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Last Updated on December 2, 2020

16 Good Habits of Happy and Successful People

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16 Good Habits of Happy and Successful People

If you have ever battled depression – deep depression – you know that happiness is not to be taken for granted.

If you have had the experience of ever struggling to pull yourself out of bed and go through the song and dance of getting yourself together, you may analyze the days when you feel good. You think about what you did, what you ate, where you went, who you were with. You think about the conversations that rejuvenated you and those that seemed to zap the life right out of you. You study these things like you are completing a research project.

You understand that one day, perhaps one day not in the distant future, you will need to retrace your path and duplicate the very things that at one time brought you joy.

If this is you, or someone you know, this article is for you.

Many of us spend a considerable chunk of our lives on a happiness journey. We search for happiness thinking we’ll find it in relationships, in our kids, in our careers, in our life experiences, in our social media connections, in status, even in our homes and in our material possessions.

But happiness is so much bigger than our latest conquest or accomplishment. Happiness is a deep sense of ease and comfort. It is joy, and joy that isn’t fueled by external motivators.

In an interview with Business Insider’s Jacqui Frank and Sara Silverstein, Deepak Chopra said this in reference to happiness:

“Social scientists say that happiness depends on lots of factors, the first is do you look at the world as a problem, or as an opportunity? Basically your attitude toward life. Secondly depends on your financial resources, because lot of people are, these days anyway, very scared about health insurance, about retirement benefits, about their future. But that adds about 10-12%. Your attitude determines 50%. And then the last part, which determines 40% of your daily happiness and experiences, do you have the ability to make other people happy? That’s the fastest way to be happy.”

I loved the movie “Eat, Pray, Love” because it documented, for me, the journey to happiness and peace. Because I have been on my own journey to find happiness and some measure of success. I have reflected on when I am at my happiest. I have also studied people who appeared to be genuinely happy and successful to understand what they do and why.

Through this research and years of self-work, I have come to believe that happy and successful people maintain 16 habits that perhaps we should all consider.

1. They Have a Positive Outlook.

As Chopra inferred in the Business Insider article, people who have a positive outlook view the world as full of possibility and opportunity. Their inherent attitude toward life is one of possibility.

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Cultivating positivity is then linked to happiness. And happy people, according to Chopra and others, are optimistic.

2. They Know Themselves.

Happy people may enjoy other people, but they have also spent a considerable amount of time getting to know themselves. They know what makes them upset, and they know what brings them happiness. They know what they like and dislike.

Happy people, and successful people, are in tune with themselves.

3. They Rest.

I’m convinced that rest is an undervalued superpower. It is what enables us to heal and recover, yet many of us fill our lives with so many obligations that rest becomes illusive.

Even when we lie down to rest, our minds are racing with the commitments we have for the following day or the things we were unable to accomplish earlier in the day. This can lead to restless nights and an inability to get deep sleep.

But happy people and successful people value rest as much as they do productivity. They understand that they cannot bring their best selves to the work if they are tired, worn down and exhausted.

4. They Are Content.

When I was a kid, my father would say, “Jennifer, do you want to know how to save money? Learn contentment.” It was a marvelously simple explanation.

Being content solves a multitude of problems. It can help you save money by ceasing from continually wanting the next best thing. It can also help you to enjoy where you are at any given point in your life.

Content people are present. They do not live in search of the next big thing. They celebrate what they have and take pleasure in the here and now.

5. They Embrace Self-Compassion.

Happy people have learned the difference between guilt, shame and blame. They understand that the key to their happiness is being gentle and compassionate with themselves. They offer themselves the grace they would extend to a close friend.

When they make mistakes, as each of us do, they respond with compassion and grace.

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6. They Silence Their Inner Judge.

I once had a friend who was extremely difficult to please professionally. She seemed to find fault in everything.

As I got curious about how to please her, I committed to really listen to what she was saying and what was left unsaid. I learned that this person was highly critical of herself. She judged herself harshly, and therefore judging others harshly was second nature.

I learned, then, that judgmental people judge themselves first and others second. This is counterproductive and incompatible with happiness.

To be happy, we must silence our inner critic. One way to do this is to give our inner critic a name. When we hear the critic rising up to condemn us or others, we can call that part of ourselves by the name we’ve chosen and gently thank it and ask it to have a seat.

Another way to silence the inner critic is to develop as much self-love and compassion as possible. When we practice self-love, the love we give to ourselves will gradually extend to others. And when we walk through life without the need to judge ourselves or others, we can and will experience emotional freedom and happiness.

7. They Feel Their Emotions.

Happy and successful people understand that being present in their physical bodies includes being able to experience the range of emotions that come with the human experience.

Rather than running from unpleasant emotions and feelings, they allow themselves to experience and feel emotions. They give name to their emotions, and most importantly, they don’t judge themselves for feeling anger, sadness and hurt.

8. They Realize Their Chief Competitor Is Themselves.

Happy and successful people are narrowly focused on their own growth and development. Rather than focusing on others’ accomplishments, they focus on what they want and lean into that desire.

They are inspired by their peers, but they hold themselves to standards that they themselves create.

9. They Care About Their Mental Health.

Happy and successful people ideally understand that health is bigger than one’s physical body. It also includes the mind. They understand that they cannot give what they do not have, and they take time to care for their mental well-being. This includes going to therapy or counseling, and it also includes ridding themselves of toxic people and situations.

Caring for one’s mental health also means examining harmful thought patterns and working to develop a healthier worldview. It’s important to note that happy and successful people can still experience depression, anxiety and mental health disorders.

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The difference is that they have a plan to combat those emotions and work through them. They are not passive passengers when it comes to their mental health. They are working a plan and committing to continue investing in their mental well-being.

10. They Care About Their Physical Health.

Happy and successful people understand that they have one body and one life to live. While they may be on a journey to optimal health, they are mindful of the need to care for their physical health. This looks like making and keeping dental, doctor and mental health appointments. It looks like exercising, and it also entails a healthy and nutritious diet.

Happy and successful people aren’t chasing an ideal body but rather aiming for developing an ideal body for them. This means they are less concerned about beauty standards and more concerned about what they must do to look and feel good internally.

11. They Understand What Brings Them Joy.

If I am sad, I have learned that there are fail-safe things that I can do to get into a better mood. I have learned that being outdoors, namely being on a trail or someplace in nature, will automatically bring me joy. The smell, the terrain, the beauty of parks and trails conspire to snap me out of my circumstance and into a place of possibility.

Happy people have taken the time to research what brings them joy. They understand what activities bring happiness, and they make time to invest in those activities. They do regular internal work to understand how to be their happiest selves, and equipped with this knowledge, they make a plan to do more of what lights their souls on fire.

12. They Invest in Themselves.

Happy and successful people refuse to live their lives pouring into others without taking the time to pour into themselves. They know that with investment, they can be better and do better.

They make time to invest in themselves by returning to school, taking courses to learn or enhance a skill, learning a new language, taking a cooking class or engaging in a sporting interest.

13. They Disconnect.

Happy people and successful people are able to disconnect from social media and other distractions. They can focus intensively on their work, families and commitments and regularly take breaks from social media. They are not glued to their phones, iPads or other communications devices.

Citing a happiness study from Kent University,[1]

“Excessive use of even the best technologies reduces our happiness in meaningful ways.”

14. They Help Others.

One of the most rewarding activities is being in service to others. Years ago, as a noncustodial mom, I decided that when I would get down about not seeing my son on a daily basis, I would help my nieces, whose mom was a single mother. I would pick them up, take them shopping or out to eat or otherwise spend the day with them. Before long, the sadness I’d felt would dissipate.

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In serving and helping others, I am, in a sense, helping myself.

The same is true today. Happy people understand that giving is its own reward.

15. They Seek Help.

While happiness is elusive, it is indeed possible. The great news is you don’t need to have all the answers, you only need to know where to turn.

Therapy is an excellent resource along your journey to live a happier life. A therapist can help you get unstuck and discover strategies for living a happier more fulfilling life.

If you aren’t sure where to turn, start with a search on Psychology Today. If the cost of therapy is prohibitive, consider speaking with a counselor, faith leader or trusted friend.

16. They Live with Gratitude.

When you practice gratitude, you create a habit of identifying and celebrating the good. You train your brain to look for the positive.

An undeniable habit of happy and successful people is gratitude. They practice it daily, and the practice brings them happiness.

One of the biggest myths about change is that it is possible or impossible depending on your age. With age, it is thought that people are less capable of change. Alternatively, if you have lived with a condition for an extended period of time, it may be easy to assume that change is impossible.

Final Thoughts

Fortunately, anyone can change.

As Dr. Laurie Santos, professor of Yale University’s most popular class, “The Science of Well-being” and host of the new podcast, “The Happiness Lab,” said,

“Happiness is possible, even for people in serious psychological distress.”

If you want to learn how to build good habits, check out this video:

More on Living a Successful Life

Featured photo credit: Mel via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Jennifer R. Farmer

An author and trainer specializes in helping socially-conscious entrepreneurs, celebrities and activists

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Last Updated on October 7, 2021

Are You Addicted to Productivity?

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Are You Addicted to Productivity?

“It’s great to be productive. It really is. But sometimes, we chase productivity so much that it makes us, well, unproductive. It’s easy to read a lot about how to be more productive, but don’t forget that you have to make that time up.”

Matt Cutts wrote that back in 2013,[1]

“Today, search for ‘productivity’ and Google will come back with about 663,000,000 results. If you decide to go down this rabbit hole, you’ll be bombarded by a seemingly endless amount of content. I’m talking about books, blogs, videos, apps, podcasts, scientific studies, and subreddits all dedicated to productivity.”

Like so many other people, I’ve also fallen into this trap. For years I’ve been on the lookout for trends and hacks that will help me work faster and more efficiently — and also trends that help me help others to be faster. I’ve experimented with various strategies and tools . And, while some of these strategies and solutions have been extremely useful — without parsing out what you need quickly — it’s counterproductive.

Sometimes you end up spending more time focusing on how to be productive instead of actually being productive.

“The most productive people I know don’t read these books, they don’t watch these videos, they don’t try a new app every month,” James Bedell wrote in a Medium post.[2] “They are far too busy getting things done to read about Getting Things Done.”

This is my mantra:

I proudly say, “I am addicted to productivity — I want to be addicted to productivity — productivity is my life and my mission — and I also want to find the best way to lead others through productivity to their best selves.

But most of the time productivity means putting your head down and working until the job’s done.” –John Rampton

Addiction to Productivity is Real

Dr. Sandra Chapman, director of the University of Texas at Dallas Center for BrainHealth points out that the brain can get addicted to productivity just as it can to more common sources of addiction, such as drugs, gambling, eating, and shopping.

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“A person might crave the recognition their work gives them or the salary increases they get,” Chapman told the BBC.[3] “The problem is that just like all addictions, over time, a person needs more and more to be satisfied, and then it starts to work against you. Withdrawal symptoms include increased anxiety, depression, and fear.”

Despite the harmful consequences, addiction is considered by some experts as a brain disease that affects the brain’s reward system and ends in compulsive behavior. Regardless, society tends to reward productivity — or at least to treat it positively. As a result, this makes the problem even worse.

“It’s seen like a good thing: the more you work, the better,” adds Chapman. “Many people don’t realize the harm it causes until a divorce occurs and a family is broken apart, or the toll it takes on mental health.”

Because of the occasional negative issues with productivity, it’s no surprise that it is considered a “mixed-blessing addiction.”

“A workaholic might be earning a lot of money, just as an exercise addict is very fit,” explains Dr. Mark Griffiths, distinguished professor of behavioral addiction at Nottingham Trent University. “But the thing about any addiction is that in the long run, the detrimental effects outweigh any short-term benefits.”

“There may be an initial period where the individual who is developing a work addiction is more productive than someone who isn’t addicted to work, but it will get to a point when they are no longer productive, and their health and relationships are affected,” Griffiths writes in Psychology Today.[4] “It could be after one year or more, but if the individual doesn’t do anything about it, they could end up having serious health consequences.”

“For instance, I speculated that the consequences of work addiction may be reclassified as something else: If someone ends up dying of a work-related heart attack, it isn’t necessarily seen as having anything to do with an addiction per se – it might be attributed to something like burnout,” he adds.

There Are Three “Distinct Extreme Productivity Types

Cyril Peupion, a Sydney-based productivity expert, has observed extreme productivity among clients at both large and medium-sized companies. “Most people who come to me are high performers and very successful. But often, the word they use to describe their work style is ‘unsustainable,’ and they need help getting it back on track.”

By changing their work habits, Peupion assists teams and individuals improve their performance and ensure that their efforts are aligned with the overarching strategy of the business, rather than focusing on work as a means to an end. He has distinguished three types of extreme productivity in his classification: efficiency obsessive, selfishly productive, and quantity-obsessed.

Efficiency obsessive. “Their desks are super tidy and their pens are probably color-coded. They are the master of ‘inbox zero.’ But they have lost sight of the big picture, and don’t know the difference between efficiency and effectiveness.”

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Selfishly productive. “They are so focused on their own world that if they are asked to do something outside of it, they aren’t interested. They do have the big picture in mind, but the picture is too much about them.”

Quantity-obsessed. “They think; ‘The more emails I respond to, the more meetings I attend, the more tasks I do, the higher my performance.’ As a result, they face a real risk of burnout.”

Peupion believes that “quantity obsessed” individuals are the most common type “because there is a pervasive belief that ‘more’ means ‘better’ at work.”

The Warning Signs of Productivity Addiction

Here are a few questions you should ask yourself if you think you may be succumbing to productivity addiction. After all, most of us aren’t aware of this until it’s too late.

  • Can you tell when you’re “wasting” time? If so, have you ever felt guilty about it?
  • Does technology play a big part in optimizing your time management?
  • Do you talk about how busy you are most of the time? In your opinion, is hustling better than doing less?
  • What is your relationship with your email inbox? Are you constantly checking it or experience phantom notifications?
  • When you only check one item off your list, do you feel guilty?
  • Does stress from work interfere with your sleep?
  • Have you been putting things off, like a vacation or side project, because you’re “too swamped?

The first step toward turning around your productivity obsession is to recognize it. If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, then it’s time to make a plan to overcome your addiction to productivity.

Overcoming Your Productivity Addiction

Thankfully, there are ways to curb your productivity addiction. And, here are 9 such ways to achieve that goal.

1. Set Limits

Just because you’re hooked on productivity doesn’t mean you have to completely abstain from it. Instead, you need to establish boundaries.

For example, there are a lot of amazing productivity podcasts out there. But, that doesn’t mean you have to listen to them all in the course of a day. Instead, you could listen to one or two podcasts, like The Productivity Podcast or Before Breakfast, during your commute. And, that would be your only time of the day to get your productivity fix.

2. Create a Not-to-Do List

Essentially, the idea of a not-to-do list is to eliminate the need to practice self-discipline. Getting rid of low-value tasks and bad habits will allow you to focus on what you really want to do as opposed to weighing the pros and cons or declining time requests. More importantly, this prevents you from feeling guilty about not crossing everything off an unrealistic to-do list.

3. Be Vulnerable

By this, I mean admitting where you could improve. For example, if you’re new to remote work and are struggling with thi s, you would only focus on topics in this area. Suggestions would be how to create a workspace at home, not getting distracted when the kids aren’t in school, or improving remote communication and collaboration with others.

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4. Understand Why You Procrastinate

Often, we procrastinate to minimize negative emotions like boredom or stress. Other times it could be because it’s a learned trait, underestimating how long it takes you to complete something or having a bias towards a task.

Regardless of the exact reason, we end up doing busy work, scrolling social media, or just watching one more episode of our favorite TV series. And, even though we know that it’s not for the best, we do things that make us feel better than the work we should do to restore our mood.[5]

There are a lot of ways to overcome procrastination. But, the first step is to be aware of it so that you can take action. For example, if you’re dreading a difficult task, don’t just watch Netflix. Instead, procrastinate more efficiently,y like returning a phone call or working on a client pitch.

5. Don’t Be a Copycat

Let’s keep this short and sweet. When you find a productivity app or technique that works for you, stick with it.

That’s not to say that you can’t make adjustments along the way or try new tools or hacks. However, the main takeaway should be that just because someone swears by the Pomodoro Technique doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for you.

6. Say Yes to Less

Across the board, your philosophy should be less is more.

That means only download the apps you actually use and want to keep (after you try them out) and uninstall the ones you don’t use. For example, are you currently reading a book on productivity? Don’t buy your next book until you’ve finished the one you’re currently reading (or permit yourself to toss a book that isn’t doing you any good). — and if you really want to finish a book more quickly, listen to the book on your way to work and back.

Already have plans this weekend? Don’t commit to a birthday party. And, if you’re day is booked, decline that last-minute meeting request.

7. Stop Focusing on What’s Next

“In the age when purchasing a thing from overseas is just one click and talking to another person is one swipe right, acquiring new objects or experiences can be addictive like anything else,” writes Patrick Banks for Lifehack .

“That doesn’t need to be you,” he adds. “You can stop your addition to ‘the next thing’ starting today.” After all, “there will always be this next thing if you don’t make a conscious decision to get your life back together and be the one in charge.”

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  • Think about your current lifestyle and the person you’re at this stage to help you identify what you aren’t satisfied with.
  • By setting clear goals for yourself in the future, you will be able to overcome your addiction.
  • Establish realistic goals.
  • To combat addiction, you must be aware of what is going on around you, as well as inside your head, at any given time.
  • Don’t spend time with people who have unhealthy behaviors.
  • Hold yourself accountable.
  • Keep a journal and write out what you want to overcome.
  • Appreciate no longer being addicted to what’s next.

8. Simplify

Each day, pick one priority task. That’s it. As long as you concentrate on one task at a time, you will be less likely to get distracted or overwhelmed by an endless list of tasks. A simple mantra to live by is: work smarter, not harder.

The same is also accurate with productivity hacks and tools. Bullet journaling is a great example. Unfortunately, for many, a bullet journal is way more time-consuming and overwhelming than a traditional planner.

9. Learn How to Relax

“Sure, we need to produce sometimes, especially if we have to pay the bills, but, banning obsession with productivity is unhealthy,” writes Leo Babauta. “When you can’t get yourself to be productive, relax.” Don’t worry about being hyper-efficient. And, don’t beat yourself up about having fun.

“But what if you can’t motivate yourself … ever?” he asks. “Sure, that can be a problem. But if you relax and enjoy yourself, you’ll be happier.”

“And if you work when you get excited, on things you’re excited about, and create amazing things, that’s motivation,” Leo states. “Not forcing yourself to work when you don’t want to, on things you don’t want to work on — motivation is doing things you love when you get excited.”

But, how exactly can you relax? Here are some tips from Leo;

  • Spend 5 minutes walking outside and breathe in the fresh air.
  • Give yourself more time to accomplish things. Less rushing means less stress.
  • If you can, get outside after work to enjoy nature.
  • Play like a child. Even better? Play with your kids. And, have fun at work — maybe give gamification a try .
  • Take the day off, rest, and do something non-work-related.
  • Allow yourself an hour of time off. Try not to be productive during that time. Just relax.
  • You should work with someone who is exciting. Make your project exciting.
  • Don’t work in the evenings. Seriously.
  • Visit a massage therapist.
  • Just breathe.

“Step by step, learn to relax,” he suggests. “Learn that productivity isn’t everything.” For that statement, sorry Leo, I say productivity isn’t everything — it’s the only thing.” However, if you can’t cut loose, relax, do fun things, and do the living part of your life — you’ll crack in a big way — you really will.

It’s great to create and push forward — just remember it doesn’t mean that every minute must be spent working or obsessing over productivity issues. Instead, invest your time in meaningful, high-impact work, get into it, focus, put in big time and then relax.

Are You Addicted to Productivity? was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton.

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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