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.
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.
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. 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:
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.
One psychotherapist has shared a technique how to nurture diverse life areas and avoid burnout and depression. 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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Happiness and success is within arm’s reach
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.
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.
Featured photo credit: Mariano Nocetti via unsplash.com
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