Finding happiness can seem like chasing shadows. The happiest people aren’t necessarily the ones who laugh the most, though. They are the people who display absolute eagerness and satisfaction in their lives—they are excited to wake up each morning, and they feel calm and content at the end of the day.
Happiness is an everyday job. It’s about choosing joy, and there are simple things you can do to shift your mindset and really, truly enjoy life. For ideas, we asked members of the Young Entrepreneur Council for lifestyle hacks that have made a significant impact on their happiness.
1. Practicing Gratitude
Practicing gratitude daily allows you to appreciate all the positive things that you have in your life, instead of focusing on what you don’t have. I start each morning by writing down three to five things that have happened in the past 24 hours that I am grateful for. It primes me to start each day off on a positive note, which helps me tackle whatever comes my way.
2. Putting Family First
I believe we’ve been unhappy as a society because we are focusing too much on work and not enough on our families—and we are racked with guilt for that. Reverse engineering our lives and putting family first will provide purpose for your work and make you happier.
3. Saying ‘No’
Saying “no” to the things you really don’t want to do makes happiness go up and resentment go down because you are deciding the best way to spend your time. Unhappy people are unhappy because they often don’t have that control over their lives.
4. Shifting Focus
Our brain releases a chemical—dopamine—after we do something that makes us feel good. It’s a sense of satisfaction having completed something. For me, I find peace in my work. Any time I feel a little down, I indulge myself in a task that deviates my focus from negative to positive feelings.
5. Prioritizing Self-Care
When you take care of yourself and your health first, your happiness will rise. Taking the time to get enough sleep, exercise, nutritious food and downtime will make you feel good. And by prioritizing your well-being, you will do well at work, and everything will come together in a much better way.
6. Investing in Yourself
Teaching yourself to be happy is the single most important thing you can do to become happy. Just like any business goal, you have to have personal goals. Self-improvement, self-love and self-value are all keys to being happy. Being honest with yourself is hard but necessary, because you will learn what really makes you happy and what doesn’t.
7. Practicing Yoga and Meditation
Having a routine is essential. Wake up early—I aim for 5 or 6 a.m.—and have a moment for yourself while the rest of the world sleeps. Practice yoga daily, preferably in the morning and meditation after, even if it’s only for 10 minutes. It’s a great way to practice calm and gratitude, which are very important to have a positive mindset.
8. Doing Short Mindfulness Exercises
Practicing mindfulness has a strong impact on productivity and emotional well-being: You will sleep better, feel more energetic and more easily fight off unhelpful thoughts. All you have to do is 10-second exercises where you stay completely in the moment. Do this 100 times a day, which is just 16 minutes, and you’ll feel more alive than ever before.
9. Drinking Water
Dehydration can make a person miserable. We all need water to stay alive, and our body sends signals such as thirst and crankiness. Have several cups a day to lift your mood and stay healthy. Drinking water is simple but important, and effective.
Also, find and surround yourself with people who have a positive outlook on life and support you—good friends and family will help you find the silver linings every day. Then you can return the favor.
10. Eating Healthy Foods
You don’t realize how much greasy, unhealthy food affects you and your mood until you start making healthier lifestyle choices. You will naturally and automatically feel better when you take care of your body, and that includes eating right.
When you practice giving to others you are not only helping them but also yourself. Volunteer your time, money and resources to help those around you. Donate money to a charity, spend time helping others, or share your knowledge. Volunteering helps counteract the stresses of daily life and puts you in a place of giving instead of taking.
12. Carrying Out Random Acts of Kindness
Some research has shown that people who perform “acts of kindness” are happier. So consider doing it randomly throughout the day to give yourself a little lift. By acting in the moment versus scheduling time to give back, it’s more unexpected to the recipient and feels better, at least in my opinion!
13. Reducing Decisions
Cut down the small decisions you have to make during the day. Reducing decisions eliminates clutter in your mind and frees you to focus your energy on the things you value most. The more time you can spend on the things you care about, the more joyful your life will be.
14. Not Taking Yourself Too Seriously
People tend to take themselves too seriously and are too concerned with what other people’s opinion of them is. Set goals for you and always be striving to take yourself to the next level, but don’t forget to be happy with who you are and what you have achieved. There is always something worth celebrating.
15. Accepting Your Flaws
Happy people are those who forgive themselves for their mistakes. They understand that things go wrong and that they aren’t perfect. They are able to accept their flaws and still embrace their whole selves. You can practice complete self-acceptance and also develop a peace of mind for stable, long-term happiness.
Read next: How Happy Are You?
Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at yec.co.
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