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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.
This article was originally published at the:
Never In My Wildest Dreams
You came into my world like high beams on some two lane highway in the middle of a desert night; just as I lost the fight between thirty more miles and pulling over for a nap until sunrise. Fracturing my momentary dream into a million pieces of panic and surprise as your light burned through the lids of my eyes and your horn’s noise grabbed at nerves that shook my insides alive.
I remember the giant halo of your glow and light coming head on, the fog in my brain was overwhelming, as muscle memory spurred both hands and they registered on the wheel. My grasp was wrapped tight and pulled sharply, sending me into a wrenching swerve; a sudden desperate attempt to avoid our impending collision, as you careened head long my way. In the moments that came, I couldn’t tell if you were slowing or attempting to avoid the obstruction of my vehicle that had wondered into your lane. I only knew the fear as my life flashed before my frozen, bulging eyes. I felt my knuckles strain, threatening to rip flesh, as they pulled against the tension of my grasp on the wheel.
I remember feeling my knee slam under the dash as terror took me and I over compensated. With pang in knee, I stabbed my foot back down at the break. I remember the feeling of gravity shift as my vehicle began to swerve and my body flatten into the door panel as I began the fight to regain control of my vehicle, careening down that lonely highway.
I remember my body recognized and felt something I couldn’t have truly felt. At least something felt different, this specific time, than any other before or after. Both the fear of loosing control and this new feeling are forever linked somehow. It was something I felt as my shoulder pressed into the drivers side door panel: the feel of the gravel beneath my tires, not in the normal sense of peeling out, or hot rodding around a turn, or when you are navigating a gravel incline and a tire slips, spinning a bit. But, I remember feeling every, single, piece, of gravel, as my tires slid over them, like they were brail desperately attempting to be read by someone with an untrained hand.
And suddenly, I remember, I was fighting gravity to avoid being thrown into the empty passenger seat next to me; with the dutiful assistance of my seat belt I remained square in seat. By this point my perspiration was beading at my brow and my palms were slick and damp. The smell filling my nose was terrible: rubber skidding across tar and the metal chemical burn of clutch mixed with burning metallic fumes of locked, red hot breaks. The noxious smoke produced from the instant tire tread wear of tires attempting to grapple with the texture of pavement at sixty miles per hour and the dust thrown up from the narrow desert road was thick in the air as my vehicle began to spin violently. This must have been one of my wildest dreams.
Your tail lights passed by my view out the front windshield a few times before I came to a slow, lazy roll backwards, eventually coming to a halt on the pavement; vision now dizzy and disoriented. My motion had not stopped however. The spinning had turned my head into one of those twirling carnival rides and transformed my extremities into shaking nerve noodles, who’s vibration emanated from my core.
Regaining my composure, I found myself immediately worried about who I had almost collided with and what state they were in; my concern seemingly met with reply as your hazard lights lit up from the tail lights of your vehicle ahead. I remember blood pumping in my temples as I raced toward your vehicle, grateful to be alive, and grateful you were still on the road and in one piece as well. Closing the distance to your flashing hazards just hoping you were okay. I felt embarrassed and foolish for putting myself, and you, at risk not stopping a few miles back. I prayed you were not scared or upset with me. Not knowing what to expect as I slowed to a jog nearing your vehicle, I took in the details of the multiple spins my vehicle completed as it whipped round and round directly down the center of the highway. I took in the sight of fresh tread on the pavement left by my tires, scrawled like a signature of some artist signing their work of near miss.
I remember as I looked up again to where your vehicle had come to a stop, that you too where now running my direction. As we approached each other I could tell we both did a quick visual assessment of each other, our vehicles, the tire tread scrawl on the road. We asked each other if the other was okay and learned no harm had come to the other other than shaken nerves and a bit of embarrassment on my part.
I remember hearing your laugh for the first time as we sat on the side of that highway in the middle of the night and lost track of time. We talked about everything, and nothing, as we watched the stars and smiled at each other honestly. Morning came faster than either of us expected announcing it’s a rival gloriously. The sunrise was exceptionally beautiful that morning. As we peacefully watched, finally pausing in conversation for the first time since we met, we took in it’s orange, blue, yellow, and pink shifting colors sharing glances at each other now and then, smiles and blushing cheeks as we did.
As the morning sun’s heat set upon our skin and the brightness of the desert view began to become overwhelming you turned to me with a smile. I remember taking your business card and the electricity fire through my fingertips as our hands touched for the first time.
Your touch felt so exotic then, like some distant land I had read a million books about and knew every detail of but had only learned from in the texts written in those pages. I imagine I looked like an adventurer, captivated and in awe, as they stepped of an old steam engine train onto a new landscape. Amusing the locals watching a new traveler standing starstruck seeing, smelling, and feeling the foreign environment they had read so much about but were only experiencing in person for the first time.
As I put your business card into my wallet, so many unknown feelings and pressing questions that I wanted to ask you were coming to my head fighting each other for place in line and internally pleading for one more second of your time. They were interrupted by one major new question I hadn’t considered so distracted by my internal conflict.
When would I would see you again? This question was followed by an even larger: Would I see you again? I was so caught off guard at their staggering weight I remember feeling intimidated by how much it meant to me. I chickened out. I didn’t ask and though in that moment didn’t know what to do with myself, or my shaken emotions, as we said our good byes.
Before you turned to depart I managed to make sure you too had my number and awkwardly, shuffled back, half facing you, half trying to walk away. I could tell you noticed in the words your smile always seemed to hold.
I remember you driving away and the stress I felt realizing we were going in opposite directions for the first time since we met and how something immediately felt missing in my world. I remember kicking myself not wanting to end up just some guy who you met and called you down the road or being just a story of a time you almost got hit head on by some guy in the middle a desert one night. A bit late, but just in time, I buckled my seat belt and decided not to become that guy. I threw my vehicle in drive and accelerated after you. Headed in your direction for the first time.
My heart raced as I drove fast to catch up to your vehicle once again and as I pulled up behind you, obnoxiously got your attention with my horn and the flashing of my lights. I couldn’t believe I had chased after you like a crazy! What would you think of this? Was I crazy?
As you stepped out of your vehicle your beauty was staggering and I confidently acknowledged, almost applauded myself; I had made the right decision. I jogged up to you on the pavement of that two lane highway and blurted out “When will I see you again?!”. Your laugh told me everything as it often did, I would learn.
I canceling my plans, my new job would have to wait, or I’d find a new one when I got to my destination. I suddenly had you placed at the center of my life’s main screen and didn’t for one second consider what else was on outside in my periphery. Everything seemed like it mattered just a little bit less than the focus my mind found when trained on you. I spent the day with you, headed in your direction. We played, both lost in the world together, on a new adventure, and loving every moment of it.
By that evening I was already in love, and knew it as for the first time I watched the sunset reflect forever in your eyes. I will never in my wildest dreams forget your smile when I admitted my love to you as we watched those stars again, together, that second night.
I also remember how we really met, and this isn’t it! Not even close! But it sure could have been. I mean, some things are similar to how we met all those years ago. You do remember don’t you?
The night we first met we were hurling in each other’s direction at a million miles per hour and barely missed colliding. That near miss put us into permanent dance as we orbited each other - dancing in and out of each other’s life, always friends, lovers, strangers, family; whatever we needed to be for the other at that specific moment in time. The first night we met I knew I had met the most amazing woman and I couldn’t believe that I had finally found you; never in my wildest dreams did I think you were really out there.
We did watch the stars and talked until the sun came up. We also spent the next day playing together and I really did watch the sunset reflect forever in your eyes. I did fall in love with you, only immediately, almost at first sight.
My love switch flipped the very moment you said “Hiiii” that way you did. Your mysterious brown eyes - strands coloring them wonderful, as your cheeks smiled for days. They reached into me latching onto my heart and I did not resist the comfort of your grasp. There was just something so familiar in the way you drew me in and made a place for me in your world. I felt like I had seen this smile of yours before somewhere and it belonged right after that “Hiiii”, and right in front of me. There was also something so familiar in the way you said my name, always smiling, you giggled a lot more back then.
I chased after you and that smile, following the echoes of that giggle from that moment on without any regret and loved every moment you chased me back laughing as we played. I remember how grateful I was getting to know you, and how grateful I always will be to have spent all the moments we shared through the years, building our story. The rest of that story and how we really first met is ours. A story to be remembered another time I think.
I remember the many other things that are similar in the story I have told but happened completely differently, to a completely different moment, in a completely different part of our story that I’d like to share in this letter to you. I think it is supposed to help...telling you these things, we always shared our deepest feelings with each other and It’s hard holding them all by myself. I’m working on it, love, I promised. Writing these letters to you and the chapters of our time together contained within.
In this part of our story, the true part of this story, and part of our chapters I’m sharing in this letter is a moment where I remember a collision that happened head on and it all started with a phone call.
I remember we were both asleep at the wheel and wholly unprepared as I raced down the highway to you. I remember how sudden the impact came after I reached your side. I remember the pain and jarring as your light in my world, that light that engulfed my vision completely, was in a moment no longer present. I remember my confusion as my momentum came to a complete, and immediate, stop. I remember that I didn’t even have time to scream or brace myself as everything in my world shattered in a devastating explosion and all it’s shiny pieces showered into the air around me. I remember that I didn’t even have both hands on the wheel as my life turned upside down. I remember that there was no seat belt to fasten me in as my breath choked in my throat, stalled, as if suspended mid air.
I remember the look, taste, sound, smell, touch, and feeling of every, single, thing, in that hospital room. I remember the smell of my tears in your hair. I remember how soft your skin was and that your fingernails were not painted like they normally were as I held your hand. I remember the feeling of my nerves as they achieved complete pandaemonium within me. I remember I was trembling as I struggled to breath between crying, then breathing, then crying, tasting the snot running from my nose mixed with the salt that clung to my face as I sat at your side. I remember hearing the sobs in the room as your heart rate monitor stopped blinking. I remember that exact moment you left me. I remember all of the feelings I felt at that moment as my emotions burned deep within and imprinted them as if by brand, permanently emblazoned on my soul. I remember not having the words for them then and I still do not have words for them now.
I remember every single detail, reflected in the pieces of my world as they crashed to the polished surface of the tiny room’s grey and white checkered tile floor. I remember that for the first time in a long time we were no longer running toward each other, or in the same direction together, and you weren’t there to make sure I was okay. I remember praying that you would be okay but my heart didn’t hear the echo of yours anymore to be sure. I remember hoping you were not lonely just minutes after you left and began crying: differently, because I didn’t know how to be there for you like I promised I always would be. I remember wanting so badly to chase after you, especially in the months that followed your funeral to keep that promise I made. I remember wanting to make sure you weren’t alone and be by your side as you took off on this new adventure to make sure you got under way okay. I remember trying to lighten my mood and joke about you making a new friend jealous, telling them about a guy that loved you unconditionally in another life. But, I remembered I could not chase you this time; I couldn’t be there to hold you if you happened to fall in love with him and he broke your heart. There was no catching up to you minutes down the road, just to see your smile again and hear you laugh at me for being silly. There was no way to pick you up off the ground and piece your heart back together with pieces of mine if it was broken this time.
I can only hope you receive all the letters like this one and that you are able to answer my call when I get home. We can meet in the middle of some two lane highway in the clouds, talking about life down below, or everything, or nothing, and laugh at the concept of time.
I can’t wait for that moment I see you again and we can remember all the years since the night we first met and remind each other how that story really went. I want so badly to be reminded exactly how it feels seeing the sunset reflect forever in your eyes like I used to.
I remember you every single day and wrote this letter to remind you: that more than anything, I patiently wait to learn how we finish our story, because never in my wildest dreams, could these stars be as beautiful as I remember, all those moments, I spent watching them with you.
You are ineffable but lemme try
I ll surely fall short of words, but I wont shy
Lets start with the shallowest thing first
Couldnt wait to tell you, you know how much I loooove your bust
I love your thick shiny n dense hair
My God youve got some flair
I know I dont say it enough, but man you are hot
Now dont rub it in my face, its not like im not
I love the rugged style you own
Also, thank God you dont have that Rajasthani Cheekbone
Your muscles are drool worthy
And dont worry, i ll always love that sweet lil belly
Enough with the sweet talk, lets cut to the chase
Lemme get to the point I want to make
Oh! I love the way you look at me
Seems like im your eternity
I love the twinkle in your eyes
Its naughty but at the same time nice
I cannot thank you enough for the honesty we share
I am grateful for how much you care
I feel complete when Im with you
And looking at you makes it all the more true
Your sweet little gestures take my breath away
Those tiny little love notes! I cherish them everyday
Never did I think someone would pass off my Mr. Right check list
Forget the fact buying me pooh bear from my amazon's secret wish list
The water bottle at the railway station, the jealous bitch at someone else's mention,
You are cute as hell at everything; I cannot thank God for that Nov 26 meeting
I adore those ultra cool bluetooth headphones
N dont u worry, I absolutely enjoy those romantic love (songs) tones
To sum it up, you are my sun, you are my light
With you by my side id always shine bright
I wish to be yours and you to be mine forever
Whenever, however, wherever