Happiness is a complicated concept.
It seems like everyone wants to be happy, but for some of us it is difficult to start taking even the tiniest step towards being happy. It’s almost that we think “I can’t wait to be happy! I’ll work on making that happen later”. For something that we all seem to chase and want, we don’t seem to know almost anything about what it is, or even when we have it.
When I was getting my psychology degree we read a very interesting book called Stumbling on Happiness which had some really great information about how we as humans view and perceive happiness. I know for myself, I tend to fall in the trap of looking to the future so much (“I will be happy when “x” happens”) that I often forget to appreciate the small happy moments that I’m in.
Although it’s not beneficial to “postpone” your happiness into the future, there are some things that we must do when preparing for the future that can make us happier or help us reach our goals. Diet and exercise are good examples, as they are things that you can work towards each day that have incredible impacts upon your future physical and mental health. However, these can be difficult lifestyle changes. The truth is that there are other simpler things that you can do in the short term, that have the potential to increase your happiness in the days to come.
Get your ass out of debt!
Replace 1 fast food meal or 2 coffees per month by putting the $5 or 10 dollars you would have spent on top of your minimum payment for the debt you owe with the most interest. The is is the start of your debt avalanche payoff technique. Once you become addicted to paying off debt (and you will be, because paying interest is essentially throwing money away) you can gradually increase the number you are putting towards this to get out of debt faster. SLOW and steady wins the race.
Tackle one thing on your to do list that has been nagging at you.
If you are feeling really ambitious, do the job you want to do the least. The avoidance of tasks can drain a lot of mental energy and cause a lot of stress. There are a variety of reason why we procrastinate, but action is the remedy. You may find that worrying about doing the task was worse than actually tackling it head on.
Sounds weird right? By this I mean plant something that will have interactive value in your life in the future. Something that you can look at, smell, or eat with the knowledge that it was cultivated and nurtured by you. For bonus points, do this with kids if you have them. They will be excited and you can share the experience through them while also helping them feel a sense of pride and self sufficiency.
You do not need space to do this! My son and I planted some of our homemade seed paper in a ratty old solo cup. We love saying good morning to our little sprouts everyday.
Connect with people.
Whether this be playing with your kids, calling a friend or simply chatting with a stranger in the community. Interacting socially with others has amazing health benefits, so it is no wonder that it was considered to have such a focal place in theories of human needs.
This one you don’t even have to get off the couch for!
Take some time to think about the things you truly value in your life and the things that you want. Be realistic and try and think of whether you are taking the right steps towards these things. When you dream, you are keeping your goals alive in your mind and helping them grow. When your eyes are set towards your goals, you are much more likely to take little steps every day towards achieving them.
Although this is not an exhaustive list, these 5 things are pretty simple, and can help set your future self up for happiness.
What steps do you take to be happy?
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