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5 Surefire Ways to Maximize Your Happiness

5 Surefire Ways to Maximize Your Happiness

You lead a busy life.

There’s always work to do. Bills to pay. Meetings to attend. Kids to take to soccer practice.

It’s no surprise you barely have time to recognize whether or not you’re actually happy.

Sure, you might have a loving family, beautiful house, great job, and a new car. But, surprisingly, those things only account for about 10% of your overall happiness. While 50% of it is genetically determined, 40% of your happiness depends directly on yourself.

In other words, most of your happiness comes from the way in which you approach the world, and your life in general. Your happy place is a state of mind – and it’s up to you to bring it with you wherever you go.

Get Into Shape

The foundation of Mazlow’s Hierarchy of Needs refers to a person’s physiological necessities. If you’re not eating well, drinking enough water, getting the nutrients you need, or getting enough sleep, you simply won’t have the energy to be happy.

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Exercise is also a great way to improve your happiness by improving your health. Exercising regularly helps regulate your body’s cortisol levels, resulting in stress reduction. Furthermore, physical activity increases your endorphin levels, as well – reducing feelings of pain and anxiety.

As an added bonus, the better you feel about yourself physically, the better you’ll feel about yourself mentally. Whether your regular exercise results in lost weight, larger muscles, or higher stamina, you’ll undoubtedly feel more confident and able as your physical stature improves.

Engage In Your Hobbies

This sounds pretty obvious, right? Doing what you love will make you happy simply because you love doing it.

While that may be true, we too often go through the motions of our favorite activities without actually engaging with them.

When we’re out on the golf course, we’re really thinking of all the work we have to do when we get home.

When we’re out fishing, we’re constantly checking our phones to make sure we have service in case there’s an emergency.

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When we sit down to read a book, we can barely concentrate on the words on the page because we know there are a million other things we should be doing.

By getting distracted so easily, we prevent ourselves from getting into a flow state. Instead of truly experiencing our favorite pastimes for what they are, we passively live through them, knowing the “real world” awaits once we’re finished.

By focusing only on one activity at a time, we optimize our chances of reaching a Zen-like state in which we are truly at peace with the world, and ourselves.

Expand Your Horizons

Along with engaging in your hobbies, you should always be on the lookout for new experiences, as well.

Not only might you discover a new pastime you really enjoy, but you might meet new friends who will change the course of your entire life. As mentioned, the majority of your happiness won’t come from other people – but the point here is, by engaging in enjoyable hobbies with others, the whole group shares their happiness with each other.

You also might make connections that change not only your life, but the lives of many others, as well. There are plenty of opportunities for you to give back to your community and support those who may be less fortunate than you are. Perhaps one of the most noble and rewarding undertakings a person can engage in is a selfless act that benefits those who he may never actually meet.

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Don’t Overlook the Small Stuff

You’ve likely heard the saying “don’t sweat the small stuff” before. And there’s definitely merit to that motto: Don’t let the annoyances in life that don’t really matter negatively affect you.

But when it comes to the small beauties in life, you should pay attention to as many of them as possible.

Remember what it was like to be a kid during the first snowfall of the year? Many of us have locked that child-like sense of wonder away somewhere in our minds, choosing to adopt a “strictly business” persona instead.

You should never be afraid to let your guard down and appreciate the smell of fresh-growing flowers, or the sound of birds singing to their mate.

These phenomena may not seem as magical as they did when you were a child, but if you let go for a moment, you can hope to regain that feeling of amazement that has eluded you over the years.

Live in the Moment

This sounds like the ultimate cliche, but it’s a little more than the run-of-the-mill yearbook quote.

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The fact is, every moment we live on Earth is fleeting. Happiness isn’t something that, once attained, will never go away. Ironically, the sooner you accept this, the more generally happy you’ll be.

It’s human nature to never want good feelings to go away. But think about it: If feelings of elation never went away, how would you know when you were feeling good? You’d likely pass by some of the more incredible moments in your life simply because you weren’t aware of how incredible they were.

On the other hand, if you always expect to be happy, you’ll be even more devastated when things go wrong. Instead of realizing that – like the good times – bad moments are just as fleeting, you’ll feel as if you’ll never get out of the spiral you’ve gotten caught in. Though happiness and good times are fleeting, depression can stick around for much longer – if you let it.

Adopting a sense of learned optimism will allow you to appreciate each moment you live through – good or bad – knowing that each passing moment builds upon who you are as a person.

Featured photo credit: Flickr / Happiness / Kirstin via farm8.staticflickr.com

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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