7 Keys to Feeling Happier in Life
Feeling happier in life requires understanding that it's not about reaching the top of the mountain or achieving our goals. Rather, it's about finding joy in the journey and the process that takes us there.
True happiness doesn't come from feeling like we've reached a point where we no longer need to change or grow. It comes from recognizing that we have the capacity to keep evolving, and that's something to look forward to.
Research has shown that happier people tend to be more productive and successful. However, many people believe the myth that success is what leads to happiness, leading them to delay feeling happy until they've achieved their goals. This approach is flawed and can keep people from experiencing happiness for months or even years.
Moreover, even when we do reach a major milestone, our human nature often drives us to look for the next goal to pursue, rather than savoring the moment.
Understanding the four main brain chemicals that affect our happiness can help us cultivate more joy in our lives.
And each plays a different role in how we experience happiness.
The brain's chemical dopamine is responsible for the feeling of enjoyment we experience when we work towards a goal.
On the other hand, oxytocin is linked to social interaction and is released when we connect with others.
Serotonin is the chemical associated with positive moods, and it's worth noting that up to 90% of it is produced in the gut. Therefore, what we eat can have a significant impact on our serotonin levels.
Finally, endorphins are linked to the fight-or-flight response and can help us overcome tough periods or pursue challenging goals.
Cultivating a daily sense of happiness can have a powerful impact on your productivity and your ability to achieve your goals.
Here are 7 keys to feeling happier in life...
1. Cultivate a Growth-Oriented Mindset
Carol Dweck, a professor of psychology at Stanford University, identifies two main mindsets that shape how we approach life: growth and fixed.
People with fixed mindsets believe that their abilities and intelligence are fixed, leading them to hit a plateau in everything they do. They often achieve less than their true potential and are less happy than those with a growth-oriented mindset.
In contrast, those with a growth mindset believe that their abilities and intelligence can improve over time. They not only get better at learning specific skills but also improve their ability to learn in general.
People with a growth mindset tend to be happier, as they see their potential for success as unlimited. This positive outlook leads to more positive outcomes in the long run.
While those with a fixed mindset often focus on proving themselves, those with a growth mindset focus on taking action that leads to the outcomes they desire. The growth mindset fosters a passion for learning and pushing oneself, even in the face of obstacles, which are viewed as opportunities for growth and self-improvement.
2. Develop an Optimists View of the World
Optimists and pessimists can both be right in many situations. However, in life, optimists tend to experience more happiness and achieve greater success. They also experience less anxiety, depression, and stress than pessimists. Optimists are more action-oriented, while pessimists often feel stuck and powerless.
The way you interpret situations as they happen is a crucial determinant of how happy you are. For example, consider Billy and Sarah, who both lost their jobs at a magazine publishing company. Billy became demotivated and took three months to find a new job, which quickly became stressful. Sarah, on the other hand, saw losing her job as an opportunity to improve her life. She was selective in her job search, applied for seven jobs, and ended up with a higher-paying job that involved learning something new.
Sarah is an example of an optimist, while Billy is an example of a pessimist. Optimists tend to navigate challenges better by focusing on the silver lining in any situation and finding ways to turn challenges into positives. They celebrate their victories and view their career as a calling rather than just a means to an end. By focusing on the positives in life and feeling grateful for what they have, optimists can create a lot of great days for themselves.
3. Enjoy the Journey as much as the Destination
Life should not be viewed as a set of fixed destinations to reach. The majority of our time is spent on the journey, rather than on achieving specific goals or dreams. Therefore, it's essential to find pleasure and satisfaction in the work that goes into achieving success, rather than solely in the success itself.
To accomplish this, you must learn to enjoy the process that leads to the outcomes you desire. For instance, if you want to win a race, you need to find ways to appreciate the training and derive satisfaction from it. This way, even if you win, you would have still enjoyed the process and training.
If you don't win, it's crucial to be able to look back at the journey and the effort put in and be content with it. Happy individuals comprehend the importance of challenging themselves, and the value of effort, rather than just the outcome. Therefore, it is inevitable that if you put in the effort and enjoy taking on great challenges, you will achieve success and enjoy life more in the process.
4. Keep Up Your Social Relationships
According to Shawn Achor, author of "The Happiness Advantage," numerous studies have shown that social relationships are essential for increased well-being and decreased stress. Good social connections are both a remedy for depression and a recipe for high performance.
Harvard University conducted an extensive study on adult development, tracking the lives of 724 men from 1938 for over 75 years. One of the study's key findings was that good social relationships are the most important factor for long-term happiness.
Dr. Robert Waldinger, a psychiatrist, and director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development says that the lesson that came from the tens of thousands of pages of research was that good relationships lead to happier and healthier lives. Dozens of other studies have also shown that people with satisfying relationships are happier and live longer.
Therefore, it is important to make time to prioritize family and friendships. Being kind to others is also crucial, not only spending time with them. Helping others in need, either with your time or resources, has been shown to reduce stress and significantly contribute to improved mental health in numerous studies, including one involving over 2,000 people.
5. Improve Your Nutrition
Serotonin is one of the four primary hormones that contribute to happiness, and it's believed that as much as 90% of it is produced in the gut. That's why the food and drinks you consume are vital to your overall sense of happiness.
Recent studies have demonstrated that taking probiotics for six weeks may significantly alleviate symptoms of mild-to-moderate anxiety or depression. Furthermore, taking probiotics (such as galactooligosaccharides) for three weeks may significantly decrease cortisol levels, which is a stress hormone.
To promote a healthy gut, reducing sugar and processed food consumption while increasing the intake of whole, natural foods is one natural method. Fermented foods like Sauerkraut are especially beneficial for gut health. Additionally, vegetables and fruits aid in the production of microbes that are crucial for serotonin production.
6. Chaos Leads To Frustration … Create SYSTEMS That Lead To Success
Tim Ferris, the author of "The 4-Hour Work Week", believes that creating reliable systems is more effective than relying solely on self-discipline. By realizing that life is a series of logical and complete systems, you can redesign your life to be what you want it to be.
To do this, pay attention to what you want and what you don't want, and break them down into the systems that need to be in place to achieve or prevent them. This applies to all areas of life, from home and work to health, relationships, and goal achievement.
For example, John's wife Felicity was feeling overwhelmed with housework. John created a system where their children had daily chores that, when completed, earned them an hour of free playtime before dinner. If they didn't do their chores, they missed out on playtime and received a lecture about helping out in the family. Within two weeks, the kids were completing their chores on autopilot, leading to less stress for Felicity and a happier family overall.
By improving the systems by which you live your life, you can make a big impact on your future. Simple changes such as automatically saving a percentage of your income or making healthy snacks more accessible than treats can lead to big improvements in your life. The key is to analyze and improve the systems that guide your life.
7. Accept What Is … Chase Damn Hard For What ‘Could Be’
A study conducted by the University of Hertfordshire, which involved 5,000 participants, found that self-acceptance is one of the most important factors that influence our happiness. However, it is often the one that we tend to neglect.
Self-acceptance comprises two elements; accepting what has happened to us in the past and accepting ourselves for who we are. Although the past is something that cannot be changed, it is crucial to develop a habit of accepting what has happened to us, even if it seems unfair. It is important to look for any possible positive aspects, learn from the experience, and create an exciting plan for the future.
Moreover, it is equally essential to love ourselves unconditionally without placing any restrictions such as "I'll love myself when..." or "I'll be happy when...". We should acknowledge that we are already great and wonderful human beings. Instead of waiting for certain goals to be achieved, we must love ourselves and life as it is now while simultaneously working towards our aspirations.
It's time to relish and celebrate our lives as it is. We should embrace challenges, enjoy our journey, and focus on cultivating seven healthy habits that can significantly enhance our happiness levels.
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