Step #1 Believe that you can achieve
Improve happiness by believing that it can be done. Our thoughts become us.
I Think, Therefore I Am – Descartes
There are endless quotes from some of our history’s greatest influencers and scholars regarding the topic of improving happiness. There is a common theme among many of them, however.
In order to truly improve your happiness, you have to believe in your self. You can’t just think you’re happy, you have to know that you are. Your mind is your most powerful tool. When you realize just how much your thoughts affect your patterns and choices, then you can take the first steps to changing those thoughts, patterns, and choices.
“It isn’t what you have, or who you are, or where you are, or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about.” – Dale Carnegie
Improving happiness can be a short and easy process for some people, while for others it can be lengthy and challenging. But Rome wasn’t built in a day, either. You can’t rebuild your thought patterns without taking the first steps. Don’t expect anything to happen overnight. That mentality will get you nowhere.
“Drop by drop is the water pot filled. Likewise, the wise man, gathering it little by little, fills himself with good.” – Buddha
Slowly work to improve at a pace that you can appreciate but also learn from. If you step out of your comfort zone, change your mentality, and believe that you can be happy, then you will find that it becomes possible.
#2 Don’t be afraid of the future, push yourself to new heights
When you take the first step by believing in yourself, then you may become afraid that you’re going to not succeed. Maybe you’re not in the mood, maybe you are lacking confidence, or maybe you haven’t been successful in the past.
Whatever your excuse, it has an underlying fear attached to it. Remove the fear, remove the excuse.
It is enough for many people to simply acknowledge the fear, and then to face it head on. But how realistic do you think it is to succeed where you never try?
The most effective method of improving happiness is to be consistent in your steps.
#3 Consistency in your efforts
You don’t have to be overwhelmed with memorizing tactics and strategies, don’t put so much pressure on yourself. Love yourself and be gentle. You just need direction and consistency. You’re not incompetent. You’re very capable of your dreams. You must believe in yourself first, and then follow the steps required. Just take those steps, as long as you’re moving forward then you’re moving closer towards your goals.
Consistency means waking up every day and reminding yourself that you are strong. It means being mindful at all times that your thoughts literally influence your life. Therefore, it is important to practice consistency in your thoughts and behaviors.
You will find that motivating yourself to move in a new direction of your desire and being consistent in the process will bring you closer to your goals. You cannot reach anywhere by standing still. Taking action is required of us in life.
#4 Know what you love
You want to feel happy and fulfilled. Move in that direction if you’re not already there. No matter how far you may be from it, you will eventually reach it if you move towards it.
What will help you move there?
Knowing what you love. Whether it’s family, friends, religion, a cause, career, or hobby. Whatever it may be, you have a list of things you love. Be mindful of that list, be grateful for it, know that time is limited and we are limited. Do what you can, when you can, with confidence and vigor. You are great.
Improving happiness doesn’t have to be a struggle for all. For some, it can just be letting go of fear and doubt. Move in the direction of what you love. Don’t sit back or move away from it, unless you want to. But then don’t be surprised that you aren’t reaching happiness unless you are moving towards it.
Write down a list of things you love.
#5 Nourish your physical body
While happiness may be in your head (for the most part), your body is real and still requires maintenance. Rest and relaxation are nothing to feel ashamed of. Instead, it should be earned.
When improving happiness you must include improving your nutrition and fitness in the equation.
Without a healthy body, then the healthy mind can lose focus. Not to worry, it is better for your health to embrace your body and love yourself regardless of where you are in life. But just as you must take steps towards happiness to achieve it, you cannot achieve physical health without taking steps towards it.
Improve your diet and your exercise. Anything is better than nothing, remember to move in the direction that you want to go. You can always improve later. Make changes, adjust routines, try different diets. Whatever the case, as long as you’re moving in that direction, then you will get there.
Remember to be consistent.
Healthy exercise releases endorphins (any of a group of hormones secreted within the brain and nervous system and having a number of physiological functions. They are peptides that activate the body’s opiate receptors, causing an analgesic effect.) which literally create a sensation of pleasure in the body and mind!
You owe it to yourself to try! If going to a gym is daunting to you, then consider swimming, walking, hiking, at-home calisthenics, resistance band exercises, or other means to increase blood-flow and heart rate while stimulating your muscles. If you do nothing, you will receive nothing. Remember these wise words from Yoda
Do or do not, there is no try. – Yoda
#6 Mindfulness: the art of living in the moment
Mindfulness is defined as “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”
While I personally continue to try to improve myself and struggle with anxiety, I’d say that mindfulness is one of my own downfalls. I find it extremely difficult with my anxiety to take a deep breath and remember to slow down. It can be frustrating, and that feeling of frustration compounds the negative experience of pushing oneself or being anxious.
For me, I repeat to myself “Rome wasn’t built in a day” whenever I notice myself rushing or having unreal expectations. Being mindful of how you feel is an important step in changing how we feel. If we’re ignoring our feelings, then how can we possibly help ourselves?
If you have racing thoughts, high blood pressure, or any negative bad habits, then be sure to practice mindfulness. To improve happiness as well as success during a challenging exercise, athletics, or video game session, then learn to control your thoughts and your reactions. Top performing athletes are highly trained and focused. They prepare for their success with belief in themselves and persevere through adversity. Being mindful during the process enables consistency and self-improvement via reflecting within. Give it a try, be sure to comment below or on Social Media about how mindfulness has helped you.
Give it a try, be sure to comment below or on Social Media about how mindfulness has helped you.
#7 Patience is not just a virtue
Patience is important in your life because you cannot simply snap your fingers and get what you want (unless maybe you’re a magical creature like Jen). But all jokes aside, the reward comes from the amount of work and effort that went into it. Michael Phelps didn’t win Olympic gold medals in swimming by any way other than the amount of time he put into actually swimming. Not just flapping around, either. It required a sincere concentrated effort led by coaching and a proper diet.
You may have big dreams but lack the patience to achieve them. That is where a life coach or a truly helpful and guiding support network can come in to help you. Time goes by quickly, if we manage it and utilize what we have wisely, then we can achieve great feats. Every human who has ever achieved greatness was born just like you. Some have more of a head start than others, but we are all capable of greatness given the right motivation, drive, and patience.
#8 Practice gratitude in all aspects of your life
Being happy without gratitude is like being a surgeon without any desire to help people. You may have everything you need, but you aren’t in the mindset to truly appreciate it or even realize your greatness. There are many ascetics in the world who practice a life of complete minimalism to the point of physical suffering. Yet they remain happy because they are grateful for the simpler things in life. They appreciate a breath of fresh air, or a small glass of water, more than many of us with our busy lives appreciate many years of breathing or many gallons of water.
True happiness is within. We don’t need material wealth or any outside forces to make us happy. It is a state of mind.
Begin by truly appreciating every bite of food and drink that you have. Try your best to practice being grateful for the small simple aspects of your life that you have forgotten inside your daily routines.
#9 Don’t regret the past, learn from it
For any of us who have struggled with forgiving ourselves or others, this is a good reminder. Living with the burden of a dark or difficult past is something that many people struggle with alone. Feel free to use our support forums to find new friends and people willing to help you if you’re struggling with depression or a difficult time in your life.
Try to look at the past as a tool for guidance. Rather than allowing the echoes of a past to mitigate the possibility of a brighter future, put emphasis on where you’re at right now (remember mindfulness) and give yourself a chance to let go of the heavy feelings that burden you.
It is easier said than done, but ask yourself–does it have to be so? Do you really have to hold on to these feelings? Is it not possible for your to make a conscious effort to change your thoughts and responses? Meditate on these possibilities. Sometimes we reach a point where it can’t hurt to try a new method, no matter how silly it may seem at first. Different tactics work for different people, but what is important is that you find a way to forgive and press forward with confidence.
Because who we were yesterday doesn’t have to dictate who we are tomorrow. The choice is always ours.
#10 You only can control what you can control
“There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will.” – Epictetus
This is one of the most important lessons I’ve learned in life.
There are factors outside of our control. Sometimes, no matter how much effort we put in, no matter what we do right, still there are forces that prevent us from reaching what we want. This could be in the form of a natural disaster, spontaneous accident, medical health issues, or other unforeseen events.
Nothing is guaranteed in life. I have come to terms that living mindfully and in the moment is the only way to truly let go and be free. I cannot beg for immortality and comfort, they do not exist in this life. So I must find a way to accept reality. Existentialism is a real dread for many people, but it doesn’t have to be. There is beauty in our limitations and limited time.
Just as the seasons change, there is a cycle to everything. Out with the old, in with the new.
Sometimes simply taking a deep breath and appreciating now is all that we have.