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Last Updated on October 30, 2019

How to Change Your Mindset for a Happy And Successful Life

How to Change Your Mindset for a Happy And Successful Life

Being happy and successful is something we all aspire to. It’s very likely that when asked “What’s your aim in life?” most of us would answer – to be happy. But on some days, this “small and modest” goal just seems light years away.

The good and bad news is this – it’s all in our head. Even when it seems impossible to look on the bright side of things, it’s actually 100% in our power to transform the way we see life.

This article compiles 10 ways how to change your mindset and go from being unhappy or just “okay” with your life to feeling (and finding) that it’s already quite a success.

1. Count Your Blessings

In the 21st century, we are used to always wanting more and striving to be better. However, sometimes we just need to appreciate what we already have, and suddenly a different world will open up right in front of us.

Changing your mindset to being grateful is really one of the most powerful eye-openers. It may sound too simple to be that effective, but you have to practice it every day and in everything you do.

If you really set your mind to be grateful, you’ll stop paying attention to small annoyances and negative situations. Instead, you’ll start focusing on the good things that have happened and the lessons you’ve learned even from unpleasant events or encounters.

Start by doing this simple exercise every evening before you go to sleep:

Write down 7 happy things that happened that day and that you can be grateful for. They don’t have to be big things – on some days, you’ll write down small happy moments like having a delicious latte in the afternoon or receiving a friendly smile from a colleague.

As you practice this technique (without interruptions!) for several weeks or months, you’ll notice that you’ll start appreciating these small joys of life already in the moment when you experience them.

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2. Find Your Purpose

Spend a day alone and think honestly about what you want to achieve in this life. This notion can seem a bit vague at the beginning.

For example, it’s very likely most of us would say that we want to be happy and successful. But take the time to look deeper into what these concepts mean to you. Your purpose might be to do something meaningful every day, or make the world a better place by doing what you love. Your aim can be to grow every year – personally and professionally.

You can also lay down more concrete goals for yourself. For example, spend all weekends with your family, get a promotion or take an eye-opening travel to an exotic land. In this case, try setting specific time frames for achieving these milestones.

Not sure your purpose yet? This article will help you.

3. Seek Fulfillment, Not Happiness

Instead of striving to be simply happy, you should seek sustained fulfillment. Increasingly more psychologists and thinkers are stressing that happiness is not a product of getting what you want, but rather the byproduct of the different challenges you’ve overcome and milestones you’ve reached to get there.[1]

In other words, happiness alone isn’t enough without pursuing things, competing and struggling.

In fact, the constant chase of happiness and worrying that you aren’t feeling happy can actually make you even more unhappy and stressed.[2] Remember – happiness is not the destination – it’s a side effect to living your life to the fullest.

And here’s how to achieve fulfillment: How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up

4. Cultivate Diverse Life Areas and Interests

The more diverse and meaningful your life areas, the more fulfilled your life will be. People who are invested in many different things are much less likely to get depressed and burnt out than those who have few interests in life.

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One psychotherapist has shared a technique how to nurture diverse life areas and avoid burnout and depression.[3] She suggests dividing a list of paper into 9 sections for different parts of your life, those that are individually important to you. Some examples can be family, work, friends, hobbies, traveling, volunteering, sports, time spent alone, etc.

Once you’ve determined these important domains, make sure you nurture and develop them. For example, dedicate a certain amount of time to each of them every week. This guide can help you allocate time to things that are important to you: The Ultimate Guide to Prioritizing Your Work And Life

5. Love Yourself

Some people place everyone else before themselves and know how to give better than how to receive. If you are one of them, it’s time you start thinking more about yourself.

Like with many things in life, the key here is in the balance. Here are some ideas for how to start loving yourself more:

  • Dedicate at least one day per week to doing what you love.
  • Learn to say no. Try this the next time someone asks you a favor that you really don’t want to deliver.
  • Listen to your body. If you feel too tired to go out or even to go to work, skip it and don’t feel bad about it. If you’re a hard worker, most likely you deserve a day off.
  • Switch off your phone for an evening or a whole day. Show people that you need some alone time and that they can’t always rely on you.
  • Try being selfish for a change. If you are usually the compliant type, try telling others what you prefer or how you want things to happen.

Here’re even more ideas on how to love yourself more: 30 Ways to Practice Self-Love and Be Good to Yourself

6. Try a New Vocation

It’s easy to become caught up in everyday life, work and family chores. If you’ve been running the same rat race for years, it might be difficult to even imagine living differently.

But surely, you have heard of people who keep hustling, trying new things and finding their passion even when they already have stable jobs and families. Maybe their base job brings them steady income but their side-project is the one that brings fulfillment and extra income, or maybe they have found their happiness and purpose later in life.

Guess what? You can do that too!

It’s never too late to try a new hobby or even an occupation. If you don’t feel like turning your life upside down right away, start by doing something small, like a side business. Nowadays there are countless online jobs and even businesses you can start from your computer.

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Alternatively, try a new hobby (like playing tennis or learning to sail), a craft (like painting or knitting), or volunteering for a cause that’s important to you. If you are truly dedicated and interested in your hobby, it can bring a fresh perspective on things and even give you some new ideas for your professional life.

Remember, you’re never too old or too late to try something new! Here’s the proof.

7. Manage Your Expectations

Having high standards is not a bad thing essentially. But it can become harmful if you overdo it.

If you are too demanding towards yourself, you can experience depression and job burnout. If you are expecting too much of other people, they can get tired or scared of you or even avoid you.

Remember this:

Genuinely loving someone – this applies to yourself, too – can only begin when you stop expecting a certain action, behavior or result from yourself or from another person; and when you let yourself embrace and love the natural flow of events.

8. Don’t Get Offended

Taking offense is one of the biggest happiness thieves in our life. Being offended steals the precious, genuinely happy moments we could be spending together with our loved ones.

It’s also linked with the previous point – when your expectations towards others are too high, and you feel like they owe you something. Here’s the harsh truth:

Nobody owes you anything.

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You should be grateful for all the good things, kindness, and love you receive from other people. And never assume that it’s something that should be there by default.

So next time you get offended, ask yourself and answer truthfully – isn’t it only about my hurt ego? And why do I presume I deserve the help, attention, and love from that other person?

9. Give and Contribute

Life satisfaction largely comes from a sense of contribution – a feeling that your life and work matters. Doing something valuable for your local community, your company or society as a whole can give you a feeling of mission or a cause.

Some ideas on how you can contribute:

  • Apply to be a volunteer in orphanages, elderly homes or animal shelters;
  • Join groups or initiatives within your workplace, like office events’ organizers or charity groups;
  • Join an organization that fights for environmental issues, advocates animal rights, etc.;
  • Be proactive in your neighborhood. Join local initiatives for giving during Christmas and throughout the year.

10. Look at Your Partner with New Eyes

If you are together with your partner for many years, you surely know that relationships have ups and downs, and it’s never just roses and violets. Many people find it hard to accept that they have grown too used to their other half and that being together no longer brings butterflies and the good kind of goosebumps.

The good news is that it’s in your power to change it and bring more color into your relationship.

Here are some ideas for bringing the spark back:

  • Try doing something neither of you has ever done. It can be a new sport, a hobby, a new form of traveling or anything else. Going through new experiences together will bring a fresh excitement and you’ll be able to share how you felt while doing it.
  • Try touching each other more often. This may feel forced at first if you are not the typical touchy couple. But there’s proof that hugging and touching your significant other plays a crucial role in nurturing the relationship and helps to avoid and tackle conflicts.
  • Give each other time off. This doesn’t mean break up or press “Pause” on your relationship. Simply encourage your partner’s other interests, even when they don’t include you. For example, support their special hobby or encourage a night out or even a trip with his/her friends. The other person will surely appreciate your respect for their interests and you’ll get a chance to miss each other.

Final Thoughts

So, we have established that happiness and success are not an end-product or a finish line that you cross and stay content for the rest of your life. On the contrary, these are the by-products that you experience while you’re leading a fulfilled and varied life.

Happiness and success is within arm’s reach.

This is simple and complicated at the same time. On the one hand, it’s difficult to chase and capture an intangible concept like a happy and successful life. On the other hand, the mindset of being happy will simply creep up on you as you don’t actually think that much about it.

More on a Positive Mindset

Featured photo credit: Mariano Nocetti via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Ieva Baranova

Ieva helps tech startups access big markets and is a passionate advocate of alternative work formats.

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

Do you say yes so often that you realize you aren’t really happy about this, wondering how to say no to people?

For years, I was a serial people pleaser. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

It took a long while but I learned the art of saying no. Saying ‘no’ meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. I started to manage my time more around my own needs and interests. When that happened, I became a lot happier. And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

The Importance of Saying No

When you learn the art of saying ‘no,’ you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey considered one of the most successful women in the world confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything. It was only when she realized that after years of struggling with saying no, I finally got to this question: “What do I want?”

Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

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Warren Buffett views no as essential to his success. He said,

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

When I made ‘no’ a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say ‘no.’

From an early age, we are conditioned to say ‘yes.’ We said yes probably hundreds of time in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work. We said yes get a promotion. We said yes to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

We say yes because it feels better to help someone. We say yes because it can seem like the right thing to do. We say yes because we think that is key to success. And we say yes because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist like the boss.

And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves. At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we feel guilty we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

The message no matter where we turn is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

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How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty

Deciding to add the word ‘no’ to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say ‘no’ but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of ‘no’ that you could finally create more time for things you care about. But let’s be honest, using the word ‘no’ doesn’t come easily for many people.

The 3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time especially you haven’t done it much in the past will feel awkward.

2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

Remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it, who else knows about all of the demands on your time? No one. Only you are at the center of all of these requests. are the only one that understands what time you really have.

3. Saying ‘No’ Means Saying ‘Yes’ to Something That Matters

When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

6 Ways to Start Saying No

Incorporating that little word ‘no’ into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

One of the biggest challenges to saying ‘no’ is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no reflect poorly on you?

Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because FOMO even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

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Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better.

3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say ‘No’

Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say ‘yes’ because we worry about how others will respond or the consequences of saying no or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose respect from others. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

Keep in mind that saying ‘no’ can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way. You might disappoint someone initially but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to.

4. When the Request Comes In, Sit on It

Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time, or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say ‘no.’ There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

5. Communicate Your ‘No’ with Transparency and Kindness

When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

A clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

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6. Consider How to Use a Modified ‘No’

If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” giving you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

Final Thoughts

Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

Use the request as a fresh request to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself. If you are the one placing the demand on yourself, try to evaluate the demand as if it were coming from somewhere else.

Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project but not by working all weekend. Or, tell someone in your family you can’t loan them money again because they never paid you back the last time. You’ll find yourself much happier.

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Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

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