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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 November 17, 2019

20 Creative Ways To Say Thank You

20 Creative Ways To Say Thank You

Saying, “Thank you,” can be difficult to do. Some things just demand a little something extra because of the magnitude of the favor or the depth of appreciation involved. But what can you do to say thank you in a meaningful way? Sometimes you have to get a little more creative than just firing off an email. Here are 20 creative ways to say thank you that your friends and family will remember and cherish!

1. Make a gift bag.

A unique, homemade gift bag with a custom label or a note is a simple but heartfelt way to show your appreciation for the wonderful things your friends or family have done for you.

2. Give a toast.

Many people fear public speaking more than death, giving this particular thank-you a little extra meaning. Composing a sincere, eloquent toast and delivering it is a nice way to show appreciation that truly comes from the heart.

3. Write a poem.

“Roses are red, violets are blue…” Uh, you could write that...but why not put a little extra zing in it? Find out what their favorite kind of poetry is: haiku, free verse, iambic pentameter, and so on. (Google them if you don’t know what they are.) Then write one that expresses why they deserve your thanks…and why you’re glad to give it!

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4. Create your own labels.

There are a number of websites that offer custom gift labels. Find one that fits your personality and that of your friends and create a personalized thank-you label!

5. Give a gift card.

Sometimes choosing what to give a friend can be tough. A gift card is a good way to get around this problem. As always, be sure to include a personalized note or card thanking the recipient for their friendship and help.

6. Send a letter.

Snail-mail is a largely lost art form. Don’t worry about how long the letter is, though. What really matters here is that you took the time to put pen to paper and express your feelings sincerely and honestly!

7. Use social media to send a special message.

If someone’s done something you think the whole world should know about, why not put out a social media blast? Use your blog, your Facebook, your Google+ account, and your Twitter to spread the word about why this person’s someone your friends will want to know too!

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8. Make your own digital greeting card.

While an email isn’t always the best way to go when saying thank you, a digital greeting card that you put time and effort into creating can really brighten someone’s day! Make the card reflect the recipient’s personality and compose a short message of thanks for their generosity.

9. Make a YouTube video.

Sometimes, actually hearing someone say, “Thank you,” can make all the difference. Why not take it a step further and create a special video of thanks for your friends, family, and those special people who helped make your day so important…or who helped you through that rough time?

10. Deliver cookies or candies.

Making something yourself is a fun and delightful way to say thank you to someone. Create a sampling of baked goods or homemade candies and decorate them with a simple message, or make them so they form letters! (Think Valentine’s candies, only situationally appropriate.) Attach a thank-you note or label and surprise those special people with the gift of your time and creativity.

11. Make surprise gifts for guests.

There’s no need to wait until “later” to send a thank-you message. Why not do it at the time? Create little gift packets or bags for your guests with surprises inside. This is a great way to say thanks to the people who attended your event, and make sure they won’t want to miss the next one!

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12. Put together a flower basket.

Whether you prefer fresh or artificial flowers, assembling a flower basket with a thank-you note is an excellent way to brighten someone’s day and show you appreciate them.

13. Take a picture.

Sometimes capturing the moment is the best way to put a smile on someone’s face. Have someone take a picture of you receiving that special gift or opening that surprise package and send the giver a copy with a quick but sincere note to say thanks!

14. Repay their generosity by paying it forward.

The best gifts come from the heart, and the best way to repay a gift is to pay it forward. If your friend has a special cause they care about or something they believe in passionately, why not make a donation in their name or volunteer some of your time to the cause? This will mean more than any number of cookies, candies, or thank-you notes because you’re taking your friend’s love and spreading it around to others.

15. Do something special for them.

Take them out to dinner. (See “make a toast.”) Give them that movie they’ve been wanting forever. Cook them dinner and give them a present when they arrive. Any of these are good options for showing someone you really appreciate them and how grateful you are to have them in your life.

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16. Reciprocate their help.

Everyone needs help sometime. Whether it’s holding their hand through a particularly traumatic incident or helping them replace the alternator in their car, being there when they need it shows you remember what they did for you and how much it meant. It also shows that you’re willing to be just as good a friend to them as they were to you!

17. Be there for them.

Not every thank-you gesture has to be a grand public spectacle. Sometimes just giving them a place to come hang out when they’re lonely or showing up to offer them a sympathetic shoulder means the world to a person.

18. Listen to them.

Listening is almost as lost an art as the handwritten letter. When your friend or family member needs to talk, listen to them. Ask questions when appropriate, but just letting them know you’re there and paying attention to them to the exclusion of all else for a little while is a great way to say thank you for the times they listened to you.

19. Say it in another language…or two…

A simple thank you is great…but why not spice it up a little? Instead of just saying, “Thank you,” write or make a video of you telling them thank you in different languages. Some examples might be, “Gracias! Merci! Danke schoen! Spasibo! Mahalo!” and any other ways or languages you can think of. (The ones listed above are Spanish, French, German, Russian, and Hawaiian, in case you were wondering.) If you want to really get tricky about it, say a short phrase in each language that conveys why you’re thanking them!

20. Show them some love.

A simple touch, a hug, or helping out when they need it without being asked may be the most powerful gratitude message you can send. Offer to take the dogs for a walk, sit for the kids for a few hours, or run to the grocery store so they don’t have to. The little things are often the most important and meaningful. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still send a note, but sometimes your simple presence and willingness to help is all that really matters.

Featured photo credit: Hanny Naibaho via unsplash.com

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