It only takes one person to make you happy and change your life: YOU.
I am endlessly fascinated by the link between the way we choose to live our lives and the happiness we enjoy on a daily basis. There are choices that you make every day, some of which seem completely unrelated to your happiness, that dramatically impact the way you feel mentally and physically.
Over the years, through our coaching practice, live events, and happiness course, Marc and I have literally spoken to hundreds of people who are struggling to find happiness in their lives. And what we’ve found is that it usually isn’t what you have, where you are, or what you’ve been through that makes you happy or unhappy, it’s how you think about it all and what you do with it.
In our daily lives it’s easy to miss the forest for the trees and completely overlook some of the small, simple things that can disproportionally affect our levels of happiness and general fulfillment.
Luckily, you don’t have to figure it out all by yourself. Marc and I have spent the better part of a decade working one-on-one with our clients and finding the right habits and behaviors that support sustained happiness. Below, I take a quick look at some of the more actionable tips that can be easily worked into your daily routine.
- Start steadying yourself with simple rituals. – When life feels like an emotional roller coaster, steady yourself with simple rituals. Make the bed. Water the plants. Rinse off your own bowl and spoon. Simplicity attracts calmness and wisdom.
- Start learning to be more human again. – Gadgets are great, but they can get in the way if you aren’t careful. Control them so they don’t control you. In other words, put down the phone. Don’t avoid eye contact. Don’t hide behind a screen. Ask about people’s stories. Listen. And smile together.
- Start filtering out the noise in your life. – Be careful about who you give the microphone and stage to in your life. Don’t just listen to the loudest voice. Listen to the truest one.
- Start choosing differently, for your own well-being. – A big part of your life is a result of the little choices you make every day. If you don’t like some part of your life, it’s time to start tweaking things and making better choices, right now, right where you are.
- Start being way more productive than you are busy. – There’s a big difference between being busy and being productive. Don’t confuse motion and progress. A rocking horse keeps moving but never makes any forward progress. In other words…
- Start dedicating time every day to meaningful activities. – What you do every day matters, but WHY you do what you do matters even more. So quit doing just what you’re able to do; figure out what you were made to do, and then do more of it. And if you only have fifteen minutes a day to spare, no problem – make those fifteen minutes meaningful.
- Start being present. – If your mind carries a heavy burden from the past, you will experience more of the same. Let it go. And also be careful not to dwell so much on creating your perfect future life that you forget to live today. Be here now and make the most of it. (Read The Untethered Soul.)
- Start replacing your worries with positive actions. – Most of the things I’ve worried about didn’t happen. Most of the things I’ve hoped for and worked hard for did. The same is true for the happiest and most successful people I’ve talked to and worked with over the years. So keep dreaming and keep DOING.
- Start running toward things, not away from them. – The best way to move away from something negative is to move toward something positive.
- Start letting your love overpower your fear. – There are only two energies at the core of the human experience: Love and Fear. Fear pushes what you want away from you. Love draws it in.
- Start doing what’s right, even if it’s not the easiest option. – Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Just because it’s easy, doesn’t mean it’s worth your while. Do what’s right, not what’s easiest right now. It’s a less stressful and regretful way to live in the long run.
- Start comparing yourself to yourself, and no one else. – Forget what others have and where they are. You’re not walking in their shoes, and you’ll never comfortably walk in your own if you keep comparing yourself to them. So focus on what’s best for YOU and your unique circumstances. What do you need to do next for your own objectives? Do it! You won’t be distracted by comparison if you’re captivated with purpose.
- Start being genuinely happy for others. – The more beauty you sincerely find in someone else’s journey, the less you’ll want to compare it directly to your own.
- Start being more tolerant of those who see things differently. – Remember, love and kindness begets love and kindness. The way we love people we disagree with is the best evidence of what we really believe about ourselves.
- Start letting grace have the last word. – We’ll only lose the arguments our pride insists on winning. When it’s more important to win arguments than love people, we need to start all over again with our faith and priorities.
- Start giving without expectations. – You will end up very disappointed if you expect people will always do for you as you do for them. Not everyone has the same heart as you. Which is why you sometimes must give twice as much without expectations to eventually get something better than you ever imagined. It’s about the long-term, big picture. The fact that you can plant a seed and it becomes a flower, share a bit of knowledge and it becomes another’s, smile at someone and give them hope, is proof that generosity works wonders behind the scenes. So…
- Start being the difference you want to see in the world. – Honestly, you were born with the ability to change someone’s life. Don’t ever waste it. Be kind. Be present. Be someone who makes a difference. What you give to another person is really what you give to yourself. When you treat others with love, you learn that you are lovable too.
- Start SHOWING your loved ones what they mean to you. – People who spend all their time trying to make money, spend all their money trying to make time. Don’t do this to yourself. Put first things first. Our closest relationships are vital to our overall wealth and happiness. As we tell those we love that we love them, we must never forget that the highest compliment is not to utter words, but to live by them.
- Start being grateful for the life that is yours. – Gratitude is simply the awareness of what’s good. Count your blessings, no matter how small, and start with the breath you’re taking now.
- Start replacing the phrase “I have to” with “I get to” whenever you catch yourself starting to complain. – So many activities we complain about are things others wish they had the chance to do.
- Start opening up to new growth opportunities. – In almost every situation, a little more willingness to acknowledge that there may be something you do not know could change everything. Go somewhere new, and countless opportunities suddenly appear. Do something differently, and all sorts of great new possibilities spring up. Keep an open mind and have fun with life.
- Start letting little frustrations go as soon as they arrive. – You can’t let one bad moment spoil a bunch of good ones. Don’t let the silly little dramas of each day get you down. Happiness starts on the inside. You control your thoughts about everything. Meaning, the only person who can hurt your happiness in the long run is YOU.
- Start focusing only on what you can control. – Never force anything. Give it your best shot and then let it be. If it’s meant to be, it will be. Don’t hold yourself down with things you can’t control.
- Start turning the pages that need to be turned. – No book is just one chapter. No chapter tells the whole story. No mistake defines who we are. Keep turning the pages that need to be turned. (Marc and I discuss this in detail in the “Adversity” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
- Start embracing the lessons life is teaching you. – Everything that happens helps you grow. Sometimes painful experiences teach us priceless life lessons we didn’t think we needed to know. If you’re having problems, that’s good. It means you’re making progress. The only people with no problems are the ones doing nothing.
- Start measuring your progress every day, no matter how small. – You are a work in progress; which means you get there a little at a time, not all at once. You may not be where you want to be yet, but look how far you’ve come, and be grateful that you’re not stuck where you once were.
- Start embracing the uncertainty in front of you. – Don’t let not knowing how it’ll end keep you from beginning. Uncertainty chases us out into the open where life’s true magic is waiting.
Today, I hope you will have a delightful day, that you will dream boldly and dangerously, that you will make something that didn’t exist before you took action, that you will love and be loved in return, and that you will find the strength to accept and grow from the troubles you can’t change. And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and wisdom in this crazy world), that you will, when you must, be wise with your decisions, and that you will always be extra kind to yourself and others.