We would all like to be happy, healthy, and joyful as much as possible but very few of us seem to be able to master this. Some days are good, and some are not so good – yet, we keep thinking that the next day will be brighter, that we’ll grow out of those irrational flashes of irritation or the sense of guilt in the evening when we’re emptying one chocolate bar after the other.
Stop fooling yourself once and for all and make use of these science-backed hacks to make life a bit more bearable and fun. Don’t expect it to put a smile on your face immediately, though, as it’s not about you at all; in fact, as we all know too well, true happiness is only found by putting a smile on other people’s faces. Let’s start with your loved ones.
Give five minutes of your time
Do something for someone else, and you’ll instantly feel better about yourself. Sure, you do something for people every day by cleaning, cooking, going to work, and complementing your coworker’s new hairstyle – so what more can they possibly ask of you? The secret to the five-minute favor is to do a favor for someone without asking anything in return, let alone expecting it.
While the everyday chores you complete for your family are selfless enough, you might feel resentment over not being offered enough help, and by ungrateful members of your household who seems to think you’re there to serve them. The five-minute favor challenges you to change this mindset and not to expect even a thank you from the deed – but it shouldn’t take more than five minutes of your time.
Simple tasks such as sharing your knowledge, introducing people, and helping others to prosper tunes your mind into altruism, which is good for both yourself and the people around you.
Allow yourself to be mediocre
The one thing a lot of people who are burned out, unsatisfied and suffering from constant stress have in common is that they’ve all fooled themselves into believing that they have to work hard. It could be something that dawned on them already in childhood; work hard, and you’ll be able to achieve anything.
The truth is that many people work hard every day without achieving what they’ve been dreaming about, and the cold hard truth of being just like everyone else is hard to swallow. We can do our children a massive favor by telling them what we should have been told: being mediocre is perfectly fine, it’s what most people are, and actually the only thing society expects of you.
It doesn’t need more famous people, millionaires, or die-hard successful business people – what the world need is a perfectly normal Wednesday-person who is satisfied as long as he can smell the flowers and watch his children grow up.
The guy next door is intelligent enough, friendly, and enjoys the little things in life. He may not be the respected lawyer he dreamed of being as a teenager, but he can cook up a mean frittata, makes his family laugh, and doesn’t push himself to be something he is not; he is happy in his own skin.
Keep improving yourself
To be satisfied and happy with your own abilities doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t look for areas of improvement. It simply indicated that other people’s expectations are irrelevant and striving to meet these will only cause unhappiness. Focus on improving parts of your life that you can actually do something about – such as your health, for example.
The fastest lane to a happier you is by exercising and eating right, taking care of your teeth and drinking enough water. It’s all the stuff your parents and teachers spent so much time on making us understand, hoping that we’ll one day realize the benefits of it ourselves. Dedicate yourself to ten minutes of exercise every day from now on. It’s a lot easier to embark on something strenuous if you’ve sliced it up in edible portions first – and a quick jog every day could easily add years to your life.
Look at other interests and hobbies you have and work on improving your skills here as well. To master tasks is proven to give your motivation an instant boost, and what better way to master something than to start with something you like? When you’re on a roll, it’s going to be a lot easier to apply the same mindset at work – approaching it playfully and enjoying the time you spend on improving yourself.
Expand your knowledge, educate yourself, and seek interesting conversations with other people. If you have time off from work or flexible hours, look for a way to further your education and add a bit more weight to your resume. Online bachelors in criminal justice is an ideal addition to a career i law, or have a look at this article for other options of courses that can boost your career in the right direction.
Do something new with someone new
We keep walking in the same patterns, think the same thoughts and engage in the same kind of conversations. Although it’s perfectly human to be predictable and even expected of anyone, it’s also the reason we feel like every day is a rut. Sticking to the same habits and surrounding yourself with the same people feels safer than to do something completely new with someone you barely know – but it doesn’t have to be a frightening experience at all.
At best, it can introduce you to new influences and inspire you to try new things in the future – which again makes you a braver and happier person.
Go to a new cafe with a coworker you never really talk to, ask your father-in-law who you usually avoid eye contact with to join you on a hike, and start to say yes to those random invitations you usually decline. Suddenly, your days will be filled with more excitement and new faces than you’ve had since your first year in college – and it might even make you feel just as young again.
It’s common knowledge that traveling makes us feel happier and more satisfied, but it could have more to do with the excitement of anticipating it rather than the actual experience. In other words, if you want to reap as much happiness as possible from those vacations, it’s no point in making it a spontaneous one.
Find joy in planning your next trip, thinking about all the fun you’re going to have, and talking about it with your travel companions instead. You can even find happiness in the small things, like anticipating the arrival of a freshly baked pizza or a frothy caffe latte in the morning.
You need to challenge yourself to experience new things and step out of your comfort zone, just remember to keep it realistic. If you push yourself to reach a certain point in your career, working hard for years and neglecting your loved ones, you may end up achieving the position but feeling resentful over everything you had to sacrifice.
Even worse, you may never achieve what you’ve been working for and the feeling of being unsatisfied continues.
For a happier you, push yourself towards the right kind of goals, such as spending more time with your family, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, and finishing Tolstoy’s War and Peace. It may not make you internationally recognized – or even saluted by your own neighborhood, but it will give you the peace and tranquility you’ve been looking for.