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10 Habits That Will Make Us Happier

10 Habits That Will Make Us Happier

Happiness is something that we all seek. Every goal we set, every achievement we pursue, every relationship we engage in, and every journey we embark on is really just an attempt to feel happiness.

All of us seek happiness, and it comes in various forms. However, our habits have a major impact on whether or not we experience happiness. This article will list 10 “Happiness Habits” that, if consistently practiced, will create a measurable difference in our lives.

1. Align Our Goals With What We Really Value

Quickly ask yourself these questions: Are my goals authentic? Why do I want to achieve [insert goal]? Do I truly value what I am pursuing?

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If our core values are not properly aligned with our goals and daily actions, there will be inner conflict.  It is difficult to sustain happiness with a perpetual sense of inner conflict.  Our goals and actions need to be aligned with what we uniquely value as individuals.  So if they aren’t aligned, we need to make a change today.  Either set a new goal that is aligned with something we uniquely value, or stop pursuing something that has little intrinsic meaning.

2. Visualize The Absolute Best Case Scenario

It is natural for us to envision “what could possibly go wrong” in a given situation.  In many cases this actually isn’t a bad thing.  It allows us to make peace with the “worst case scenario” and plan appropriately.  However, it doesn’t get us excited.  So if we feel so inclined to prepare for the worst, we should also have the habit of “seeing the best” as well.  When we see the best, it gets us excited, and it provides us with a sense of hope, confidence and creativity.

3. Give Our Very Best In Everything We Do

Inner conflicts are often at the heart of unhappiness. A great way to create an inner conflict is to give a half-hearted effort in what we are pursuing. We can’t always control our immediate circumstances. Things happen to us that are outside of our control, but we can control how we react to situations. We can control our actions, and we can control our attitude‒no matter what happens to us. When we live each moment of our life with a sense that we are always giving our best, we will feel at peace. We won’t have regrets, and no matter what happens to us we will hold our heads up high knowing that we did our best. This makes us happy.

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4. Move Towards What Scares Us

Fear stops us from fulfillment. It also inhibits happiness. When we move towards what scares us, we achieve a powerful personal victory. It is the victory of the self over the self. When we achieve this victory we feel fulfilled, and we feel happy. Moving towards our fear also increases our complexity as individuals, and causes us to learn. Both of these are results that make us feel good. A habit of moving towards fear should be done in small, measurable steps.  Are you afraid of public speaking? Don’t sign up for a TED talk quite yet (perhaps that will come later). Start first with a small venue. Expand your comfort zone a small step at a time. Over time (as this becomes a habit) you will be amazed at your growth, and one day when you stand on that TED stage, it will seem surreal, but you only get there one step at a time. One victory over fear at a time.

5. Be Present. Live For Today

Living in the past can sometimes be nostalgic (and memorable), but it can also be painful and depressing. It is so easy to recall past mistakes and missteps. It is so easy to dwell on failures and the things that we “should have done.”  Living for the future can sometimes be exciting (if we are proficient at visualizing a compelling future), but it can also make us anxious (and scared) when we start to think about all the things we must do to make that future a reality.  The solution to the dangers of past and future living is to live completely in the present.  The present is all that we have anyway.  When we live in the present, we experience flow.  We do better work.  We eliminate anxiety and we thwart fear.

6. Learn Something New

If we believe that learning leads to happiness, then we have an unlimited opportunity for an exciting and fulfilling life.  There are literally limitless opportunities to learn.  You can learn a new skill or a new language.  You can learn strategies and tools that will help you to cultivate your existing talents and abilities.  You can expand your knowledge of the world, and other cultures.  You can live your entire life, immersed in learning related activities, and still never know it all. The reality is that learning does make us happy. It gives us confidence. You don’t need to go back to school to learn (although that can be fulfilling as well), just go to your preferred search engine, type some keywords of things that you’d like to learn and start reading.  Build on what you know every day.

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7. Exercise and Eat Healthy Foods

The better we eat, the better we’ll feel. The more we move, the better we’ll feel. This habit is also one that will create immediate results.  Sometimes, when we are in a bad mood, or perhaps we’ve had a bad day at work, the solution is a simple one: get to the gym, go for a walk or run, get on the bike, or go for a swim. Whatever our preferred method is, the results are the same.  We feel better after we exercise.

8. Detach From The Opinions of Others

Relationships bring meaning, purpose and richness to our lives.  They also can be a significant source of pain and frustration if we become fixated on the opinions of others.  The reality is that not everyone is going to like us.  Sometimes, just by being ourselves, we unintentionally push people away, and if we try to change this (by being someone who we aren’t) we unintentionally push others away (who like our authentic version better).  There is only one of us, and that is the person who we need to be 100% of the time‒the real, authentic self‒and if it means that not everyone likes us, so be it.  We will be much happier over time if we live as who we really are, and detach from the opinions of others.

9. Detach From Results. Focus Only On Actions

This is a difficult one, but if we master it, it will change our lives.  We pursue goals because we want a result, and there is nothing wrong with this.  All of us do it.  However, if we become completely fixated on the result, and fail to achieve it, then we may look at the endeavor as “wasted time.” We also may be so disappointed in not obtaining the result that we won’t see all of the growth that we experienced.  Some people feel that the saying “the journey is the destination” is simply a cliche, but if we truly live it, it is far more.  When detaching from results‒and focusing only on our actions, on being present at each moment, and on giving the very best that we have‒becomes a habit, we have great possibilities for happiness.

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10. Live Life As A Great Experiment

When we are kids, anything is possible.  Life is one giant experiment and we are the great scientists. There are no failures.  There is only feedback.  We are willing to experiment and try just about anything that interests us.  There are no limits. Unfortunately, for many of us, this enthusiasm, and willingness to experiment, fades with age.  We get risk-adverse.  We start worrying about failure, especially if that failure is visible (and could lead to criticism).  We start doubting what is possible. We believe that we are being “practical” and “pragmatic” and we hypnotize ourselves to think that this is the grown-up way to act.  However, it often doesn’t make us happy, and we’d be happier if we just retained the curiosity we had as a child.  If we can capture the child-like innocence of treating life like a giant experiment, and we are the amateur scientists, then the world will remain a wonderful mystery, and we will constantly feel intrigued and happy.

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new:

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

The bottom line

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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