Life can be a drag sometimes; I agree with you on that. But there are no two moments that are the same, no two experiences that are the same, no two lives that are the same. The days are long, but the years are short and it's in your control how you live your life.
Let me ask you two questions:
- What are your life goals?
- What makes you happy?
So, are those two answers linked to each other? They should be. When it comes to the life goals which will make us happier people, set up the following goals:
- Find balance and meaning. What is throwing you off balance? Is it work? It may come as no surprise that for most people it is. Finding the right balance between work and “the rest”, not only is going to make you happier, but it's also going to make you more productive. There is growing evidence that happy employees are more productive including the ground-breaking research conducted by a team at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School in collaboration with BT. The study found that happy employees are 13% more productive. So, it becomes a virtuous cycle, you are happier, therefore you are more productive, which in return makes you feel even happier. However, remember, happiness is 50% genetics, 10% environment and 40% it's you. And while working for a good company will influence the 10%, what will make or break the happiness barometer is what you do. Living a meaningful life will ultimately allow you to find the right balance, put your energy into the things that make you feel fulfilled and happy. Make sure you live a meaningful and balanced life.
- Nurture your relationships. The result of the longest study ever, conducted by Harvard, was that good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Again, no surprise to any of us. Having lived through a full year of a global pandemic, we have experienced by ourselves the importance of being socially and physically connected, the importance of family, friends, and our communities in our lives. This seems easy enough, but as we progress in life the quality of our relationships decreases, either because we focus on quantity, not quality (when we are young) or because we “are too busy” (when we are adults) to call/write/see each other. So, remember, work at maintaining your deep relationships throughout the years, they allow you to live a longer, happier, and healthier life.
- Live a life true to yourself. People often say “Just be yourself” in situations like a job interview or when meeting someone new, but being yourself is much more complex. It requires you to be aware of your core values and principles, know your likes and dislikes, your strengths and your limitations and get to know and accept it all. Being aware is the first step, and I'd argue the easier step, but getting to accept it all, it's the difficult part. We're constantly pushed through life having to meet standards, having to meet other people’s expectations, unless we decide to take life into our hands and allow our values and principles to guide us. Don't let society's standards to tell you how to live your live, overall as they are less and less focused on what's truly important. Act as if nobody is watching, talk as if nobody is listening, live as if nobody is judging. Awareness is key, so when in doubt, just ask yourself “Am I being true to myself?”
- Express your feelings. Both positive and negative feelings must be let out. Expressing negative feelings lets you to identify the problem which will allow you to start working on a solution. Positive feelings are a gift to yourself and to the world - the best gift you can ever give or receive. Nevertheless, there is a negative stigma around expressing feelings. While the feelings stigmatized might be different across genders, this affects both women and men. So, we become afraid of expressing our feelings. The way forward, in my opinion, is to address “how” we express those feelings. Is it a conscious action to respond to a situation or is it a reaction, something that happens unconsciously? Whenever in doubt, take three deep breaths and then share how you feel. Feelings don’t make us weak; they make us stronger. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable is the biggest sign of strength. Feelings are a marvelous thing, express them.
- Allow yourself to be happy. This sounds the simplest of them all, yet I believe is the most difficult of them all. We tend to self-sabotage, to be cautious, to feel guilt, to wait for the right moment, to celebrate too little. When happiness knocks on your door is because you have called it, so let it in. What I am saying is, if you have put in the effort to bring happiness into your life, let it flourish, enjoy it, multiply it, and share it. Don't make it more complicated than it already is. Doing all four above and failing to do this one would be catastrophic. Give yourself permission to be happy and do it now. Yes, things aren't perfect - but will they ever be?
Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness - Bronnie Ware
And if you made it so far in this article, this is you choosing and taking action to bring happiness to your everyday life.
Inspired by The Top Five Regrets of the Dying – A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing by Bronnie Ware.