Being happy and successful is something we all aspire to. It’s very likely that when asked “What’s your aim in life?” most of us would answer – to be happy. But on some days, this “small and modest” goal just seems light years away.
The good and bad news is this – it’s all in our head. Even when it seems impossible to look on the bright side of things, it’s actually 100% in our power to transform the way we see life.
This article compiles 10 ways how to change your mindset and go from being unhappy or just “okay” with your life to feeling (and finding) that it’s already quite a success.
1. Count your blessings
In the 21st century, we are used to always wanting more and striving to be better. However, sometimes we just need to appreciate what we already have, and suddenly a different world will open up right in front of us.
Changing your mindset to being grateful is really one of the most powerful eye-openers. It may sound too simple to be that effective, but you have to practice it every day and in everything you do.
If you really set your mind to be grateful, you’ll stop paying attention to small annoyances and negative situations. Instead, you’ll start focusing on the good things that have happened and the lessons you’ve learned even from unpleasant events or encounters.
Start by doing this simple exercise every evening before you go to sleep:
Write down 7 happy things that happened that day and that you can be grateful for. They don’t have to be big things – on some days, you’ll write down small happy moments like having a delicious latte in the afternoon or receiving a friendly smile from a colleague.
As you practice this technique (without interruptions!) for several weeks or months, you’ll notice that you’ll start appreciating these small joys of life already in the moment when you experience them.
2. Find your purpose
Spend a day alone and think honestly about what you want to achieve in this life. This notion can seem a bit vague at the beginning.
For example, it’s very likely most of us would say that we want to be happy and successful. But take the time to look deeper into what these concepts mean to you. Your purpose might be to do something meaningful every day, or make the world a better place by doing what you love. Your aim can be to grow every year – personally and professionally.
You can also lay down more concrete goals for yourself. For example, spend all weekends with your family, get a promotion or take an eye-opening travel to an exotic land. In this case, try setting specific time frames for achieving these milestones.
3. Seek fulfillment, not happiness
Instead of striving to be simply happy, you should seek sustained fulfillment. Increasingly more psychologists and thinkers are stressing that happiness is not a product of getting what you want, but rather the byproduct of the different challenges you’ve overcome and milestones you’ve reached to get there.
In other words, happiness alone isn’t enough without pursuing things, competing and struggling.
In fact, the constant chase of happiness and worrying that you aren’t feeling happy can actually make you even more unhappy and stressed. Remember – happiness is not the destination – it’s a side effect to living your life to the fullest.
4. Cultivate diverse life areas and interests
The more diverse and meaningful your life areas, the more fulfilled your life will be. People who are invested in many different things are much less likely to get depressed and burnt out than those who have few interests in life.
One psychotherapist has shared a technique how to nurture diverse life areas and avoid burnout and depression. She suggests dividing a list of paper into 9 sections for different parts of your life, those that are individually important to you. Some examples can be family, work, friends, hobbies, traveling, volunteering, sports, time spent alone, etc.
Once you’ve determined these important domains, make sure you nurture and develop them. For example, dedicate a certain amount of time to each of them every week. This guide can help you allocate time to things that are important to you.
5. Love yourself
Some people place everyone else before themselves and know how to give better than how to receive. If you are one of them, it’s time you start thinking more about yourself.
Like with many things in life, the key here is in the balance. Here are some ideas for how to start loving yourself more:
- Dedicate at least one day per week to doing what you love.
- Learn to say no. Try this the next time someone asks you a favor that you really don’t want to deliver.
- Listen to your body. If you feel too tired to go out or even to go to work, skip it and don’t feel bad about it. If you’re a hard worker, most likely you deserve a day off.
- Switch off your phone for an evening or a whole day. Show people that you need some alone time and that they can’t always rely on you.
- Try being selfish for a change. If you are usually the compliant type, try telling others what you prefer or how you want things to happen.
6. Try a new vocation
It’s easy to become caught up in everyday life, work and family chores. If you’ve been running the same rat race for years, it might be difficult to even imagine living differently.
But surely, you have heard of people who keep hustling, trying new things and finding their passion even when they already have stable jobs and families. Maybe their base job brings them steady income but their side-project is the one that brings fulfillment and extra income, or maybe they have found their happiness and purpose later in life.
Guess what? You can do that too!
It’s never too late to try a new hobby or even an occupation. If you don’t feel like turning your life upside down right away, start by doing something small, like a side business. Nowadays there are countless online jobs and even businesses you can start from your computer.
Alternatively, try a new hobby (like playing tennis or learning to sail), a craft (like painting or knitting), or volunteering for a cause that’s important to you. If you are truly dedicated and interested in your hobby, it can bring a fresh perspective on things and even give you some new ideas for your professional life.