Why does happiness seem so fleeting? Why does the immediate satisfaction of a fun night out, a shopping spree, or getting more likes on that recent Facebook post never seem to last?
We can get a short term rush out of social validation and material gain but if they don’t fulfill some fundamental criteria for happiness then the joy will always be hollow and fleeting.
If you’re not feeling like you used to, it’s okay — many of us go through ups and downs.
It’s part of being human.
The good news is that happiness has been studied for many years and researchers have discovered what you really need to be happy. To be honest, the word happy is being used here as it’s easiest for people to relate, but truly, this is more about achieving lasting peace as opposed to an ever fleeting emotion.
Want to know how to create lasting happiness for yourself? Here’s your recipe, and it only has five ingredients.
For an awesome book on this topic check out The Way Of The Peaceful Warrior.
Health & Energy
There’s nothing that will suck the happy right out of your day like being sick or injured. Health and lasting energy are the foundation for a happy life.
It’s funny though — many of us don’t really take meaningful action to improve our health until we’re in desperate need of it. This is called a ‘deficiency need.’ The best example of this is dental health. You didn’t think flossing was so necessary until you had a massive toothache, did you?
If you want to have a fulfilling life then taking small measures every day to improve your health will be the first place to start.
Action step: Start with a small health habit that you know you could do. Eating a healthy breakfast, eating out less, or taking an extra walk each day are great places to start. Nail your first habit then keep building from there.
Aristotle once said, “Man is a social animal.” For you to be happy you need to feel like you are part of a tribe; like people have your back and you have theirs. Maintaining high quality relationships in your life will make the worst of times manageable and the best of times even more amazing. These people don’t need to be around you every day, you just have to know that they are there.
Action step: Make a habit of calling someone you haven’t spoken to in a while each day. Make sure to focus the conversation around the other person. Find out what’s really going on in their life so you can connect on a deep level again. You will be amazed by how happy this will make the both of you and how much more prideful, comforted, and secure you will feel.
People are only happy when they feel they are making a contribution of some kind, meaning they are putting in more than they take out. There are three things in your work that you will need in order to feel fulfilled.
- It must be challenging and interesting.
- It must offer opportunities for growth and advancement.
- You like and/or respect your coworkers.
Action Step: If your current work isn’t doing this for you, maybe something else will. Or you can make the best of your situation by looking to make work more fun by challenging yourself to accomplish more, look to impress those up the chain, and be more social with your coworkers. A lot of people are passive in their work life, but if you’re the one who takes charge to be awesome then most people will join you in making work more fun and engaging.
Making a ton of money isn’t necessary for happiness, but being broke can be a real drain on it. To be happy you just need to be in a place where you’re not worried about money all the time.
Action step: Do more with less. The best things in life are free. Spend more time outside with the people you love and less time chasing fleeting happiness, which is almost always more expensive. I suggest doing a purge of all of your clothing and belongings, getting rid of everything you don’t use on a weekly basis. You’ll be surprised to see how little you really need, and be comforted knowing that you don’t need a lot of stuff to get by each day.
You are self-actualizing when you are Becoming who you were meant to be. You reach peak happiness when you feel like you are becoming something better each day. We all have dreams that we yearn to make real and none of them are going to be accomplished overnight. What will make you truly happy is moving toward that goal, even by a little each day.
Action Step: choose just one thing you would like to do, but have written off. Reignite that fire in your life by deciding firmly that you are going to do it, no matter how long it takes, and begin immediately to take steps towards accomplishing it each day. Even if you only work towards this goal for 15 minutes each day you are still closer than you were yesterday, and that is something to be excited about!
So there you have it, the five essential ingredients for living a happy and fulfilled life. Getting started on just one of the actions steps written out here will begin to make your life more meaningful and enjoyable. The more of these ingredients that you can bring in to your life, the happier you will be. It’s that simple. So what are you waiting for? Get cooking!
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