Self Improvement


Happiness: Becoming Self-Aware And Taking Stock

One needs to be aware about what is giving us happiness and what is taking it away from us.

A simple exercise of writing on a notepad the things that make us happy, and the things that don’t, is a good start towards being aware. From this point, we just need to manage our limited time to focus on activities that give us happiness.

Joshua Martins (@joshuamar) - Profile Photo



Self Improvement

List down some words that encapsulate the emotions and experiences that we want to feel, defining the push required to achieve a goal.

The words, when revisited and reviewed will shift our thoughts, activities and content towards our main goal. Every action or decision we make should be aligned to the list.

Many of the hundreds of self-proclaimed ‘happy’ people interviewed were not having a mainstream, practical work life. They were termed crazy and stupid. The problem was that they had stopped chasing fame or money, and focused on having a beautiful, exciting life where they chose to do what they wanted to do.

The explorative life, where we pursue our natural feelings is the key to happiness.

We can transform our day before 8:00 am. We normally wake up as employees, not as human beings starting a wonderful day.

Instead of immediately checking our phone notifications or social media, we need to take a minute with ourselves and set our intentions for the day ahead. Instead of being reactive the whole day(as usual), we can decide to be purposeful and craft a beautiful day.

Tom Rath
"Your overall satisfaction with life certainly matters. But you create meaningful change in moments and days, not years and decades. It is easier to improve your own happiness — and the well-being of others — when you focus on doing it right now. Taking small, meaningful actions today is the best way to make changes. And eventually, these small changes will lead to important long-term outcomes."
The Three Keys to a Full Charge

Three key conditions differentiate days when you have a full charge from typical days:

  •  Meaning: doing something that benefits another person.
  • Interactions: creating far more positive than negative moments. 
  • Energy: making choices that improve your mental and physical health.

Creating meaning is an evolutionary process that grows by the day, as opposed to a grand purpose that suddenly falls in your lap. 

Small wins generate meaningful progress. You might create a small positive charge for one of your customers today or work on a new product that will benefit people in the future. Over the weekend, maybe you’ll have a long conversation with a loved one that makes a difference. It is these little moments, not grand actions, that create substance and meaning.

"The pursuit of meaning — not happiness — is what makes life worthwhile."
When The Pursuit Of Happiness Backfires

Pursuing happiness for loved ones or for your community is a worthwhile goal. But trying to create happiness for yourself can have the opposite effect.

The more value you place on your own happiness, the more likely you are to feel lonely on a daily basis. Seeking your own happiness and nothing else results in feelings of futility. But if you spend as much time creating meaningful interactions as you do pursuing happiness, you will be better off in both areas.

While there is some overlap, the differences have clear implications for how people spend their time. 

  • Those who pursue happiness are what psychologists call “takers.” 
  • In contrast, people leading meaningful lives get a lot of joy from giving to others.
Viktor E. Frankl
“Happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue. One must have a reason to ‘be happy.'"
  • Extrinsic motivation is when you do things primarily to receive a reward. You might take a new job because of the higher pay and better benefits package.
  • Intrinsic motivation — or deep internal motivation — is much richer. You are driven by what you yearn to do even if there is no reward or compensation. 

Meaningful work is driven by intrinsic, rather than extrinsic, motivation.

"Meaning does not happen to you — you create it. One of the most important elements of building a great career and life is attaching what you do each day to a broader mission."
Work As A Purpose, Not A Place

The future of work lies in redefining it as doing something that makes a difference each day. Work is about productively applying your talent.

A healthy relationship between an employee and an organization starts with a shared mission, meaning, or purpose. A 2013 study of more than 12,000 workers worldwide found that employees who derive meaning and understand the importance of their work are more than three times as likely to stay with an organization.

"You create meaning when your strengths and interests meet the needs of the world. Knowing your talents and passions is critical, but that is only half of this supply-and-demand equation. What may be even more important is understanding what the world needs from you and how you can productively apply your strengths and interests."

One of the downfalls of the “follow your passion” advice is that it assumes that putting your own passion and happiness at the center of your world is what leads to meaning, fulfillment and joy. That is often not the case.

Those who make a profound difference, in contrast, begin by asking what they can give. Starting with this question allows you to direct your talents toward what matters most for others.

  • You should be able to spend some time every day engaging in activities that energize and recharge you; it takes only a few moments to make a day more productive and fulfilling.
  • Even in the worst situations, you can find opportunities for growth. The key is to shift your focus away from what others do that hinders you and instead seek out small things that enable you to make daily forward progress. 
  •  Even if you are stuck in a job that is far from ideal, you have the ability to create a little meaning on the side (for example, volunteering in your free time).
Purpose Before Busyness

The result of trying to be busy is a poorly managed life. If you are busy throughout the day and bouncing from one thing to the next, you’re probably not focusing on constructive activity.

You are also probably not giving your full attention to the things that matter most, from working to spending time with your family.

  • The average worker loses 28 percent of each day to distraction.
  • Only one in five workers report having the ability to focus on one thing at a time during a workday. 
  • On average, people spend about half of their time thinking about something other than what they are doing at any given moment.

What’s even more disturbing is that this is not pleasant mind wandering; instead, the distractedness tends to make them less happy.

Life Is The Sum Of Millions Of Individual Interactions
  • These moments — which usually involve an exchange with another person — give your days a positive or negative charge. 
  • Even brief interactions count, such as exchanging a smile or greeting while passing someone on the street.
  • You absolutely can control your next interaction with another person. No matter how bad of a mood you are in, you can make a conscious choice to add a positive spin to your next conversation.

We need at least three to five positive interactions to outweigh every one negative exchange. Bad moments simply outweigh good ones.

Whether you’re having a one-on-one conversation with a colleague or a group discussion, keep this simple shortcut in mind: At least 80 percent of your conversations should be focused on what’s going right.

Want What You Already Have

The best way to produce sustainable increases in well-being is to appreciate what you already have and to continue creating new positive experiences with the people who matter most. 

When you value what you already have, not only will you grow, you won’t feel the angst of wanting more. Any time you create experiences in the context of your existing resources and relationships, it has a compounding effect on your well-being.

  • People who spend money on experiences are happier than those who spend on material things.
  • People who spend on other people end up happier AND it makes someone else happy too.
  • Share the things you are planning with other people because anticipation increases well being. Give people the chance to anticipate great experiences. (Planning a vacation can often lead to more happiness than the vacation itself.)
Put Your Own Health First

Doing things for others and living a life of meaning is important. But without energy, you can’t do your best work. 

If you want to make a difference for years to come, you have to put your health and energy first.

The daffodil principle is taught as a great principle of celebration where we are taught to move towards our goals one step at a time even if we're taking baby steps to reach them. It teaches the importance of being patient and how it correlates to why extraordinary successes happen:

  1. Ordinary actions are done consistently
  2. Regular feedback is provided where you're self-aware of what works and what doesn't and with this, you improve the former to maximize possible outcomes.

When trying to achieve a certain goal, taking action is merely not enough, you must also constantly assert change and improve the process you're using as well.

Set yourself up with manageable expectations and try to improve at least 1 percent a day - in the long term - you will only thank yourself as that 1 percent compounds on itself and produces results you could have never imagined. Whether it may be 1 percent every day or every week, it still produces significant outcomes.

Dr. Marshall Goldsmith
"What got you here won't get you there.
The Daffodil Principle In Action

There are two ways to measure your progress with the daffodil principle, and those are to make qualitative and quantitative improvements towards yourself or your goals.

If by chance your goal is to write a book, then the qualitative improvement you could do is to increase your knowledge in grammar and syntax; for quantitative you could write a thousand words a week, as long as it is 1 percent more than last week.

Consistent actions and feedback result in great outcomes.

Saltwater: The Reason An Ocean Is Salty

Ocean water is full of mineral salts which enter through the rivers, passing through rock and soil. Water has a property of evaporation whereas salt does not, so a lot of salt is left behind.

Oceans are saline throughout the world, but the Mediterranean Sea is saltier. Many oceans are less salty due to the regular mixing of fresh river water.

Hard times will pass

Your 20s are very turbulent times. You want so much for yourself and have such high expectations and wishes to succeed.

Don't get carried away with how hard is all seems. Growing up is much like the weather. When you hit big storms, it may seem like they're going to overwhelm you. It will change - the sun will come out again.

Many people around us don't give up in challenging situations.

We can draw inspiration from them. We sometimes tend to give up and do something else, and it helps to remember not to do that.

Learn to take care of yourself. Don't depend on people to provide for you. You can have something of your own and provide for your family.

Enjoy going to work. It's the people you're with that makes a job fun. People make your work different.

When you're learning something in school, you're learning from people who know something you don't know. Continue in that throughout your life. Mentors go beyond teachers and bosses. Develop relationships with people who you can observe, and see how they do things.

You can minimize mistakes if you have people in your life who will challenge you and make you reconsider.

The secret to a life well-lived is to learn to make the most of what you have.

Keep trying until you succeed. If you can't do something, keep on trying.

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