Our minds are constantly trying to find the things that would make us happy.
Sometimes our minds lie to us about what would make us happy. We instinctively know what would make us happy. But for some reason, our mind gets us to do other things. The problem is that our mind tells us that to be happy, we need X... When I get something, or achieve something, or get out of something, THEN I'll be happy. Finally. Phew! When in fact, happiness is a precursor to good life outcomes. So what is the mind trying to get us to do? And why is it leading us away from the things that would actually make us happy?
“Happiness can be acquired. It's not for a select few, that have seemingly been given the gift.”
So I'll explain a couple of things that you can do, today, some small shifts in the way you do things in your day-to-day life, that would aid in your happiness.
5 things you can do today to start living a happier life
1. Strive for your own goals:
We're happiest when we strive for our goals. It gives us a sense of purpose and meaning, and that intrinsic fulfillment when we work towards them. The problem lies in our internal need to compare ourselves, and our goals, to others to try and determine whether we're doing okay. In a certain sense, it's natural to want to do that, to ensure safety and belonging. But it comes at a cost.
When we compare, we don't always pick the most flattering of reference points. This can lead to one of 2 things: (1) either it makes us super productive to try and acquire that dream goal, or (2) it makes us depressed and sad when we can't achieve it, and feel like a personal failure. So go ahead, and compare, but only to who you were yesterday. If you enjoy competition, be in competition with yourself; the person you were yesterday. Every day you get to be better with every step you take. Strive for your goals, but make them your own.
2. Put your phone down
Christopher McCandless said that "Happiness is only real when shared". And he may have been onto something there. We're born with the innate and instinctual need to share our experiences with other people. Just think of the "Daddy, Daddy! Come look!" instances that we have all seen. It's a human instinct, and sharing our experiences with someone, intensifies our lives and amplifies the experience. It bonds us and brings us together in times of hardship, and it intensifies the good feelings we get from a great experience. But, unfortunately, we've grown accustomed to sharing our world through the lens of a small handheld device. And this device can't capture the feeling and emotion of an experience - so it never lives up to our expectations. A couple of photos here and there for a keepsake is important, but don't go overboard. Experiences are an opportunity to enjoy, connect, and really share what you are going through.
3. Thought Suppression Overload
We are all aware of those thoughts that enter our mind, and can run our entire day. And our mind tells us to try harder to suppress it and put more mental pressure on it for it to go away. The problem is, that what you resist, persists. When you're willing to speak openly about a problem, a secret, a thought that persists, to someone you can trust, it relieves immense amounts of mental energy and pressure to keep that hidden. And that frees up space for your mental energy to process it, and move past it. Talking about our negative thoughts, emotions, and feelings, in as much detail as possible, makes us feel healthier; makes us feel better.
4. Limit your choices/decisions
Our mind tells us that we would be happier if we had more choices. But we only have a finite amount of mental energy on any given day. So if we waste that energy on trivial things (like what coffee I want to buy today, or what clothes to wear, or what am I going to eat), we end up not having enough mental energy for the really important things and decisions that come our way. And the choice overload can lead to decision fatigue. So one of the things you can do is to take the choice out of the equation. If you have coffee every day, decide on one, and stick with that one to the point that your barista makes your coffee before you even paid for it. Have the same breakfast every day, or plan your meals for the week or month. Take choice out of the equation for the trivial stuff so that you have more mental energy for the big things.
5. Acts of kindness
We tend to think that the best way to spend our time and money, is on ourselves. When in fact altruistic acts, and doing nice things for other people, actually feels really good and is essential for our happiness. We experience vicarious joy from having done something good for someone else. Take baby steps, and see how it feels. The more you do the more you will want to. Do something good for someone else. Give your time and attention, and experience the spike in your happiness levels.
Happiness can be acquired. It's not for a select few, that have seemingly been given the gift. You can make a few conscious decisions in your life today to put you on the path of greater feelings of joy.
At The Boulder Man, we support men in their journeys to find greater happiness in their life, and in what they do.