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How to enjoy life, explained

September 9, 2022 - 13 min read

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Understanding happiness

Small (and cost-free) tips on how to enjoy life

Enjoying life means you have to work for it

There’s no shortage of people trying to tell you how to enjoy life. Your parents might say you need to get married, advertisers say you need to buy their product, and social media tells you to be more like celebrities. 

Here’s the thing. You’re not going to find happiness by listening to others. The trick is tuning out the noise and tuning into your values and what matters to you.

That’s easier said than done. But the sooner you live life on your own terms, the sooner you’ll find the space you need to be happy. That means letting go of preconceived notions about how your life “should” be, dropping negative self-talk, and making the most of your current situation.

In the beginning, you might feel selfish for turning inward. But spending some time on yourself to understand what matters to you doesn’t mean neglecting everyone you love. It’s quite the opposite. With better self-awareness and gratitude for what you have each day, you will become happier.

You'll also feel more grounded to engage with others around you. As a happier person, you’ll have more to offer to the people you care about. You’ll be able to share joy with them because you yourself are joyous.

You’ll also be more at peace with yourself, confident that your professional life and personal life are how they are meant to be today. And that you can make them better.

Life is too short to be miserable. So here’s our advice on how to enjoy life, even through the ups and downs.

 

Understanding happiness

Happiness is most easily understood as an emotional state characterized by feelings of joy, contentment, and fulfillment. It’s also tied to a sense of life satisfaction and subjective well-being. It’s founded on trust that things are going to be alright.

By this definition, you acquire happiness when you finally get your dream life, feel like you’ve accomplished (or will accomplish) what you want, and have a good quality of life.

But, while this is certainly true, we can expand a little bit. Happiness isn’t just a “thing” you can have — it’s a habit you must cultivate.

Like all habits, the biggest challenge is getting started. But, if you break down happiness into simple everyday tasks, you can set attainable goals for yourself. Then you’ll slowly start to improve your mood and learn how to enjoy yourself.

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Small (and cost-free) tips on how to enjoy life

Money can’t buy happiness, but it offers some stability and gives you access to extra support (like therapy) if you need it.

And if you’re wondering how to enjoy life without money, don’t worry: it’s very possible. Here are some completely free and simple ways you can practice happiness. All you need is time and a bit of effort — you can even start today.

1. Develop a gratitude attitude

Human beings have a bias toward negativity. If you can overcome that, you can reduce your risk of mental health conditions like chronic stress, anxiety, and depression. You can even lower your susceptibility to physical health conditions like chronic pain and disease.

That’s the power of gratitude. If you can find something to be grateful for every day, life won’t feel as heavy. You’ll start noticing all the good happens on a regular basis — even if they’re just small things. Now is the perfect time to start your gratitude journal. Any type of journaling benefits your mental health, but gratitude journals will help you focus on positivity. 

This doesn’t mean ignoring difficult truths. It simply means appreciating the good in the world while acknowledging the bad. This will help you have a more fulsome view of reality and enjoy your life more.

At BetterUp, we can help you live a more gracious life. If you’re willing to put in the work, our coaches can offer tips on how to focus on the positives. We can also help you break negative thought patterns and challenge your limiting beliefs. We believe in you, and so should you.

2. Find a reason to laugh

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There’s truth to the old adage, “Laughter is the best medicine.” It reduces stress levels, fights disease, and improves your overall health. It’s also a way to strengthen your connection with other people.

Here are some tips to add more laughter to your life:

  • Figure out what makes you laugh and make time for it
  • Hang out with funny people as often as you can
  • Try to make other people laugh with your own jokes

3. Take a nap (no, seriously)

Few things are as blissful as taking a short nap during the day. So why not make this a regular self-care habit? This will depend largely on your lifestyle, but if you have the time and flexibility, 20 minutes is all you need to wake up feeling “rebooted” and ready for a fresh start.

And the science backs it up. According to a survey of 2000 Americans, self-identified nappers were 90% more likely to say they were happy. And in a different study, researchers found that people who nap for 30-90 minutes show signs of better cognition and lower stress and anxiety.

4. Exercise

Working out daily helps you be happier. When you go out for a run, do pushups, or dance like no one’s watching, your brain releases “happy hormones” called endorphins. These are naturally-produced chemicals that help you experience joy.

If it’s your first time working out, it’s good to take things slow. The CDC recommends starting with 30 minutes of moderate to intense exercise per day. This is all it takes to experience benefits such as reduced stress, improved sleep, a healthier body image, and improved self-esteem.

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5. Find out what makes you tick

Self-discovery and introspection will teach you what you need to be happy. Try meditating, keeping a journal, or seeing a therapist learn more about yourself. 

When you have a handle on what you need, you can adjust your life to accommodate. Here are some examples:

  • If you’re not a morning person and love sleeping in, look for work with flexible hours
  • If large group hangouts make you tired, prioritize one-on-one interactions with your friends
  • If you don’t like solitary exercise like running or lifting weights, try joining a sport or a dance class

6. Nurture positive relationships

As you reflect, identify the positive relationships in your life. Ask yourself:

  • Who do you consult when you need support?
  • Do you feel better or worse after talking to a certain individual?
  • When you think about a certain person, are you excited or filled with dread?
  • Is it easy to talk to this person, or does it feel like pulling teeth?

As you think about your answers, try to identify why you feel the way you do. If hanging out with a high-school buddy is draining, you can decide whether it’s worth distancing yourself from this person.

On the flip side, if someone fills you with joy and validation, try to nurture and preserve that relationship. Let them know you appreciate them. Life is about spending time with the people who love you.

7. Go out and meet people

You don’t need to replace your current group of friends, but expanding your support network is never a bad thing. Meeting new people who fill you with joy will help you through tough times, enjoy life, and give you energy.

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8. Create a bucket list and set goals for yourself

A bucket list is a great way to keep an eye on what you want out of life. No item is too ambitious. Write stuff down without a filter and see what comes out. 

Then you can create goals to achieve those things. Goals are simply your dreams in action; they’re how you plan to make your ambitions a reality.

You might not be able to achieve every item on your bucket list right away. But you can stack your goals, so one gets you closer to the next and the next until you’re in a better position.

If you dream of spending a year backpacking through Europe, you may need to plan a few extra steps. For example, how much money do you need to survive without a job while traveling? You’ll need to set clear financial goals before pining for that larger traveling goal.

Enjoying life means you have to work for it

By now, you should have picked up our overarching message for how to enjoy life: you have to work for it.

Happiness isn’t a “thing” you can have as much as it’s a garden you must cultivate. It requires constant time, attention, and prioritizing of what matters to you.

These decisions are sometimes not easy. Some will require you to step out of your comfort zone to make the impossible happen. Some people might also push back because they aren’t used to your new boundaries.

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But you can give yourself permission to take control of your own life. If you follow your internal compass, the results can be life-changing.

For help along the way, try working with BetterUp. Whether you’re trying to find the right work-life balance or gunning for that dream job, our coaches are here. They will work with you to identify your needs so you can maximize your personal development.

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Published September 9, 2022

Elizabeth Perry

Content Marketing Manager, ACC

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