Do you ever feel like happiness is simply out of reach?
Or that you’re having major FOMO on the key to happiness that everyone else seems to have stumbled upon?
You begin to feel like there’s something wrong with you for being incapable of feeling happy, even though you have so many beautiful things in your life.
I remember a time, not too long ago where laying in bed with my eyes shut was easier than waking up knowing that happiness wasn’t on the agenda. I truly know what it feels like to be in your shoes constantly waiting for the happiness switch to flip on in my brain.
I felt stuck.
I tried everything from podcasts, to inspirational quotes, to reading researched-backed techniques, to apps and everything in between. I simply could not experience that euphoric rush of happiness that is essential to fulfillment.
Here’s what no one tells you about happiness
There is no app for unlocking true happiness.
It doesn’t come in a box, or on amazon prime – it simply takes time. Just call me Dr. Seuss.
Happiness is subjective. There is no one size fits all approach or formula for happiness. But when we live in a world that craves immediate solutions it’s easy to get lost in the search for a quick fix. Some researchers suggest that approximately 40% of our happiness is within our control.
If millennials are truly suffering from the highest rates of depression and anxiety, then maybe it’s time to take a history lesson from the generation who harnessed happiness sans cellphones.
Here are 9 ways to maximize the 40% of happiness that is within your control
Put. Your. Flipping. Phone. Down.
“What we found overall is that if you use less social media, you are actually less depressed and less lonely, meaning that the decreased social media use is what causes that qualitative shift in your well-being,” reported Jordyn Young, a co-author of the paper and a senior at the University of Pennsylvania.
The research is real. People who spend more time on their devices are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety.
We can’t ignore that any longer.
I personally started using Screen Time, an iPhone app that tracks my device usage, to see just how much time I spend each day on my phone. The results are sickening.
Creation > consumption
After you have a mid-life crisis once you discover just how much time you waste on your phone, you’re to have a lot of free time on your hands. Spend it creating.
You don’t need to be Bob Ross or have an arts degree to create. Simply grab a pen and paper and take notes. You can start with writing journal entries about your day. Dump all those things you couldn’t say to your boss on paper and let it go.
Challenge yourself to see things differently with photography. I’m a little biased, but photojournalism is incredibly powerful.
Walk it out
Can you honestly remember the last time you went for a walk with no intention other than slowing down? Leave the dogs and the workout gear at home for this one. This walk is about you. Put one foot in front of the other and shift your focus up and out. Your feet aren’t that pretty – focus on the things around you. That’s where true inspiration is born.
Self care isn’t about bubble baths
Investing time into planning and evaluating your life is the best form of self care. Finances aren’t as sexy as bubble baths and trips to the spa, but I promise that the payoff has the potential to provide mental clarity and peace of mind.
Start small with this one. Focus on one attainable goal like saving your first $1000 towards a down payment. $1000 in your bank is more valuable than 1000 likes in Instagram – spend your time and money wisely.
You owe yourself 30 minutes each day
This sounds so cliche, but it works. 30 minutes sounds like a lot of time, but it’s truly only 2% of your day.You can devote at least 30 minutes every day to doing something that makes you happy. Only you can decided what to fill those 30 minute with, but you need to make it happen every single day.
Meet someone new or experience new surroundings. Go check out that local business you’ve been hearing about and actually introduce yourself! Weird, I know. But I do it all the time! Once a week I drive to a new cafe with my laptop. I pull so much inspiration from connection – it’s a huge piece of who I am and the business I run. True inspiration and fulfillment happens outside of the little box you’ve put yourself in.
I catch myself frowning for no apparent reason throughout the day. I’m 25 and I legit have lines between my eyes from permanent stank face while writing. I force myself to smile while I work and while I look like an absolute dork it has tremendously improved my mood. Lend a smile to the people you encounter each day. Smiles are contagious… and they’re free! #NoExcuses
Giving back is powerful. Not only does it make a statement for your life, I believe it in Karma.
If you have a couple extra bucks to spare you can stretch them out and sprinkle kindness. I took my dog Post Malone to the park and sprinkled 5 x $3 Tim Hortons gift cards throughout the trail with sweet little notes in each envelope. I left them anonymously with the simple request that whom ever stumbled upon them also paid it forward. It felt incredible.
Giving back doesn’t have to have a price tag attached to it. Consider the following:
Volunteer at a shelter.
Volunteer at an animal rescue.
Tutor a student.
Donate gently used household items and clothing to those in need.
Visit a senior center.
Volunteer at a school.
Volunteer at a hospital.
Yard clean up for seniors.
Arrange a coffee date with someone who’s been struggling.
40% is enough
No matter what you are going through, know that having 40% of your happiness under control is enough to significantly improve your state of being. Happiness is contageous, inspirational and someone that we all strive for.
You have to be willing to put in the work. This is not a quick fix or solution. Happiness truly is a journey that involves small, intentional acts each and every day.
I don’t have all the answers. But, I can tell you with absolute certainty that taking time out of my day to notice, act, give back and acknowledge gratitude has given me a reason to get out of bed every morning. I hope it does the same for you.
Let us know how you’re going to spend your 40% in the comments below!