If happiness is free, how come people can not find happiness?
I have invested the last 15 years of my life studying happiness and personal development. Today, I will share with you how to find happiness in your everyday life. Let me get started with some history.
What if I told you today that everything you know about happiness is wrong? What if I told you that your brain was not designed to be happy?
It all started about 200 thousand years ago, our ancestors lived in caves. Men would only leave the cave to hunt, and women would only leave to gather food. Men were called hunters, women were called gathers. Both genders had two goals for surviving and thriving. Happiness was not something that they cared about.
The only reason we survived and other creatures didn’t is our mind. Our biggest weapon was not a stone or a stick, it was our brain. We were not the biggest animal or the strongest, but we are the smartest. The mental ability that helped us survive has kept us unhappy and stressed for a long time.
We survived because our brains focus on the negative aspect of life. Scientists call this tendency “Negativity Bias”. This negative bias allows us to pay attention to any signs of danger, and react. That is the reason most of us are afraid of the unknown and I’m convinced you can not be afraid and happy at the same time.
Our brains might have evolved, but it is still wired the same way, we care about survival and safety more than anything. Now, that you are aware of this negative bias, it will be easier for you to find happiness in your everyday life.
This article will talk about 10 scientific proven tips to find happiness in your everyday life:
1. Find Your WHY
Forget about your goals, think about your purpose. Think about the underlying reasons you want to accomplish your goals.
The Classic author James Addison wrote about finding happiness, he said:
“There are three grand essentials to happiness in life, something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.”
If you can find something that you love to do and can make a real impact doing it, that is your WHY.
Simon Sinek popularized this term in 2009, in his book Find Your Why, he recounts this story. He once sat next to a man on a plane. Sinek asked this man one question: What do you do? The man responded that he has been living his dream for 20 years. Sinek was intrigued, so he asked more questions, the man responded, my company produces steel. How can steel make this man happy? The man clarified “we make products that are easy to recycle.”
This man found something to do: produce steel. Something to love, keep the environment clean. Something to hope for, creating a safe environment for the future generation. What do you love to do?
I love helping people create better lives by sharing tips, tools, and strategies to move their lives and businesses forward. That is my WHY. What is yours?
2. Be Present
When you are driving a familiar route, your brain starts to daydream. It shifts its attention from driving to your internal thoughts, we call this mind-wandering. Have you experienced this?
Mind-wandering is a special human characteristic. It allows our brains to drift away from the task-at-hand to focus something else. It helps us to be more creative, but it hinders our ability to live and enjoy the moment.
Matt Killingsworth is a former Harvard researcher, he believes that people want a lot of things out of life, but they mainly want happiness. He studied our brains, and he concluded that our wandering mind is responsible for our unhappiness. He believes that our wandering brains have more impact on our happiness than our income, education, gender, and marital status.
He conducted scientific research over multiple years, he asked people three questions:
How do you feel?
What are you doing?
Are you thinking about something other than what you are doing?
If people answered “yes” to the last question, their brains were not present at the moment and they were less happy. He concluded that being present and happiness are correlated.
It seems that being present is essential to our happiness. If you go to a concert, watch the concert through your eyes, and not through your camera lens. If you take a road trip, don’t worry about reaching your destination, enjoy the road. If you have dinner with your family, ask them questions, and listen to their answers. Be present.
3. Care, Connect, Create
Humans are social creatures, we like to be connected to other people and we like to take care of others. Surround yourself with people who care about you and you care about them. Connect with old friends. Make it a point to show your friends and family that you care about them and that you are grateful for their presence in your life.
Connect with your loved ones on a deeper level. My most important job in life is being a father, and taking care of my family. I make a conscious effort to have dinner with my family every day. I go out with my wife every Sunday. I coach my kids’ soccer teams, I attend their Karate practice, and I engage with them every day.
I call or text my friends as much as possible. I check on my parents every day. I’m intentional about connecting with my family, friends and everyone I come in contact with.
Create something with your hands, build something. Dan Ariely is one of my favorite behavioral economists, he emphasizes the importance of using our hands to create things. He believes that creating things with our hands leads to our happiness. He points out that IKEA understands this concept, and that is why they sell complicated furniture parts with vague instructions manual and ask customers to assemble them. The process is horrible, but the satisfaction that people get after they build their furniture is enormous.
Build something with your hands, the joy that it brings to your heart is amazing. Connect with people that you care about, and create a life worth sharing. Start today.
4. Close Your Open Files
In their best-selling book, Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, Roy F.Baumeister and John Tierney estimate the average person has about 150 unfinished tasks that he or she thinks about all day long.
I have about 3 unfinished tasks that I’m thinking about right now, leaking faucet, fixing my AC, and adding more products to my website. These tasks are called open loops, and the more open files you have, the less happy you are.
You need to close most of the open files in your head, the easiest way to do that is brain dump or what I call “drain the pain”.
Write all of your unfinished tasks down. This tactic will trick your brain because your brain feels better when you write your tasks down. It tricks your brain to think that you did something about it.
5. Celebrate Every Victory
Football players celebrate every down, every tackle, and every touchdown. They do not pay attention to the score, they celebrate everything.
Adopt this mindset, celebrate every time you complete a task. If you answer an email, stop and celebrate for a moment. If you have a difficult conversation with your coworker, enjoy your accomplishment.
Dr. Rick Hanson advises people to savor positive experiences. He encourages people to celebrate after any accomplishment. This practice will train your brain to move from a positive state to a positive trait.
What did you celebrate today?
Exercise increases endorphins reduces cortisol and adrenaline in our body. It is also a proven remedy for depression and anxiety.
According to the New York Times, small amounts of exercise have a big impact on our happiness. People who work out at least once a week are more cheerful than those who do not exercise.
Tony Robbins believes that motion creates emotion. If you do not like how you feel, go to the gym, walk outside, or practice yoga. The benefit of 12 minutes of exercise can last up to 12 hours.
If you hate exercise, this article will change your mind.
According to the American Psychological Association, more sleep would make you happier, healthier, and safer. From my experience, I can assure you that a tired person is not a happy person.
You need to sleep to function. Sleep is very important to your overall sense of happiness and wellbeing. Lack of sleep slows your reaction time, impairs your memory, reduces your happiness. It also weakens your immune system and slows your critical thinking.
If you want to be happy, pay attention to your sleep quantity and quality.
Sleep is critical to your happiness, do not sacrifice sleep to watch another episode on Netflix.
8. Declutter Your Life
Declutter your space and your life, clutter leads to stress.
Get rid of anything that you have not used in 18 months. Do not let physical objects occupy an emotional space in your life. let it go. To get yourself started, start by recycling three items from your wardrobe today.
Mike Hanski talked about the importance of decluttering:
“Clean homes and organized spaces are proven to reduce stress, improve happiness, and even improve your eating and exercise habits.”
Keep your environment clean and gain more happiness.
Decluttering is not about getting rid of stuff, it’s about getting control of your life. Ask what is the purpose of everything you have? What value does it provide? Can you digitize it? Whom would it hurt if you get rid of it?
9. Eat Chocolate
A study in 1996 showed that chocolate causes our brains to release endorphins making us happier. Chocolate has phenylethylamine, it is considered a natural antidepressant, Tryptophan which produces a feeling of happiness, and caffeine that is well known as a wake-up drug.
There is another study that was published by the National Library of Medicine proved that eating chocolate improves our health and improves our mood.
I eat chocolate daily, and I enjoy the taste and the benefit of my habit. Go to the closest store, get some dark chocolate and enjoy it.
10. Sing and Dance
In 2013, Pharrell Williams released a song that has been heard more than one billion times around the world. What is the name of the song? Happy.
Happy spread across the world like a virus that can not be stopped. It invited listeners to either clap their hands or move their bodies. Pharrell Williams understood people a deep desire to be happy, so he repeated the word “happy” 57 times in less than four minutes.
If you doubt the power of music on your mood, think again. I challenge you to listen to this song and not to be happy. The power of this song is its simple lyrics, the first words that Williams said were “It might seem crazy what I’m about to say.”
Do not take music for granted, great songs move us. It forces our body to vibrate and experience the moment.
If you want to find happiness in everyday life, follow these steps and I guarantee you that you will be happier by the end of the week.