We hear about happiness and success everywhere we look.
These themes are in movies, TV shows, books – you name it. We start hearing the messages when we’re just kids. We get all sorts of tips about life and the things we should and shouldn’t do.
And it never really goes away.
We all want to be happy and successful. To look back on our lives when we’re old and gray, and think to ourselves, “Dang. I totally nailed it. I have zero regrets.”
But the problem is that most of us aren’t sure what these words actually mean or how to get there. Some of us are already there and don’t even know it yet!
So what can we do to make sure we’re fitting the pursuit of happiness and success into our daily lives? How can we know for sure that we’re working toward goals that never really feel tangible?
That’s what I’m here to dissect with you.
Let’s look at 7 tips about life that you can use to help find your perfect blend.
- It’s Not Happiness vs. Success – It’s a Balance
- 1. Define What Happiness and Success Mean to You
- 2. Keep a Gratitude Journal
- 3. Be More Mindful and Self-Aware
- 4. Use “Habit Stacking” to Build Good Habits
- 5. Start With the Smallest Doable Step
- 6. Don’t Fall into the Trap of “I’ll be happy when…”
- 7. Go Easy on Yourself During the Hard Times
- Finding What Works for You
- Want to Learn More?
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It’s Not Happiness vs. Success – It’s a Balance
There’s a lot of conflicting advice out there that pits the two against each other. Tips to live a happy life can directly contradict tips to be successful in life.
For example, you might hear a lot of talk about #hustleandgrind. You have to try as hard as you can all the time or you’ll never achieve your goals.
On the flip side, you hear about how important self-care is and how you need to work “smarter not harder” so you can still have time to yourself.
It’s hard to reconcile everything.
Should you push the bounds of exhaustion and misery to find business success? Or should you sacrifice business success (and accept being broke) so you can spend more time doing what you truly love?
The hard part is that there’s no clear answer. And all of this advice holds some truth and value.
But you need to find the right balance for you – not just what some millionaire self-help guru tells you.
With all this in mind, let’s get into tips and life hacks that can help you strike that balance.
1. Define What Happiness and Success Mean to You
Before you get stuck in a vortex of other people’s tips about life, take some time to reflect on your own goals, desires, needs, and values.
Do some fantasizing. What is it that you really want? Think about your wildest dreams as well as your mildest ones.
- Do you want fame and extravagant fortune?
- Do you want just enough money to pay your bills while being able to have some vacations and nice things along the way?
- Do you want esteem and respect from your peers?
- Is your main focus not on money at all, but on your virtue and relationships?
- What keeps you awake at night?
- What makes your heart race with excitement?
Ask yourself these big questions and work your way down to smaller ones, like the things that make you feel the most joy in your day-to-day life, and one thing that you could change if you had the opportunity.
This kind of reflection might seem obvious, but it’s not something that most of us take the time to really dig into. (I know I didn’t for a long time… and the questions were hard to answer!)
You might find that your goals and values don’t really align with the people you’ve been surrounding yourself with or the things you thought you’ve always wanted.
And that’s totally okay. Dare I say it’s surprisingly normal.
Once you have some revelations – or just confirm where you thought you were all along – you can focus on the life tips and tricks that will help get you there.
2. Keep a Gratitude Journal
Maybe this wasn’t what you were expecting as the first tip. But hear me out. This is incredibly important.
There’s a huge amount of research that shows the physical and mental health benefits of gratitude.
According to Glenn Fox, neuroscientist and gratitude expert at the University of Southern California:
Benefits associated with gratitude include better sleep, more exercise, reduced symptoms of physical pain, lower levels of inflammation, lower blood pressure and a host of other things we associate with better health.
This is one of those secret tips to live a happy life: take some time every day to reflect on what’s already good. When you do this regularly, you’re shifting your mindset at a core level.
This sets you up to be more positive and motivated – and more resilient when things don’t go the way you planned. You might also find that there’s already a lot of happiness and success in your life that you never gave credit to.
Keeping a physical gratitude journal is a great way to make sure you’re making this a daily practice. All you have to do is write down one thing you’re grateful for every day.
It doesn’t have to be a big or poetic thing either. You can say your dog, your computer, your weird-but-fun boss, your friends, your favorite pair of shoes… you get it.
3. Be More Mindful and Self-Aware
Do you ever feel hijacked by your thoughts or emotions to the point where it ruins your day?
Maybe your pitch got rejected or you were blasted by an unhappy customer or you had a fight with your partner. Then you try to focus on all the other million things you need to do, and you just can’t be productive.
It feels like your day is wasted. You’re upset because you’re upset.
It’s a vicious cycle and it’s more common than you might think.
But what if you could stop a bad day in its tracks? What if you could self-soothe and deal with the overload upfront instead of letting it take over?
That’s what a mindfulness and self-awareness practice can help you achieve. Here are some life tips for making that happen, based on Mayo Clinic:
- Pay more attention. Pause to take in the sights, sounds, and sensations. What does your body feel like? What does your food taste like? What do you see and hear right now?
- Do breathing exercises. Focus on your breath when you’re feeling worked up. Are you breathing fast? Try to slow it down and feel the air coming in and out for a few minutes.
- Meditate. Sitting, standing, walking – any meditation is fair game. If you’re not sure where to start, check out my favorite app Ten Percent Happier (they call it “meditation for skeptics,” which feels spot-on for me).
- Send a thank you note. Write someone a thank you note for something they’ve given you or helped you with. You can even thank your best friend for being awesome. Send your notes as a proper letter or a quick text or email.
4. Use “Habit Stacking” to Build Good Habits
This is one of my favorite tips on how to be successful in life.
When people struggle with achieving their goals, they’re often having trouble sticking with the habits they want to adopt.
When you’re busy af, it can even feel like too much to add a small goal like meditating for 5 minutes a day, doing 10 pushups, reading 15 pages of a book, or taking 20 minutes to plan your schedule for the day.
Habit stacking is a one of those life hacking tips that tricks your brain into being more productive.
To habit stack, group together whatever small habits you want to add to your daily routine. That way, they become one habit instead of a bunch of small ones.
The key here is to start with just one or two new habits, then build onto it later with more habits once the routine has become a solid part of your day.
To learn more about habit stacking and apply it to your own awesome life tips, check out this helpful article from Develop Good Habits.
5. Start With the Smallest Doable Step
Sometimes, we have such big, lofty goals – that require so much work and dedication – that we intimidate ourselves into never starting.
Maybe it’s just too much to handle. Maybe we’re scared of failing. Maybe we just flat out don’t feel like doing all the hard stuff.
The good news is that learning how to be successful in your life starts with baby steps. Look at a big goal and break into steps. If those steps still feel too big, break it into even smaller steps.
Still too big? Go on… make them smaller.
Then commit to doing just one right now and see where it goes.
This is one of those life changing tips for me. You can apply it to pretty much anything:
- Want to start a dropshipping business but you’re overwhelmed by all the information? Start today by signing up for a free Shopify and Oberlo account. You can think about what to sell tomorrow.
- Want to be a marathon runner but feel exhausted after work? Commit to putting on your sneakers and walking just one block. Maybe you’ll get momentum to run a mile. Maybe you won’t.
6. Don’t Fall into the Trap of “I’ll be happy when…”
Have you ever made your happiness or success dependent on something that doesn’t exist yet? Things like:
- I’ll be happy when my business makes $100,000.
- I’ll be happy when I can buy my dream house.
- I’ll be happy when I get that promotion.
- I’ll be happy when this project is over.
While this if/when mindset can be seen as perfectly healthy goal-setting, it can also have a dark underbelly.
There’s the obvious risk of the long-term or more audacious goals never happening. But there’s also the more insidious risk: you might be so focused on reaching a certain goal that you never stop to enjoy and celebrate the little wins.
And if you do hit those milestones, you’re likely to just set a higher one instead of stopping to enjoy what you’ve accomplished.
This is part of our “never enough” culture – it can be wildly rewarding, but it can also set us up to never really enjoy our lives and what we have right now.
It can also add a whole lot of extra stress and feelings of inadequacy to our days.
Pay attention to these kinds of thoughts and try to make sure they’re counter-balanced. Gratitude is a great way to do that.
7. Go Easy on Yourself During the Hard Times
When your to-do list is a mile long, it’s common to fall short. Sometimes you’re in a rut and fall short for days, weeks, or even months at a time.
This is completely normal. What’s also completely normal is the tendency to beat yourself up when it happens.
But there’s a lot of research that shows that people who show themselves more compassion are more likely to succeed in the long run.
Here’s what The University of California, Berkeley says:
Research shows that when people treat themselves kindly, rather than critically, they are more likely to believe they can improve, correct mistakes, and re-engage with goals after veering off course. In contrast, self-criticism is linked to procrastination, stress, and rumination—none of which motivates people to continue pursuing a goal.
Simply put: self-compassion sets you up for more happiness and success in life.
Instead of beating yourself up every time you don’t meet your goals, give yourself some credit for the hard work you’re putting in, and accept that some days just aren’t going to be amazing.
Finding What Works for You
In a world where you’re constantly doing too much and not enough at the same time, you’re the only person who can define your own happiness and success.
While some people think that success is what makes happiness, I think that you need to cultivate your own happiness as a springboard into success.
When you can get yourself into the right mindset, that’s where you can unleash the power of human potential and do absolutely incredible things.
But to do this, you’ll need to take in the bad with the good. To accept your failures just as you accept your victories. To make sure you’re taking care of your mental and physical health while you hustle and grind on your financial health.
When you strike this delicate-but-powerful balance, there’s no stopping you.