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The Secret to Happiness Is 10 Specific Behaviors
Despite happiness being a primary human motivation, only one in three Americans say they’re very happy.
Several years ago in an interview with Conan O’Brien, Louis C. K. tells of flying on a newly equipped Wi-Fi airplane. He was amazed by the new technology. Until, during the flight, the Wi-Fi went down. Immediately, the man next to him became extremely upset. “As though the world owes this man something he only knew existed 10 seconds ago.”
Louis C. K. continues by describing people’s absurd frustrations with flying in general. People complain about it all the time “It was the worst day of my life! It took 20 minutes to board! We had to sit on the runway for 40 minutes!”
We hear complaints like these all the time. As if we’ve forgotten how incredible it is that humans can fly at all.
How are we so quick to take for granted the remarkable things going on in life?
Why is it so easy to complain?
Why do we focus on the negative?
Everything is amazing and nobody is happy.
However, happiness can easily be achieved even without the brilliant advances in the world.
Rather than being reactive to what’s going on around us, happy people take control of their lives and emotions. If you are unhappy with your life, who or what else can you blame than yourself? And if you can blame someone or something else, how is blame going to make your life any better?
Bad stuff happens to everyone. But life isn’t about what happens to you. It’s about how you proactively respond.
The following 10 behaviors, if applied, will change your life. Let me be clear, if you do these things, you will be an incredibly happy person.
1. Let Go Of The Need For Specific Outcomes
Not everything in life goes exactly how we plan. There are setbacks. Stuff happens. We mess up. Over-obsessing and basing happiness on specific outcomes leads to misery. Jeremy Piven, the famous actor, was recently interviewed by Success Magazine. During the interview, he mentioned that, as an actor, the only way to work is to go out and audition for specific roles.The challenge most actors/actresses face is that they get in their own way. It doesn’t matter how much homework they’ve done. If they’re too tied to a specific result, they can’t be present in the moment. They can’t truly perform their art. They come off as desperate. They get in their own way. Their performance isn’t what it could have been.Jeremy said that when he quit worrying about a specific result, he was able to be present during his auditions. He was able to be completely who he wanted to be. He wasn’t trying to be what he thought others wanted him to be. He performed his art.If he didn’t get the gig, either they didn’t get it or it just wasn’t the right fit. So he moves on to the next. In this way, he’s able to get the jobs he’s supposed to have. He’s not just trying to get anything he can get.
2. Define Your Own Success And Happiness
“Be everything to everybody and you’ll be nothing for yourself.” — John Rushton
No two human beings are the same. So why should we have one standard of success? Seeking society’s standard of success is an endless rat-race. There will always be someone better than you. You’ll never have the time to do everything.Instead, you recognize that every decision has opportunity cost. When you choose one thing, you simultaneously don’t choose several others. And that’s okay. Actually, it’s beautiful because we get to choose our ultimate ideal. We must define success, wealth, and happiness in our own terms because if we don’t, society will for us — and we will always fall short. We’ll always be left wanting. We’ll always be stuck comparing ourselves and competing with other people. Our lives will be an endless race for the next best thing. We’ll never experience contentment.
3. Commit 100 Percent To The Things That Make You Happy
“Many of us have convinced ourselves that we are able to break our own personal rules “just this once.” In our minds, we can justify these small choices. None of those things, when they first happen, feels like a life-changing decision. The marginal costs are almost always low. But each of those decisions can roll up into a much bigger picture, turning you into the kind of person you never wanted to be.” — Clayton Christensen
People are really good at self-sabotage. We consistently behave in ways that contradict our goals and ideals. This is incongruence. As Mahatma Gandhi has said, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” The smaller the gap between what you should do, and what you actually do — the happier you will be.
Hence, Clayton Christensen says 100 percent commitment is easier than 98 percent commitment. When you fully commit to something, the decision has been made. Consequently, regarding that thing, all future decisions have been made.
Unless you’re committed 100 percent, you will always be a victim to external circumstances. By relying on willpower, you’ll crumble more often than you think. Research has found that people over-inflate their own performance. Chances are, you probably think you’re doing better at your resolves than you really are.
But once you’re 100 percent committed, you no longer need to rely on willpower. Your decision has already been made regardless of the circumstances. Saying “No” to anything outside our highest ideals becomes extremely easy. This is living proactively rather than reactively.
4. Be Grateful For What You Already Have
“Both abundance and lack [of abundance] exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend … when we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that’s present — love, health, family, friends, work, the joys of nature, and personal pursuits that bring us [happiness] — the wasteland of illusion falls away and we experience heaven on earth.” — Sarah Ban Breathnach
Happiness is as simple as gratitude. Psychological research has found that people who practice gratitude consistently report a host of benefits:
Stronger immune systems, Less bothered by aches and pains, Lower blood pressure, Exercise more and take better care of their health, Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking
Higher levels of positive emotions, More alert, alive, and awake, More joy and pleasure, More optimism and happinessSocial
More helpful, generous, and compassionate, More forgiving, More outgoing, Feel less lonely and isolatedDespite these benefits, most people ungratefully focus on what they don’t have. As a culture, we have become wasteful and undisciplined consumers. The grass is always greener on the other side. A constant pursuit of having more of the newest and best.
How could you possibly find happiness when you relentlessly want more and never find properly appreciate what you have?
It’s time for you to learn how to be more grateful. Your happiness depends on it.
5. Say “I Love You” More
This may be strange, but if you tell your friends and family you love them, they’ll be blown away. I once knew a Polynesian missionary who told everyone he loved them. It was clear he was sincere.I asked him why he did it. What he told me changed my life. “When I tell people I love them, it not only changes them, but it changes me. Simply by saying the words, I feel more love for that person. I’ve been telling people all around me I love them. They feel treasured by me. Those who know me have come to expect it. When I forget to say it, they miss it.”Said author Harriet Beecher Stowe, “The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.”As my wife, Lauren, tells our children daily, “The secret to happiness is to make everyone around you happy.” By default, you will get the satisfaction of bringing joy to others and their positive energy will come back to you.
6. Have Hobbies Directed Toward Your Dreams
Most people’s hobbies are just hobbies. And that’s okay. It’s good to have an escape from reality. However, research has found that a person can experience leisure in anything. Your work can become your leisure — where it literally rejuvenates you.When I decided where I wanted my life to go, my life vision, I consciously chose hobbies that would best get me there. Some of these hobbies include exercise, reading, writing, journaling, having deep and meaningful conversations, and being in nature. These hobbies refresh and rejuvenate me while simultaneously pushing me toward my dreams.
7. Don’t Wait Til Tomorrow For What You Can Do Today
“When I was around thirteen and my brother ten, Father had promised to take us to the circus. But at lunchtime there was a phone call; some urgent business required his attention downtown. We braced ourselves for disappointment. Then we heard him say [into the phone], ‘No, I won’t be down. It’ll have to wait.’“When he came back to the table, Mother smiled. ‘The circus keeps coming back, you know,’ [she said.]“‘I know,’ said Father. ‘But childhood doesn’t.’” — Arthur GordonHappiness comes from embracing the now. Not letting those moments pass you by. Greg McKeown, author of Essentialism, tells of the story of missing his child being born to be at an “important meeting.” He thought the potential client would be impressed with his commitment to work. Instead, they saw his decision to miss such a monumental moment as a flaw in character. That moment was a turning point for Greg. In fact, it spurred him to change everything about his life. He now removes everything from his life that is not vital and essential.Nothing in life is permanent. Kids grow up. Friends move away. Our loved ones pass on from this life. Let’s live in the present and appreciate the most important things in our lives before it’s too late.
8. Do Something Every Day That Terrifies You
Happy people step out of their comfort zone. You can’t grow if you don’t challenge yourself. And growth is a requirement of happiness. If you’re not growing, you’re slowly decaying and dying.
Elevated risk makes you feel more alive and puts you in a state of flow — which is an optimal conscious state where you feel and perform at your highest level. You become completely absorbed in what you’re doing — pure presence.
When you do things way outside your comfort zone, you naturally raise your conscious level. When you do things that involve high risk, and high probability of failure, you are forced to think differently than you normally do. You are forced to be creative and innovative.
Sadly, most people play life small, safe, and easy. The goals they pursue are logical. There is little element of risk and little requirement for faith.
Consequently, you should take bigger risks in your life. Do things that make you feel alive and activate flow. Of course, with this will come more failures. But if you’re not failing, you’re not growing. Rather than experiencing apathy in life, you’ll experience more of a roller-coaster of emotions. We can never appreciate joy if we’ve never felt sorrow. The more pain and fear we feel, the more we can comprehend and appreciate joy and happiness.
9. Put “The Important” Before “The Urgent”
Stephen Covey says that most people spend their time on urgent but unimportant things. We wake up and immediately check our email. Thus, we put our lives on reactive, rather than proactive mode. After all, email is simply a database of other people’s agendas.
Instead, happy people always put the important stuff first. Not only important, but important and non-urgent. The important stuff includes exercise, reading good books, setting goals, writing in your journal, and spending time with those you love. None of these things are urgent. We could easily put these things off until tomorrow — which is ultimately never. The most happy and successful people in the world spend most of their time on the important.
One of my favorite non-urgent yet important things is my morning routine. I wake up several hours before I start my work day. I meditate and pray to put myself in a space of gratitude and abundance. Then I get my body moving with exercise or yard work. I eat healthy food, read my long-term goals, listen to uplifting content, and do at least one thing to move me toward my goals.
10. Forgo The Good To Pursue The Best
A lot of things in life are good, even great. That doesn’t mean we should do them. In Good to Great, Jim Collins says that once-in-a-lifetime opportunities come up every day. Most people take any great opportunity that comes their way, even if it’s not in alignment with their life vision. Consequently, most people’s lives are moving in a thousand different directions. They aren’t able to consciously move forward in a singular direction.
On the other hand, happy people say no to even amazing opportunities. They will not sacrifice freedom for security. They will not get derailed by distractions — even sexy and attractive distractions.
Very few things in life are best. You can only determine what’s best for you once you know where you want your life to go. Be careful not to continuously engage in good activities and miss the best ones.
Happy people live in the present. They don’t miss the moments that matter most. They are incredibly grateful for all they have. They focus their lives on the important and essential. They forgo the many good opportunities in order to focus on the few best ones.
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32 important life lessons from 32 years
Sometimes so many questions accumulate in your head that you just have to find a way to release them. Olesya Novikova, a writer, journalist, blogger, and traveller, recently shared the life lessons which she has discovered over the 32 years of her life so far.Everyone has a fear. Even beautiful, talented, smart, and lucky people. We’re scared to start something new, to go out of our comfort zone, to take a risk, to do something that we never done before. We fear for our families, for our jobs, for our life, and for many other things as well. Fear will always exist. No matter how much experience, confidence, recognition, money or talent you have, you’ll be scared to a greater or lesser degree each time when you conquer a new height or do something new. But this is fine. This means you’re still alive. You have to keep going on. Go through and past your fear, and don’t try to get rid of it.
Changes will keep happening. Stability is illusory. We’re constantly on the move. We keep changing — outwardly and inwardly, and these processes don’t stop even for a second. A sane person doesn’t have the chance to pose the question — to change or not to change? He or she can only answer a different one: ’’Do I have control over these changes that are taking place, and to what extent?’’
’’Quickly’’ means ’’slowly, but without interruption.’’ There’s no need to do something quickly, intensely, or forcefully. Just do it regularly. The most important thing is to keep the rhythm going. Do it little by little, but constantly. And after some time, if you look at it from the outside, it will look like you did it quickly and efficiently.
Create more than you consume.Otherwise, you’ll be left with only a hopeless consumer lifestyle leading to no meaningful conclusion. ’’Everything is good, but there’s nothing good’’. A person must always create something, willingly and with love. This is a formula for good mental health. Curiously, this is the only way to enjoy the pleasure of consumption that won’t destroy the pleasure itself. You can consider this process as a spiritual version of having good metabolism.
Today’’ is what you did and thought yesterday, and ’’tomorrow’’ is what you do and think today. Repeat this phrase like a mantra for as long as you realize that no one else is responsible for the problems you come up against.
There are no guarantees at all. This is a basic rule of the universe which you need to take into account when making all your decisions and preparing all your plans.
The era of sacred knowledge is over.Now, it’s the era of informational hygiene. For several years already, knowledge hasn’t helped any of us achieve anything or attain a meaningful existence. The internet has devalued knowledge. The ability to concentrate on a given task without losing interest is now more important. And this skill is directly affected by the storm of information battering your mind at any given moment. The more verbal ’’garbage’’ is around, the weaker your concentration becomes. The more the thoughts of others circulate in your mind, the harder it is to hear your own voice. The online stream of information weakens your ability to discover yourself.
Joy and pleasure are not the same thing. We never experience real joy while eating a chocolate cake, drinking a glass of wine or smoking a cigarette. We don’t experience joy while buying new shoes or perfume. Let’s call things by their proper names — in these cases, we just get pleasure. And that’s another story. By its nature this feeling is very short-lived, and it’s inextricably linked to further dissatisfaction, boredom, satiety, and the desire for a new portion of pleasure. Don’t be afraid to give up pleasures, be afraid not to experience real joy.Suffering exists. Buddha was right after all.
Suffering exists. Everybody suffers. Both those who have nothing and those who have everything. Those who don’t suffer in the present will make the transition to a state of pain at a later date. Maybe because of the falling currency or because of a terrorist attack. Maybe because of finding out that someone doesn’t love him or her anymore. Or they’ll get upset because they don’t get a reply to a message they sent, or they don’t earn enough money, or for literally any other reason you can think of. Suffering exists. We will always find a reason to suffer. Just accept it, and do your best to ignore it.
Not everyone can be happy. Can everyone be happy? Yes, sure! But only in theory. In practice, only those who have disciplined their minds can be consistently happy, calm, balanced, and benevolent. Only those whose minds are trained and capable of not worrying about everything around them. Only those who manage to retain a sense of joy not only in agreeable circumstances but also in unpleasant situations. Otherwise, there’s an endless stream of events which will evoke only pain, irritation, and anxiety. And some situations are more serious than others. A person who reacts emotionally to every little incident can never be happy inside.
Joy means retaining a balance in your mind. If somebody had told me this five years ago, I would never have believed it. When you dream all day and night of finding your one true love, creating a family, a well-paid job, an opportunity to work for yourself, to travelk, you think that you know what joy is. At least, what your own joy is. Of course, you can’t always be satisfied with everything. Sometimes you suffer. And this is fine. The most important thing is that you know what to strive for. Looking at your dreams, you realize where your sense of enduring joy comes from. Joy is a state of complete peace of mind, which is achieved by overcoming the blind, automatic reactions of the mind to events. Practising a form of deep meditation is perhaps the only healthy way to discover and attain this state true maturity.
Know the importance of fruit and its physical effects. Fruit is not acidic, it’s alkaline. To divert into science for a second, all kinds of ripe fruit and vegetables have an alkaline reaction, helping to neutralise excess acid in your body. Things like meat, sugar, fat and dairy products have the opposite effect. Not many people know this — try googling it!
’’My body itself knows what is better for it’’ is one of the most insidious mind traps. An alcoholic’s body wants to drink; a smoker’s body dreams of a cigarette; our bodies are always hungry for chocolate and fries. How can the body know what is better? Our minds live by automatic responses that don’t let us make necessary changes; our bodies obey our habits and our chaotic impulses.
Food affects not only your body but also your mind. In the same way that alcohol significantly changes your consciousness, blunting it, certain kinds of food can have a similar effect, but it’s less pronounced and more unconscious. Food can slow down and refocus your thinking process. Moreover, it can weaken your control, your power of awareness, and your clarity of perception. A slightly ’’blurred’’ state of mind becomes a norm for you, so you forget what lightness and clarity actually mean. The most ’’clean’’ kinds of food are fresh fruit, vegetables, cereals, and that which is cooked with a minimum amount of oil, spices, and salt.
You need money only in order not to think about money. Money doesn’t solve the central question of humanity. It don’t make people happy. But the opportunity not to think about money, at least in everyday life, significantly releases energy for something else.
We have more similarities than differences. The value of personal uniqueness is greatly exaggerated. All the answers and solutions have already existed for a long time. In focusing on your own uniqueness, you don’t have the chance to push away your ego and perceive reality with all its real answers.
The best way to stop an addiction is not to have access to the thing your addicted to, at all. It’s impossible to drink one glass of wine if you’re an alcoholic. If you’re trying to quit smoking, you can’t still have a smoke from time to time. You’ll be constantly in a state of mental torture. You’ll go up and down. You’ll always have disruptions. This rule is immutable for all kinds of addiction.
You will never be fully prepared for change. We are never fully prepared for twists of fate or changes. There is always a strong ’’but...’’ and the temptation to postpone changes until a more favorable time. There is no point waiting for complete internal harmony. You just need to make a decision, relying on the thought that ’’it’s high time’’ to get things done.
Life is a book where the first chapters weren’t written by you. Sometimes even the subsequent chapters aren’t either. We’re composed of beliefs and we make up models of the world around us. And this world isn’t just abstract. It’s a concrete office, a house, a street — the places where we spend our life. It’s our friends, colleagues, parents, and the salespeople whom we meet every evening. It’s a news feed on social networks and so-called Facebook friends. We automatically absorb the opinions, positions, and viewpoints of other people. We imbibe them along with the air, regardless of whether we agree with them or not. And when we don’t agree, it’s also a moment of automatic denial. In childhood, this process was completely out of our control. The essence of your personality was forged by other people, and parental input (if it was ever there) wasn’t dominant in this. What and who you consider yourself to be and what you should be afraid to lose, according to some psychologists, is just a mosaic of your environment. There is nothing to lose. Isn’t that great news? At least in that case, you can redraw everything however you like.
A result is a bunch of attempts at something. It’s not a single well-aimed shot. And it’s certainly not just good fortune.
What helped you at one stage may one day prevent you from going on to the next stage. Sometimes it’s important to give up that which has helped you in the past. Here’s an example: rules for small businesses don’t work for huge corporations. It’s impossible to grow without giving up some of the rules, even if they helped you to grow up yesterday. This also applies to your personality, a person’s values, and their plans.
Outside of your comfort zone, there is a discomfort zone. And there’s no flowers and chocolates there. But you have to go there anyway if you want to achieve something.
There is no life without a purpose. The only question is whether you create these purposes yourself or leave it to your instincts to decide them for you.
Laziness doesn’t exist. There are unloved activities, there’s such a thing as a lack of energy and a lack of wide vision and ability to be excited about new perspectives. But there is no such thing as laziness.
You can’t find yourself; you can only create yourself. There is nothing and nobody to look for. You’re always here, in the here and now. Your path is what you have under your feet right now, nothing more — it’s not anywhere else. You can only distinguish between the right path and the wrong one by using your awareness. You pave small, but definite goals. If these goals are determined by others, or if they chaotically grow as a result of duty, it’s not your path. It’s just a bunch of separate episodes of your life.
You don’t need alcohol. At all.
Your unrealized potential will hurt you one day. It’s useless to hide this fact and instead stick inside your comfort zone. As they say, you are responsible for the talent that has been entrusted to you.
Banks should pay you, but not vice versa. This is the only possible way to be financially healthy. Never, never, never buy anything that you haven’t earned enough to pay for. Never. Especially if you want something big. We pay banks not only our money but also our energy. As a result, you don’t have the energy to take that risk and make adventurous plans. Breaking out from such a situation once that decision is taken is hardly going to be possible.
You need to learn how to work under pressure, and how to relax. Every movement requires exertion. If you make this move reluctantly and out of necessity, you’ll spend twice as much energy. In this case, you spend some energy on the physical and mental effort, and the mental stress saps the rest of your energy. That’s why you need to learn how to deal with stress when it appears and how to love it. If you сan put yourself under strain voluntarily, considering it only something positive, you’ll expend much less energy. The second part of success is the ability to relax, to accept things as they are, to let go of your expectations. You can’t move on if you only know how to be stressed, but don’t know how to relax.
’’Yes’’ and ’’no’’ are two answers that you need to learn as soon as possible.Learn how to say ’’yes’’ to situations and people in spite of the absence of guarantees, internal readiness, and changing circumstances. Learn how to say ’’no’’ first of all to yourself: to your weaknesses, your fears, and your selfishness. And only much later, learn how to say ’’no’’ to others.
There’s a difference between great things and good things. The latter you forget about, the former you don’t. A truly creative person is different from someone who simply does his job well. Creators put their tasks above themselves, dissolving their egos in the process. They work consciously and with love, not because of a sense of duty or a lack of choice. A marketer can be a true musician while a proper musician can be just a mediocre craftsman for their entire life.
Every sign that you meet on your way through life can be interpreted in at least three different ways. 1. Maybe this is a real sign! 2. Perhaps there are no signs at all. 3. Maybe this is a test. Maybe fate just attempted to knock you out of your stride by testing the sincerity of your intentions and your decisions.