It only takes one person to make you happy and change your life this summer: YOU.
I am endlessly fascinated by the link between the way we choose to live our lives and the happiness we enjoy on a daily basis. There are choices you make every day, some of which seem completely unrelated to your happiness, that dramatically impact the way you feel both mentally and physically.
Over the years, through our coaching practice, live events, and coursework, Marc and I have literally spoken with hundreds of people who are struggling to find happiness in their lives. And what we’ve found is that it usually isn’t what you have, where you are, or what you’ve been through that makes you happy or unhappy on the average day, it’s how you think about it all and what you do with it.
In our daily lives it’s easy to miss the forest for the trees and completely overlook some of the simple things that can disproportionally affect our levels of happiness and general fulfillment.
Luckily, you don’t have to figure it out all by yourself. Marc and I have spent the better part of fifteen years working one-on-one with our clients and finding the right habits and behaviors that support sustained happiness. Below we’ll take a quick look at some of the more actionable tips that can be easily worked into your daily routine this summer (and be sure to start with just one or two that resonate with you — not all 27 at once).
1. Start steadying yourself with simple rituals.
When life feels like an emotional roller coaster, steady yourself with simple rituals. Make the bed. Water the plants. Rinse off your own bowl and spoon. Simplicity attracts calmness and wisdom.
2. Start filtering out the noise in your life.
Be careful about who you give the microphone and stage to in your life. Don’t just listen to the loudest voice every day. Listen to the truest one.
3. Start choosing differently for your own well-being.
A big part of your life is a result of the little choices you make every day. If you don’t like some part of your life, it’s time to start tweaking things and making better choices this summer.
4. Start being a little more productive than you are busy.
There’s a big difference between being busy and being productive. If you’re going to put in the work this summer, don’t confuse motion and progress. A rocking horse keeps moving but never makes any forward progress. In other words…
5. Start dedicating time every day to meaningful progress.
If you only have fifteen minutes today spare, no problem — make those fifteen minutes meaningful. Focus on small daily steps this summer. And even when the struggle is real, remind yourself that it always feels better to be exhausted from taking a small step forward, than it does to be tired of doing absolutely nothing.
6. Start being present.
Do your best to let go. Remind yourself… You are not your bad days. You are not your mistakes. You are not your scars. You are not your past. Be here now and breathe. And also be careful not to dwell so much on creating your perfect future life that you forget to live today. (Read The Untethered Soul.)
7. Start replacing your worries with positive actions.
Most of the things I’ve worried about didn’t happen. Most of the things I’ve hoped for and worked hard for did. The same is true for the happiest and most successful people I’ve talked to and worked with over the years. So keep dreaming and keep DOING.
8. Start running toward things, not away from them.
The best way to move away from something negative is to move toward something positive.
9. Start letting your love overpower your fear.
There are two energies at the core of the human experience on the average day: Love and Fear. Fear pushes what you want away from you. Love draws it in.
10. Start doing what’s right, even if it’s not the easiest option.
Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Just because it’s easy, doesn’t mean it’s worth your while. Do what’s right, not what’s easiest right now. It’s a less stressful way to live in the long run.
11. Start comparing yourself to yourself, and no one else.
Forget what others have and where they are. You’re not walking in their shoes, and you’ll never comfortably walk in your own if you keep comparing yourself to them. So focus on what’s best for YOU and your unique circumstances. What do you need to do next for your own priorities and objectives? Do it! You won’t be distracted by comparison if you’re captivated with purpose.
12. Start being genuinely happy for others.
The more beauty you sincerely find in someone else’s journey, the less you’ll want to compare it directly to your own.
13. Start being more tolerant of those who see things differently.
Remember, love and kindness begets love and kindness in the long run. The way we treat people we disagree with is the best evidence of what we really believe, and what we have truly learned, about love and kindness.
14. Start letting grace have the last word.
We only really lose the arguments our pride insists on winning. When it’s more important to win arguments than love people, we need to start all over again with our faith, grace, and priorities. (Note: Marc and I discuss this in more detail in the Relationships chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
15. Start giving without expectations.
You will end up very disappointed if you expect people will always do for you as you do for them. Not everyone has the same heart, values, or priorities as you. Keep yourself centered. The fact that you can plant a seed and it becomes a flower, share a bit of knowledge and it becomes another’s, smile at someone and give them hope, is proof that generosity works wonders behind the scenes. So…
16. Start being the difference you want to see in the world.
Be kind. Be present. Be the change you want to see. What you give to another person is really what you give to yourself. When you treat others with love, you learn that you are lovable too. So keep doing your thing today with as much kindness, humility, and honesty as possible. Do what you do, not for repayment or an applause, but because it’s what’s right. Forget about popularity, and just focus on goodness and sincerity today.
17. Start being more social again.
Gadgets are great, but they can get in the way if you aren’t careful. Control them so they don’t control you. In other words, put down the phone. Don’t avoid eye contact. Don’t hide behind a screen 24/7. Ask about people’s stories. Listen. Engage. And smile together sometimes.
18. Start SHOWING your loved ones what they mean to you (don’t just buy them stuff).
People who spend all their time trying to make money, oftentimes spend all their money trying to make time. Don’t do this to yourself. Don’t get stuck in an endless cycle. Put first things first this summer. Our closest relationships are vital to our overall wealth and happiness. As we tell those we love that we love them, we must never forget that the highest compliment is not to utter words, but to live by them.
19. Start finding daily gratitude.
Gratitude is simply the awareness of what’s good. Count your blessings, no matter how small, and start with the breath you’re taking now. And remember, the secret to being grateful is no secret. You choose to be grateful. Then you do it again. When you forget, begin again. (Note: Our newest publication via Penguin Random House, “The Good Morning Journal: Powerful Prompts & Reflections to Start Every Day”, is a great tool for this kind of perspective shift and gratitude practice.)
20. Start complaining less.
Practice replacing the phrase “I have to” with “I get to” whenever you catch yourself starting to complain. So many activities we complain about are things others wish they had the chance to do.
21. Start opening up to new growth opportunities.
In almost every situation, a little more willingness to acknowledge that there may be something you do not know could change everything. Go somewhere new, and countless opportunities suddenly appear. Do something differently, and all sorts of great new possibilities spring up. Keep an open mind and have fun with life this summer.
22. Start letting little frustrations go as soon as they arrive.
You can’t let one bad moment spoil a bunch of good ones. Don’t let the silly little dramas of each day get you down. Joy starts on the inside. Practice focusing on what truly matters, and letting go of what does not. Use your frustrations to motivate you rather than annoy you. You are in control of your focus and how you choose to allocate your energy.
23. Start focusing only on what you can control.
Don’t force things this summer. Give it your best shot and then let it be. If it’s meant to be, it will be. Don’t hold yourself down with things you can’t control.
24. Start turning the pages that need to be turned.
No book is just one chapter. No chapter tells the whole story. No mistake defines who we are. Keep turning the pages that need to be turned.
25. Start embracing the lessons life is teaching you.
Everything that happens helps you grow. Oftentimes difficult experiences teach us priceless life lessons we didn’t think we needed to know. If you’re having some problems, that’s not a bad thing. It means you’re attempting things, taking steps, and making progress. The only people with no problems are the ones doing absolutely nothing.
26. Start giving yourself credit for your progress, no matter how small.
You are a work in progress; which means you get there a little at a time, not all at once. You may not be where you want to be yet, but look how far you’ve come — actually track your progress and reflect on it daily — and be grateful that you’re not stuck where you once were.
27. Start embracing the uncertainty in front of you.
Don’t let not knowing how it’ll end keep you from beginning this summer. If we allow it to, uncertainty chases us out into the open where life’s true magic is waiting…
Yes, it’s your turn starting today! I hope you will have a delightful day, that you will dream boldly and dangerously, that you will start making something that didn’t exist before you took action, that you will love and be loved in return, and that you will find the strength to accept and grow from the troubles you can’t change. And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and wisdom in this crazy world), that you will, when you must, be wise with your decisions, and that you will always be extra kind to yourself and others.
And before you go, please leave Marc and me a comment below and let us know what you think of this essay. Your feedback is important to us. 🙂
Which one of the points above resonated the most today?
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