When we were children, we were taught how to read or write, or do hard math.
But most of us weren’t taught how to be happy.
As we grew up, we learned algebra and how to date and how to fill out job applications and that we had to pay both rent and utilities.
But rarely do we learn how to be happy.
And then, as adults, we are trained to develop career paths and trade skills and how to deal with conflict and how to spot bad leadership. In the military, we learn new protocols and how to work as a unit and how to stay focused under pressure.
But when does someone train us to chase happy?
By the time we hit a point in our lives where we really, truly need it, we don’t know how to be happy. And all the skills and talents in the world can’t change that fact.
I wish that this chasing happy was something unique that only few dealt with, but I believe the opposite is closer to the truth.
We place so much focus on the things that will get us through life, that we almost never focus on what makes life worth going through in the first place.
And in times of external stress—like career change, transition, or other life “hiccups”—we need to chase happy deliberately and purposefully.
Fortunately, if you’re one of the many, many out there that is struggling to find your happy There are happiness scholars who have studied this (oh yes, and it’s far from a throwaway degree). By their efforts, we know that there is a path to finding happy once again, and it boils down to eight simple steps that you can work on daily.
Eight Ways to Chase Happy
Having smart goals that you keep visible and work toward something bigger is a great, easy way to find purpose and meaning in your life.
Action Item: Go ahead and sign up for RECON’s Goal-Setting Lab on the Network today.
Get your Rest
If you can’t tackle the day well-rested and focused, it will be hard to deliberately chase happy
Action Item: Set a bedtime that allows you the hours of rest you need. Stick to it.
Meditation is an incredible way to tame down the “noise” of the rest of the world. Even two minutes can help you re-focus and come back to center.
Action Item: Get comfortable, and just focus on taking deep breaths. Whisper to yourself “in” for each inhale and “out” for each exhale. If your mind wanders, just re-focus on your breath. Do this for 5 minutes.
Endorphins are nature’s pain killer, in more than one way, and when you exercise, your body releases them to your brain. Not only can it reduce pain, but it creates a positive feeling as well.
Action Item: Move for 30 minutes every day. It doesn’t matter if it’s a walk, a trip to the gym, or just rage cleaning the kitchen. Just move your body.
Connect with Others
Never underestimate the power of connection. Loneliness can feel compounding, so reach out to someone instead.
Action Item: Meet someone new. Then schedule coffee, send a text, or reach out through Linkedin. Your network—and your happy—will thank you.
It may seem counterintuitive, but kindness and giving to others really does fill the human soul. Who can you show kindness to today?
Action Item: While you’re out today, actively look for a way to give something to someone else. Buy a kid an ice cream. Pay for the lunch of the person behind you in line. Help someone change a tire. Whatever it is, give of yourself without expecting anything in return.
It’s easy to let the world weigh you down, but what has it already given you? When you take a minute to count your blessings and show gratitude, you realize you’ve already got so much to work with—and to offer.
Action Item: Take 5 minutes every day and list out 10 things that you are thankful for. Be specific. Keep them in a journal so you can reflect at the end of the year.
Savor the Small Things
When’s the last time you treated yourself to something and really focused on enjoying it? Too often we are distracted by everything around us, and don’t take the time to really enjoy the thing right in front of us.
Action Item: pick one treat that you will give yourself this week. When you get it, do nothing else but savor each moment until it’s gone. Whether that’s a slice of cheesecake or a new book, take the time to fully enjoy the thing that makes you happy.
Friends, happy isn’t something that falls in our lap, and with the static of the rest of the world it can easily get drowned out. Don’t wake up one day in a pit—learn to chase happy now. Then, when you need it, your tank will be full and you’ll be ready to take on the world.