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5 Small Steps Toward Building a Better and Happier Future

5 Small Steps Toward Building a Better and Happier Future

You forge your own destiny — it’s that simple. Instead of wasting your time on thinking about how others around you got lucky, you should take matters into your own hands and live your life exactly how you want.

It’s all about being determined, really. We all daydream and have desires, and those who are actually happy make those wishes come true by themselves. Forming a realistic vision that’s based on a list of your life priorities is definitely a start.

When we daydream about the things we want, it’s often based on material items, like having a car that’s crazy expensive or having a closet full of haute couture clothes. All of this is irrelevant in the grand scheme of things, but it’s quite human to want material possessions. However, the best way to attain happiness is by focusing on things that actually matter and see the bigger picture, so that you can understand all its puzzle pieces.

1. Feed Your Mind

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    For your mind to be happy and healthy, it needs to be well fed. You spend your whole life learning, but it’s important to direct all that lifelong education the right way. The fact is that your choice of education already got you to a certain point, but that doesn’t mean that you have to develop only a certain skillset. Besides, you can’t know if you’re any good at something if you don’t try it, which is why my sincere suggestion is to experiment and spend your life trying out new things that look fun and exciting.

    As far as I’m concerned, and as many great minds have agreed, reading is a gateway to happiness. Skillfully written books allow you to take a place of another person and they help you develop an understanding for the world and those who differ from you.

    “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.”

    —George RR Martin.

    2. Take Care of Your Body

    A fortress that keeps your health safe, your body is a very important factor that will determine your happiness. The quality of your lifestyle does depend on the numbers on your bank account, sure, but the greatest factor is your health. Ask any person that has health issues and I’m sure that all of them will tell you the very same — the only priority and wish of an unhealthy person is to find their way back to health.

    Your age should never be treated as an obstacle; on the contrary — the experience you have thanks to being on the planet longer than those younger than you is your advantage. People are scared of turning fifty, and forty, and even thirty, but those big round numbers are milestones — age is only a state of mind and your perception of it will directly affect your happiness levels. Dwelling on the past, wanting to turn back time and regretting that it is passing you by is actually filling your mind with despair, and that doesn’t leave much room for happy thoughts.

    3. Embellish Your Environment

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      Although it can be a bit difficult to comprehend because it’s one of those daily things we don’t pay much attention to, the appearance of your home has a say in your overall life satisfaction. It’s quite simple if you only think about it — spending time surrounded by things you don’t like is a source of negativity that needs to be avoided.

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      Naturally, you immediately thought about money now, but it’s not necessary to spend a whole fortune in order to start liking your home. My suggestion is to start with your bedroom because it’s imperative that you turn it into a stress free zone. Begin by browsing online and searching for bedroom ideas — you’d be surprised with what you can do only by properly applying colors.

      4. Enjoy Your Job

      Not all of us are fortunate to have the perfect career, but until you’re ready to take that scary step and pursue the job you actually want, you should find ways to enjoy your current one in any way you can.

      I believe that every career can be fulfilling, just as long as you find a meaningful perspective of what your job actually represents and what good comes from what you do. This way, you will be able to see how you contribute to society and I’m sure this knowledge will help establish fresh enthusiasm and enable you to enjoy the time you spend in your office.

      You should also work on improving your efficiency — the quality time you spend in your office depends on the quality of the breaks you take. You shouldn’t feel like you’re forced to sit down and work; it should be your choice, so make sure to surround yourself with positivity — talk to the people you like, listen to good music and you can even exercise in your office. Do anything you need to feel good.

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      5. Secure Your Future

        Thinking about what lies ahead is scary mostly because the universe has a very good sense of humor when it comes to our plans. However, there are things that are in your power and you can do them and take control of your future life. True happiness isn’t in money, although our society revolves around it. Developing a plan for your future will secure your happiness, and it’s never too early to start thinking about your pension fund.

        I already mentioned how I consider different ages to be milestones, which is a great way to set goals in front of you with reasonable deadlines. You need to put on your thinking hat and find out what you want in life, what needs to be done in order to have that and how much time it takes to achieve those goals.

        The hardest thing about all these steps is probably the change of mindset necessary for them to work out. The bottom line is that you deserve to be happy and that you should do everything to make good things happen for you, even if you need to change the way you think. Take your time and allow your mind to embrace this change — everything that comes afterwards will be a piece of one delicious cake.

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        Featured photo credit: https://pixabay.com/en/users/Unsplash-242387/ via pixabay.com

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        Nemanja Manojlovic

        Editor at MyCity Web

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        Last Updated on July 17, 2019

        The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

        The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

        What happens in our heads when we set goals?

        Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

        Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

        According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

        Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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        Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

        Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

        The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

        Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

        So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

        Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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        One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

        Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

        Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

        The Neurology of Ownership

        Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

        In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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        But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

        This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

        Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

        The Upshot for Goal-Setters

        So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

        On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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        It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

        On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

        But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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        Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

        Reference

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