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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 March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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