I learned that living inside-out was the key to happiness pretty late in the game (It took me about 27 years).
With this being said, I really have to be thankful that I figured it out at all, because a lot of people don’t. A lot of people are still struggling to find what they’re looking for and searching for it in futile ways. Some people may even kick the bucket without ever discovering true happiness, contentment, and fulfillment.
I don’t want this to be you.
In an attempt to help you avoid this fate, I want to give you all the tools I’ve discovered on my journey for happiness, contentment, and fulfillment.
My hope is that you can at take at least some of them for your own use, and that they can help you on your personal development journey and get you where you need to be.
Without further ado, here are 16 Things That Can Help You Find Happiness, Contentment, and Fulfillment.
1. Finding Deep and Meaningful Work That Makes You Feel Important and Useful, and Focusing On It!
There is no better way to feel happier, more content, and more fulfilled than to find something that makes you feel important and useful.
A mission that gives you purpose.
Something that consumes you.
Something that hits and satisfies a burning desire.
This could really come from anything, but it’s probably best if it comes from your work, as you can hit two birds with one stone (make money and find purpose).
It could also come from parenting, a cause, spirituality or faith, a hobby, or something such as volunteering.
Focus on these keywords: meaningful, important, useful. It must make you feel this type of way in order for you to get lasting satisfaction out of it.
Helpful hint: feeling meaningful, important, and useful usually comes from making a difference in the world and bettering it in some way (i.e. helping others).
2. Kicking Yourself Out of Your Comfort Zone Every Once and While
This one doesn’t have to be too drastic, but it can really be as drastic as you’d like!
Doing some uncomfortable things can really help you feel alive.
When’s the last time you tried something new? Or went out on a limb? Or spoke up?
Don’t be afraid to get out there and take some GOOD risks!
Yes, safe is good, but it’s also quite boring.
3. Learning, Reading, and ALWAYS being Curious
This works two-fold.
Learning can help you find a mission and help you find success in your mission.
It’s also a great way to spend time.
Acquiring knowledge keeps you away from negativity and time-sucks (more on these below), and actually provides you with value.
There’s also no better way to drill useful information into your conscious and subconscious minds than to voraciously acquire knowledge.
Remember: you are what you think about all day long! A person is their thoughts (credit to Emerson for this idea). You’re also what you consume all day long! If you’re only consuming the best information ever created, how do you think that will affect your mindset?
Sounds great, huh? So how can you acquire knowledge?
- Read more (great) books
- Take a class or a course (online or offline)
- Associate with (new) people smarter or better than you in a different area.
- Go to a seminar
- Listen to audiobooks and podcasts
- Watch informative documentaries and videos
All of these are great choices that WILL help you grow.
4. “Thinking Happy”
I paraphrased a very good quote above, and let’s look at that one in full:
“A man is what he thinks about all day long.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
So, in theory, if you think happy thoughts you’ll be happy.
If you think sad thoughts, you’ll be sad.
This one sounds tough, and for the beginner it usually is.
But you need to practice at it, just like anything else, to get better.
Start SPAMMING your mind with happy, positive thoughts and see how your life changes.
When a negative thought enters your brain, work to spin it into a positive. If this can’t be done, nip it in the bud and replace it immediately with a happier and more positive thought.
5. Listening to great (mood boosting) music
Music is powerful, man.
It can make you feel things and put you in a great mood.
It can make you feel invincible and ready to take on the world.
You have to be careful, though, because it can also make you feel the opposite!
Sad music, music that reminds you of your ex, and garbage mindless music can all sap your happiness.
Make sure it’s upbeat, has a great message, and gets you fired up, and play it non-stop!
Want some suggestions? Check out my gym music posts to get you started:
6. Finding Humor In Most Situations
Life is hilarious if you think about it.
We’re over-developed chimps living on a giant rock dependent on a huge ball of flame floating in the middle of space.
The best science-fiction writers in the universe couldn’t make this up.
Given how preposterous this is when you really think about it, should you really be so serious all the time?
Finding the humor in life is what makes living worthwhile. You absolutely need to be able to laugh at yourself, and others, for sanity’s sake.
This is exactly why I watch a lot of stand-up comedy, comedy movies, gravitate towards funny people, and crack jokes all the time.
Humor lightens the mood and just makes you feel better.
7. Being Thankful
Being thankful is absolutely necessary to being happy.
There is always more to be had.
If you focus on what you could have, rather than what you actually have, you will go down a very unhappy path.
Watching or reading about the lives of the rich and famous is TOXIC.
It will instill jealousy and envy in you, two things that will destroy your contentment.
It’s really a shame there are whole TV shows, websites, books, and magazines devoted to this.
These damn things make people feel like absolute sh*t about their own lives.
Now, I’m not saying to not strive for better circumstances.
Always strive for better.
But have a firm definition of what better is.
Lots of times better is not rich, or famous, or ballin’, or having lots of “ice”, or a private jet, or your own island.
99% of the time it’s a nourishing and rewarding career, freedom from worrying about money, a solid roof over your head, great health, and lasting, loving relationships.
8. Being More Mindful and Present (The Past is Gone and The Future Isn’t Written Yet )
If you’re more mindful, you’re more in the “now”, or the present moment.
How often have you just not noticed something, and then when you finally noticed it, you ask yourself why you’ve never noticed it?
Or how about a time you forgot something important, and then when you realized it after the fact you slapped yourself right in the forehead and asked yourself how in the world you could have forgotten that?
This is because your mind wasn’t there (you were being mindless).
Too often we live in the future or the past, thinking about some far off date or something that went wrong a few days ago.
So often, in fact, that we never even feel the breeze blowing through our hair, the sand in our toes, or the sun our faces.
What a shame.
If you don’t start being more present, you will be one of those sad souls who wonder where their life went because they were too busy reminiscing or planning to actually live it.
Now, does this mean forgoing the future and the past and just living in the present moment?
Not at all.
Learn from the past and plan for the future, treat them with great care, but don’t actually live there.
Great ways to be more mindful:
Consciously slow down. Rushing through life means your worrying about some event in the future. Take time to smell the daffodils.
Occupy your mind. Doing something difficult that requires full attention brings you into the present moment, leaving no time to worry about the past and future.
Meditate. It helps clear your mind and builds focus.
9. Following a Proper Diet (With Mood Foods) and Using Proper Supplementation
Man, is this one important.
How good do you suppose you’ll feel while shoveling garbage into your gullet while neglecting proper nutrition?
Not too good, eh?
High sugar, high fat foods only provide the temporary pleasure that we talked about earlier, and temporary is the key word.
The thing is, and a lot of people don’t realize this: foods like these don’t just affect your heart and waistline negatively, they affect your brain, too.
Sh*tty foods literally make you dumb. They clog up your arteries and cut off the vital blood supply to the brain, starving it of oxygen and nutrients.
Proper nutrition and supplementation can actually nourish your brain and help you perform better mentally well into old age.
As if that wasn’t enough, you just don’t feel good about yourself when you consume crap.
You usually end up feeling guilty, like you’re cheating yourself. You also start to feel like you’re not in control.
These foods should only be used as cheat foods, for special occasions.
Kick out the junk!
Another thing that can help? Mood foods!
Mood foods are foods that can have an effect on your mood.
These are foods like:
- Coffee. Caffeine in coffee increases focus and stimulates adrenaline production.
- Tea. A double whammy of caffeine and L-Theanine. Better for more anxious individuals.
- Kombucha. Probiotics and tea.
- Cacao. Contains caffeine and theobromine (a milder stimulant).
- Yogurt. Probiotics for increased serotonin production, also the bacteria in your gut communicates with your brain directly through the Valgus nerve.
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids. Can help with depression and anxiety, and just all out good for everything else.
10. Doing Plenty of Physical Activity
One does not simply live a sedentary lifestyle and be happy, content, and fulfilled.
Humans were meant to move, all day, every day.
We’re meant to hunt, forage, play, fight, and flee.
So far away, in fact, that the top two killers globally (Heart Disease and Stroke) have a connection to our sedentary lifestyles and bad diets (source).
Lack of physical activity also affects happiness in another way.
If you’re not moving, you’re missing out on the mental health benefits that exercise provides.
Physical activity has been shown to improve depression, decrease anxiety, promote overall feelings of well-being, improve mood, relieve stress, reduce tiredness, and increase energy (source).
If you’re not moving, you’re missing out!
There are several ways we can get fit without spending huge amounts of time and money:
Get a gym membership, build your own gym, and/or learn how to manipulate your bodyweight.
Use exercise videos if you don’t want to leave the house.
Take up a fun sport.
Note: I strongly suggest you get some weight equipment for your home or garage. This will help you become more consistent. Read more on this here.
11. Resting Properly (SLEEPING!) and KILLING Stress
Improper sleep will kill you. Literally.
So will stress.
Sadly, both seem to go by the wayside in our 24/7 wired up world.
This is a big mistake though.
Sleep and stress reduction free up willpower, so you can get actually get more done.
They also foster creativity and help you think more clearly.
Ways to Sleep Better:
Get on a sleep schedule.
This one is imperative.
This will get your body on a natural rhythm (Circadian Rhythm).
The worst thing to do for sleep is to haphazardly sleep “whenever”.
Don’t “sleep in”. Don’t go to bed late. Don’t nap. Make sleeping a full night (7-9 hours, or as much as need and no more) a priority.
Keep Your Sleeping space cool, dark, and noise free.
Around 64-72 degrees is ideal.
Keep the room as dark as possible as well. I find that when the room is pitch black, I fall asleep faster and sleep deeper. Get some light blocking curtains and remove all sources of light.
Get a good mattress and comfortable sheets.
Nothing is worse than a bad mattress and uncomfortable sheets.
Don’t skimp here, these two things are investments in a good night’s sleep, try to look at them that way.
Dim the lights, and stay away from glowing screens one hour before bed.
The blue light that comes from these screens messes with your Melatonin production and makes your body think it’s day.
Create a dim environment with only as much light as needed.
This will signal to your body that it’s time to wind down and bedtime is imminent.
Read (something that doesn’t rile you up)
Nothing is better for calming your mind than a nice dose of fiction before bed.
Don’t make it too charged of a book though, as I’ve read fiction that got me thinking too much and actually made it harder to fall asleep.
Somewhat boring fiction will suffice just fine.
Supplements that can help you sleep better include:
Things that Help Bump Up Serotonin Levels. Probiotics, Omega 3’s, 5-HTP, Tryptophan, etc. These provide a little boost to Serotonin levels during the day, which crucially converts to Melatonin at night and helps signal to your body it’s time to get to sleep.
Melatonin. You can also take straight up Melatonin. I use Melatonin as a last resort if I’m really struggling, and it works. I use Nature Made’s Natural Sleep Aid.
L-Theanine. L-Theanine helps calm the mind, a big problem for some when your thoughts start racing before bed. The sleep aid I use (above) has a good amount of L-Theanine in it. You can also find it in green tea.
Warning: consult a doctor before trying any new supplement.
Ways to Stress Less:
Cut out negativity, get rid of social media, kick news to the curb, check your phone and email less, and keep your circle small (more on these below).
You can also try:
Meditating. Can help clear the mind and zap stress.
Aroma therapy, Massage, Acupuncture, Salt Therapy, Immersion Tanks etc. I’ve never really tried any of these (I do want to though), but I hear really good things about them. It really can’t hurt to try them out.
Supplements. L-Theanine, GABA, Phenibut, etc. all work to relieve stress and anxiety and can even help perk up your mood.
12. Finding Your Community or Tribe
After the 9/11 terror attacks in the U.S., the suicide rates plummeted.
Greater social cohesion.
People were brought together by a cause or an event that led to them having a cause and a purpose (#1 above).
This purpose created the “tribe” mentality, and everyone rallied around this cause, bringing people closer together.
That’s the essence of the tribe. It’s a group of people all brought together by a cause or a shared interest in a positive way (yes, tribes can be used in a negative way, but that’s not what we’re about).
A tribe helps us feel like we belong, and like we’re part of something bigger than ourselves, which is absolutely imperative to feel any type of fulfillment.
Make a quick list of some of your interests, then work to find groups or communities that share them. A quick internet search of something like: [your interest] + community or [your interest] + group should bring back plenty of results for local and worldwide communities or groups.
13. Keeping Your Inner Circle Small and Exclusive (and Have Great Experiences With this Group!)
Even further in from your community or tribe should be your inner circle, a group of individuals you have solid and meaningful relationships with, who you can trust to give and receive advice, and to lean on when you need help.
Also, these are the people you should be doing productive activities and having life-changing experiences with.
I’m a guy with a very small circle, and that’s just the way I like it.
I have a very tight knit and exclusive group of family and associates I interact with.
I would have it no other way.
I just can’t keep track of too many people, and I wouldn’t want to anyways.
The saying quality, not quantity applies here.
You need quality people in your life that enrich it, not a large quantity of people that take energy and time from you.
14. Cutting Out Negativity
Negativity is just deadly to happiness.
There is no way you can truly be happy when you’re surrounded by negative things.
Negativity kills dreams, makes you cast doubts, and destroys your soul.
Things that can breed negativity (and that you should work to part ways with) include:
People. Negative people are energy sucks.
They just drain the life out of you.
It’s always about them and their problems, which seem to multiply daily.
Negative people never blame themselves, either.
It’s always someone else’s fault, and their circumstances are not by their choosing but because of external factors.
Kick these people to the curb.
Most TV (especially the “news”). I was in a waiting room the other day, and they had a “news” station on. That fifteen minutes of waiting and watching this crap was the most stressful thing I encountered the whole day.
According to this news station, the world was going to end at any second, there was a bunch of horrible things going on, everything was crumbling down around us, and we all need to take urgent action NOW!
No wonder people are so negative and stressed out these days.
The same goes for sports, TV shows, and movies. It’s all fake crap and your team sucks.
Most of this stuff doesn’t further you as a human being.
Social Media (also some internet forums). I’ll preface this one by saying that social media can be good.
It can bring people together, help people share information, and build connections and communities.
It’s just that it’s gotten so far away from this it’s not even funny.
Social media has turned into breeding grounds for negativity, jealousy, envy, slander, and ego stroking.
It’s turned into a contest of sorts:
Who can get the most likes?
Who can accrue the most “followers”?
Who can make their lives look the most fun and exciting?
Gross, toss it out.
Thoughts. Negative thoughts will always creep in.
The key is not to entertain these thoughts.
If you truly want to be happy, you need to have a positive mindset and demeanor, you have to look at the world like it’s yours for the taking.
If negative thoughts creep in, immediately kick them out, replace them with positive thoughts, or occupy your mind with something else.
Show negative thoughts the door!
15. Getting Rid of a Lot of Other Things, Too
The things you “think” you own, really end up owning you, because the things you have require effort to keep and maintain.
After long enough, it becomes a full time job just to manage your possessions.
Also, the more you have (expenses), the more you need to work (for income).
The more you work, the more stressed you are, and so on and so on.
Pretty soon you’re up to your eyeballs in debt, have to work non-stop to keep up with your consumer lifestyle, and you’re locked firmly into the capitalistic system.
Not very pretty, eh?
We really need a mindset shift here, one in which we start seeing money as freedom, not just something to buy material crap with.
Remember: Ain’t really no dollar sign on a piece of mind.
Ask yourself: Do I need this? Is it worth the effort? Will it make me truly happy?
16. Checking Your Phone and Email Less
I used to check my phone 10-15 times a day.
Texting and talking, emailing, checking “statuses”, checking the weather, reading the news apps.
What a waste of time, and what a horrible way to live, staring down at a screen, while you miss everything else that’s going on around you.
I now believe it’s an addiction, and it’s a tough one to break.
I now only check my phone 2-3 times a day, never in the morning, and especially not when I have more pressing work to do.
I really do suggest you don’t check your phone until the afternoon. Reading texts, emails, or news straight off in the morning can set a negative tone for the whole rest of the day.
Whatever it is, it can wait.
Here are some tips to help you break “phone checking” addiction:
Put it away somewhere. If it’s on you, you’ll check it. Wherever you are, put it somewhere inconvenient, which will make it a pain in the ass to check.
Don’t have notifications on. Constant buzzing and beeping will lead to lots of stress, and make you want to check your phone more. I turned off any notifications years ago.
Heed some of the advice above (“Cut Out Negativity”). Get rid of social media, and don’t Email. It can help if you get these off your phone. Texting and talking on the phone, unless for business or for communicating with your circle (see above, “Keep your circle small and exclusive”), is a waste of time.
Bonus: Give One Compliment Every Day
If you see something you like and you genuinely appreciate it, give a compliment on it.
EVERYONE loves a genuine compliment.
Not only will this make the person you compliment feel like a million bucks, but it will also make you feel amazing as well.
There are some rules though:
Compliments must come from sincere appreciation, not flattery. Compliments shouldn’t be to kiss ass or try to get something from the person.
Don’t make compliments sexual. This should go without saying.
Don’t compliment the same person too many times. This is just annoying.
For more on how to show appreciation and give a good compliment, read The Big Secret of Dealing With People (Part 1, Chapter 2) from How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.
Let’s Wrap This Up
Can you see how much power you have over your life to create the situation you’d like to be in?
It’s all on you, and I hope you can find some sort of peace of mind and purpose.
Remember: Happiness, contentment, and fulfillment start on the inside, and nowhere else.