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How To Be Happy With What You Have (13 Reliable Tactics)

You’re committed to improving your finances.

So, you read dozens of books and listen to dozens of Podcasts. You make progress but you become exhausted.

Or worse, you reach financial success without feeling much happier.

Everyone is striving to be happy. Whether it’s a better job, more money–happiness is the goal.

“Choose to be optimistic, it feels better.” –Dalai Lama XIV

The problem is that most people work backward–as I’ve done in the past. Most chase financial success believing that’ll lead to happiness. While reaching financial success can bring happiness, it won’t last long.

Instead, learn to be happy with what you have.

Happiness isn’t what you see in movies. You won’t magically wake up happy–nor will you be happy 100% of the time. But, you do have more control over your happiness than you think. So, if you want to live a happier life and have more wealth–here are several tactics you can use to live a happier life.

1. Devote time to nurture important relationships

There’s no point in having money if you can’t share it with anyone.

Regardless of how busy you are with growing your income, make time for your relationships. This is an area that I struggle with because my days always fill up with work. Yet, studies show that people with a strong network of friends live longer and happier lives.

So, being “busy” isn’t an excuse. Get creative with your work schedule and find time each week to dedicate to your friends and family.

To commit to your relationships, set aside time each day. Every relationship is different. Avoid the mistake that I’ve done in the past by treating important relationships as a chore.

To most of your distant friends, a simple text or phone call is enough every few weeks. Your spouse and parents will need much more of your time and energy. But, you’ll benefit too, feeling happier and more connected.

The action you can take today:

  1. Reconnect with old friends you’ve lost touch with. Reach out through text or give them a phone call. (i.e. call one friend each week)
  2. Instead of hoping to one day have lunch with a coworker, schedule sometime this week. Use tools like Google Calendar and set a reminder with your smartphone to help you commit.

2. Boost your mood with great health

Getting lean and building muscle shouldn’t be the only motives to hit the gym.

People have told me that they’re afraid to pick up weights because they’d get “too big.” The truth is that this is only an excuse to not go to the gym. Plus, if this was the case I would be competing in some type of body-building contest by now.

More important, hitting the gym will help boost your mood. Research shows that exercising can help reduce depression and anxiety. I’ve experienced this and can vouch that exercising helps put your mind at a better state.

But, I can almost hear you saying that you don’t have time. Luckily you have many different options. You can go to a gym near you or do home workouts without any weights.

The action you can take today:

  1. Set your alarm 60–120 minutes earlier before work the next morning.
  2. If you’re short on time dedicate 4 minutes doing a Tabata workout.

3. Free your mind from busy thoughts

At this point, meditation has become mainstream.

Most successful people talk about it for a good reason, because it works. Meditating doesn’t only involve sitting in a quiet place with your eyes closed. It’s the process of observing your busy thoughts and not letting them control you.

Meditation helps you reduce stress and even help you sleep better. Take it from the man who’s struggled to sleep most of his life. Before meditation, it usually took me hours to fall asleep.

Now, I listen to my HeadSpace app and go to sleep within 10 minutes.

Meditating will allow you to be more present and handle stressful moments better. So by the time you’re ready to end your night, you can fall asleep without a million thoughts in your head.

The action you can take today:

  1. Download HeadSpace or a free meditating app to meditate for 1–3 minutes.

4. Write your way to happiness

A journal isn’t only for writers.

There’s data that backs up on many of the mental benefits that journaling has. But, words can’t describe the feeling you get with writing down your thoughts on a piece of paper. Even typing your thoughts gives you a soothing sensation.

Writing occupies your left brain’s hemisphere, leaving the right one free. Because of this you’ll remove most mental blocks and allow yourself to be more creative. Aside from this, you can increase your odds at becoming successful by writing down your goals.

Make it a habit to write down your thoughts first thing each morning or as your ending your day. Start with writing journaling for 5 minutes, then slowly increase your time. Over time you’ll reap the benefits of expressing your thoughts.

The action you can take today:

  1. Buy a journal or find a blank notebook to write your thoughts in.
  2. Commit to writing your thoughts during the mornings or evenings each day.

5. Show gratitude for the small things

When was the last time you were grateful for having a smartphone or having 2 legs?

To some being grateful for these type of things sounds silly. But, by expressing gratitude you’re training your mind to have a better perspective.

For example, although you work at a stressful job you can be grateful to have one in the first place. Besides the many health benefits that gratitude brings, your self-esteem will also improve. You’ll stop comparing yourself to others and build an abundant mentality–viewing the glass half full instead of empty.

Tip: As you journal your thoughts, write 3 things you’re grateful for each morning.

Actions you can take today:

  1. Write down three things you’re grateful for each morning.

6. Spend more money on yourself

Most people don’t invest enough in themselves.

I fall into this category because I know I could do more. This last year I’d bought dozens of books and invested over $1000 in courses, but I still don’t set a dedicated budget. By having a dedicated budget towards investing in yourself you’ll become more committed.

After interviewing successful entrepreneurs I’ve learned that they invest in themselves a lot. These are entrepreneurs who’ve achieved massive financial success and continue to grow. Investing in yourself doesn’t have to get complicated.

For example, you can make changes to your existing routines. Listen to an educational Podcast on your commit to/from work. Take a book with you at all times to read on your downtime.

Practice a new skill or master an existing one during the weekends. And, finally cut down on how much Netflix or TV you watch daily. The truth is investing in yourself won’t always be sexy.

There will be times when you’ll want to watch your favorite show instead of reading. I’ve been there, and a way to combat this is to have a reward system. Each time you reach your goals allow yourself to have something that’s meaningful to you.

The action you can take today:

  1. Create a monthly budget for investing in yourself.
  2. Commit to reading at least 1 book per month.

7. Get clear on what you want to achieve

If you’re starting your day without a purpose you’re living life the wrong way.

You don’t need to have ambitious goals such as wanting to impact the world neither. But, if you’re living life aimlessly odds are that you’re not on track to living a fulfilled one. Yet, striving to be happy isn’t; enough.

Research shows that happiness and a meaningful life are two separate things. Eudaimonic happiness is happiness with meaning, and hedonic happiness is happiness without. Many believe that happiness alone is the key to living a healthy life.

But, hedonic happiness doesn’t last as long as eudaemonic happiness.

Why does this matter?

If you’re looking for long-lasting happiness you need to pursue meaning. This can be through goals or relationships–without meaning your happiness won’t be sustainable.

Instead, take time to uncover what goals give your life meaning.

Do you want to travel more? Are you looking to start the business? Whatever it is that you’ve been postponing in the past, it’s time to get clear on your goals.

Actions you can take today:

  1. Use workflowy to breakdown your thoughts on which goals bring meaning in your life.

8. Be audacious at mastering your time

“If you spend too much time thinking about anything, you’ll never get it done.” –Bruce Lee

Time is something that most people mismanage–including me.

How much time do you spend on your smartphone, watching TV, or listening to music? This is time spent poorly. That’s not to say that every minute of your day should be productive, because that’ll lead to burnout. But, your time is your biggest asset.

Ever wondered how entrepreneurs, writers, and musicians became successful? It’s because they’ve put in the time. They’ve invested over 10,000 hours honing their craft behind the scenes.

So, for you, this means working during the weekends, after your 9–5 job, or early in the morning. Instead of hoping to reach your goals, make time for them. You’ll feel more confident as you take action and feel happier.

“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.” –Bill Gates

Actions you can take today:

  1. Track your time for 30 days using Aatracker
  2. Use Google Calendar to schedule 1–2 hours each day to work on productive tasks.

9. Don’t seek validation, seek authenticity

We all seek validation from others.

This isn’t a completely bad thing. After all, if we don’t get along with anyone we’d live a lonely life. It only becomes a problem when you’re liked for someone you’re not. Unfortunately, not everyone is going to accept you for who you are, and that’s ok.

Don’t wait for others to accept–choose to accept yourself first.

Kristin Neff shows why self-compassion is key to living a happier life. Often we treat others with more respect than we treat ourselves. Happiness starts from within and how you well you treat yourself.

Being compassionate won’t mean hiding from the truth, instead, you’ll face it head-on. You’ll be your #1 supporter when the going gets tough.

Actions you can take today:

  1. During tough times ask yourself how you’d respond to your friend. Then, ask how you’d respond to yourself? Note the differences between the two, and ask yourself why they exist.

10. Beat down all your excuses

Giving excuses will only give you short-term relief.

It has taken me a while to get better at this but each time I make a mistake I own it. Depending on my mistake sometimes people feel pity and think I’m being too hard on myself. In reality, by owning my mistakes I’m letting my subconscious know that I’m in control.

The moment you make excuses you turn into a victim, claiming to be powerless in your situation. Making no excuses allows you to move past negative circumstances quicker. That’s because you’ll spend less time complaining and more time searching for solutions.

Life is hard, so this doesn’t mean that you should never complain. Create your own rule for how long you’ll limit yourself to complaining. For example, when you’re facing a tough situation give yourself 10 minutes to complain.

Giving fewer excuses will lead you to live a happier life–one where you’ll be in control.

  1. When you make a small mistake throughout your day tell yourself that it’s your fault.

11. Be comfortable being uncomfortable

We’re all scared of something, but taking action anyways is what separates you from 99% of the crowd.

It’s a bittersweet feeling to step out of your comfort zone. When I’d first launched my Podcast I had no idea what I was doing and I became terrified. Today, I still feel odd listening to myself talking with other people, but it’s getting easier.

If you’re not uncomfortable daily, you’re not growing. And, if you’re not growing you’re dying.

“Many people die at twenty-five and aren’t buried until they are seventy-five” –Benjamin Franklin

But, you don’t need to do something extreme. For example, if you don’t like waking up in the morning, start by setting your alarm 30 minutes earlier. If you always take a shower with warm water, try taking one with cold water.

Little by little you’ll train yourself to feel comfortable with the uncomfortable. Because of this, you’ll be better prepared to handle stressful situations.

You can’t control what happens to you in life but you can control how you’ll react, and this makes all the difference.

The action you can take today:

  1. Commit to writing down an uncomfortable task you’ll do by the end of the day or tomorrow morning. (i.e. ask for a 10% discount at a Starbucks)

12. Commit to helping others reach their goals

“If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.” –Chinese Proverb

Giving can be more rewarding than receiving.

Think back to when you gave money to a homeless person. You’d felt good right?

Helping others is similar, except you’re not only giving money away.

You can volunteer your time at a homeless shelter or help organize a fundraising event. Research shows that those who help others live happier lives. Helping others also allows you to be more grateful for where you currently stand.

Why?

Because it’s hard to feel pity for yourself when you’re handing out blankets to the less fortunate. I’ve volunteered in the past but it’s something that I need to do more often. You may not be able to volunteer as much as others, but data shows that the more you volunteer the happier you’ll be.

Actions you can take today:

  1. Go to VolunteerMatch and commit to volunteering 1 hour of your time this month

13. Assume the best in everyone

A wise man once told me to assume the best in everyone.

I was fresh out of college in my first corporate job and my company had a mentorship program, so I’d signed up. I didn’t think much of it, but my mentor would schedule a call every 3 weeks to touch base with me. There are many things he’d said, but I remember till this day is when mentioned to assume the best in everyone.

Why is this important?

Because it changes a major part of the way you perceive life. Think of the times when your manager got upset with you or when a driver cut you off in the highway. The reality is that their actions had nothing to do with you and everything to do with them.

Most drivers aren’t looking to cause accidents. And most managers don’t want to see you fail because it’s in their best interest for you to succeed. By assuming the best in everyone you’ll experience less bad emotions and be happier.

Actions you can take today:

  1. The next time someone disappoints you assume they tried their best not do so.

Reach Long-Lasting Happiness And Be Happy With What You Have

Most of us take life for granted.

Success and money are often talked about as if they’re the key to complete happiness. Yet, how many incidents have you read about where someone who “had it all” ended their lives?

Money is important, so important that I write thousands of words about the topic–but it’s not a complete solution for obtaining long-lasting happiness. If you look inside yourself you’ll know which areas you’re falling short.

Maybe it’s having better relationships or living a healthier life. We all have areas that we need to improve. Instead of only working hard to increase your income—prioritize your happiness.

The irony is that the happier you are the more money you’ll earn.

Most get lost chasing their dreams, believing they’ll be happy once they achieve them. This was me a few years ago, and now I’m learning to appreciate the journey instead.

Happiness is under your control. I’ve only covered some of the ways you can transform your life into a happier one–it’s your job to find others that’ll work for you.

Start with gratitude and be happy with what you have–you’ll feel happier and appreciate better things when they do come your way.

About the Author Chris

Chris writes personal finance and productivity articles for software companies. He gets fresh ideas through continuously investing in himself and interviewing successful entrepreneurs.

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