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4 Unexpected Sources of Happiness

4 Unexpected Sources of Happiness

Humans have been discussing what it means to be happy for thousands of years, and what we have to do in order to achieve this elusive and desirable state. Modern science has confirmed many ancient philosophies of happiness – like accepting things the way they are and expressing gratitude, as well as offering new insights, such as the fact that happiness tends to increase with income up to the $60,000 level before leveling off.

Yet, despite this knowledge, the achievement of happiness remains a difficult if not impossible task for many of us. Sometimes, the extra boost we need comes not from well-trodden conventional wisdom, but utterly surprising, unexpected sources.

1. Lower Your Expectations

Most of us hear the words “you can be anything you want to be” ringing in our ears. We’re constantly sold the image of people who can be, do or have anything and everything they want in life – and that it’s easy! This is not an accurate reflection of reality and sets us up for disappointment. Of course, with hard work and dedication we can all become excellent at somethingbut going through life with massively inflated expectations sets us up for massive disappointment – not success.

Lowering our expectations isn’t about being negative or pessimistic, it’s about eliminating the sense that we’re entitled to positive outcomes and accepting that most things don’t go exactly as planned. Aspire to greatness and expect little. That’s the recipe for happiness.

2. Throw Out Your Goals

There’s hardly a more universally-accepted idea about happiness than goals and goal-setting. Set good goals and happiness is yours! But this conventional wisdom has been thrown into doubt by the work of psychologists like Dan Ariely. In his book, “Predictably Irrational,” he reveals that the achievement of goals only provides a short-term boost of emotion and does little or nothing to affect our overall happiness.

Does that mean goal-setting is useless? Of course not. Goals are a great way to express our values and to orient ourselves towards action. We have to realize that reaching a goal doesn’t fundamentally change who we are or how we see the world. It’s the internal work that we do, not the external results we create, that determine how happy and fulfilled we feel.

3. Set Yourself An Income LIMIT

Money worries top nearly everybody’s list of concerns. No matter how much we make or how much we have, it seems like there’s never enough. We try to overcome these fears by increasing our earning and limiting our spending. But there’s another, counter-intuitive option: Set a cap on our income.

Why? Because this forces us to define one crucial thing that no other technique adequately addresses: how much is enough. And while this seems crazy at first, we can realize that we do this in almost every area of our life: how much food to eat, how many cars to own, how much TV to watch, etc.

And one thing we can notice with these limits, is that dysfunction starts to occur when they’re not adhered to: obesity, excessive consumption, and in the case of money, debt or workaholism. So where should we set our personal income limit? Low enough to feel some minor discomfort – we live in a society of excess after all – and not so low that we feel outright fear.

A good benchmark to use is the median income level in your area (if you live somewhere with relative income equality). An income limit forces us to examine what is truly important to us and where we’re unconsciously following social norms and expectations. This way we have to decide what we value and where we want to invest our limited financial resources in the exact same way we have to choose how to invest our limited time and energy each day.

Once we do that, and we start putting our money towards the things that matter most, then we can start doing the impossible: buying happiness.

4. Stop Self-Analyzing

We should all spend time reflecting on our past and planning for the future, but this behavior can be detrimental if done excessively. By placing constant surveillance on ourselves, wondering, “am I happy now?” and then asking why or why not, we take ourselves out of the moment and cease being able to enjoy it.

If we insist on analyzing each and every emotion that floats across our consciousness, we put ourselves at the mercy of people and environments that are going to sway our emotions whether we want them to or not. Instead, we must learn to stay present and focused on the situation at hand, and save reflection for a special time we’ve set aside explicitly for that purpose.

Conclusion

These strange sources of happiness, being at odds with conventional wisdom, may take adjusting before we can integrate them into our lives. Take it slow, choosing the one idea you feel will have the most impact on your life, and work on adopting the new mindset and seeing how it works for you.

Know any other unexpected sources of happiness? Share them in the comments below!

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Last Updated on October 5, 2020

How to Quit Your Boring Life and Start Living an Interesting One

How to Quit Your Boring Life and Start Living an Interesting One

We are given life with many opportunities to make it everything we want it to be and more. If you find that you’ve slipped into living a boring life, it’s time to take a hard look at what you’ve been doing and what you can start doing now to make it more interesting.

Maybe you’ve been doing the same thing and living the same life for too long, or maybe your daily routine is limiting your growth and happiness. Whatever your reason is, the following list can definitely make any day or life more interesting. Some of them are silly, while some are more meaningful, so hopefully just reading the list makes your life less boring and sparks your creativity.

Let’s dive in the list to quit your boring life and start living an interesting (and meaningful) one!

1. Channel Your 7-Year-Old Self

Imagine being a young child. Life was never boring, was it? That’s because children harness every ounce of creativity they have in order to try new things.

What would your 7-year-old self want to do in this moment? Maybe they’d pick up a paintbrush and try to paint the landscape around them. May they would go outside and build something with random materials around the yard. Maybe they would raid the fridge and put together a dish they’ve never seen before.

Just because you’re a grown-up doesn’t mean any of this stuff will be less enjoyable than you remember it. Give yourself permission to play and use your creativity to its fullest.

2. Go Play With Kids

Speaking of little kids, if you have your own (or a niece or nephew), go play with them!

Kids are absolutely hilarious, so it’s simply impossible to be bored when you’re around them. They also keep things so simple, and we can really stand to be reminded of this and stop allowing ourselves to get bogged down in boring details.

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3. Play Cell Phone Roulette

You’ll need at least one buddy for this, but this is a great way to avoid a boring life. Scroll through the contacts in your phone, stop on a random one, and (if it feels right) call the person.

You could spark an incredible catch-up session or, at the very least, remind someone that you’re thinking of them. Neither are boring.

4. Fill out a Pack of Thank-You Cards

This is a great part of a gratitude practice. We often forget to thank the people who do things for us, especially if we have come to expect those things. For example, have you ever thought about thanking your mom for that weekly phone call? Or thanking your sister for always sending you a homemade gift on your birthday?

Take time to think of at least 5 people you would like to say thank you to and write out a card. You could even write them out for random people in your neighborhood, like the local librarian, a teacher at your child’s school, or the accountant at your bank.

Anyone and everyone appreciates being thanked for their efforts.

5. Sign up for a Class

Nowadays, there are classes for everything. To make it as interesting as possible, try finding one that you wouldn’t normally consider doing, like salsa lessons, improv, or boxing.

Otherwise, try to find a course on something you’ve always wanted to learn, like pottery, photography, or a foreign language course.

What’s good about joining an interest class is that you will also meet new people, which will add even more interest to your life!

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6. Talk to Your Grandparents About Their Lives

We often underestimate how interesting the elderly are. You can rest assured that any elderly person you talk to will not have had a boring life! Take some time to talk to them and hear their interesting stories. You may even find that this motivates you to go out and find your own interesting experiences.

7. Get up on Stage at an Open Mic Night

Whether you’re funny or not, get up on stage. If you’re not into comedy, find an open mic that focuses on reading poetry or short stories and bring your own. These groups tend to be incredibly supportive for anyone who is willing to be brave enough to get up and try.

8. Do Something for Someone Else

Showing kindness automatically makes you feel good, but doing these small acts will also help to ensure that you don’t have a boring life. Try doing one or two things each week that are outside your normal routine.

For example, you could make a batch of cookies for the mailperson or help your elderly neighbor organize one of their rooms. There are a million ways to show kindness to those around you. Tap into your creativity and find your own or use some of the ideas from the image below[1].

Do random acts of kindness to avoid living a boring life.

    9. Start a DIY Project in Your Home

    If you have your own place, there is always a project that needs to get done. Many people simply pay for someone else to do it in order to avoid the hassle, but taking on a DIY project can make a boring life much more interesting.

    It doesn’t have to be super complicated. Maybe you repaint an old vase or build a spice shelf out of used pallets.

    If you need ideas, you can also check out these 30 Awesome DIY Projects that You’ve Never Heard of.

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    10. Plan a Weekend Trip or an All-Out Vacation

    This will give you something to look forward to. One study actually found that most travelers are happiest before a vacation[2]. Therefore, simply planning a trip will boost your mood, even if you can’t actually take the vacation right now.

    Even if you don’t have the time or money to go on a vacation, plan for a staycation, which is also fun and relaxing!

    11. Go People Watching

    Find a bench in a crowded area (centers of transportation like airports, bus stops, and train stations are great for this!) and just observe[3].

    People are infinitely interesting. Try to imagine what their lives are like, what they’re thinking, or where they’re going. You’ll never know if you’re right, but it will give you something to focus on and also help you practice empathy.

    12. Eat Something You’ve Never Eaten Before

    You can try that new Moroccan restaurant down the street and pick the most interesting dish on the menu. Or, you can raid your own fridge and throw together a dish you’ve never made before.

    If you’re up for a trip to the grocery store, try picking up a new fruit or veggie from the produce section. You may find a new food that you love!

    13. Dance

    You can get your friends together for a night on the town or just pull up a video on YouTube and bust a move from your own living room.

    If you’re feeling extra brave, you can even dance in public or join a flash mob.

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    14. Pick up a Book and Start Reading

    Reading a good book can keep you occupied for hours. It will also transport you to a life that isn’t your own, and one that likely will be the opposite of a boring life. You’ll be amazed by what you can learn from those pages.

    Pick on of these inspirational books to start reading: 10 Best Inspirational Books That Can Change Your Life

    15. Spend Some Time With People You Care About

    Facebook stalking doesn’t count as real social interaction. Call up a friend you haven’t seen in a while, or bring a coffee over to your parent’s place and catch up. They’ll appreciate the gesture, and you’ll avoid boredom.

    16. Check out a Museum You’ve Never Been to

    Some people are bored by museums, so if that’s you, skip to the next one. However, if you love art, history, or culture, this one is for you!

    17. Write a List of Things You Desire and Truly Want

    This is a great way to help you figure out the real reason why you’re feeling bored about your life. Maybe you haven’t really done things that you truly enjoy? Maybe what you’ve wanted to do all the time has been left behind?

    Think about the list of things you really want to do, and ask yourself why you aren’t doing these things (yet). Then, start taking your first step to make it happen.

    Now, go make your life interesting and live your dream life!

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    Featured photo credit: Alex Alvarez via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] FECAVA: Random Acts of Kindness
    [2] Applied Research in Quality of Life: Vacationers Happier, but Most not Happier After a Holiday
    [3] Psychology Today: The Expert’s Guide to People Watching

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