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7 Underrated Changes That Can Lead to a Happier Life

7 Underrated Changes That Can Lead to a Happier Life

Things to do today that your future self will thank you for, other than eating well and reading more

Self-improvement books prey on people making people believe their life isn’t good enough. That by hustling harder, organizing your life more, and changing your mindset around money, you can radically change your life.

But many of them miss the bigger picture.

Every person out there wants one similar thing: happiness. While financial stability and a good night’s sleep can liven your mood, there are more effective ways to achieve this ultimate, larger goal.

Because you see, happiness (and all the building blocks that lead up to it) are life-long choices. You can’t “work hard, play hard” to a life that will still make you happy well into old age. That kind of change is merely temporary.

And how would I know this? I’ve been in your exact shoes. I thought that by focusing on everything external, I could fix something internal in me. But I only made myself more stressed and unhappy.

I was shocked to realize most of the choices that drive my fulfillment with life today quotes from the best-selling books out there. They were vastly underrated paths to happiness that not enough people talk about.

So if a happier life is what you want, I’d consider making one, two, or all of these changes to your life. Your present self, along with your future self, will thank you for them.

Accept what’s controllable and uncontrollable.
You have more control than you think, that is, except when you don’t. Hear me out. We tend to focus a lot of energy on worrying about the things in life we can’t control and let what we can control fall to the wayside.

I used to believe I was unlucky in my love life. I dated one emotionally abusive guy after the next. Every time they hurt me, but I didn’t leave them, I blamed the pain on being dealt unlucky cards.

But all this did was keep me in victim mode. And you know what happens to victims? They continue to be hurt.

While I couldn’t control how my partners treated me, I could control the choices I made up until that point. I could stop chasing qualities in partners that weren’t healthy. I could stop ignoring red flags when they came up.

The same goes for your life. Believing you have control over the uncontrollable will suck the happiness right out of your life. Instead, shift your energy to what you can control. Give the power back to yourself.

Learn how to be a good friend/family member/partner.
People aren’t born effectively communicating and showing each other appreciation. You know what your parents teach you. If that’s not from a place of love and healed trauma, you’re like most people in this world.

Which is to say, you have a lot to learn. Putting your thoughts and feelings into words is hard enough, but also learning that’s OK and what will improve your relationships is a whole other obstacle to overcome.

Being a good person to the people in your life is a skill you have to learn. It’s comprised of learning to communicate, keeping promises, respecting people’s time, and having hard conversations when you’d rather avoid them.

In the long run, this will strengthen the bonds in your life. Which means you’ll be happier, too.

Find what makes you uniquely happy.
I once had a therapist friend who helped me through one of my darkest bouts of depression. She told me to make a list, as long as my age (25 at the time), of activities that make me happy when I do them.

“But don’t just write ‘hiking’ because that’s what everyone else writes,” she said, “Sit down and really figure out what brings you joy.”

And so I did. It took me several days to come up with those 25 activities, but I still kept that list to this day. Because when something hard comes up in my life or my depression starts to creep up, I have my go-to happiness list.

You’d be surprised how many people couldn’t make a list with five things that make them happy, let alone as long as their age. But figuring out what uniquely makes you feel better is a toolbox you can carry the rest of your life.

Differentiate between reality and social media.
You can hate on social media all you want, but the fact is, it’s a prominent presence in our life. Chances are, you’re on at least one platform once a day. You need to protect your mental health during that time.

It’s easy to see the carefully curated photos or videos of someone’s life and think that’s how your life should be. If you see someone else obtain something, why shouldn’t you be able to, right?

But the truth is, that person’s life doesn’t even look like the one they post. Aside from the most obvious example I could make here (photoshop), people rent expensive cars, lie about their financials, and act much happier than they are.

So while I could’ve said, “comparison is the thief of joy,” you’re better off learning to question everything you see. By knowing what’s real and what’s a filtered social media post, you can protect your happiness.

Stick with something you enjoy doing.
Once you find something you even moderately enjoy doing, stick with it. I’m not saying that it has to be something you do for the rest of your life, but give it at least six months to see what can come from it.

For the first year of my writing career, I made anywhere from $0 to $500. That’s not even enough money to pay my rent with. But I stuck with it because I enjoyed writing; I didn’t do it for the money.

Eventually, I found success through my consistency. You’ll find the same kind of success when you show up regularly when it comes to the things you love, too, regardless if it makes you money.

So even if what brings you joy is watercolors or fishing, stick with it. Give yourself a fighting chance to see how good you can become and potentially find something that can bring you life-long happiness.

Consume content that’s outside of your bubble.
When the time comes that my (nonexistent, at the moment) kids graduate high school, I’ll encourage them to take a gap year. Sure, college has its value, but traveling the world gives you something I believe to be invaluable.

And that’s perspective.

Now, I’m not saying everyone must travel the world to have an open mind. That would be elitist to assume, and I know everyone can’t afford to. But at the very least, consume content that’s outside of what you know.

 Read books by authors from different races than you. Learn a new skill from a different culture. Interact with people who think differently than you do. 

Because when you believe your world can only ever exist how it is, you’re stuck. There’s so much knowledge and understanding to be had out there in the world; obtaining it is key to a happier life.

Learn how to be happy with the present.
Would you believe me that you can experience happiness, even in the smallest amount, today? That happiness isn’t something you can only have in the future if you start doing everything I wrote above?

Well, start believing because it’s true.

There’s no such thing as the pursuit of happiness; all of us have reasons to feel joy every day. Sure, you can start heading in certain paths that lead to more sustainable happiness, but it’s a feeling that’s within your grasp right now.

Here’s a simple exercise to get you started: write down everything you appreciate in your life. Start with obvious ones like your family and friends and trickle down to small things you take for granted, like the internet you’re using to read this article.

Use that gratitude to warm you up inside.

Happiness comes from within you, no matter what best-selling books and “gurus” out there tell you. And the great news is that you can make small changes to head to a life-sustaining happiness today.

Just remember that with enough steps, one day, you’ll look back and see you’ve gone miles. Your future self won’t ever regret that.

 Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels  
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