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Three Thoughts to Make You Instantly Happier

Three Thoughts to Make You Instantly Happier

My fiancee’s sister is in town, along with her five-year-old niece, which means I’ve been temporarily set aside for long bouts of playing “house” and discussions about the new baby on the way in May.

Rather than become upset about my relocation to the periphery of attention, I’m enjoying some extra time to think.

One of the most striking observations I had over the weekend was that many people go out in search of “happiness.”

We really look for happiness in three things: the people around us, the work we do, and our current situation.

This would be fine, if any of these things actually make us happy.  They don’t.

Here are three truths most people never realize until they travel the world, do what they love, and achieve an impossible goal:

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1) No matter where you live, people will be pretty much the same

“People travel to faraway places to watch, in fascination, the kind of people they ignore at home.” -Dagobert D. Runes

I’ve lived in three different countries now and have traveled to 9 (I think), and I’ve found this to be absolutely true.  Once you peel back some of the strange ways people do things, you really see that people are the same everywhere.  In Afghanistan, I met slick salesmen and devoted husbands.  In Turkey, I have known noisy neighbors and horrible gossips.  Lately, in Turkey, there’s a huge surge in Justin Bieber fanaticism.  Some people work hard and are happy; some people are very lazy and bored.  Some are happy; some are not.

When I lived in America, I saw much the same habits from the people around me.  Some were happy while others complained.  Some were honorable while others cheated in an attempt to get ahead.  There really is no difference in people on a human level, and once you’ve lived in a foreign country for a few months, you realize this.

I’m not saying there are no differences in culture or thoughts; just that the strange people you find so fascinating are available in your own neighbor hoods, if you care to notice them.

2) Everybody, even people who love their jobs, sometimes hate getting up and going to work

“I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” –Steve Jobs

Okay, okay, we’re probably using Steve Jobs’ quotes a little too often, but the man had a good philosophy on work.  I’m told he was horrible to wait on in a restaurant, but that’s neither here nor there.

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Steve Jobs was a strong believer in doing what you love every day.  He refused to work on something which didn’t fill him with passion.  I believe this led to much of his success.

If you read the quote carefully, you will notice he says “too many days in a row.”  Not “today” but “too many.”  There’s a great message there.  He didn’t wake up every day excited to go to work.  Most days, yes, but not every day.

I do what I love for a living.  I get to spend my working hours helping people, answering questions, writing blogs and books, and generally getting to nerd out.  It’s a dream job I worked hard to create for myself.

Even so, some days I want to stay in bed and watch Lord of the Rings.

Every person I know, whether they work for a company or themselves, has days they don’t “feel it.”  Pushing through these days and getting the job done is essential if you want to succeed.

That being said, if EVERY day over the course of season feels like this, you should move on to something else.

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Understand, we all have days we don’t want to work, even those of us living our dreams.

3) Whatever you’re going through, it will pass soon, for better or worse

“This too shall pass…” –mistakenly attributed to The Bible

Full disclaimer: I’m a Christian and for years I believed this was part of a Bible Verse.  Imagine my surprise when I learned this is nowhere in the Bible.

Regardless if this came from the Bible or not, it’s still a great truth for all of us to remember.

Think back on your happiest memory, that single moment in time when everything was going right.  Got it?  Are you still every bit as excited as you were then?  I’m betting (unless reading this post is the happiest moment of your life, which if that’s the case, I’m very flattered) you have lost some of that excitement.

Now, think back on the lowest moment of your life, when everything seemed hopeless and you saw no relief on the horizon.  Got it?  Are you still as depressed and scared as you were then?  If you are, please don’t blame my writing style.  Leave your suggestions in the comments section below and I will furiously work to be less depressing (I promise).

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Either way, the ups and the downs have passed and will pass you again.  This is the natural way our lives work.

We all have rough times and good times; great successes and failures; deep love and crushing heartache.  Life does this to us, and it’s the best part of life.  If we didn’t experience the down times, we wouldn’t appreciate the great moments.  If we didn’t have the great moments, we wouldn’t understand when things weren’t going well.

As I write these closing words, I think on them once again and I’m smiling.  I realize that even though I live in a foreign country, do work I enjoy every day, and understand how fleeting life’s moments are, I could easily be just as happy back in Nashville, working at Dell.

I’ll close with Abraham Lincoln as he said “Folks are usually about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

Wise words for all of us to remember.

Trent

P.S.  There is actually very little evidence Abraham Lincoln said this.  Dr. Frank Crane first published this in a newspaper in 1914, attributing the quote to President Lincoln.  There has been nothing to suggest this quote ever surfaced before then.  Fun fact. :)

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Last Updated on May 17, 2019

This Is What Happens When You Move Out Of the Comfort Zone

This Is What Happens When You Move Out Of the Comfort Zone

The pursuit of worthwhile goals is a part of what makes life enjoyable. Being able to set a goal, then see yourself progress towards achieving that goal is an amazing feeling.

But do you know the biggest obstacle for most people trying to achieve their goals, the silent dream killer that stops people before they ever even get started? That obstacle is the comfort zone, and getting stuck there is bound to derail any efforts you make towards achieving the goals you’ve set for yourself.

If you want to achieve those goals, you’ll have to break free from your comfort zone. Let’s take a look at how your life will change once you build up the courage to leave your comfort zone.

What Is the Comfort Zone?

The comfort zone is defined as “a behavioural state within which a person operates in an anxiety-neutral condition, using a limited set of behaviours to deliver a steady level of performance.”

What stands out to me the most about that definition is the last part: “using a limited set of behaviours to deliver a steady level of performance.” How many successful people do you know who deliver a steady level of performance?

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The goal in life is to continually challenge yourself, and continually improve yourself. And in order to do that, you have move out of your comfort zone. But once you do, your life will start to change in ways you could never have imagined. I know because it’s happening right now in my own life.

Here’s what I’ve learned.

1. You will be scared

Leaving your comfort zone isn’t easy. In fact, in can be downright terrifying at times, and that’s okay. It’s perfectly normal to feel a little trepidation when you’re embarking on a journey that forces you to try new things.

So don’t freak out or get overwhelmed when you feel yourself getting a little scared. It’s perfectly normal and all part of the process. What’s important is that you don’t let that fear hold you back. You must continue to take action in the face of fear.

That’s what separates winners from losers.

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2. You will fail

Stepping out of your comfort zone means you’re moving into uncharted territory. You’re trying things that you’ve never tried before, and learning things you’ve never learned before.

That steep learning curve means you’re not going to get everything right the first time, and you will eventually fail when you move out of your comfort zone. But as long as the failures aren’t catastrophic, it can actually be a good thing to fail because …

3. You will learn

Failure is the best teacher. I’ve learned more from each one of my failures than I have from each one of my successes. When you fail small, and fail often, you rapidly increase the rate at which you learn new insights and skills. And that new knowledge, if applied correctly, will eventually lead to your success.

4. You will see yourself in a different way

Once you move out of your comfort zone, you immediately prove to yourself that you’re capable of achieving more than you thought was possible. And that will change the way you see yourself.

Moving forward, you’ll have more confidence in yourself whenever you step out of your comfort zone, and that increased confidence will make it more likely that you continue to step outside your comfort zone. And each time you do, you’ll prove to yourself again and again what you’re really capable of.

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5. Your peers will see you in a different way

Whether we want to admit or not, people judge other people. And right now, people view you in a certain way, and they have a certain idea of what you’re capable of. That’s because they’ve become accustomed to seeing you operate in your comfort zone.

But once you move out of your comfort zone, you’ll prove to other people, as well, that you’re capable of much more than you’ve shown in the past.

The increased confidence other people place in you will bring about more opportunities than ever before.

6. Your comfort zone will expand

The good thing about the comfort zone is that it’s flexible and malleable. With each action you take outside of your comfort zone, it expands. And once you master that new skill or action, it eventually becomes part of your comfort zone.

This is great news for you because it means that you can constantly increase and improve upon the behaviors that you’re comfortable with. And the more tools and skills you have at your disposal, the easier it will be to achieve your goals.

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7. You will increase your concentration and focus

When you’re living inside of your comfort zone, the bulk of your actions are habitual: automatic, subconscious, and requiring limited focus.

But once you move out of your comfort zone, you no longer rely on those habitual responses. You’re forced to concentrate and focus on the new action in a way you never do in your comfort zone.

8. You will develop new skills

Moving out of your comfort zone requires that you develop new skills. One of the many benefits you’ll experience is that you’ll be stepping away from the “limited set of behaviors” and start to develop your ability and expertise in new areas.

Living inside of your comfort zone only requires a limited skill set, and those skills won’t contribute much to your success. Once you can confidently step outside of your comfort zone and learn a new skill, there’s no limit to how much you can achieve.

9. You will achieve more than before

With everything that happens once you move out of your comfort zone, you’re naturally going to achieve more than ever before.

Your increased concentration and focus will help you develop new skills. Those new skills will change the way you see yourself, encouraging you to step even further out of your comfort zone.

Featured photo credit: Josef Grunig via farm3.staticflickr.com

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