What are the small things you can do to have a good life?
This is a question I came across on Quora a few weeks back.
I really like this question because the person who asked it understands that happiness is a state. You can literally do small things every day that will keep you in that happy state of being. And as written in The Greatest Salesman in the World, ‘Strong is he who forces his actions to control his thoughts.’
To be productive and achieve good results, you’ve got to be in the right state of mind. So, as taken from my answer, here’s 10 action steps you can take daily that will positively control your thoughts.
Being grateful for what you have means you take nothing for granted. And if you take nothing for granted you will work harder for what you want. Try to think of 3 things you are grateful for when you awake in the morning. This can be done whilst meditating. You will start your day in a great mood if you do this.
We are not meant to be sat at a desk all day. We are animals and therefore we build energy and maintain a healthy body through movement. Contrary to popular belief, working out in the morning will provide a huge amount of energy for the day and release endorphins that put you in a great mood. Having a healthy and athletic body will build your confidence too. Walking is great as it allows some time to detach from the daily grind and to assess your current progress and where you’re headed.
See the beauty in the small things
This can be done through walking. Go for a walk in a park or woods near where you live and try to stay present and in the moment by observing your surroundings and breathing in the fresh air. This is another form of gratitude, and it keeps you grounded and at one with the beautiful world you live in. It will develop your mindfulness and ensure you enjoy each moment rather than letting your mind take you away from the beauty of the present. It’s the little things that account for living a happy and peaceful life.
Be open minded/empathetic
A lot of people develop a sense of entitlement in what they believe, but this will only cause aggravation and hatred/disconnection to others. Not only that, being close minded means you cannot learn from others. Being open to other people’s opinions will not only make you a more well rounded person but it will make you a more approachable and liked person. After all, relationships are one of the keys to happiness.
Work on your passions
Most people work in a job they dislike only as a means of survival. Survival should come first, but if you make a living doing something you hate you’ll never be happy. Try to work in a job you are passionate about and if you are stuck in your job try to set something up on the side that is meaningful to you, or do some volunteer work for a cause you care about. To be happy we must be stimulated by the things we love, so make it a priority to use your free time to work hard on something meaningful. Who knows, it could become your career if you work hard enough at it.
One of my favorite quotes is, ‘happiness is working towards a worthy goal.’ – So along with working on your passions you should set goals for what you want to achieve in the short term and in the long term. Having goals gives us purpose and without purpose we simply exist but don’t grow. Reading your goals daily will instil a sense of drive and keep you motivated to work on your passions.
Make time for loved ones
This is a biggie. We can get so caught up in work that we prioritize it over relationships, however as humans we are sociable and loving creatures so you should make it a priority to spend time doing the things you love with the people you love. Relationships should be stimulated and built over time; I once read a study that discovered the main regret dying people have is that they didn’t look after their relationships with loved ones. After all, you could be the most successful person in the world but if you die lonely and without family you leave behind no legacy, only regret.
Get stuff done – the 3 second rule
This links to working towards a worthy goal. Making progress towards something you are passionate about will ultimately make you happy and satisfied at the end of the day. So every day, get the most important things done first. Use the 3 second rule to take action: if there’s something you are procrastinating on, count down from 3 in your head and when you hit 1 get up and do it instantly. This can be developed into a habit and, although not the only method for productivity, can be very effective as instils a sense of urgency to be productive, meaning you can go to sleep at night satisfied and stress free.
Learn about your passions/develop a skill
We often get caught up in doing, but consistent learning is key to growth in any skill or project. Self-education not only stimulates the mind but builds self-confidence which is another aspect of happiness. I like to read 20 pages of non-fiction every day and not only do I learn from it, I enjoy it too. Learning a skill is great because it also stimulates your mind but it allows you to switch off and immerse yourself in something you love doing; for example putting on a backing track and practising soloing on the guitar for 30 minutes every day. It’s surprising how small amounts of effort repeated daily can compound into something great over time, and it’s very satisfying to see progress on the journey.
Spend time with likeminded/inspiring people
Your friends will make you or break you. Good relationships are a key to happiness so make sure your circle consists of likeminded people who will push you forward. Go to events where likeminded people will be, put yourself out there and actively search for these people. No one is going to suddenly come into your life and make everything better so work to create a productive and happy friendship group.
Try to start at least 3 of these things right away, and make them into a habit. The only time is the present so if you really want to make a change for the better then take action today. The key idea in one of my favorite books, The Slight Edge, is that the decisions you make daily can either make you or break you over time. So make the decision to create a happier life every day.