Life ain’t what it was a hundred years ago.
This is a good thing considering we no longer have to wash clothes by hand or spend three days in a bumpy bandwagon every time we want to visit Aunt Debra. At the same time, the conveniences of the modern world have made life even more chaotic.
Phone calls and emails go wherever we go, and all these increases in efficiency mean we can do even more in a day. People everywhere complain about never having the time to do what they enjoy.
The Simple Guide to Success and Happiness
I used to believe that one had to choose either success or peace and happiness, and so I went after dollar signs and grueling hours. Over time though, I figured out this was no way to live.
I believed that it had to be possible to enjoy life AND take care of business, so I sought to figure out ways I could make it possible. Success and happiness are all possible, and you won’t have to beat a dead horse to get it.
Here are 5 simple steps to use as your guide to success and happiness.
1) Do Something Worth Your While
I have three children and work full-time, so I’m all too familiar with the feeling that there’s never enough time to do what I need to do, nevertheless to do what I enjoy. At the same time, I also know it’s critical that I make this time because “all work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy.”
Being busy is not the same thing as being productive, and days spent doing only the mandatory and mundane have me going to bed feeling restless and agitated. We all need to feel like we did something with our life at the end of the day.
That’s what keeps us progressing forward and building a better life. If doing something fulfilling and worthwhile isn’t a top priority, then that needs to change today. Work towards a fitness goal, take time to connect with friends and family, or knock out a task you’ve been putting off.
However “simple” your task of choice may be, you can’t beat climbing into bed with a feeling of satisfaction.
“I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” – Steve Jobs
2) Get Outside
As cozy as our home or office may be, we still qualify as “mammals.” Our bodies are meant to be used and worked. Fresh air, exercise, and the quiet of the outdoors offer some lovely scenery and peace. No matter how much we love being busy and productive, we could all use some time to wind down and recharge.
A little time outside offers an important break from stress-ors, and that time can do wonders when it comes to feeling stuck. Frazzled nerves are my cue to get moving and inhale some fresh air. I also beeline it for the front door when it comes to tapping into creativity.
My best ideas come when I have a clear mind and find my “zone,” so walking, biking, and hiking are my go-to for efficiency as well as stress relief.
3) Squeeze In A Good Deed
Call it a random act of kindness, paying it forward, or being human, performing a good deed comes with huge benefits. Showing a little kindness to others can lead to all sorts of life-fulfilling scenarios, but I’m not going to get into that because I’m not into being mushy or cheesy.
The bottom-line is that making others feel good makes us feel good. The modern world is full of people too busy or self-absorbed to even notice us. It sure is nice to take a second to connect with another human being.
And that feeling that we made a difference in someone’s day? That’s a feeling that keeps going and going.
“To be doing good deeds is man’s most glorious task.” – Sophocles
4) Get A Pet
The thought of doodie duty and vet visits may have you opting for a fur-free life, but investing in an animal companion come with big benefits. Studies actually show that pets have a HUGE impact on our well-being. When you think about it, their influence makes perfect sense.
Pets aren’t judgmental, negative, or too busy to find time for us (with the exception of a moody cat of course). They also rely on non-verbal communication, so touch is an important part of their “talk.” All that petting and lap-time expresses good intention, and it also initiates an instant connection that snaps us into the present moment.
The simple act of petting or putting our attention into an animal takes our minds off the stresses of work, school, and family. So much so, that animals even have a place as “therapists” for everything from autism and PTSD, to physical and emotional challenges.
Science is attempting to explain or debunk the “magic” of animals, but feel it for yourself and that will be all the evidence you need. It feels oh-so-good to be appreciated, and pets love us doting on them.
It’s win-win all around.
5) Eat Like You Care
I’ve noticed a huge correlation between eating crappy and feeling crappy. Whether one leads to the other or they both feed off each other, it makes life harder than it needs to be.
Busy schedules have us looking for speed and convenience at mealtime, but how often do we see healthy, happy people coming home with fast food?
The fact is, our efforts equal our results. If we can eat with energy, clarity, and health in mind, then we can figure out a way to make eating a priority while accommodating our busy lives.
I sneak healthy foods into everyday life by snacking on nuts and dried fruit, making simple ethnic foods that rely on vegetables rather than dairy, keeping plenty of fruit on hand, and cooking or drinking medicinal herbs.
These methods offer some quick and easy health benefits without taking on an intimidating culinary adventure. Determine what’s practical and do-able for you, and develop your own plan of action.
6) Create A Pursuit
I don’t want to get all mushy here, but I think it’s fair to say that we’d all like to think our life serves some sort of higher purpose.
Whether that involves becoming a spiritual guru, doing stand-up comedy, creating a business, or developing ridiculously-delicious donuts, we need something to keep us going. We can always go deep and mystical, but the big thing to strive for is that feeling of excitement and enthusiasm.
We all have those things that we love doing. Things that make hours pass like minutes and have us so energized and brimming with ideas that we can’t shut off our mind to fall asleep. These are the things we need to incorporate into everyday life!
My own passions have always lied in writing, but it took ten years of restlessness and reading Robinson’s The Element to finally make this passion and inspiration a regular part of life. Now I’m finally doing it. Not only am I happier, but I’m actually turning it into a career.
I once believed it took a whole lot of work and talent to make it as a writer, but my natural drive and excitement is making it the easiest thing I’ve ever done! It still takes effort, but I’m full of ideas, motivation, and determination.
My pursuit to simplify life and share my experiences with others has a fire burning in me that keeps me going like nothing else.
Do you have anything you’d like to add to this simple guide to success and happiness? Leave a comment below.