numbers method laid out by a supposed guru isn’t going to get you what you need. You have to write down the top 3 things that you need to be happy, and add several key points that will make each one of your goals happen. Once you start dissecting things in this manner you often find that a seemingly minor problem like getting 2 hours of sleep less per night than you need, can actually be holding you back in different areas, e.g. you can’t focus, your less productive at work, work cuts into your personal time and so on.
4. Free yourself of things and people that keep you down
“Surround yourself with the right people, and realize your own worth. Honestly, there are enough bad people out there in the world – you don’t need to be your own worst enemy.” – Lucy Hale
We tend to get stuck with toxic people, as well as items and tools, that don’t allow us to reach our full potential because we get used to things being a certain way, and change is too difficult and scary. That car that keeps breaking down and costing a fortune to repair, fairly dull kitchen knives that will just about do the job, a “friend” who is only interested in his or her own problems, a partner that sucks the life energy straight from you – these are the things that limit you and cause you grief. Try to hang out with good friends, cut the bad things from your life one at a time and you’ll breathe much easier.
5. Give up some of your bad habits and replace them with good ones
“The difference between an amateur and a professional is in their habits. An amateur has amateur habits. A professional has professional habits. We can never free ourselves from habit. But we can replace bad habits with good ones.” – Steven Pressfield
While certain habits may be born out of necessity, a lot of them are a matter of laziness or indulgence. You may not think of things like eating a lot of junk food or smoking as all that harmful to your mood and emotional health, but it’s when you give them up that you realize how much better of you are off. Each bad habit should be replaced by a good one, e.g. stop smoking and start walking for an hour a day.
6. Let go of the need to “win” arguments
“Convincing yourself doesn’t win an argument.” – Robert Half
Alright, I’ll be the first one to say that arguments are a necessary part of life. They can actually help resolve big issues, but not if you approach them with a “winning” mentality, and not if you start them over the smallest things. In fact, you can save yourself a lot of trouble if you just focus on preventing arguments by effectively communicating with those around you. Once you start preemptively resolving potential arguments, you’ll get upset far less often, and you will have less drama in your life.
7. Enjoy the little moments
“Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.” – Omar Khayyam
The old saw about stopping to smell the roses is a real gem, but not a lot of people actually try to apply it in real life. The key here is to make a mental note to stop, take a few deep breaths and focus on your immediate surroundings every time something pleasant happens, or if you are feeling down and want to calm your mind. Perhaps a cute girl or guy smiled at you at the coffee shop, or maybe you had a fun little chat with your friends – savor those moments and let the little wave of euphoria wash over you.
8. Take up something that you are passionate about
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” – Maya Angelou
Taking up hobby or devoting a good deal of your time to master a skill has several benefits:
- Your work prevents your mind from wandering off into the land of self-doubt
- Being really good at something will make you feel more confident
- Seeing the fruits of your labor will make you very happy
- You’ll get to socialize with fun and like-minded people
- You get to focus your energy on something creative and relieve stress
If you spend just a few hours a week on doing something that you are passionate about, you’ll be able to reduce your anxiety and get a strong sense of accomplishment.
It can take some time, and quite a bit of serious effort to reach a stage in your life where you feel relaxed and content for 70-80% of the time, and can honestly say that you are happy in life. The points covered here will definitely help bring you a step closer to achieving your goal, but remember that knowing is not the same as doing.