Our journey started over 3 years ago in 2014 when we decided that we wanted to started living a life of freedom and have choices in the way we chose to live our life. In our article, ‘A Way To Simplify Your Life,’ we explain the journey we took to help us start living a life of purpose and passion and I share some of the things we did to help us on our journey to living an intentional life where we were able to make conscious decisions about the way in which we chose to live our lives.
I work with so many others who want to live a life of freedom and feel happy with the lifestyle they lead and based on our own personal journey, research and copious amounts of reading around these topics here are our 11 top tips to ‘Living a Happy Life’;
1.Goals – In order to live a life you love you need to know what your goals are, what are you striving for and what does a life well lived look like to you?
This is the starting point, take a step back from your life and start thinking about what a life well lived would look like to you. What would you be doing in this life? Where would you be living? How would you be living? Would travel be involved? Who would you be surrounded by? What would you and your family be doing together? Does this involve money? If so, how much?
Then start thinking about some short, medium term and long term targets for you as an individual and as a family and get planning. This will give you the opportunity to start designing a life you love, then all you’ve got to do is start putting this goals into action.
2. Finances – Not understanding where you are financially can often to lead uncertainty, heart ache, worry and concern,. The first step is get really clear on what your income and expenditure is, go through your bank account over the last few months and log everything on a spreadsheet. Firstly, calculate your expenditure and then your income and analyse where your money is going. Then once you’ve done this, identify the ‘non negotiables,’ what is it that has to stay; mortgage, bills, repayments for something and then work out when these repayments will be paid off?
Do you have a loan, credit card or other debt that could be paid early so that you’ve got more freedom sooner rather than later? Can you shop around for your household utilities? Could you cut your food shopping bills by swapping your large supermarket for a cheaper (just as nice) supermarket like Aldi?
The first step is to get clear on all of the above and then set yourself a budget and stick to it. Decide what you want to pay off and how much money you need to earn and then go from there. You’ll feel so much happier knowing where you are and what your trying to achieve. If you want to live the simple life, then it really doesn’t cost that much if you budget carefully.
3.Time – How much time do you have in a typical day or week? How do you fill your time? Are you someone that fills up your diary with children’s activities, play dates and social engagements?
What is your relationship with time? Do you feel you have enough of it or do you feel as though there’s never enough time to do it all? Reflect for a moment and take a step back and start thinking, ‘If I had more time, what would I want to be doing with it?’ Once you understand your relationship with time you can start making the most of your days.
Start thinking about where you could steal time back. Are there things that you have in your diary that you really don’t want to do or are just taking up your time? If so, take them out and start saying ‘No,’ to the things you don’t want to do. So many of us trade time and connection for money yet, time is our most precious commodity so treat it with care and start taking control of it.
4. Self Belief and Confidence.
Many of us have suffered with self confidence or self esteem issues at one time or another and during these periods of self doubt it can really hinder your ability to be able to move forward in life with clarity and purpose. These periods of self doubt can cause us to worry (more) about what others think, make us feel not good enough or not worthy and our lack of self belief to do anything can leave us feeling anxious, stressed out or worked up. It’s times like this when we can have a tendency to overthink or over analyse about events, people or situations and this can create and fuel our negative emotions.
There are several ways that you can overcome self doubt, self confidence and/or self esteem issues. The first is to understand where these thoughts come from, why do you feel this way? Where did this stem from? What are the things you say to yourself? What negative stock phrases and words do you say to yourself?
If you’re unsure then you could seek professional support from a counsellor, psychologist, coach or health care professional and they can help you to understand this further.
The second thing to remember is that, ‘You’re not the only one.’ So many of us feel that we’re the only ones in life that feel like this but, we’re not, the majority of people have felt like this at one time or another.
Thirdly, remember that, ‘what you dwell on you become’ so take control of your thoughts, start replacing negative thoughts with positive ones and take responsibility for your mind.
5. Mindset – Makes the difference that makes the difference.
Having a healthy, happy mindset makes a huge difference because remember,’ What we dwell on we become.’
Carol Dweck is a psychologist and her theory is that people seem to have two mindsets; some with a fixed mindset, and others with a growth mindset. Those with a fixed mindset assume that they are the way they are and that’s all there is to it. Those with a growth mindset assume that they can change, that their personality and qualities are malleable and that they can change and grow.
Those with a growth mindset are willing to try new ways of thinking and behaving and are willing to learn how to live positively and mindfully. Begin to reflect on your own patterns and cycles of thinking and start thinking why you behave in a certain way in certain situations. Do you react instead of responding? Do you feel out of control at times with your emotions and behaviours? If so, start reflecting on why this is the case. Do you feel attacked or threatened? Is that why you react in that way? Can you create stories in your mind that can make the situation seem a whole lot worse?
Reflection is vital to learn from your mistakes, remember if you’re willing to grow, learn and start adopting new patterns and behaviours then you’re half way there. Fill your mind with happy thoughts, becareful what you watch and listen to as this can affect the way we think about ourselves and the world.
Happy thoughts = Happy mind!
6. Health & Well being. – Health is one of the most important things to consider, the food we eat acts as fuel to our bodies and mind. So try to avoid too many fats, too much sugar, refined grain (white bread), too much alcohol and aim to eat 5-7 fruits, vegetables or salad. This will not only improve your energy levels in the short-term but, it will also improve your health in the long-term.
Exercise is key too and we all know that there are an abundance of benefits hen exercising regularly. Exercise can help to manage weight and boost our cardiovascular health but, more importantly it can have a huge impact on our mental health, moods and happiness.
The main reason for this is that our body’s release ‘feel-good’ chemicals called endorphins during exercise and as a result of this we can feel happier for longer. Keeping fit can also help our psychological well being and this can make it easier for us to deal with stress or depression.
Your well being is vital to leading a happy life, trying to live a happy life is not about denying negative emotions or pretending to happy and jolly all the time it’s quite the contrary. We all experience problems, worries and concerns and it’s completely natural for us to feel anger, sadness, frustration and other negative emotions as a result of this. However, it’s important to remember that when you experience a negative emotions or experience it’s important to try and pause, reflect and respond to this situations instead of react to them.
Happy people understand and can control their feelings, thoughts, emotions and behaviours much more than those that aren’t able to do so. Happier people are more likely to be surrounded by happy people too, it becomes infectious so start thinking about who you surround yourself with. How can you expect to live a happy, positive life if you’re surrounded by negativity.
8. Screen Time – Focusing your attention on television, movies, video games, and technology affects your life more than you think. Media contributes towards your view of the world and it can affect your attitude, outlook and perspective. Unfortunately, when you live in that world on a consistent basis, you don’t even notice how it is impacting you, we all fall foul of the social media comparison trap at times and this can lead us to feel that our lives are not as exciting as our connections and this can affect our mood too.
The only way to change this is to take a healthy approach to this, by all means play video games, watch television and browse social media but, yourself a time limit everyday otherwise minutes run into hours and before you know it you’ve wasted hours of your day doing nothing.
9. Connections – Friendships can have a major impact on your health and well-being, good friends are good for your health. Your relationships with others are so important and by having positive, healthy relationships with others can really boost your mood, well being and happiness levels. It’s important to be ‘choosy’ about who you surround yourself with, choose friends that will support you, motivate you and make you feel good about yourself instead of those who may put you down, ridicule or criticise you.
Good connections with friends and family can increase your sense of belonging and purpose, it can boost your happiness and reduce your stress and it can improve your self-confidence and self worth. So create a list of the top 5-10 people you spend your time with and start thinking whether or not they ‘add value’ and ‘make a difference’ to your life. If they do then they’re a keeper and if they don’t then perhaps it’s time to have a ‘friends cull.’
10. Go outdoors – Being outdoors with nature has so many benefits, it can improve your well being and mood, it can help reduce anxiety, stress or concerns. It can also improve concentration and improve mental health and it encourages you to experience new experiences, there are so many benefits – in fact the list is endless.
So go outdoors, go for a walk, visit your local National Trust site, take a trip to the beach or the countryside and observe the beauty in everything; the sky, the flowers, nature in general – you’ll feel so much happier for doing so.
11. Gratitude – Gratitude can make a big difference to the way we view our lives and the wider world. Gratitude means taking the time to appreciate what’s good in one’s life and it means being happy with the life you have now. we can all strive for more but, more doesn’t necessarily make us happy.
The secret to being happy and ‘having it all’ is by already thinking that you do!
Here’s a few photos that describe what happiness means to me;