Keep asking someone “why?” after they tell you their motivation for doing anything and the final bare-bone answer will always be “Because it makes me happy”. All we humans do is motivated by the potential of that thing giving us more happiness, whether it be short or long-term. Even the most selfless act makes us feel good about ourselves and is therefore a means to making us happier.
Happiness is not just a feeling or condition that some people are somehow blessed with and others are not. You must make your own happiness. A lot of unhappiness, and therefore happiness, is defined by our actions, and more often than not by our inactions.
But who the hell am I to tell you anything about happiness anyway? I’m just another guy trying to figure it all out. But the topic of happiness has always interested me, so I delved into it. Why some people are happier than others, when they seemingly have the same prerequisites, was one great mystery that I always wanted to solve.
I know that happiness is a rather subjective experience. What makes me happy, might not make you happy. I guess if people stayed true to who they really were, we would have many more content people.
There are a few proven universal principles though, that have the biggest potential for improving everyone’s happiness and I sure as hell didn’t come up with them. Studies show they work.
6 Best Habits To Dominate Each Day
Do Nice Things For Others
Little acts of kindness go a long way. For example, we have no idea what power a small genuine compliment holds. It can not only sweeten the recipient’s dire day, but can set off a chain of positive events in their life.
Extend acts of kindness past mere compliments by taking someone else under your wing and teach them the ropes, if you’re in expert in something. Be a mentor. Volunteer. Give to charity.
Generally, always give more than what you expect back in return.
Studies also found that spending money on others is more rewarding than spending it on yourself, despite participants predicting the opposite.
Whatever your act of kindness is, make it a daily habit and as selfless as possible, which, ultimately is the best thing to do for your happiness.
Make Time For Your Passion
I’m always baffled when I meet people that have no passion for anything. Not a single thing. How uninspiring. Everyone should have a burning passion for something. It’s what makes you feel alive. Many people might not have found their true passion yet, but it’s out there and you must seek it out.
Not everyone has chosen to (or the luxury of) making their living doing what they love. You need to try at least. We spend too much of our life working and I can think of few things more depressing, than being stuck in a job you hate for 30 years.
Make sure you block time for your passion. Whether it is drawing, writing, playing a sport or instrument, put it in your daily schedule. Pursuing your passion lights a fire in your gut, that forces you to be totally present, which is the best state for happiness to prosper.
Keep A Gratitude Journal
Reading this blog, you probably live in a part of the world, where you don’t have to worry on a daily basis about things like not having enough food or water, war or genocide. We take all of this for granted, but by not having to worry about these things (Sadly, I guess there’s a little more worry now), you’ve already won the lottery.
Our consumer culture is always chasing after the newest, biggest, fastest whatever, and we rarely stop to appreciate the things we already have. No one is saying that you shouldn’t have nice things, but don’t think your happiness is anchored to them. It is not.
Studies show that people with low self-esteem are more materialistic than those with healthier levels. Increasing self-esteem levels by writing down what they are grateful for in themselves and around them, led them to instantly become less materialistic and place more value on other more rewarding things in life.
Every day write down five things you are grateful for. These can be things like family or friends, some of your own character traits, but should also include small day-to-day stuff like a nice dinner at a restaurant or a workout that you dominated. Studies show that this instantly improves happiness.</li/
Keep Moving Forward
“Iron rusts from disuse, water loses its purity from stagnation…even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind.”– Leonardo Da Vinci
When I couldn’t bear my last job anymore, I simply quit. I was becoming stagnant, complacent even, and that gnawed away at me. I needed to move forward for my own sanity and happiness.
And this wasn’t about issues like more money or the “prestige” of a fancy job title. Mentally, I was at a standstill, which rubbed off on other aspects of my life like my relationships.
We need the feeling of growth in key areas of our life:
- Physical (good health, fitness)
- Mental (challenges, sense of progress, self-development eg. learning a new language)
- Emotional (good relationships, friends)
- Spiritual (inner calm and balance, remaining in the present)
We can focus on a single facet, and neglect all the others, only for so long, before it resurfaces in ugly ways and bites us in the ass.
Who is sitting at these “Self-Help Motivational Guru” Seminars that charge $30.000 for two days? Rich people who have sacrificed everything else in their life for money and are looking for ways to mend the broken pieces that are now their life.
To avoid this, we need to set goals for each of the above areas and do one thing a day that brings us closer to these goals. Write that one thing down.
You will never be able to fully balance the key aspects equally. One will take precedence over the other for periods of time, then another gains importance. That’s normal. It is just when one gets left behind entirely, that we will run into problems.
Take Breaks From Technology
In my opinion, social media is one of the biggest sources of unhappiness today. An APS survey found that one in two teenagers suffers from social media stress and feels that he/she is missing out, as people tend to post on social media only stuff that makes their life look more appealing than it really is.
The 1% highlight reel. This leads others to believe their life is boring, compared to everyone else’s. And you know as well as me, that this is not limited to teenagers.
Deriving your self-worth and significance from your facebook likes is not only sad, but a quick ticket to depression. Instead of posting selfies and scrolling through endless news feeds, grab a book and read something, call up an old friend, learn japanese ( = be awesome), go to the gym, write down your goals. Whatever, anything is better than wasting time on social media.
One very successful person said it best: ”At no time in history has it been easier to get ahead of others and be successful. Because 99% of people are wasting time, jerking around on social media.”
Take a time out. Leave your phone switched off one day a week. Limit social media to five minutes a day and checking emails to twice a day. This will free up some time to be productive and for doing stuff that really matters.
Optimize Your Hormones
There’s a saying that “Health isn’t everything, but without health, everything is nothing.”
A good hormonal profile is way up there when it comes to health. Just because you’re not suffering from a debilitating illness, doesn’t mean you are functioning at your peak. Many people have forgotten what true health really feels like, as they’ve accepted their current condition as normal and as good as it gets.
I’ve written a few blog posts on hormone optimization, and that happiness and a grab-life-by-the-balls attitude starts with optimizing your hormones. With a lousy hormonal profile of sky-high cortisol and estrogen, sapped adrenal glands and lousy insulin sensitivity, there is just no way you can go out and dominate each day. Your energy and vigor won’t allow it.
Fixing your hormonal profile helps you live up to your potential, which will make you happier, and being happier helps with a better hormonal profile. It’s a win-win. You don’t see many sad, dejected people walking around with the health and body they want.
One feeds the other. That’s why you must respect yourself, follow a healthy diet, sleep eight hours a day, be physically active with three hard training sessions a week.
Here is some recommended reading on the topic of happiness:
Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
The Art of Happiness by The Dalai Lama