Advertising
Advertising

6 Factors Besides Salary That Boost Happiness

6 Factors Besides Salary That Boost Happiness
Hand with Money

Money is obviously an important factor when one considers issues like quality of life but it may not be the only thing. I find that those who describe themselves as “happy” are not always wealthy but have integrated other balancing strategies in their lives, placing income within a larger picture of work-life balance. It turns out that the Wall Street Journal agrees with this, as does workplace author Penelope Trunk, author of Brazen Careerist, The New Rules for Success. Trunk argues that one’s sex life may be just as important as their level of income when it comes to happiness. Here are some other factors which can boost one’s level of personal peace and happiness. Hint: no dollar sign required.

  1. Decrease your commute. I spent ten years driving nearly an hour each way to work, not uncommon for many American workers. Then, I made the decision to pay more for a home and live six miles from work. The effect has been significant as my wife can stop by work anytime and I cash in on more sleep, all the while adding to the lifespan of my car.
  2. Routine your luxuries. A few years ago I started ‘routining’ my luxuries. Instead of stopping by Starbucks every morning on the way to work for a pick-me-up and racking up a huge bill each week, I decided to go out for breakfast one day per week. I’m a Tuesday morning guy now and my wallet thanks me for it. Sticking to one day a week makes a lot of sense (and cents) for me.
  3. Scale down the to-do list. Rather than beating yourself up over a to-do list that rarely decreases, scale back on expectations. This doesn’t mean decreasing quality but rather starting the day with this question, “What are the 2-3 most important tasks that need to get done today?”
  4. Tune out the noise. A minute of quiet goes a long way. Some times that you can decrease the noise might be: during a commute, walking at lunch or during a break, stopping on the way home to read a chapter of a meaningful book, or at some other quiet time during the day when you can close the door and be alone with your thoughts. I find this discipine difficult but never failing in its reward.
  5. Do nothing for one day. It wasn’t long ago that stores were closed on Sundays. My family has made a conscious decision to do nothing work-related for one day each week. It’s taken us about a month to get it down as we enjoy working, shopping and running errands. Spending time together, watching movies, reading and playing games has taken up what commerce used to and we’re now looking forward to that “day off” each week.
  6. Declutter and simplify. Clear the deck and pair back, not for some moral reason (although one could make a case) but for practical peace of mind. The more things, the more space they take up in your home and in your head. Toss what you haven’t used in a while and go for simple. Whether it’s a family room, your automobile or even a back yard, less is more.

Mike St. Pierre is the creator of The Daily Saint, a productivity blog focusing on work-life balance. thedailysaint.com

More by this author

What Grocery Stores Tell Us About Productivity How to Avoid Lengthy Interruptions at Work Withstanding Personal Attack in the Workplace Turning Your Coworkers into Collaborators 6 Factors Besides Salary That Boost Happiness

Trending in Featured

1 Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide) 2 5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life 3 The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work) 4 How to Master the Art of Prioritization 5 40 Top Productivity Apps for iPhone (2020 Updated)

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on January 21, 2020

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard.

The Keys to Learning Anything Easily

Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

Curiosity

Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

Patience

Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

Advertising

Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

A Feeling for Connectedness

This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

How to Self-Taught Effectively

With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

1. Research

Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

Learning the Basics

Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

Advertising

Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

Hitting the Books

Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

Long-Term Reference

While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

Advertising

2. Practice

Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

Check out this guide for useful techniques to help you practice efficiently: The Beginner’s Guide to Deliberate Practice

3. Network

One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

Here find out How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life.

Advertising

4. Schedule

For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

Final Thoughts

In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

More About Self-Learning

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Read Next