By Eric Charles, MA., PhD-c
“Most people would rather be certain they’re miserable, than risk being happy.” ~Dr. Robert Anthony
1. Spend money on experience, not things
Happy people tend to spend money on experience more than on things. Of course, there are daily necessities that we need in order to function. But, at the end of the day, it is the quality of our moments that bring us the most joy. If we focus on the next “thing,” a new sport jacket, a designer handbag or a nicer car, we are likely to fall prey to the vicious cycle of not being satisfied with what we have.
2. Don’t neglect the basics
People who are happy tend to manage the basics of self-care better than people who are unhappy. From a behavioral perspective, if a person is not tending to the basics (staying active, eating healthy, making time for self-care, etc.), how can they possibly reap the benefits that a person who is doing this can? They can’t.
3. Make time for family and friends
The happiest people spend quality time with family and friends. If we let ourselves, we can easily neglect the people who love us most. This neglect happens not because we are bad people, but because we live busy lives that need our constant attention. Spending time to connect with the people we love most is often healing, energizing and motivating. We have to be careful not to become a family and/or society of tumbleweeds. Who in your life can you reach out to today?
4. What is the rush? Take your time
Happy people tend to rush through life much less. Why? Because they recognize that rushing causes stress, and stress makes them feel unhappy. An enormous source of unhappiness comes from feeling rushed by deadlines, traffic and ourselves. So often, we get caught up in the rush of the moment, not realizing the bigger picture. Sure, there are times when we need to move quickly, but that does not mean we need to move hastily. One of my favorite quotes by John Wooden is,”Hurry, but do not rush.” We easily forget that it is a miracle to even exist. We forget that we are not permanent figures in this world. Taking time to reflect on the miracle of life is an essential part of living happily.
5. Don’t sweat the small stuff
Happy people tend to approach life from a perspective of lightness. They realize that both good and bad things are bound to happen. More importantly, they recognize that happiness does not need to depend upon whether a good or bad thing has happened. We can still be happy, even when something does not go the way we wanted. If we allow ourselves to be happy only when good things happen, we become like an emotional pinball. Anytime we get stuck in unhappiness because something undesirable has happened, it is helpful to take a step back and remember, not only are we part of life’s miracle, we are the miracle.
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