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Published on March 28, 2019

10 Secrets to Living a Happy Life No Matter How Old You Are

10 Secrets to Living a Happy Life No Matter How Old You Are

We’re all familiar with the term “the pursuit of happiness.”

The question is:

How, exactly, do you pursue a happy life? Especially on a daily basis? What is happiness in the first place?

We all have those moments of sudden revelation when the world grows a little bit brighter, but how do you integrate those in your daily grind?

A good place to start is by defining what the term “happiness” means for you. There are many, and we’re talking many, different definitions of the word. It can come from actions, from what you think, from gratitude, and so on.

If you break it down scientifically, you might find some interesting revelations. For instance, did you know that married people are 10 percent happier than unmarried people? What about the fact that happiness is maximized at 57 degrees Fahrenheit?

Perhaps the simplest definition of them all is the fact that happiness, at its root, is a choice. It’s actionable.

It’s something we can pursue because we choose it.

This naturally implies that happiness is something that lies in our own power. It’s not something that happens to us. We must seize it, carpe diem style.

And that’s why we’re here, right? Let’s break down some key ways that we can actively pursue happiness, from following our passions to letting go of expectations and everything in between.

Here are 10 secrets to actively pursuing happiness in your life. They work for all ages, and you’ll find that some are outwardly focused while others are more about improving ourselves.

However, regardless of the specific “happiness hack” you opt to try, remember that all of these only work if you’re open to them working in the first place.

In other words, choose that happiness.

1. Use the Power of Community

The concept of community as it relates to happiness is as old as time. Humans have always found comfort in the company of others.

But the deep-down truth about communal happiness is that it’s not really about what we’re getting out of community; it’s about what we’re putting into it. Community is a concept that only works when the whole is taken into account, rather than each individual in isolation.

For example, one study of metropolitan areas in the U.S. during the recent economic crisis showed that areas with the most civilian-focused social capital tended to yield the highest rates of happiness. In other words, areas with the most functioning and connected communities were the most content during hard times. [1]

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What does this mean for our day-to-day happiness, though?

It means we need to share our pursuit of happiness with others. It’s critical that we find areas in our community where we can plug in and get involved.

Help in your church. Find a local food bank or animal shelter. Volunteer as a crossing guard at a school. Coach a sports team. There are so many ways to volunteer within the greater fabric of our societies.

However, you go about it, plugging into the world around you and helping wherever you can is one of the absolute most powerful ways to stoke the fires of happiness and contentment within a person.

2. Be Grateful

Before you skip ahead to the next hack, hear us out.

This isn’t a command. It’s encouragement.

The truth is, gratefulness is hard to come by without a little effort. And that shouldn’t be surprising. Isn’t it always that way with the things that matter?

But trust us, the fight for gratitude is well worth the effort.

Studies have shown a “robust association” between being gratefulness and a person’s well-being (e.g. their happiness). The simple act of having a grateful attitude can help combat nasty things like stress and depression, help us appreciate the relationships that we often don’t cherish enough, and even give little hidden gifts like a better sleep.[2]

So, how do we go about garnering gratitude?

One of the easiest ways to practice gratitude is to take time to write down things you’re grateful for.

Now, we’re not talking about a one-off list here. If you’re looking for real change, challenge yourself to sit down once a day and hand-write a list of three to five things that you’re grateful for. Handwriting is much more personal and can help us dwell a bit longer on each subject rather than simply typing them out.

Don’t worry if it’s hard to get started. When we’re struggling to be grateful, it can be hard to see all of the reasons we should be happy.

Chances are, though, once you get things rolling, you’ll be writing more than five things per day.

Here’re 60 Things To Be Thankful For In Life to get you started.

3. Volunteer

It’s easy to roll our eyes when we hear about volunteering. After all, isn’t it just sucking away more of our valuable time?

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The answer is a resounding no.

Not only does volunteering fulfill that community calling that we already touched on, but it also opens doors for us to learn new skills. This is often quite as powerful motivation as a paycheck and can have much longer benefits to our lives and happiness, opening new doors and allowing us to network with other like-minded individuals.[3]

While we already discussed the importance of plugging into our communities, when it comes to volunteering, seriously consider where you try to join in the fun.

Try to find a nonprofit effort nearby that directly aligns with your own passions, giving you the chance to pour yourself into something that you genuinely care about.

If you can’t do that, look for something that will challenge you, helping round out your personality and skill set in the process.

4. Spend Time with Friends and Family

Never, ever underestimate the power of friends and family. These are the people that you can count on to be by your side through thick and thin, in the highs and the lows, in the sad moments and the happy ones.

A friend represents a relationship that is worthy of attention and which, if tended, can yield genuine happiness in our lives.

Family takes that same concept of friendship and cranks it up to eleven. The bond between family members is a powerful one. When strained or broken, it can be a huge cause of distress and depression in our lives.

Take the time to reach out to your loved ones in meaningful ways. It’s as simple as that.

You don’t need to buy them things or go above and beyond a normal, loving gesture. A simple hug, kiss, phone call, text, note, or other acknowledgment that you’re thinking of them can do wonders in bringing family and friends together, fostering the happiness that we all share in the process.

5. Unplug

We’ve talked quite a bit thus far about “plugging in,” but in this case, we’re looking at the opposite side of the equation.

Study after study shows that happiness isn’t something you can purchase or find online. In fact, our constant attention to our devices and our “online lifestyles” induces anything but happiness.[4]

On the contrary, it’s important that we take the time to turn off those devices, sign out of those social media accounts, and focus on the loved ones that are right in front of us.

If you’re anything like so many of us who struggle to balance tech in our lives, it might be a good idea to have a “rest” day when you don’t use any screens. You may even establish hours of the morning and night that you refuse to touch your devices.

That’s only half the battle, though. Once the tech is off, that’s precisely when you can start to make meaningful efforts to connect and bond with our friends and family, volunteer, and so on.

You may want to try these 5 Simple Ways to Unplug and Be More Mindful In Your Life.

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6. Let Go of Expectations

Whether we’re aware of it or not, a ridiculous number of our actions are done with set expectations in mind. If we put any amount of blood, sweat, or tears into something, we typically expect to see fairly specific results from the effort.

Detaching from these expectations without detaching from the person or event completely is a difficult process to master. But it’s not impossible.

In fact, some teach that the idea of “detachment” is often quite misunderstood. Rather than disconnecting or letting go, we must bring ourselves to love more completely. This can be done, as Thich Nhat Hanh said, by intentionally loving others by “looking and listening deeply so that we know what to do and what not to do to make others happy.”[5]

This intentional love is meant to find what others need, not what we want to give them.

So, the next time you go to help someone you love, don’t do so by giving them what you think they need (something that often comes with a hefty dose of set expectations). Look for the genuine needs of others and try to meet them.

The happiness that this produces is well worth the effort.

7. Play Like a Kid Again

It’s a fallacy that fun ends in our childhood. It’s true, however, that adults of all ages have a plethora of responsibilities, cares, and concerns that must be attended to.

But there’s a difference between taking care of our responsibilities and letting those responsibilities hamstring our ability to have fun.

The simple innocence of a child at play is magical. From matchbox cars and shadow puppets to dancing like you’ve never danced before, plain, unadulterated fun can be an incredible source of happiness right from our first years out of the womb through our teenage years.[6]

Challenge yourself to find one childlike activity to participate in. Try to release your inhibitions and get into it. Let yourself have fun.

Chances are, you’ll find yourself smiling in no time.

8. Make It a Game

Everyone and their mother knows that exercise is good for fending off depression, which naturally also makes it a good way to help promote happiness.

But, honestly, it can be hard to motivate ourselves to get up off the couch and go for a walk.

One way that we can help turn the whole exercising and health part of our daily routines into something more attention-grabbing is to turn it into a game.

Did you know that, according to App Developer Economics 2016, there were a whopping 259,000 health and lifestyle apps available in that year — which were collectively downloaded over three billion times?[7]

So what? The point is there are a ton of different ways to track your progress, set yourself challenges, and see what others are doing to get moving.

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From a seven-minute workout app to a calorie or carb counter (and thousands of other options), pick an app today and start making a plan.

9. Never Stop Learning

Pursuing a hobby is an excellent option that enables us to pursue our passions and learn new things at the same time.

Some hobbies, like rock climbing, mountain biking, and yoga, can even deal with two birds with one stone, providing a learning experience and helping you get fit at the same time.[8]

Of course, there are countless other options as well, depending on your own personal interests.

Take some time right now to list off things that you like. Not hobbies themselves, mind you, but actual things that pique your interest — especially ones that you’ve never been able to pursue.

Now take that list and see what hobbies line up with your interests.

Once you’ve got a match, dive in and start challenging yourself to learn something new!

10. Seek Professional Help (Whenever Necessary)

Sometimes happiness really can be elusive, no matter what methods we apply.

If you’re genuinely finding it hard to shake your sluggish, unhappy mindset, you may be dealing with something more serious. There’s nothing unusual about this. It’s estimated that over one out of every four adults in the United States suffer from depression, not to mention other mental health struggles.[9]

If this is the case for you, it may be a good idea to seek professional help. It’s important to understand that this isn’t an admission of defeat, but rather a wise move aimed at finding true happiness in the long run.

Reaching out for professional help can be an important first step in finding true happiness.

Afraid to ask for help? Change your outlook to aim high!

Dive In Today

Remember, happiness is a choice.

It’s important that we don’t just skim over lists like these and move on without putting something into action.

If you’re ready to pursue happiness in your own life, do it now. Pick one or two elements off of the list and start to apply them today. As you master each thing, come back and find something else to apply.

Before you know it, you’ll be smiling from ear to ear.

More Articles to Make You Happier

Featured photo credit: Jamie Brown via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Dan Matthews, CPRP

A Certified Psychosocial Rehabilitation Practitioner with an extensive background working with clients on community-based rehabilitation.

10 Secrets to Living a Happy Life No Matter How Old You Are How to Forgive Yourself and Move Forward for a Happier Life How To Stop Negative Thoughts from Killing Your Confidence Why You Can (And You Should) Quit Your Job Because of Stress How to Do Meditation at Home to Calm Your Anxious Mind

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Last Updated on April 17, 2019

15 Inspiring Ideas to Boost Your Motivation for Success

15 Inspiring Ideas to Boost Your Motivation for Success

If you get stuck feeling unmotivated, you’ll breathe a sigh of relief to learn there are simple, yet high impact, changes that will steer you back on track.

Here are 15 tips that will not only restore your motivation for success but raise it so you can pursue your personal definition of a successful and happier life.

1. Practice Looking at the Glass Being Half Full When Life Is Challenging

This is not as easy to do if you feel like you’re unsuccessfully playing dodgeball in most areas of your life. Practice short bursts of radical acceptance[1] paired with looking for fine threads of your day you are grateful for that bring you happiness.

It will feel strange at first but with time your brain’s neuro-circuitry gets fitting in focusing on what motivates and inspires you.

Start practicing this exercise at times during the day when you feel okay, so then when rough times hit, your ability to rebound will be more automatic. However, you need to practice.

Before you know it, your battles will become like a walk in the park!

2. Review the Happiness Level of Your Everyday Social Network

Jim Rohn’s famous saying:

“You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with”

It is not gospel. But in examining whether or not your relationships support, encourage, inspire, educate and nurture you, you actually need to look beyond those five people.

Social science professors James Fowler and Nicholas Christakis explain how we need to look at our third degree of separation to identify those who influence our happiness in our social relationships.[2]

People are generally happier because their first-level friends are also central to a happy network of people. To increase your motivation and happiness, don’t just look at your friends. Look at your friends’ friends!

3. Clean up Your Relationships — Work and Personal

Do you ever ask yourself what aspects of your relationships are healthy for you and bring you happiness? Do you also consider what you contribute to those and whether doing also brings you happiness?

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It’s time to not only reflect on what you gain from relationships but what contributions you can make to help them further flourish.

Caution! Over-helping is not the answer here. Sometimes you need to cull the time you spend with certain people. However, it’s about being more accountable and choosing to improve how you want to show up for people in your life, work-wise and personally.

Set yourself some personal goals and get to the task. Cleaning up and stepping up will continually motivate you. You’ll heighten that positive vibration of your everyday existence.

4. Develop a Personal Development Plan for Your Own Definition of Success and Happiness

Goal-setting isn’t just for helping us attain better cars, houses or greater income. When you change goal focus to become the person required to obtain those things, your goals expand beyond tangible limits. Having a personal development plan is essential.

Draw a circle and divide it up into pie segments (like having spokes on a wheel) that represent the following areas of your life:

  • Finances and money
  • Intimate relationships
  • Friends and social relationships
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Spirituality and religion
  • Hobbies, leisure and fun activities
  • Vocation, career and work

The center point of your circle represents zero. Zero means you are least satisfied. The outer circumference of your circle is ten. Ten means you are the most satisfied and content.

For each area, plot on the spoke your current rating of satisfaction. Then, review each area again and denote on the spoke what level of satisfaction you desire.

See where the differences between your current and desired satisfaction levels are smallest. These may be the easiest areas to start brainstorming the changes you want to experience. Some areas won’t be as important to you to make changes. Others will be. Working with an impartial coach can greatly help to flesh out clarity.

Regularly doing this exercise (e.g. every quarter) will reignite your motivation and keep you on the path to reach greater success and happiness.

5. Invest in Personal Development

Your personal development plan will give you strong clues as to what programs, books, podcasts, networking groups and social activities to tap into. But be wary of the bright, shiny object syndrome and well-meaning friends and family projecting their countless recommendations on to you!

Be gracious and thankful for their advice and guidance (even though it can often be uninvited!), choose wisely and make your own decisions.

Focus on the challenges you face now. Are you experiencing problems with your significant other? Are your children suffering from bullying at school and you’re unsure how to help them?

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Perhaps you are experiencing a plateau in work satisfaction or your business is experiencing a slump. Whatever problems are present for you now, explore activities and education that will help you solve those.

6. Invest in Experiences, Not Material Things

Splashing your cash on physical possessions to reward yourself won’t just send you bankrupt. When you constantly rely on external things to motivate you, you’re in real danger of never being satisfied.

Instead, ignite your motivation internally by investing in experiences which allow you to feel those feelings you believe you will have when you’re successful.

If becoming a public speaker is a dream you have, invest in Toastmasters or a public speaking program. If whisking you and your partner away for a luxury weekend at a second’s notice fits your definition of success, save over time to do this.

Don’t just set your sights on the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Practice feeling success at each step in your journey.

7. Create or Join a Mastermind Group

Napoleon Hill created the concept in his book Think and Grow Rich first published in 1937, yet today, being an entrepreneur is still often a terribly lonely existence. Joining a mastermind group, your motivation is fueled by the collective genius of others also wanting to collaborate, solve problems, cross-promote, network and learn new things.

Not only is keeping motivated easier in itself, your thinking also grows exponentially.

Choose your group wisely and collectively, your contributions will escalate you all to refreshing new heights.

8. Work with a Coach

We have personal training coaches, health and wellbeing coaches and career coaches yet we rarely engage a coach to help us with two of the most significant factors influencing our success and happiness: money and our psychological well-being. Our approach is often remedial and it’s not until we’re in dire straits that we call in the emergency services.

Money may not buy us happiness but financial freedom is having freedom of choice and freedom of choice means wider opportunities for greater happiness. Risks and growth always pose threat to our mental and emotional stability.

By learning proactive skills that strengthen your resilience in your personal and working life, you can lift your motivation to tackle challenges with greater courage. You have a backup plan and safety nets to catch you when you fall.

Whether it’s a money mindset coach, a performance coach, a business coach or a relationship coach…open up the conversation. Get to know yourself better, make plans to clear the hurdles and get ready to sprint!

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9. Focus Your Conversations on Your Ideas and Goals

When you increase emphasis and focus upon certain things, feelings and thoughts, you are telling your brain these things are important. The feelings and thoughts will become more easily amplified and neural pathways which access similar feelings and thoughts become activated.

Given this, be strategic. Deliberately reframe the conversations you have to discuss ideas, plans and progress to take you toward where you want to go.

Stimulate and train your brain to increase its stretch. Direct it to dwell on positive experiences and results you have had, and deliberately share in conversations these feelings and results are what you want more of.

Not only are you training yourself to feel happier for greater parts of your day, you are communicating your true desires and wishes for a more successful and happier life to the wider community.

Share with them more of what you desire to experience and achieve. You create a greater likelihood of receiving favorable surprises in answer to your requests.

10. Have Goals to Become a Better Friend, Partner or Work Associate

Examine your relationships by asking yourself what aspects are healthy for you and bring you happiness. Also, consider what you contribute to that relationship and whether doing so brings you happiness.

Think about not just what you gain from the relationship but also what you can do to help make that relationship flourish more. Can you improve how you show up for people in your life, work-wise and personally? Set yourself some personal goals and get to the task.

Do you need to organize a get together instead of waiting for your friend to organize the rendezvous yet again? You might put the garbage out without being asked by your partner from now on. Stepping up and stepping into healthier and happier relationships will only heighten the positive vibration of your everyday existence.

11. Learn How to Lead Better by Encouraging Others to Become Better Leaders

If you’re a leader, it can be really hard to resist the urge to take the steering wheel when you can see others are about to drive off a cliff. However, stepping out of the limelight to let others have their fifteen minutes of fame is the sign of a true leader.

Supporting and coaching others to develop confidence and stay in the driver’s seat on their journey is truly soul-enriching. Stay beside them when they drive into the fog and be persistent with your encouragement to keep them focused and on track.

You have greater purposefulness to others when you empower them to work through their own trials and tribulations and help them build greater resilience in the process. Your self-esteem and internal happiness will deepen on a richer level and stay with you for far, far longer.

12. Embrace Negative Feedback and Criticism

We don’t actually learn best when people agree and applaud us. We learn best when we make mistakes and experience the intense emotions connected with the failure or rejection.

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Invite yourself to look for the lesson in every perceived misfortune. There is always a golden nugget for growth; we just have to increase our practice of looking for it.

Lick your wounds only for so long and move quickly to look for the lesson. When you can do so, you can charge your internal motivation from within and still experience happiness even in the darkest of times.

13. Exercise a Sense of Adventure Every Day

When you set small goals to do things slightly differently each day, you can entirely re-shape the level of happiness you experience. Here’s a list to play with:

  • Try a different coffee brew to start your day
  • Dress in work attire even if you are working from home today
  • Walk a different route from your final subway stop to the office
  • Smile at a stranger as you make eye contact passing them in the street
  • Pay a compliment to one of your work colleagues when you notice they are feeling stressed
  • Go out walking during your break if you usually eat lunch at your desk or inside

Spice up small changes in the brief moments of your daily living. Small shifts lift not only your motivation but shed light and happy vibes to those around you.

14. Orchestrate Your Destiny Using Daily Imagery

Take advantage of the fact your brain does not know the difference between what’s real and what’s imagined when it comes to imagery. Instruct your day-dreaming activity to envisage what happiness and success look like, feel like, smell like, taste like and sound like.

When you daily rehearse your mini movies of your success and happiness goals, your brain’s reticular activating system will begin filtering in information to help you reach these.

Before too long, your plans, actions and decisions will increasingly honor these. Keep your eyes on the prize and you are more likely to reach success sooner than you might think.

15. Become an Expert Researcher of Your Own Challenges

Whilst we have all the resources within us, we don’t necessarily have all the answers. However, when knowing more, we feel (and are) in more control.

Look further afield and gain from the knowledge, experience and insights of the qualified experts in those areas. However, be aware of ulterior agendas being pushed upon you.

Sifting through the information relevant to you and following your gut instinct will only spark your motivation. The considered decisions you make in the moment will always be the right ones.

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Featured photo credit: Fab Lentz via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Marsha Linehan: Radical Acceptance
[2] James H Fowler, associate professor, Nicholas A Christakis, professor: Dynamic spread of happiness in a large social network: longitudinal analysis over 20 years in the Framingham Heart Study

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