How do you live a successful and happy life? This question has been asked by countless people, but few have come up with an answer that really works.
Sure, there are things that can boost your happiness in the short term, like binge-watching your favorite TV show or going out to eat at your favorite restaurant, but those things don’t lead to long-term happiness.
In order to become truly happy in life, you need to do more than seek pleasure; you need to pursue real meaning as well.
How you choose to live your life can impact your happiness, as well as your overall success in life.
While everyone has different preferences and needs, there are some tried-and-true methods that most people can agree on that can make you feel fulfilled and successful in almost any area of your life.
Here are eleven powerful keys to happiness and leading a successful life.
What are the Keys to Happiness
The key to happiness is positive energy. Once you realize your energy levels, you can begin consciously changing your state so that it becomes more positive.
This gives you control over how happy you are, instead of waiting for something or someone else to change before you feel better.
Start today by making a list of what makes you happy in life—and add more of those things into your life.
The quickest way? Smile! Even fake smiles can release endorphins, reducing stress and creating an overall happier state of mind.
1) Be Grateful for what you have
Being grateful for what you have instead of dwelling on what you don’t maybe one of the most powerful keys to happiness. Studies suggest that those who are grateful are happier overall, more optimistic, and even healthier than those who aren’t.
Gratitude helps to build lasting relationships because it helps people better understand each other, empathize with others’ feelings, as well as connect with them on a deeper level. Keep an ongoing list of things that you’re grateful for and re-read it often.
The more time you spend doing so (and noticing gratitude in your everyday life), your life will feel more balanced over all.
2) Always Smile
One of the most important keys to happiness is simple: always smile. This seems like a simple task but it’s often easier said than done. If you’re feeling down or having a stressful day, force yourself to smile.
Smiling doesn’t just help your mood, but it has several physical benefits as well? It decreases stress, reduces fatigue, lowers pain, and helps keep your brain healthy.
So no matter what kind of day you’re having, force yourself to smile even if you don’t feel like it; trust me when I say it will do wonders for you!
3) Don’t Dwell in the Past
The past is simply that—the past. It doesn’t serve us, or anyone else, for us to be constantly dwelling on it.
Don’t put your focus on what went wrong in your life, or what you wish had gone differently; do everything you can to steer your mind toward things that will inspire you and make you happy.
You might not control what happened yesterday, but you can certainly learn from it and use it as an opportunity for growth.
It’s important that we don’t allow our emotions or thoughts of failure to deter us from pursuing our goals; instead, we should use them as indicators of when we need to take action in order to right our course.
4) Forgive Yourself, Forgive Others
Holding grudges is not only hard on you, but those around you. When it comes to your happiness, giving up grudges can have a massive impact.
And in your relationships, forgiveness can make or break them. Holding grudges can keep us stuck in an unhealthy cycle of unhappiness—one where we’re too focused on how someone wronged us, rather than on moving forward with our lives.
Many people don’t realize that forgiving others doesn’t mean letting someone off easy. In fact, holding onto anger—or sadness or hurt—can actually keep us from healing completely and moving forward in life free from resentment.
Instead of focusing on how much another person hurt you, work towards finding what peace you can in yourself and know that forgiving others is about finding peace for yourself more than anything else.
When you do forgive yourself, focus less on what happened (the bad stuff) and focus more on who you are now (the good stuff).
5) Understand Your Limitations, Strengths, and Weaknesses
A big part of being happy is understanding who you are and what makes you tick. It’s also important to accept your limitations, weaknesses, insecurities, fears, stressors, and vulnerabilities.
If you can accept them for what they are (and not as something that should be fixed or changed), then you can make peace with yourself.
Think about it: How happy would someone be if he were emotionally unprepared for life’s inevitable stressful moments?
Accepting your limitations is one of the best ways to move beyond them. The same applies to strengths and weaknesses.
For example, if you have deep-seated insecurity, constantly trying to prove yourself will only exacerbate those feelings of self-doubt.
However, accepting your shortcomings—and believing you’re OK just how you are—is much more liberating than trying desperately to get rid of them; acceptance gets rid of these feelings once and for all.
6) Talk to Someone About Things That Bother You
Having problems? A solution is as close as one of your closest friends. If you can’t find someone you trust, consider talking to a professional therapist about your issues.
When it comes to finding happiness, most people don’t know where or how to start. I have found that starting with ourselves is often where we need to start.
We are all different, with our own strengths and weaknesses. In order for us to lead successful lives and be happy we need to first learn what makes us happy or unhappy.
7) Exercise Daily
The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise on most days of the week.
That’s not just because it will help you lose weight (though it will), but also because it improves your brain health—helping you feel happier, more productive, and less stressed.
It also boosts self-esteem and confidence. And as we age, we need these benefits all the more.
So lace up those sneakers every day. You know-how:
- Start walking for 10 or 15 minutes a day, three times a week;
- slowly build up over time to 30 minutes daily.
- Aim for activities that get your heart pumping at 60 percent or higher of its maximum rate (as measured by a pulse).
So if you can run five miles in 20 minutes when you’re fit, that would be 120 percent of your maximum heart rate; aim for an activity that gets your heart rate up to about 160 beats per minute at its fastest point.
More tips: Keep moving! It’s easy to get distracted by household chores and other responsibilities when trying to add new habits.
8) Think Positively
While there’s no magic formula for finding happiness, staying positive can certainly help. Instead of dwelling on negative thoughts or events, you can use your mind as a tool for staying upbeat.
Research has shown that meditation is one of many effective methods for fostering positivity and building happiness; by simply taking time out of your day to meditate, you can strengthen your ability to think positively.
Try incorporating 10 minutes of daily meditation into your schedule—you may find it makes a huge difference in how you approach life.
9) Get enough sleep
According to scientific research, most people need between 6.5-7.5 hours of sleep every night. But it’s not just what time you go to bed or wake up—it’s how much sleep you’re getting that’s important. Sleeping in constantly won’t make up for lost sleep, either.
You can’t bank sleep like a piggy bank: if you want to be productive in your waking hours, you need to get enough rest when you do so—and make sure it doesn’t catch up with you later on down the road.
10) Find your passion in life and do what you love
People who are happy in life do what they love. Sounds easy, right? It’s not. Not many people follow their dreams and passions.
They either don’t know what it is or have other priorities that have taken over their lives. The first thing that you should do to be happy is to find out your passion in life.
What makes you tick? What gets you excited every day? You should think long and hard about what gets you motivated before deciding on your next step after graduation.
Once you know what motivates you, take advantage of it! Go for it! Believe in yourself enough so that when people ask if that’s really your passion, you can say Yes!
11) Practice acts of kindness
Want to make yourself happier? Do something nice for someone else. It’s counterintuitive, but research shows that performing acts of kindness is one of the best ways to feel joy.
In fact, according to researchers at UC Davis, these findings suggest that people have an innate desire to help others which when fulfilled also fulfills them. Giving makes you feel good!
So get out there and do some good deeds. You can even use websites like VolunteerMatch or HandsOn Network to find volunteer opportunities near you.
(You can read till the end to learn tips on how you can become a more compassionate person here.)
12) Take care of yourself
Taking care of yourself is incredibly important, both physically and mentally.
Practicing good self-care can help you maintain a positive outlook, reduce stress levels, enjoy better health, handle life’s difficulties, be more productive at work—the list goes on.
In fact, practicing just one small aspect of good self-care can yield huge benefits (like managing your time better or being more organized).
The key to being truly happy is to treat yourself with kindness and respect—and that starts with putting yourself first. Here are some powerful keys for leading a successful life
13) Embrace change
If you’re going to change your life, you need to be open to change.
Even when you make resolutions or set goals, it’s vital that you allow yourself some wiggle room so that when things go awry or when there’re unexpected roadblocks along your path, you don’t become discouraged and throw in the towel.
This is also important because success doesn’t always look like we expect it will.
You might have been dreaming of buying a big house but realize that what makes you happy is building treehouses with your kids in their backyard.
Your business may stall out on you right before it goes huge. The relationships in your life are constantly changing as well.
Maintaining happiness means recognizing that those around you are who they are, too—and realizing how much your own attitude can affect any situation.
Thought on Compassion
Compassion leads to kindness, which leads to happiness. We have identified 10 simple but powerful ways you can boost your compassion, help you lead a more meaningful life, and make you happier. So read on for our ten-step guide on how you can become more compassionate.
The first step is to recognize your emotions: Before we show you how to be kinder toward others, it’s important that you’re kinder toward yourself.
The number one rule of being compassionate is recognizing when your mind needs some TLC—and then giving it! This involves becoming an active observer of both physical sensations (i.e., what happens to your body) and emotions (what goes through your mind).
Learning how to meditate can really come in handy (more on that later!).
Once you pay attention both physically and mentally—you’ll notice that right before an emotion arises there’s often a noticeable change or sensation within your body.
For example, anger may arise as tension in your jaw; nervousness may manifest as sweatiness; compassion for someone else’s sadness might make you teary-eyed.
Just noticing these physical sensations and their associated feelings is helpful because it makes you more conscious of them. And once you’re conscious of them, they’re easier to regulate by choosing not to amplify them with harmful behaviors.
Besides noticing feelings and their accompanying bodily changes, another key skill here is just being present with whatever’s going on without judging yourself or others—without thinking about how you wish things were different or ruminating over past mistakes.
10 tips on how you can become more compassionate
It is normal for people to feel anger, fear, hatred, resentment, or disgust when they think about others who have hurt them. It is a part of human nature to want payback on someone who has caused you pain.
When it comes down to it though, in order for you to be truly happy (and less depressed), getting revenge will accomplish nothing. Instead, focus on your own life and try to see things through your children’s eyes if you do have any.
If possible create some kind of contact with that person so that you can explain why it was hurting you so much instead of just lashing out at them which will only lead to more negativity between both parties.
Follow these tips to be more compassionate.
- Realize that everyone makes mistakes
- Forgive others for their mistakes
- Avoid should statements
- Spend some time alone
- Learn how to forgive yourself
- Don’t judge yourself harshly
- Learn something new every day
- Write your gratitude
- Do not compare yourself with others
- Call someone you love often
Note: Sometimes doing things like helping someone or volunteering is a great way for you to become more compassionate, so do it if you have extra time!
While there’s no magic solution for how to be happy, research does show that there are ways we can boost our mood, increase our sense of well-being, and just make life more pleasant. Getting enough sleep is crucial for us all; taking time out of your busy schedule is important too. A happy life isn’t always easier than an unhappy one, but it’s often better.
Start today by looking at yourself in a new light and taking some time to reflect on how you want to approach your future.
Try setting short-term goals like spending more time outside or reading more books instead of just scrolling through Facebook.
Start there! Then take some time every week thinking about who you want to become then use those things that make yourself feel fulfilled and unhappy less frequently until they become part of who you are.
One last tip: make sure not to lose sight of yourself in your plans for success because if something does not make YOU happy then it will make no one else happy either!
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