How to be incredibly happy?

While happiness is defined by the individual, I’ve always
felt it foolish to declare that nothing can be learned from observing the
happiness of others.
In our day-to-day lives it is easy to miss the forest for
the trees and look over some of the smaller, simpler things that can
disproportionally affect our happiness levels. Luckily, we can go off more than
just our intuition; there are lots of studies that aim for finding the right
behavior that leads to a happier life. Below, we take a look at some of the
more actionable advice.

1. Be Busy, But Not Rushed
Research shows that being “rushed” puts you on the fast
track to being miserable. On the other hand, many studies suggest that having
nothing to do can also take its toll.
The porridge is just right when you’re living a productive
life at a comfortable pace. Meaning: you should be expanding your comfort zone
often, but not so much that you feel overwhelmed. Easier said than done, but
certainly an ideal to strive towards.
Feeling like you’re doing busywork is often the result of
saying “Yes” to things you are not absolutely excited about. Be sure to say
“No” to things that don’t make you say, “Hell yeah!” We all have obligations,
but a comfortable pace can only be found by a person willing to say no to most
things, and who’s able to say “Yes” to the right things.
You should be expanding your comfort zone often, but not so
much that you feel overwhelmed.
2. Have 5 Close Relationships
Having a few close relationships keeps people happier when
they’re young, and has even been shown to help us live longer, with a higher
quality of life. True friends really are worth their weight in gold. But why
five relationships? This seemed to be an acceptable average from a variety of
studies. Take this excerpt from the book Finding Flow:
National surveys find that when someone claims to have 5 or
more friends with whom they can discuss important problems, they are 60 percent
more likely to say that they are ‘very happy’.
The number isn’t the important aspect here; it is the effort
you put into your relationships that matters. Studies show that even the best
relationships dissolve over time; a closeness with someone is something you
need to continually earn, never treat it as a given. Every time you connect
with those close to you, you further strengthen those bonds and give yourself a
little boost of happiness at the same time. The data show that checking in
around every two weeks is the sweet spot for very close friends.

3. Don’t Tie Your Happiness to External Events
Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of
yourself less. —C.S. Lewis
Self-esteem is a tricky beast. It’s certainly good for
confidence, but a variety of research suggests that self-esteem that is bound
to external success can be quite fickle. For example, certain students who tied
their self-esteem to their grades experienced small boosts when they received a
grad school acceptance letter, but harsh drops in self-esteem when they were
rejected.
Tying your happiness to external events can also lead to
behavior which avoids failure as a defensive measure. Think of all the times
you tell yourself, “It doesn’t matter that I failed, because I wasn’t even
trying.”  The key may be, as C.S. Lewis
suggests, to instead think of yourself less, thus avoiding the trap of tying
your self-worth to external signals.
4. Exercise
Yup, no verbose headline here, because there is no getting
around it: no matter how much you hate exercise, it will make you feel better
if you stick with it. Body image improves when you exercise (even if results
don’t right away). And eventually, you should start seeing that “exercise high”
once you’re able to pass the initial hump: The release of endorphins has an
addictive effect, and more exercise is needed to achieve the same level of
euphoria over time.
So make it one of your regular habits. It does not matter
which activity you choose, there’s bound to be at least one physical activity
you can stomach.
5. Embrace Discomfort for Mastery
Happy people generally have something known as a “signature
strength” — At least one thing they’ve become proficient at, even if the
learning process made them uncomfortable.
Research has suggested that mastering a skill may be just as
stressful as you might think. Researchers found that although the process of
becoming proficient at something took its toll on people in the form of stress,
participants reported that these same activities made them feel happy and
satisfied when they looked back on their day as a whole.
As the cartoon Adventure Time famously said, “Suckin’ at
something is the first step to being sorta good at something,” and it’s true,
struggle is the evidence of progress. The rewards of becoming great at
something far outweigh the short-term discomfort that is caused earning your
stripes.
Struggle is the evidence of progress.
6. Spend More Money on Experiences
Truly happy people are very mindful of spending money on
physical items, opting instead to spend much of their money on
experiences.  “Experiential purchases”
tend to make us happier, at least according to the research. In fact, a variety
of research shows that most people are far happier when buying experiences vs.
buying material goods.
Here are some reasons why this might be, according to the
literature:
  • Experiences improve over time. Aging like a fine wine, great
    experiences trump physical items, which often wear off quickly. Experiences can
    be relived for years.
  • People revisit experiences more often. Research shows that
    experiences are recalled more often than material purchases. You are more
    likely to remember your first hiking trip over your first pair of hiking boots
    (although you do need to make that purchase, or you’ll have some sore feet!).
  • Experiences are more unique. Most people try to deny, but we
    humans are constantly comparing ourselves to one another. Comparisons can often
    make us unhappy, but experiences are often immune to this as they are unique to
    us. Nobody in the world will have the exact experience you had with your wife
    on that trip to Italy.
  • We adapt slowly to experiences. Consumer research shows that
    experiences take longer to “get used to.” Have you ever felt really energized,
    refreshed, or just different after coming back from a great
    show/dinner/vacation? It is harder to replicate that feeling with material
    purchases.
  • Experiences are social. Human beings are social animals. Did
    you know that true solitary confinement is often classified as “cruel and
    unusual” punishment due to the detrimental effects it can have on the mind?
    Experiences get us out of our comfort zone, out of our house, and perhaps
    involved in those close relationships we need to be happy.

7. Don’t Ignore Your Itches
This one is more anecdotal than scientific, but perhaps most
important.
When the Guardian asked a hospice nurse for the Top 5
Regrets of the Dying, one of the most common answers was that people regretted
not being true to their dreams:
This was the most common regret of all. When people realize
that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see
how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half
of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had
made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no
longer have it.
As they say, there are seven days in the week, and “someday” isn’t one of them.

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