Thanks to my five-year study of the habits of the rich and poor, I’ve accumulated an enormous amount of research data on the habits that are responsible for creating a life of abundance (wealth) or scarcity (poverty).
But there’s more to living a “rich” life than the accumulation of money.
Money, as an end to itself, does not create a “rich” life.
A “rich” life exists only when we find happiness.
Happiness, unfortunately, is elusive.
Most people are, in fact, unhappy and most of those unhappy people will do anything to pursue happiness. Unfortunately, some of the methods they use to pursue happiness are destructive.
Drugs, alcohol, infidelity, gambling, and many other vices are examples of activities individuals engage in to find temporary happiness.
These vices eventually become Poverty Habits.
When these Poverty Habits no longer bring about their short-term happiness, we tend to move on to another vice, which soon becomes another Poverty Habit.
This trend often continues for an entire lifetime. It is a destructive trend that causes divorce, job loss, failing health, and ultimately, an unhappy life.
Long-term happiness, I found from my research, comes from within, not from external sources.
Pursuing happiness externally is a recipe for a failed, miserable life. You must make happiness a daily habit.
Some Background on Happiness
The book, “The How of Happiness,” cites various studies on happiness. One such study determined the following:
- 50% of happiness is gene-based
- 40% of happiness is activity-based
- 10% of happiness is circumstance-based
Your genetic makeup determines your “happiness baseline.”
This is the baseline you revert to before and after happiness events and unhappiness events.
This baseline is the reason why buying mega-mansions, expensive cars, jewelry, etc., do not create long-term happiness.
It is also the reason why events in your life that make you unhappy, such as the loss of a loved one, divorce, and failure, do not create long-term unhappiness.
Eventually everyone reverts back to their genetic happiness baseline.
Since only 10% of happiness is circumstance-based, pursuing wealth, as an end to itself, will only increase happiness incrementally.
The only true way to increase long-term happiness is clearly to engage in activities that produce happiness.
Thanks to my 10 years of research on habits, I’ve uncovered what those activities are. All you need is one or two to increase your happiness baseline.
How to Create Happiness:
1. Manage Expectations
All too often we look at life with rose-colored glasses. While optimism is critical to success, the biggest cause of unhappiness is not meeting expectations we set for ourselves. What we need, when we pursue a big goal, a dream, or our main purpose in life, is a dose of reality.
When pursuing a big goal you need to break that journey down into manageable tasks that are 100% achievable.
This guarantees that you will meet expectations and avoid unhappiness.
It also sets you up to surprise yourself by exceeding your expectations, thus creating happiness.
2. Overcome One Fear
Overcoming fear alters your thinking. It will reprogram your mind from negative to positive.
It will increase your level of confidence. Doing something that scares you will take you out of your comfort zone and make you anxious and nervous.
It will also exhilarate you.
Human beings were not intended to be slaves to our fears.
Our core fears reside in the limbic system portion of our brains.
The neocortex, the most recent evolutionary portion of our brain, has the ability to consciously overcome our fears.
When you take on a fear, both parts of the brain begin to compete against each other. The neocortex is far superior in terms of size.
It has billions more neurons than the limbic system.
It can easily overcome any fear. Become the master of fear and not its slave and you will experience happiness.
3. Exercise Daily
Exercising is a Happiness Habit.
While the activity itself is not a happiness event, when completed, it creates a feeling of overall happiness.
We feel happy because we’ve done something that is good for our body. The more you exercise, the happier you will be.
4. Learn Every Day
Believe it or not, learning something new will make you happier.
When we learn something new, the brain creates new neural synapses (connections), and this neural stimulation creates a physiological feeling of self-satisfaction and increased confidence. We simply feel better about ourselves.
This is not an accident.
These physiological feelings of happiness are the brain’s way of rewarding us for engaging in good brain behavior.
The brain’s secondary purpose (the first being to keep us alive) is to learn. When we learn new things, we actually increase the mass of our brain (new neurons = new mass).
The brain is one of the very few internal organs whose mass increases by use.
The more we engage in learning, the more the brain will reward us with feelings of happiness.
Each time you learn something new, therefore, you are creating a happiness event.
Devote 20-30 minutes each day, reading something that will help you on the job or increase your knowledge in some hobby or passion you might have.
Learn and be happy.
5. Associate With Happy People
Birds of a feather flock together. If you want to be happier you need to associate with other happy people.
You need to spend a minimum of one hour a week with other happy people. You also need to reduce the time you spend with unhappy people to less than one hour per week.
When you make new acquaintances with other happy people, they will, in time, introduce you to their relationships, who also happen to be other happy people. The more happy people you associate with in life, the happier you will be.
6. Set One Big Goal
Pursuing a goal creates happiness. Research shows that we are genetically engineered to be goal-oriented.
When we pursue a new goal we activate existing neurons or create new neural connections (synapses).
New dentrites and synapses form inside the brain when we pursue a goal.
The brain likes this and releases certain neurochemicals that create a feeling of pleasure or happiness as we learn new things in pursuit of our goal.
Every time you learn something new in pursuit of your goal you trigger a happiness event.
This physiology is why those who pursue goals consider the pursuit more gratifying than the actual realization of the goal.
7. Pursue Your Main Purpose
Most people are not following their own main purpose in life.
They are following someone else’s.
It may be a main purpose of a mother, father, spouse, or some other significant presence in their life.
When you are not following your main purpose, you are not happy.
You do not look forward to Monday’s or any other work day.
You see life as drudgery and anxiously await the weekends, holidays and vacation time.
You pursue post-work activities that are often unhealthy, such as excessive alcohol consumption.
You are often mired in negative, depressed thoughts.
That’s not what life intended for you. Life intended that each of us pursue our own individual main purpose.
Doing so awakens our inner genius and stimulates the creative parts of our brain that make humans so unique.
You will not be happy and successful in life pursuing someone else’s agenda. You need to pursue your own agenda; you need to follow your own individual main purpose in life.