How often have you said, “I just want to be happy!”
When was the last time you stopped to consider what happiness is?
Defining happiness is complicated because happiness can only be felt. It is a way of thinking. Happiness is a combination of how satisfied you feel with your life – for example, how meaningful your job may be for you, or how good you feel on a day-to-day basis.
Many people believe that happiness means having fun at the nightclub, the excitement of a new purchase, the thrill and passion of sex, or fine dining at a restaurant. These are all great experiences, but they are not happy. Those are just examples of pleasures that can be experienced and then let go of. Pleasure is brief, which makes us continue to please ourselves to experience these happy experiences. Our brain can adapt to this pleasure and make it a routine. If this happens, it can take more pleasurable stimuli to make us feel happy again. You see, chasing pleasure is not happiness.
Happiness is just a warm feeling that's just there, and you acknowledge it. You feel satisfied and fulfilled. On a micro-level, it is a feeling of contentment, of being mindful, that life is exactly as it should be in the present moment. What actions can you take to generate happiness?
Count your blessings and perceive life as beautiful, even if sometimes things don’t go as planned. It's obvious that people who are grateful are more satisfied with their relationships and outlook on life. They feel happier, less stressed, and less depressed. Remember that when we are grateful, our problems don’t magically disappear; they just occupy less space in our heart. Focus on what you have. That’s why when you start comparing yourself to others – as you do on social media all the time – you become less happy.
So many of us ask ourselves, “What is the meaning of life?” Let it be whatever you want it to be. Whatever you have your ambition set on, go out there and do it without fear or regret. Some people start a family, and the father will be the baseball coach of his daughter's team and be completely happy in life. That dad can be happier than the entrepreneur dad who slaves year-round to make millions from his business – a perfect example of how money can’t buy you happiness. One man his more satisfied with being a baseball coach than the man running a multi-million-dollar business. Go find your meaning in anything you’re passionate about, and pursue it.
Time is our most limited resource. Time is just given to us as a miracle on this planet, without a set amount. Cherish time by taking action to focus on things that matter to you. Every moment you get is literally a gift, so stop focusing on miserable things or dwelling on things that can’t be undone, asking yourself, “What if?” You know what? Life sucks. Get over it and do things that generate happiness. I love that I learned the power to say no in whatever I do in life. I evaluate an action by asking myself, “Will this be a positive experience for me?” Then I make a decision. If it’s family activities to boost my wellbeing, new experiences, and things that help me progress in my career, I’ll focus more on those areas.
Well-being and taking care of myself has been a priority for the past year. We get into a continuous cycle of work, sleep, and more work. After a few cycles, our body starts protesting and demands your attention. Self-love is just as physical as emotional. Getting enough sleep is crucial to your wellbeing. Food isn't just macronutrients, but also genetic information that is telling your body how to run. These actions alone will generate happiness because you will feel much better in your daily life. Take the time to look at your daily routine and see how you can improve. Develop habits that will create more happiness for your body.
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Ever hear that quote? The people we surround ourselves with are the biggest influencers on our behavior, attitudes, and results. They determine what conversations dominate your attention. Eventually, you start to think as they think and behave as they behave. Add people to your inner circle who you want to be like. You can’t generate happiness in an environment where everyone puts you down.
These 5 actions are crucial to incorporate in your life if you want to create long-term happiness. Let's be honest here. Happy people are healthier! They:
Have lower rates of cardiovascular disease – in one study, happiness was associated with a 22% lower risk of this disease over the 10-year study period (1);
Have better immunity from infections;
Heal faster after injuries;
Are more likely to have a healthier diet; and
Have better well-being and tend to live longer.
Being happy isn’t a single credit-card swipe. Nor is it wrapped up in a beautiful box, ready for someone to unwrap. Happiness is generated by satisfaction with who we are and our actions. You have the amazing ability to be in control of how you feel. With practice, cultivating and maintaining life-long healthy habits will help you lead a more satisfying and happy life.
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Call it intuition, instinct, or a gut feeling: if we followed it, we just might be a lot happier. Intuition is a skill we are all born with, but one we submerge in the business of modern living.