This post is a collection of items that I have been pondering recently, and I wanted to share it with everyone. It’s a list of 10 things you can do to be happier in your life and have peace in your day to day circumstances. It’s my list, but the interesting thing is I have talked to A LOT of people and read a lot about the topic, and many of these “happiness factors” are fairly agreed upon. Trust me. If you practice these 10 things and incorporate them into your daily life you will be happier and more fulfilled.

Here is a summary of the top 10:

 

 

Run your own race

This is one of the most important ones on my list. If you are like me (and a lot of other people), you sometimes find yourself comparing yourself to others and gauging your success based on other people. It is a bad feeling, and it usually never leads to anything other than envy and a generally unhappy feeling. Social media tends to fuel this to a large extent, because we are constantly being bombarded with what other people are doing. If this doesn’t describe you, that’s great. But, it does describe a lot of people in this world who can’t seem to just “run their own race.”

I listened to a podcast recently by Jeff Goins, a well-known blogger and writer, and in one particular episode he told the story of a competitive runner who was constantly trying to catch up with the leader of a big race. This runner kept nudging closer to the leader of the pack and kept looking at them to gauge their reaction. At one point in the race, the leader looked over at this guy, and said, “Run your own race.”

I think the lesson here is pretty clear. There will always be people more successful than you. There will be people with more money, more fame, and seemingly more happiness. The key to life is focusing on “running your own race” and reminding yourself that no one is you. YOU are unique and YOU are destined to do things that no one else can. Run your own race.

 

 

Turn off device notifications

This advice has become one of the most commonly used happiness mantras that you will ever hear about.  And it is SO true. Many of us (I am really bad at this–but getting better) are glued to our devices, and we are constantly being bombarded with notifications. These interruptions interfere with getting meaningful work done, spending quality time with friends and family, and lead to the ever present comparison drift where we are always watching what other people are doing on social media. Comparison drift occurs when we are overloaded with watching the lives of others, and we tend to fall victim to comparing our lives to theirs. It’s a toxic environment to be in. And it’s an easy one to get out of.

Now, I am a fan of social media. No doubt about it. But the major social media companies all have panels of behavioral psychologists (true) whose sole purpose is to get you addicted to their platform.

For a happy life, turn OFF the notifications. If you want or need to be connected to family or friends by text message, fine. But turn off Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, etc. Trust me. You will be happier. Trust me.

 

 

Laugh more

This one is simple, and the benefit of laughter is clear. It makes life more enjoyable. In addition, there is some evidence that it might even help you live longer. Laughing just makes you feel better. If you truly want to be happier, find ways (your way) to laugh more. You won’t regret it.

 

 

Sleep 7-8 hours a night

Sleep has traditionally been an underrated thing in our lives. Most of think that “someday” we will get caught up on sleep. Well, this just doesn’t happen. Sleep debt is a real thing and is impossible to repay. Getting enough rest is crucial to prevent cognitive decline as we age, and there is ample evidence that poor sleep is a risk factor for developing conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. Quite simply, being rested gives you energy to commit to making your life joyful.

Although I am a big fan (not sure why) of the movie Roadhouse and the character played by Sam Elliot, Wade Garret, don’t even think about following his advice. Get more sleep, and do everything you can to get it.

 

 

*On a related note, if you aren’t a good sleeper or your partner says you snore a lot, you may want to get tested for obstructive sleep apnea, a condition that may have many ill effects on your health, like hypertension and myocardial infarction. This condition may go undiagnosed for years.

 

Exercise and eat well

This is another simple one. This is just good common sense. STOP eating crap and get some exercise. You will be amazed what getting in shape can do for for your physical and mental well being. To live a long, healthy life, start eating right and get regular exercise. Put down the donuts and eat sensibly. In the end, getting in shape will make you happier and will give you more energy.

 

 

Cultivate friendships

Something we sometimes realize too late in life is that a lot of our happiness and well being is built upon the friendships that we incorporate into our lives. If you are like me, you may have let some of these friendships fall by the wayside over the years. Whether it’s due to a grudge or some misunderstanding, we usually don’t spend enough time cultivating these friendships. Trust me when I say this. If you want to be happy, work on your friendships and reach out to those people in your life who mean something to you. You will be happier in the long run.

 

 

Practice emotional/social intelligence

This one is important. And it’s one I work on a lot. Some of us already have it. Others don’t. What I am talking about here is emotional intelligence (EQ). It is the ability to recognize and control ones emotions, discern between different feelings and label them, use emotions to guide thinking and behavior, and manage or adjust emotions to adapt to environments or achieve one’s goal(s). Many experts agree that it’s even more important than your intelligence quotient (IQ). There are lots of books on the topic, but Daniel Goleman’s are the best in my opinion. He is the authority on the topic. If you want a happy life and want to be able to have influence in this world learn to grow and cultivate your emotional intelligence.

 

 

Develop a passion for helping others

Many of us have a goal to leave this planet in better shape than we found it. That’s a pretty good goal. Serving others is really where it’s at, and it’s a great way to give back and improve the status of the human condition. But you don’t have to go on expensive mission trips to other countries to accomplish this. Plenty of people in your local community likely need some form of help. Find out what’s available and get busy!

Besides helping others and getting involved in volunteer organizations, I am also talking about the general approach to helping other people. Life can be hard, and frequently the people who are considered the happiest are those who give the most. As Mr. Rogers once said, “Life is for service.” If you live life to help others and improve their condition you are well on your way to being a happier person.

 

 

Be grateful every day

One thing I do every day is take inventory on what I am grateful for. It’s something I just recently started doing. I think many of us have a tendency to want more, and we never seem satisfied with what we have. We tend to dwell on what we DON’T have and not on all of the wonderful things that we DO have. It’s just human nature, I guess. Want to be happier? Just spend a few minutes a day thinking about all of the things that you have to be grateful for. I would also recommend you read the book, Enjoy Every Sandwich-Living Each Day as if it Was Your Last.

 

 

Smile more

It is hard not to be happy or affect others in a positive manner when you smile. Try it out. Just make an effort to smile more. I am not an outwardly smiley type of person, so I have to make a conscious effort to smile more. But I have noticed a few things when I do smile. It changes my mood and the mood of others around me. Just a smile. That’s all. Practice it and see for yourself.

 

 

I am interested to hear what tips you would offer for a happier life.