7 Things Remarkably Happy People Do Often – (Continued)
Happiness can be a choice — especially when you take the right actions. By Jeff Haden
4. Do what you excel at as often as you can.
You know the old cliché regarding the starving yet happy artist? Turns out it’s true: artists are considerably more satisfied with their work than non-artists–even though the pay tends to be considerably lower than in other skilled fields.
Why? I’m no researcher, but clearly the more you enjoy what you do and the more fulfilled you feel by what you do, the happier you will be.
In The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Anchor says that when volunteers picked “one of their signature strengths and used it in a new way each day for a week, they became significantly happier and less depressed.”
Of course it’s unreasonable to think you can chuck it all and simply do what you love. But you can find ways to do more of what you excel at. Delegate. Outsource. Start to shift the products and services you provide into areas that allow you to bring more of your strengths to bear. If you’re a great trainer, find ways to train more people. If you’re a great salesperson, find ways to streamline your administrative tasks and get in front of more customers.
Everyone has at least a few things they do incredibly well. Find ways to do those things more often. You’ll be a lot happier.
And probably a lot more successful.
While giving is usually considered unselfish, giving can also be more beneficial for the giver than the receiver. Providing social support may be more beneficial than receiving it.
Intuitively, I think we all knew that because it feels awesome to help someone who needs it. Not only is helping those in need fulfilling, it’s also a reminder of how comparatively fortunate we are–which is a nice reminder of how thankful we should be for what we already have.
Plus, receiving is something you cannot control. If you need help–or simply want help–you can’t make others help you. But you can always control whether you offer and provide help.
And that means you can always control, at least to a degree, how happy you are–because giving makes you happier.
6. Don’t single-mindedly chase “stuff.”
Money is important. Money does a lot of things. (One of the most important is to create choices.)
But after a certain point, money doesn’t make people happier. After about $75,000 a year, money doesn’t buy more (or less) happiness. “Beyond $75,000… higher income is neither the road to experience happiness nor the road to relief of unhappiness or stress,” say the authors of that study.
“Perhaps $75,000 is the threshold beyond which further increases in income no longer improve individuals’ ability to do what matters most to their emotional well-being, such as spending time with people they like, avoiding pain and disease, and enjoying leisure.”
And if you don’t buy that, here’s another take: “The materialistic drive and satisfaction with life are negatively related.” Or, in layman’s terms, “Chasing possessions tends to make you less happy.”
Think of it as the bigger house syndrome. You want a bigger house. You need a bigger house. (Not really, but it sure feels like you do.) So you buy it. Life is good… until a couple months later when your bigger house is now just your house.
New always becomes the new normal.
“Things” provide only momentary bursts of happiness. To be happier, don’t chase as many things. Chase a few experiences instead.
7. Live the life you want to live.
Bonnie Ware worked in palliative care, spending time with patients who had only a few months to live. Their most common regret they expressed was “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
What other people think–especially people you don’t even know–doesn’t matter. What other people want you to do doesn’t matter.
Your hopes, your dreams, your goals–live your life your way. Surround yourself with people who support and care not for the “you” they want you to be but for the real you.
Make choices that are right for you. Say things you really want to say to the people who most need to hear them. Express your feelings. Stop and smell a few roses. Make friends, and stay in touch with them.
And most of all, realize that happiness is a choice. Fifty percent of how happy you are lies within your control, so start doing more things that will make you happier.