The Keys to Happiness

One of the most important missions in life is identifying your purpose. Discovering what makes you happy is an integral part to getting there. Happiness doesn’t only come during big events, like weddings or having a child, nor is it only present in the moments you currently consider joyful. Today, I’m going to share a few tips on how to grow your happiness intentionally.

1. Keep a gratitude journal.

Numerous studies show that gratitude can benefit your health, sleep quality, and emotional stability. From my point of view, there’s nothing to lose from being grateful!

To keep a gratitude journal, write down 3 things you’re grateful for each night or morning. For best results, physically write out the words: “I am grateful for…” instead of making a list. In doing this, you’ll train your brain to get used to the act of being grateful. Once that’s normal for you, you’ll notice what you’re grateful for more quickly.

I’ve kept a gratitude journal for almost 3 years. After a few months, I noticed that I became more grateful during my everyday interactions. I’d have a conversation with someone, or someone would help me out, and I’d immediately think: “Hey, I’m grateful for that. I need to write that in my journal.” The act of noticing the moment and bringing positive energy into my life translated into my positivity as a person. And it can for you too!

Even if you’re in a dark place, by focusing on what you’re grateful for, you’re instilling hope in yourself. The gratitude journal serves as a reminder that the little things really do matter. It’s important to pay attention to them, because every day, your soul is recovering, growing, and advancing. Don’t miss out on it!

2. Find something that fulfills you outside of work. 

My second trick to happiness is to have at least 1 project outside of work. As humans, we’re simply not built to work all the time. Even if you love what you do, on some level, your brain still associates it with work. I’m sure there’s at least one thing at work that makes you feel stressed.

By having a project outside of work, you’re pushing yourself to relieve that stress and become a more multi-dimensional person.

Have you ever met someone and thought, “Yikes – all they talk about is work”? Or perhaps you’ve traveled to a different country, only to realize that your job isn’t really that big of a deal. When we don’t have fulfillment outside of work, our life becomes a list of the “critical” and “important”. As a result, we get burned out. On the other hand, when you have a project that lets the stress dissipate and encourages creativity, you realize that you don’t need to put so much pressure on yourself.

If you’re an entrepreneur or business owner, you might have trouble relating to this — but at the core of what I’m saying lies a fundamental truth. Putting pressure and stress on yourself won’t make you perform any better. In fact, you’ll probably perform worse. You’ll get tired, unhealthy, and disconnected from yourself.

Your project outside of work can be anything from playing soccer to starting a podcast. If you’re wondering how to approach it, the best advice is simply to start. Remember Mark Twain’s quote: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”

3. Get connected to the earth. 

A third key to happiness is getting connected to the earth. You can be on the computer for 10+ hours a day — and that’s the average working schedule in America these days — but it’s easy to get disconnected from your soul by doing this. At the end of the day, there’s nothing as restorative and healing as nature. So find a green space you can visit at least once a week to re-charge your energy.

For many of us, energy begins to deplete during the week. From commuting to putting the kids to bed, there are multiple things we’re required to do. Take the weekend to check in with yourself, enjoy nature, and remind yourself that you live in a beautiful world. It will help you mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Plus, it will re-balance your energy if it’s gotten out of whack!

4. Cultivate resilience. 

The final truth about happiness is that it doesn’t only stem from happy situations. In fact, a major part of happiness is being able to persevere in the face of hardship. Why? In doing so, you’re proving to yourself that you’re a fighter. You’re reminding yourself that your ability is limitless, regardless of your current situation or circumstance.

If you’re faced with a challenging situation, I’d like you to do this simple activity. Each morning after you wake up, look in the mirror and say to yourself: “I am resilient, I am resilient, I am resilient”. Say it 3 times, because in the same way you train your brain to notice what you’re grateful for, you can train it to be resilient.

Once you’ve done this for a while, start challenging yourself. You may choose to do something small, like going to the gym and pushing through a hard work out, or something big, like climbing Mount Everest. Whatever you choose, stay with that activity and use it as a way to build resilience.

Once you’ve completed it (after time, of course!), you’ll have an incredible memory to look back on. You’ll always recall the time, effort, and care you poured into it. I say this from personal experience. It took me a year to put together my poetry book, and the feeling of sharing it with the world is deeply gratifying.

If the going gets tough and you’re caught in a difficult situation, remember that you can get through it. If the situation is external (like a difficult job or relationship), ask yourself how long you’re willing to cope with it. You can set yourself a deadline to be done with it, and do all you can to work towards it. At the same time, remember: on the day when you come out on the other side, that’s truly something to celebrate. It means you’re a winner.

After cultivating resilience, moments of true happiness and joy will become that much more amazing. You’ve already dealt with the struggle, so you’ll love the freeing moments. And the moments where the struggle was worth it will become that much more precious to you. They’ll allow you to understand the true beauty of life and the incredible force within you.

If all of this sounds too hard… 

That’s okay. Happiness has a lot to offer, but the first step starts with training yourself to identify it. All you need is at least 10-15 minutes each day to reflect on what went well and what you’re grateful for. Through this reflection process, you’ll begin to unlock the keys to happiness.

In summary:

1. Keep a gratitude journal.

2. Find something that fulfills you outside of work. 

3. Get connected to the earth. 

4. Cultivate resilience. 

If you follow these steps, you’ll maximize your happiness almost instantly. While these activities are small in themselves, they lead to behavior change over time. As a result, they’ll bring lots of joy into your life!

Start with the one that appeals to you most and go from there. Be ready to welcome a happier you!