Ahh… the pursuit of happiness. If you’re a social media addict, you will feel like all of your friends are always happy and leaving a great life. In reality… well, not so much. If you happen to meet or talk with any of these same friends in person, the truth about their real existence comes out. That’s when the whining and complaining starts.
Breaking News! Happiness is not about accumulating “Likes,” racking up “Friend Requests” from people you hardly know, or getting a lot of re-tweets or comments to your posts with smiley faces. And that’s a good thing… If you need “Likes” or comments to be happy and get to where you want to be in life, your life is already empty.
Wanting to attain true, lasting happiness is a desire that every person has deeply longed for at one point or another in life. Here’s my take: don’t postpone being happy. I hear some of my friends saying… “Once I get this or do that or when this happens, or -fill in the blank-, I’ll be happy…” But why wait? Make happiness your priority so you can achieve all other goals sooner too. Better yet, if or when you can’t find a way to make yourself happy, start by making other people happy and you will instantly feel happier about yourself.
What I’ve found over the years is that true lasting happiness starts from within. Sure, external factors will make us happy from time to time, but that type of happiness will quickly fade away. Without trying to over simplify the subject of happiness, these are a few simple practices that I try to keep in mind to help me improve the quality of my life and the level of happiness of my own circle of friends.
10 Easy Habits to Keep Your Focus on Happiness
Don’t obsess over finding happiness
The key to experiencing true happiness, it turns out, lies in not actively seeking it out. Heightened expectations can set you up for disappointment if things don’t go your way, so it’s much better to take a calm, reasonable approach and to keep expectations in check. Think about it this way: If you’re happy and healthy you can’t really ask for more in life. You can’t force happiness and you can’t buy health.
Be ready for anything, and be positive for the future
No one can predict what will happen in the future, so the only way to survive would be to anticipate and prepare for any situation as much as you can. You can’t just have faith in the future and assume you’re always going to respond to any obstacle the right way. You have to anticipate what types of situations are going to exist, what type of life challenges you may face and decide in advance how you’re going to react to them as opposed to just crossing your fingers and hope that things will work out. Maintaining a semblance of control can help influence positive outcomes, but it also helps you handle negative events better.
Take up a new skill
Learn a different language, study how to build something from scratch, participate in workshops or training programs — whichever way you go about it, mastering a new skill increases a person’s happiness. It may be difficult or stressful at first, but the rewards of this endeavor do much to raise your happiness levels. Living is growing. Growing is achieving. If you’re not growing and achieving in your life, if you’re not fulfilling your life’s goals, you’re just consuming your life one day at a time. Some people live the same day over and over and say that’s a life. I call that surviving. Living is growing, achieving, learning, improving, making mistakes, facing new challenges.
Embrace mixed feelings
It can be confusing or unsettling to find that you’re feeling frustrated, yet hopeful at the same time, but this conflict can actually lead you toward improved well-being. Finding meaning in both good and bad experiences can help support your psychological health. Keep in mind that in life, everyone wants a Hollywood ending; but there’s a reason why it is called a Hollywood ending. It is scripted. Hollywood endings rarely exist in real life. You need to create them for yourself.
Exercise your willpower
Train yourself to go without some of the things that you love, even only temporarily, so that you can appreciate them more later on. This can apply to your daily caffeine fix, or your need to keep the house impeccably neat at all times, or the luxury of travel. I have a big sign in my office reading “No Whining Allowed.” I don’t like to complain and I don’t like complainers either. We’re so spoiled that we tend to let a paper cut ruin our day. I do get sick, injured, have bad days, get frustrated, etc. just like everyone else, but rather than being down, I take a few steps back to clear my mind and quickly start focusing on the other multiple things about my life that I should be thankful for.
Don’t stray too far away.
When your close friends are also geographically close by, your happiness is magnified. This is because belonging to a group of happy people that frequently and closely interact with each other increases your own happiness. Jim Rohn said “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” If your closest friends are always going through life complaining about everything, I’d bet you’re a complainer too. Surround yourself with happy and optimistic people and you will become happy too. Yes, happiness is contagious!
Practice saying no
You might initially believe that burying yourself in projects booking every last minute of your time for all kinds of activities can lead to a richer, happier life — but that won’t be the result if you are overwhelmed by everything you need to do. Avoid taking on more than you can handle by saying no — be selective, choose your battles and you’ll be a lot happier for it. Work is extremely satisfying when you surround yourself with a great team that believes what you believe. If you find yourself frequently telling your friends that “you’re too busy” that means you’re not in control of your life.
Keep one foot on the ground.
By making realistic plans and aiming for achievable goals, you can expect to actually receive or experience great things in the future rather than merely fantasizing about good things that could happen. Don’t be frustrated by the pursuit of perfection. There’s the right thing to do and the right way to do things. Doing the right thing supersedes doing it the right way. Most of us parents always try to do the right thing for our kids even if we don’t always do it the right way. Overall, I try to be consistently good rather than occasionally perfect. Apply this to work, play, relationships, diet, fitness. It will reduce your daily stress.
Consider therapy and meditation
According to many studies, compared to receiving money, such as in the form of a pay raise or lottery winnings, receiving effective counseling or spending a few minutes per day meditating actually makes a person much happier in the long run. So think about getting therapy or adding meditation to your daily habits to improve your well-being. Take time for yourself every day. Reflect, be grateful, appreciate, disconnect, love yourself. You will feel much better.
Highlight your best points while accepting the shortcomings
Allow yourself to be who you truly are. Only you can know what you can and can’t do, and what your potential capabilities and failings may be. Understand and celebrate your qualities. There are two types of pain in this world: pain that hurts you, and pain that changes you. But to me, the most painful and boring life experience would be living without experiencing some sort of pain from time to time.
Life is not linear. It’s not a straight flight. There are ups and downs twists and turns. You will go through moments with turbulence. Keep on flying, stay the course.
Finally, if this short read helps bring a few moments of optimism and happiness to your life, do me a favor and do the same for those around you. Let’s all make our world a better place, one random act of happiness at a time.
Thank you for reading. Until next time, this is Manuel Gil del Real (MGR)