There's an unfortunate reason why happiness is often elusive -- our brains simply aren't wired that way. Instead, our brains have evolved to survive, to protect ourselves, to keep us safe. Sure, we have moments of elation and periods of contentment and bliss. But many of us are plagued with persistent negative emotions -- we are just plain stuck in the "blahs."
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How do we find more joy in our life? Like anything else, it takes practice to cultivate ongoing happiness. In a sense, we have to reset our baseline. It won't happen overnight, but here are the top 20 things you can do every day to discover the secrets of being happier.
1. Focus on the positive.
To find long-term happiness, you need to retrain your brain from a negative mindset to a positive mindset. Try these things: Spend one to two minutes looking for positives in your life. Do this three times a day for 45 days, and your brain will start doing it automatically.
Choose a positive mantra for the day -- something you will repeat to yourself, such as "Today is beautiful" or "I feel grateful for all I have." And when things go south, take a moment to try and see it from a positive light. Never underestimate the importance of recognizing the silver linings in life.
Related: Stop These 8 Negative Mindsets That Make Entrepreneurs Miserable
2. Celebrate little victories.
Life is full of ups and downs, but in between we have a lot of little victories that go unnoticed. Take a moment to celebrate these small wins.
Did you check off all the things on your to-do list that you've been procrastinating on? Yay! Did you finally clear out a stella nonna
that have been filling up your inbox? Woohoo! Take pleasure in these little achievements. They add up!
Related: 5 Ways to Celebrate Small Wins on Your Way to World Domination
3. Find your work–life balance.
Work takes up a lot of our day, but it shouldn't be the only thing we do. It's important to pursue activities and interests beyond our job. Do you have a hobby? Are you spending time with friends and loved ones? Are you getting exercise? Creating balance in your life will reduce stress and give you other outlets to express yourself and have fun.
Related: Work-Life Balance Is Simple. To Succeed at Work, Get a Life.
4. Practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness mediation works by bringing your awareness and attention to the present moment. It's about being nonjudgmental and accepting how you are feeling. Practicing mindfulness means being present, aware and curious. Accepting what we are going through decreases stress and helps us see situations for what they are. Through mindfulness, we can find peace and affirmation in ourselves.
Related: Mindfulness Isn't Just a Trend, It's Key to Being a Better Leader
5. Be creative.
You may think of artists as being moody and depressed, but studies show that engaging in creative activities on a regular basis actually makes you happier. Those who spend time using their imagination and being creative have more enthusiasm and are more likely to have feelings of long-term happiness and well-being. Such creative activities can include writing, painting, drawing and musical performance.
Related: 14 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative
6. Accept imperfection.
Many of us strive for perfection -- we desire to push ourselves to be our best. But in order to be truly happy, you must embrace the imperfection that is part of life. Perfection is impossible, and holding ourselves and others to these standards is futile. We will always end up feeling let down. Accept that life is imperfect and recognize that there is beauty and grace in that imperfection.
Related: Perfection Is the Greatest Obstacle to Productivity
7. Do what you love.
It's pretty hard to maintain happiness if you hate your job. Don't waste the best years of your life in a joyless job, even if it's paying the bills. What are you interested in? What are you truly passionate about? Focus on building a career in an area that motivates you and will provide you with a high level of satisfaction, and your happiness factor will go up exponentially.
Related: 5 Essential Ingredients to Doing What You Love For a Living