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10 Simple Habits that Will Lead You to True Happiness

10 Simple Habits that Will Lead You to True Happiness

No people on Earth will have the same definition for happiness, and there has been a lot of debate about the nature of this elusive concept by many highly intelligent philosophers, artists and scientists over the centuries. No one has really been able to pin it down, but we can all agree that we need a sense of purpose, someone to love us back, financial security and acknowledgement of our skills and accomplishments.

The degree of importance individuals place on these concepts may differ, but they are essential. The big question, though, is can we make a bunch of small changes to our lifestyle and gradually build a better and happier future for ourselves, growing as people along the way? Well, I’d say yes, and here’s my humble take on the matter.

1. Reflect on your goals, needs and desires every day

People will often spout out gems of wisdom like “you shouldn’t care what others think about you”, but they are strangely silent when you ask them to provide some actionable steps for achieving this noble goal. Well, you can’t just let all feedback from your friends and family fall on deaf ears, but you need to understand what it is that actually make you feel good and motivated in life.

You will need to sit down and have a nice long talk with yourself at some point – empty your schedule for a day or two, stay in, play some relaxing music, create a comfortable atmosphere, have a couple of drinks if you need some help to open up, and start defining your desires, preferences and life goals.

Once you have a good idea of what you really want, you have to take some 10-15 minutes a day to reflect on these ideas and remind yourself of what you need to do to reach your goals.

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2. Start putting 20-25% of your paycheck aside

I’m not going to flat out say that money brings you happiness, because that’s just an oversimplification, but struggling to keep a roof over your head and put food on the table can really dampen the mood. The thing is, regardless of the size of someone’s paycheck, there is always a tendency to throw money away needlessly. It can be out of sheer ignorance or due to impulsive behavior, e.g. getting a six pack of beer after a long Monday or ordering takeout because you can’t be bothered to cook.

However, if you make a few small sacrifices and buckle down, it’s not all that difficult to take 20-25% of your paycheck and put it aside. You can use that extra cash to boost your 401k, create an emergency fund and get something you’ve always wanted a year down the line. It’s a safety net that gives you peace of mind and lets you work on becoming a happier person.

3. Try to solve problems and complete tasks as soon as possible

It might not seem like much at first, but dealing with problems quickly, with grim determination and brutal efficiency has hidden psychological benefits. Yes, at the basic level you will be less stressed out because you won’t have little obligations and chores piling up, but on a deeper level you will be developing a “doer’s mindset”, which can be applied in all aspects of your life.

It’s all about having that tactical timing that allows you to seize great opportunities and nip problems and possible conflict in the bud. This will leave you with lots of free time and very few regrets.

4. Get 4-5 hours of physical exercise per week

You don’t really need to overthink things when it comes to exercise – the key here is to be consistent and keep your body moving day-to-day and week-to-week. Get around 30-60 minutes of strength-building exercises 3-4 times a week, combined with some cycling, distance running, jump rope or interval training routine another 3 days a week, and you’re set.

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You can train at a gym or at home with virtually no equipment, or just take long walks, hike or play some sports when you don’t feel like exercising. This will pump up your body’s natural “feel-good hormone cocktail”, and make you feel limber and strong. It’s also a great confidence boost and a good way to get more comfortable in your own skin.

5. Stock up on books and read for at least an hour a day

It is incredibly important that you don’t just gloss over this point and say: “Oh, yeah, I have a couple of books I’ve been meaning to read, I’ll have some time on the weekend to get started.” Pick up a book right now and spend an hour with it, or just browse through a few books and prepare your reading list.

Don’t go for drivel and don’t even limit yourself to good fiction books alone – non-fiction books are a great way to improve your knowledge in many different fields, from business and time-management to fitness and cooking.

6. Learn to cook with healthy ingredients and limit junk food and sweets

Going cold turkey and swearing off sweets and junk food altogether may not be the best way to go, particularly if it is going to make you anxious and miserable. That being said, you should limit yourself to a few snacks here and there, and try to eat nice home-cooked meals the rest of the time. Not only will tasty nutritious food make you feel great and help you slim down, but your newly found cooking skills will be a great source of pride and nice way to impress the people you care about.

7. Go after the things you want without hesitation

This can be much easier to accomplish once you have learned to tackle problems as soon as they appear, but it still requires a lot of willpower and courage. We fear any kind of change and new things on a primal level, because the most ancient parts of our brains geared for survival know that any change to the status quo carries untold risks.

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However, while it takes a lot of mental power to push through those fears and go after the things we want, it is well worth the effort. The next time you see an attractive man or woman that seems interesting, just go up and start a conversation. If you’ve always wanted to try boxing or dancing, but were afraid of looking silly or people laughing at you, just take that leap of faith.

It will be a bit nerve wrecking and gut wrenching at first, but after you’ve got out of your comfort zone a few times, you’ll become much more confident and way happier.

8. Stay calm and polite, but be ready to enforce your boundaries

It may sound counter intuitive, but if you want to feel good it’s best to focus on making those around you feel nice and relaxed. Now, this is not some New Age mumbo jumbo about “positive energy” or even a version of the old karmic adage of “what goes around comes around” – you are simply ensuring that people are going to treat you well because you seem like a cool person.

That being said, remember that being polite is not the same as being submissive and always agreeing with others. You’ll have to set boundaries and enforce them from time to time, but at least if conflict does break out you’ll know that you’ve done everything you could to keep things civil and that a bit of impoliteness was unavoidable.

Smiling more, being nice and standing up for yourself when politeness fails will greatly reduce the amount of stress in your life.

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9. Go out in the world, socialize and study people’s behavior

Much like the T-800 series Terminator, the more time you spend with people, the more you learn. Some of us prefer a bit of isolation, but being sheltered from the realities of the outside world can cause you a lot of grief down the road, due to your inability to understand and effectively deal with people. Going out on the weekends will not only help you unwind and give you a chance to find a new partner and make new friends, but it will also help you learn more about all kinds of different personalities and how they interact socially.

When you have experience with all kinds of people and all kinds of situations, it’s much easier to keep your cool and make the right choices in your day-to-day life.

10. Adopt a skeptical mindset and learn to examine the information you are given

Knowing how people think and operate is a crucial part of avoiding being swindled, taken advantage of or emotionally abused. You need to understand that a lot of discussions on health, mental well being, morality and spirituality are actually sales pitches. If someone’s trying to sell you something or convince you of something vehemently, don’t be afraid to ask questions and look for solid proof of their claims.

You’ll save yourself a lot of money, nerves, trouble and health problems if you refuse to blindly believe outrageous claims and approach sweet-talking people cautiously.

This is by no means a complete list of things you can do to bring about happiness, but it’s a good place to start. Look at these points as guidelines that will help you build a solid foundation on which you can build the life you’ve always wanted. You might not fulfill every dream, but you will become a much happier person.

More by this author

Nemanja Manojlovic

Editor at MyCity Web

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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