Recently, I received a wake-up call that rocked my world. I was on the golf course “hacking it up” and feeling sorry for myself because I was playing poorly. I was letting my poor play ruin my day. I checked my phone while waiting for my partner to hit and got an email from a friend that hit me hard. His 37-year-old daughter, who had just had her 4th child, was recently diagnosed with stage 4 colon and liver cancer. Needless to say, my bad day on the golf course was quickly put into perspective. I had another sobering experience 15 years ago when my wife’s brother was killed in a horrific car accident. That, too, rocked my world at the time.
The sad reality is none of us know if today will be our last day alive. Luckily, despite my occasional bad golf day, most of the time, I do live like today is my last day. I always strive to be as happy as possible no matter what the circumstances. Below are some of the strategies I use to stay happy.
1. STOP BLAMING YOUR PROBLEMS ON OTHERS, OR CIRCUMSTANCES
When you constantly blame other people or factors for your problems, it will prevent you from being happy. Placing blame will make you feel powerless to change. It’s not your wife’s fault that you eat too much. Yes, her delicious cooking may make it tough to push the plate away, but ultimately, you are the one who puts the food in your mouth. How many times have you heard people say they don’t have time to exercise or do what they like because they are too busy with the kids’ or work activities? This example can be applied to many other situations.
Unless you take full ownership of your problems, you will never be able to fix them. Almost all problems in this life are self-imposed in some way. There is always time to do the things you want to do. The sooner you accept that and then take steps to stop doing the things that cause the problems and start doing the things that make you happy, the sooner you will see some positive changes.
2. START PRIORITIZING YOUR HEALTH
It would be best if you took care of yourself, which involves taking care of your health. Your health should be a priority because health and happiness are closely related. If you want to live your life to the fullest, move your health to the top of your priority list. The example in the previous point applies here as well. Make time to work on your health.
3. STOP WORRYING ABOUT YOUR FUTURE OR YOUR PAST
When you don’t live life in the present, it can seriously interfere with your happiness. You can’t change the past and can’t control the future. Worrying about either only gets in the way of joy. While you should make plans for a positive future, you shouldn’t constantly worry about it. When your thoughts of the future interfere with the present, you will experience dissatisfaction with life.
4. STOP COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS
Frequently comparing yourself to others will leave you feeling miserable. There will always be someone that seems to be ahead of you in life, just like there are plenty of people who seem worse off than you. Everyone progresses at different levels and does things differently. And ultimately, what others have or have not done has zero impact on you.
5. STOP WITH THE SELF-LIMITING BELIEFS
Every person has a unique set of strengths and weaknesses, yourself included. Self-limiting beliefs cause you to fixate on your flaws rather than using your strengths to your benefit. If you aren’t sure what you are good at, do some self-reflecting to figure it out.
Your strengths are the things that you are naturally good at or love to do. When you focus on your strengths, you will be happier, and your self-limiting beliefs will diminish. You don’t have to ignore your weaknesses, but don’t make them the first thing you think about.
Once you have recognized your weaknesses, work on bettering yourself in those areas. But always be sure to get a good dose of the things where you excel. It keeps you feeling great.
6. START PUTTING YOURSELF FIRST
This sounds selfish, but it makes sense if you think about it. When you are on a plane, they tell you to put the oxygen mask on yourself first before you help the person next to you. Why? Because you can’t help anyone if you are unconscious. This same concept is valid in all aspects of life. It is hard to be a positive influence on anyone if you are in a weak position yourself. Make sure you are strong and happy, then you can figure out how to help others.
7. LEARN SOME SELF-CONTROL
If you struggle with self-control, it could be interfering with your happiness. For example, spending more money than you can afford, drinking too much and getting into fights and arguments, or eating so much that you gain weight and feel bad. If you lack the self-control to make good life choices, you are only adding stress to your life. It is not easy to control some things, but the result is well worth the effort.
8. STOP FOCUSING ON THE NEGATIVE
Negativity can have a massive impact on success and happiness. It sounds like a cliché’, but the “power of positive thinking” is a fundamental concept. When you consistently have negative thoughts, you won’t find happiness, and you will likely experience precisely the negative result you are expecting. The opposite is true about positive thinking. You can talk yourself into a positive outcome. Start with little things and work your way up. It does take a conscious effort to stay away from negative thoughts, but it is a life-changing strategy.
9. STOP SPENDING TIME DOING THINGS THAT DON’T BENEFIT YOU
Wasting time on things that won’t benefit you is a big problem when it comes to happiness. Social media, using a cell phone, excessive TV, video games, sleeping all day, etc., are all things that, in excess, lead to unhappiness. Even if you enjoy those things, when they become a massive time drain in your life, it will pull you away from important things that do affect your well-being. Spending time relaxing or doing things that make you happy does benefit you, but there is a line where the things you enjoy can become a burden.
10. STOP PROCRASTINATING
So many people procrastinate on things they do not want to do but are essential to basic living. Paying bills, returning phone calls, chores, and other no-so-fun activities can become huge problems when your procrastination gets out of control. Instead of blowing off those things, do them first thing in the morning when you are fresh and get them out of the way so that you can spend the rest of the day doing something you like.
11. STOP AND SMELL THE ROSES ALONG THE WAY
We are all super-busy, and it is really easy to work so hard at just living that you forget to relax and recharge your batteries. I have always been a type-A personality, which means I hard-charge every waking moment. It is very easy for me to miss all the positive things around me. So, I force myself to take one day a week to just rest and be with family. I also take a leisure trip every three months with friends and family. I have been doing that my entire career. The trips are sometimes long weekends and sometimes ten-day excursions. No matter how busy I am, I work those into my schedule.
I have found that this plan gives me something to look forward to almost all the time. It goes a long way to break up the grind and has also made my relationship with my wife, kids, family, and friends very strong. It recharges my batteries.
12. SPEND TIME WITH GOD
If you are already a believer, then this point should be easily understood. But even a lot of believers seem to put God as last on the list. Put Him first, and you will see some real fruit. If you are not, I will encourage you to consider adding a spiritual aspect to your life. I find that no matter how stressed out I may be, spending time reading the Bible or listening to Bible teachings always lifts me and puts me in a better mental place.
Alluding to my first paragraph in this article, you never know when life will end, and if you don’t make sure that you enjoy it along the way, you may never have a chance.
Success in business and life is something we all desire. And you can do it and be happy all along the way.