One of the most frequently asked question in the world is “How to be happy”.
A quick google search will show you 261 million results!
To answer this question, we have to first figure out what caused unhappiness.
Here are the top 5 reasons which may cause you to be unhappy with your life:
1. Lost in Life (No clear directions of where to go, feel like you are wasting your life)
2. Relationships (Poor relationships with family/friends)
3. Work (Depressing work life, only working for the money with no interest on the job)
4. Money (Being in debt/Not being a Millionaire)
5. Compare, Compare, Compare (Frequent comparison with your friends on everything – status, achievement, marriage, lifestyle, travel, clothes, jewelry, house, cars)
If you are unhappy with your life now, you can always do something about it. It’s never too late to fix a broken relationship, find your life purpose and do work you love.
Life is too short to be always unhappy.
In this article, let’s dive into the 7 ways you can be happy again:
1. Audit Yourself and Find Work You Love
Research from Gallup shows that 87% of employees worldwide are not engaged in their work.
These employees are likely to have low levels of job satisfaction and unhappy at their job. A huge chunk of the adult life is spent on working, if you are not happy working, you will find it difficult to live a happy and fulfilled life.
Work is the longest marathon you will participate in and will last for a span of 30-40 years. You will spend approximately 80,000 hours working! If you are always unhappy at your job, you will be unhappy for 80,000 hours during your lifetime. To say 80,000 hours is a lot is an understatement.
It would be great if everyone can find a 9-5 job that they like, however, instead of taking the initiative to understand themselves and know what they like, most people would just follow their friends and parent’s advice on the best job to go to, not realizing that we are all different.
Most people would end up like a herd of lost sheep just following the crowd.
The key message here is you need to first audit yourself. Many people don’t realize what are their strengths and who they really are deep down and as a result, would not find their true calling.
Firstly, ask yourself three questions:
- If you have all the money in the world, what would you do?
- What do you enjoy doing?
- What are you above average at?
Then, take a Myers-Briggs personality test. The report will show your strengths/weaknesses and provide you with some suggestions of the career paths to pursue based on your personality type. This is by far the most accurate and detailed personality test. The test will reveal a lot about yourself. Be amaze.
I personally have done the test 3 times to preclude factors such as emotions, tiredness on that day and I have gotten the same result, which is INFP. I recommend you to take the test at least twice at different intervals to confirm the validity of the results. Take the test the second time after a week.
The next part of the audit is to ask your parents and your 3-5 closest friends their honest opinion on what are your strengths and what potential careers do they see in you based on your strengths and personality. You may hear answers that will surprise you.
Sometimes, others might see qualities in you that even you don’t realize. This is the purpose of the audit, to know yourself better. You should get some solid ideas of what you should do after going through the audit.
The goal is not to escape 8 hours work a day, the goal is to work enjoy 8 hours a day doing what you love, in line with your values and getting paid for it.
Nothing worth having comes easy, don’t quit your job just because you are lazy, only quit when you are ready to pursue something you believe in and be prepared to put in the hours.
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive” – Howard Thurman
Audit yourself, optimize your strengths and share your passion to the world.
P.S If you have just graduated from university, bide your time and plan carefully before deciding what you want to do. Don’t repeat the mistakes of millions of people by following the sheep and take on a career you dislike.
2. Take the Responsibility to Carve Out Your Own Path
Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi did a study and found out that people are the happiest when they are in the state of flow, a state where you are so focus on the activity you are doing, being completely in the zone. Nothing else seems to matter at this point. Time flies and you don’t even realize it as you are immersed in doing meaningful work that will bring you closer to your goals.
After you have audit yourself, it is time to take the responsibility to carve out your own path and be in the state of flow. It is difficult to be in the state of flow if you are not doing work you love. For example, if you are a lawyer, but you have the interest and passion to be a Graphic Designer, pursue it and you will experience flow.
Building your own path may not be easier than what you are doing right now, in fact, it could be 10 times, 20 times harder, but the trade-off is along this journey you will gain much more valuable experience and happiness.
Don’t give excuses to not start, when you are at your 20s, you say you are too young, when you are at your 30s, 40s, you say you are too old (come on guys).
Colonel Sanders started KFC when he was 65 years old after going through plenty of hardships, hopefully his story will inspire you to stop wasting time and start taking action.
If you want to pursue something but you don’t have the skill or money, you can always search on Google or YouTube for free contents. These days you can learn anything free by watching YouTube videos. If you are willing to invest a little, there are thousands of courses offered at affordable prices (for as low as $10) in Udemy.
Remember, it is never too late, it will be hard to change at first but few years down the road you will thank yourself. Have you always say this “if only I had started 5 years ago”. Sadly, 5 years ago was the past that you can never gain back. The good news is you have another chance now to focus on the future, the next 5 years. Take action and make it right this time. Don’t let yourself say “if only………” again 5 years later.
“The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.” – Jordan Belfort, The Wolf of Wall Street
Realize that you are actually alive now, what a great gift it is to wake up every day, to live and build your own dreams. As a kid, you can only imagine and dream, now as an adult, you can build those dreams.
“Don’t ever let someone tell you that you can’t do something. Not even me. You got a dream. You gotta protect it. When people can’t do something themselves, they’re gonna tell you that you can’t do it. You want something, go get it. Period.” -Chris Gardner, The Pursuit of Happiness
3. Nurture Close Relationships
While you are pursuing your own path, don’t forget to make time for your family and close friends.
Nurture close relationships by taking them out for a nice dinner, go on vacations to unwind, share their joys and listen attentively whenever they need a listening ear. Be present during their ups and downs and offer encouragement.
You will miss these moments which may seem small at first, but looking back years later, there is a sense of unexplainable warm nostalgia. I guess the best feelings in life can’t be explained…
If you want to fix a broken relationship, try using the magic word.
Saying sorry does not always mean that you are the one at fault and the other person is right. It just means that you value the relationship more than your pride.
The word “Sorry” carries a lot of weight and is a very difficult word to say. Sir Elton John is right, Sorry seems to be the hardest word. The effect of saying sorry will soften the other person’s heart and had fixed many broken relationships.
Don’t wait 20 years later to say sorry, take a deep breath, be brave and call/meet that person. Tomorrow is not a promise for everyone, don’t have regrets only when it is too late.
Harvard conducted a 75-year study on adult development in 1938. The purpose is to study what makes a happy and healthy adult life.
The key lessons learned from the study are close relationships keep us happier and healthier. People who are more socially connected to family and friends are happier and live longer. People who are isolated and lonely are less happy and live shorter lives. You can watch the full video on the study here.
Spend quality time with your family and close friends. It is important to balance our time well between work and relationships.
Love is more valuable than anything else in the end.
4. Say YES and Explore
As kids, we were always exploring new things, but as we grow older, we are less adventurous and prefer to live a mundane lifestyle (this will make you old faster!). While playing, having fun and exploring are a common element of childhood, now as an adult, we seem to forget this. Life has become too serious.
Say YES to more invitations and take the initiative to try out new things. Open your world to more possibilities and you may find yourself enjoying activities that you have never thought of.
Research shows that the amount of happiness we get from our purchases of material goods will fall over time, whereas the memories of our traveling experience is a lasting joy that will stay with us for the rest of our lives. You will find it hard to remember what you purchased 3 years ago, however, you will treasure and remember the places you have been to for the past 3 years.
If you are age 21 to 35 and eager to travel, Under30Experience offers group travel to places like Spain, Peru, Iceland, Costa Rica, Bali and many more. You will travel with a fresh group of young people and meet people from all over the world.
Exploring does not just include traveling. Find a Meetup group and expand your network by doing other activities you love with like-minded people. There are a wide variety of hobbies and programs to explore. For example, there are Meetup groups such as running, hiking, dancing, cooking, photography, reading, entrepreneurship and fitness.
Try out something new occasionally, don’t stick to a boring routine. Even if you are working on a 9-5, you still have 5-11 to explore, don’t just watch Netflix and scroll your phone all day. The world has plenty of interesting adventures to offer you if you wish to explore.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
5. Plant the Seeds and Be Patient
To grow a tree, you need to first plant the seed, and it could take 5-8 years for the seed to grow into a tree. Likewise, to achieve your goals, plant the seeds and be patient.
Get off the get rich quick mentality and start to put in consistent work. Too many people are rushing to do too much and not learning to be patient. Enjoy the process of improving every day as the small incremental progress will add up to your eventual “overnight success.”
“Life is not a race, do take it slower. Hear the music before your song is over.” -David Weatherford
As Simon Sinek says in this video on the millennials question “Some things that really, really matter, like love or job fulfillment, joy, love of life, self-confidence, a skill set, all of these things take time. Sometimes you can expedite pieces of it, but the overall journey is long and arduous.”
This does not apply to just millennials, it applies to everyone, to learn and value the art of patience. Embrace the process and be a humble student along your journey.
Enjoy the journey, you’ll miss it once you reach the destination.
6. Don’t Give a F*ck of What Others Think
It always seems impossible until it is done, however, when it is not done, when you are still a work in progress, expect to hear a lot of noises coming from all corners of the room.
We are often so worried about what others might think of us if we do things that are against the norm, even though it is something we have always wanted. As a result, due to the worries, people end up not doing what they really wanted to do.
Ignore the noises and continue to believe in yourself. Be authentic, you are born an original, don’t die a copy. Be the crazy you again and be free. Don’t conform to society’s pressure and be someone that you are not.
However, if you are the type of person that no matter what, you can’t ignore the noises (you have tried and failed), continue to carry on with your goal but don’t tell it to anyone, do it silently on your own after your working hours.
Only tell your parents and friends after you get some small wins, by small wins I mean three paid small wins (e.g if you want to teach yoga, conduct three classes first, if you want to be a writer, pitch and write for three clients first). If you are easily discouraged by others, keep silent until the third paid small win to prevent the noises.
If you tell people about your first win people will say that you are lucky, the second win people will watch on and see, but by the third win, you can be sure that the noises will be toned down and you are well on your way to a new exciting journey if you continue to believe in yourself and work hard.
The reality is, to even get the first small win requires a lot of hard work upfront and there would be plenty of obstacles to get there. This is where you need to push through and stand out from the crowd.
Be yourself and don’t live in the expectation of others. Also, if you are always comparing with others, you will never be happy as there is always someone out there that seems to be better than you.
Being jealous of someone without knowing their whole life story and how they live their daily life is just plain silly. The funny thing is, the person that you are jealous of now might compare their lives with someone better as well. A never ending cycle. Everyone loses.
Be free and happy by living your own life and not giving a f*ck of what others think.
7. Live in The Moment
Everyone will face this, the feelings of emptiness, the feelings of not being good enough, the feelings of being a failure. There will be days like this for everyone, including successful entrepreneurs, athletes, and celebrities. While we can control many things in life, the one thing we will find it difficult to control is our thoughts.
However, it is important to be reminded that we are only in this world for a short passage of time. The time spent being unhappy due to your thoughts is time wasted that you will never get back.
Whatever age you are now, appreciate the fact that you are only in this age for a year, after which you can no longer go back in time. You can only look back to the past, dive into the memory lane and smile or cry. This is what makes time so precious.
Say you are 27 years old now, and you see 22 years old graduates who are beginning their search for jobs. It is like seeing yourself 5 years ago when you were younger and you miss those simple days. However, in those days, when you were 22, you could have felt unhappy with your life as you have a student loan to pay and not knowing your career path. Time will pass regardless whether you are happy or sad. The exciting part of a life journey is not knowing everything. If you know how everything will turn out, where is the fun?
Replace your negative thoughts with renewed positivity by living in the moment and acknowledge the fact that life has its ups and downs. Change your mindset and you will think differently about life and be happier.
Let’s look back again at the top 5 causes of unhappiness and what can you do about it:
|No.||Causes of Unhappiness||What you can do|
|1.||Lost in Life||-Audit Yourself and Find Work You Love
-Live in the moment
-Say YES and Explore
|2.||Relationships||-Nurture Close Relationships|
|3.||Work||-Audit Yourself and Find Work You Love
-Take Responsibility to Carve Out Your Own Path
|4.||Money||-Plant the Seeds and Be Patient
-Don’t Give a F*ck of What Others Think
-Live in the moment
|5.||Compare, Compare, Compare||-Take Responsibility to Carve Out Your Own Path
-Don’t Give a F*ck of What Others Think
Choose to live a happy life, don’t waste your days, months and years being a sad soul. There are many Billionaires/Millionaires in their 70s-80s, but the sad truth is no money can buy back time, the time that you have now. Appreciate your time and spend it wisely by applying the 7 ways to live a happy life. Again, Life is too short to be unhappy.
Over to You
Let me know in the comments below what are your thoughts. Any other tips to live a happy life?
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