We all want to be happy.
We all want to experience joy, love, and abundance on a daily basis.
We all want to live the best life possible.
But very few of us actually know how to achieve the goal of lifelong happiness.
We are always thinking once we get this done or accomplish that goal… then we’ll be happy.
This was me:
Once I graduate high school then get into college then I’ll be happy…
Once I graduate college then get a job I’ll be happy…
Once I get this promotion then I’ll be happy…
Once I make enough to retire then I’ll be happy…
Once I get a date then I’ll be happy…
Once I get in a serious relationship then I’ll be happy…
This is what I see others saying:
Once I get married I’ll be happy…
Once I get a house then I’ll be happy…
Once I complete this mortgage I’ll be happy…
Once I have kids then I’ll be happy..
Once the kids graduate high school and are independent then I’ll be happy…
Then you’re dead.
But the question remains, did you truly live? Did you live a happy and fulfilled life or did you waste your time, spinning your wheels and constantly searching for happiness instead of realizing that you have the right and ability to be happy NOW?
I believe that happiness is a choice and you can create a state of happiness now, TODAY rather than postponing it for some future event that hasn’t occurred.
You are the jailor of the cell of your own happiness. But few of us realize that we’ve been holding the key all along.
So today, I want to share a simple system for achieving happiness now.
This isn’t another fluff filled article where I’m going to tell you to “Smile more” and “buy a dog”.
This is a hard-hitting fact-based guide that will reveal exactly how to optimize your life for true happiness.
What I’m about to share with you works.
I’ve used these same tactics to go from clinical depression to the life of my dreams and, if you’re willing to take action, you can use these tactics to live a life filled with joy and bliss.
Sound like something you might be interested in?
Then let’s dive in.
What is Happiness?
Before we talk about the core strategy and tactics that you can use to create a happy life, we need to start by defining what happiness is in the first place.
True happiness doesn’t mean that you will never be angry, sad, or frustrated.
Negative emotions are an inescapable part of life and even individuals like the great Tony Robbins aren’t immune to the occasional bad day.
True happiness, at its core, is simply about creating a life where your positive experiences and emotions outweigh the bad ones.
It’s about creating a life where you spend 90% of your time in a beautiful state and the other 10% facing and overcoming the challenges of everyday life.
You need to understand that you aren’t supposed to be happy all the time.
You need the negative emotions and difficult times to help you appreciate it when things are great.
However, by making a few small tweaks in your lifestyle and mindset, you can and will achieve a sense of overall happiness and abundance and enjoy life more than you ever thought possible.
Before We Get Started: Accept that Happiness is a Choice
I’m going to dive into all of the science and research behind what constitutes a happy life… But before I do, I want to make one thing abundantly clear.
Right now, at this very moment, you have everything that you need to be happy.
You have breath in your lungs, blood in your veins, and an internet connection (otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this article) and that is all that you need.
I’ve traveled all over the country and some of the happiest people that I’ve ever met were homeless, recently divorced, and unemployed.
I’ve met men without a penny to their name who have so much happiness in their lives that you can’t help but smile when you are around them.
I’ve also met men who have everything: The beautiful wife, beachfront home, Italian sports car, and a bank account with 7 zeroes in it who are totally and utterly miserable.
Happiness isn’t something that you achieve. It’s not a goal to be had.
It’s a state that you have access to every second of every day. Happiness is a choice.
10,000 years ago our ancestors didn’t fret about the car that they drove or the clothes that they wore. They worried only about finding food, water, and shelter and making it through another day.
And I’d venture a guess that they were a helluva lot happier than 90% of the population today.
As a strong grounded man, you must accept the fact that YOU are in control of your state and your emotions in any given situation.
You can choose to look at all of the b.s. and adversity in your life and focus on everything that is wrong with where you are today.
Or you can be grateful for what you have and choose to live in a state of happiness and abundance.
It’s time to step up and take control of your life.
Stop giving your freedom and happiness away to other people. Your boss doesn’t dictate your happiness, your spouse doesn’t control your emotional states, and your bank account doesn’t determine the joy that you can feel right now.
Only you have the power to do that.
So choose happiness.
This choice will set you free.
The Four Factors that Make a Happy Life
To live a happy and well-lived life, you must focus on all of the components that make up your life, not just one or two.
A truly successful life requires a holistic and integrated approach to happiness and success.
After battling with depression and eventually building the life of my dreams, I’ve realized that almost everything that makes us humans happy can be put into one of four categories.
- Wealth & Work
- Personal Growth and Expansion
If you can get these four areas of life right, then you will experience more joy happiness and abundance than you know what to do with.
If you get them wrong, you are setting yourself up for a life of misery and monotony.
Over the course of this guide, I’ll be breaking down how you can optimize each category to optimize for a happy life.
Let’s get started.
Optimizing Your Health for a Happy Life
1. Sleep 8 Hours a Night
I love sleep. My life has a tendency to fall apart when I’m awake. ~Ernest Hemingway
If you’ve been keeping up with any of the content that I’ve been writing here on Knowledge for Men over the past few months, then you have undoubtedly seen me write something about the importance of getting enough sleep.
I know that it might seem like I’m beating a dead horse by mentioning the importance of sleep in nearly every article that I write, but this single tactic has had such a profound impact on my happiness and quality of life that I feel obligated to share it with you at every chance I get.
There is no simpler and easier tactic that I know of that can yield such dramatic and immediate benefits for your quality of life as getting sufficient sleep.
Don’t believe me?
Consider the following…
Sleep deprivation has been linked to:
- Impaired Cognition and an Increased Risk of Preventable Accidents
- Not to mention, an increased risk of infections, cancer, and overall mortality.
Conversely, individuals who regularly get sufficient amounts of high-quality sleep experience:
- Improved memory
- Lower systemic inflammation
- Improved immune function
- Elevated mood
- Learning and problem-solving abilities improved
If that isn’t enough to convince you of the importance of sleep for a happy life, then check out the following infographic from the Huffington Post.
If you want to be your happiest and healthiest self then you MUST prioritize sleep.
But the question still remains, “How much sleep do I need, and how can I get better quality sleep?”
According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need 7-9 hours in order to prevent the effects of sleep deprivation from affecting your life.
As for increasing the quality of your sleep, it’s actually pretty simple.
- Go to bed before 11 p.m.
- Wake up at the same time each day
- Sleep in a completely dark and cold room (research shows that 65-67 F is ideal for sleep)
- Exercise daily
- Supplement with Magnesium, L-theanine, 5-HTP, and Omega 3 Krill Oil
- Use brain entrainment tools like Tetris (yes the block game) and Theta Wave Binaural Beats
The bottom line is this.
If you want to be happy, perform well, and love your life, then you must make sleep a priority. I know it’s not sexy, but it works.
2. Exercise for 40 Minutes a Day
It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable. ~Socrates
According to countless studies, exercise is one of the best ways to boost long-term happiness, vitality, and overall quality of life.
The benefits of exercise include:
- Elevated mood, reduced stress, and less anxiety
- Improved blood flow to the brain
- The production of new brain cells
- Improves memory
- Improved discipline, impulse control, and decision making
- And, most importantly, decreased depression.
Exercise has such a wide array of positive benefits for our quality of life and general well being that the Harvard Business Review has stated that regular exercise should be a mandatory part of any job description.
And the best part?
It doesn’t take much time to reap all of the aforementioned benefits.
In fact, many studies have found that individuals will experience all of the positive benefits of exercise with as little as 150 minutes of exercise per week or 30 minutes every weekday.
You don’t have to kill yourself under a barbell or run sprints for hours to see an immediate and lasting change in your life.
Simply getting outside for a brisk walk or playing a game of Ultimate Frisbee with your friends will result in a huge dump of endocannabinoids, endorphins, and dopamine that will make you feel (and look) like a million bucks.
Starting this week, I want you to commit to exercising every day.
Even if it’s just for 20 or 30 minutes, you need to do something to break a sweat and get your heart racing.
Beyond the physical benefits of exercise, there are a whole host of psychological benefits that come from being the kind of person who takes care of their body.
You’ll have more self-respect, a healthier level of self-esteem, and personal satisfaction that can only come from training and mastering your body.
So do it… Do it nauwww!
3. Expose Yourself to Acute Stress Regularly
With no challenge to overcome, frontier to press, or threat to flee from, the humans of this millennium are overstuffed, overheated, and understimulated. ~Scott Carney
As a society, American’s (and most other western countries for that matter) suffer from chronic stress.
The reason for this is simple…
We live such cozy and comfort filled lives that our 40,000-year-old brain can no longer differentiate mild threats to our safety such as debt, traffic, or being late for work from genuine life or death situations such as being chased by a polar bear or hungry sabertooth.
Our “Fight or Flight” response simply didn’t evolve for the modern world.
As such, most of us are running around in a constant state of chronic stress.
And this is a big problem.
When your fight or flight response is activated, your sympathetic nervous system goes into hyperdrive.
Your body releases a metric shitton of cortisol (yes, that’s a scientific unit of measurement) adrenaline and other stress hormones into your system.
Important nutrients and blood are pulled away from our internal organs and sent to your muscles to help you fight or flee from the perceived threat.
The only problem is, with our evolutionary hardwiring even the most mundane of stressors can trigger this response.
Late paying your rent? Boom! Cortisol dump.
Fight with your girlfriend? Boom! Fight or flight response triggered.
Got your ass kicked in that last match of Call of Duty? You guessed it! More cortisol!
Our bodies did not evolve to handle this kind of chronic stress and the consequences reflect this reality.
According to many studies, chronic stress can cause:
- Free radical production and the death of brain cells
- Memory loss
- Slowed production of new brain cells
- Increased risk of depression
- Difficulty breathing
- Adrenal fatigue
- Diabetes and obesity
- And worst of all… Erectile dysfunction
So how do we solve this?
While there are a myriad of ways that you can reduce and mitigate the damage that chronic stress does to your body such as meditation, time in nature, and journaling, I’ve found (and the research supports this) that one of the most effective ways to combat chronic stress is to expose your body to significant acute stress.
Think about it this way.
Your body’s stress response is very similar to your body’s muscular system.
If you were to subject your muscles to chronic stress by constantly running, doing pushups, and lifting weights for 12 hours a day, you would eventually injure yourself and likely suffer from long-term adrenal fatigue.
However, by exposing your muscles to short-term acute stress such as a 60-minute weight training session thrice a week, you will cause your muscles to grow and improve so that they can handle more and more stress in the future.
Your body’s fight/flight stress system works in the same manner.
By exposing yourself to acute stress such as a cold shower, 20 minutes in a sauna, or a grueling workout you can rewire your body’s stress system to respond more appropriately to the small stressors of everyday life.
I recommend that everyone reading this starts their day with a bone-chilling, gonad shrinking, scream-inducing cold shower to rewire your body’s stress response and increase your tolerance for handling mild stress.
It’s not fun or comfortable, but I promise it will make a huge difference on your overall quality of life and ability to handle stress.
4. Supplement Intelligently
On our quest for happiness, us humans have found a myriad of different plants and substances that can override our neural conditioning and help us experience momentary happiness.
Whether it’s a few shots of tequila, a toke on the bong, or a few handfuls of magic mushrooms, there are countless ways that you can force yourself into an altered state of consciousness where happiness is inevitable.
Unfortunately, these methods come with a large list of side effects and are not sustainable in the long term (not to mention that they are, in many cases, illegal).
However, there are a number of safe and legal substances that increase happiness by helping your brain naturally produce more neurotransmitters and feel good hormones.
Here are a few of my favorites.
- Caffeine: Coffee has been shown to increase life expectancy, decrease depression and suicidal tendencies, and generally give people a mood boost. I recommend drinking 1-3 cups of organic black coffee every day and combine it with
- L-Theanine: An amino acid found in green tea, L-theanine has been proven to help treat anxiety, high blood pressure, depression, and Alzheimer’s. I like taking 100 Mg of L-theanine with my coffee in the morning to counter the stimulating effects of caffeine
- 5-HTP: 5-HTP replenishes serotonin levels and is commonly used to treat depression and promote positivity and quality sleep.
- Magnesium: The majority of the US population is deficient in magnesium. When you consider that it’s responsible for nerve transmission, muscle contraction, blood coagulation, energy production, nutrient metabolism and bone and cell formation, this is a huge deal. I recommend that you take 1,000 Mg of magnesium before bed to improve your overall health and sleep.
- Vitamin D3: Vitamin D3 has a wide variety of benefits from cancer and diabetes prevention to overall mood and bone health. Supplement with 1,000 IU to 5,000 IU of vitamin d daily.
- Omega 3s: Omega 3s can help fight depression, anxiety, joint pain, and heart disease. Omega 3s cannot be produced by your body so it’s essential that you supplement with a high-quality fish or krill oil to provide your body with the nutrients it needs.
- B Complex Vitamins: B vitamins help promote good mental health, stave of depression, anxiety, and dementia and benefit your body in a number of other ways. Find a high-quality B complex that you can add to your morning supplement regimen and I promise you will feel the difference.
Supplements are not intended to be the first line of defense. They simply allow you to optimize your micronutrient intake and ensure that your body and brain are firing on all cylinders.
In order to live the best and happiest life possible, it’s important that you maintain a high-quality diet and exercise regimen in addition to an intelligent supplement stack, not in lieu of it.
As always, consult your physician before making any changes to your diet, exercise, or supplement routine. The above supplements are largely considered safe and side effect free but every body is different and it’s important that you take the necessary precautions before testing out new substances.
5. Spend Time in Nature
Nature itself is the best physician ~Hippocrates
We did not evolve to live in a concrete jungle.
As a species, we are meant to live in harmony with nature. Our brains are literally hardwired to crave interaction with the natural world.
New studies have found that spending time in nature can:
- Alleviate depression
- Reduce anxiety
- Increase creativity and reduce mental fatigue
- Increase happiness
- Increase empathy and your feelings of connectedness
When you are out in the great outdoors, you are reminded of just how small and insignificant your problems really are. When you come face to face with mountains and canyons that took millions of years to form, you are reminded that you aren’t the center of the universe and the struggles you are facing are not unique or special.
Spending time in nature helps you find your center, get grounded, and realize just how beautiful this existence can be.
I aim to spend at least one hour a day outside.
Whether it’s a bike ride along the beach, a hike at the nearby Torrey Pines, or simply buying ice cream with my girlfriend and strolling through a park, I’ve found that getting my daily dose of “Eco-Therapy” is a powerful way to boost my mood and reframe my challenges and frustrations.
6. Eat a Clean Diet
The food you eat can either be the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison. ~Ann Wigmore
The foods we consume have a bigger impact on our happiness and well being than most of us realize.
In fact, nearly 90% of the feel-good hormone Serotonin is produced in our stomach, not our brain.
This means that nearly 90% of your baseline happiness levels are, at the very least, correlated with the foods you consume!
Not only are most people unaware of this fact, but the entire population has been misled as to what constitutes a healthy diet that is optimized for happiness and well being.
For years we’ve been told that fat is the enemy of good health. We’ve been convinced that a healthy breakfast was made up of our favorite cereal and a handful of fruit. And for years we’ve been lied to.
In my guide to depression, I talk about something known as the modified Mediterranean diet, a diet that quite literally helped dozens of patients cure their depression over a twelve week period.
While I could devote an entire guide just to the topic of healthy eating and optimized nutrition (and maybe I will), here is a simple list to help get you started.
Here is a list of encouraged and discouraged foods according to the diet used in this research:
- Encouraged foods: whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, low-fat/ unsweetened dairy, raw unsalted nuts, lean red meat, chicken, fish, eggs, and olive oil
- Discouraged foods: sweets, refined cereals, fried food, fast food, processed meat, soft drinks.
- Beverages: maximum two sugar-sweetened beverages per week and maximum two alcoholic drinks per day, preferably red wine with the occasional screw-up 😉
Changing your diet can change your life. If you are willing to make a few small changes to the foods that you eat and the substances you allow into your body, you can skyrocket your happiness levels, eradicate depression, and improve your performance almost overnight.
Cut out the sugar, processed carbs, and fast food and opt for healthy, whole foods that will fill your stomach and your soul.
Your happiness depends on it.
7. Meditate Daily
You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day. Unless you’re too busy… Then you should meditate for an hour ~Old Zen Saying
Meditation is one of life’s miracle drugs.
We live in such a busy and fast-paced world, constantly bombarded by emails, social media notifications, and requests for our time that it can feel challenging, if not impossible, to carve out any time for ourselves.
By committing to a meditation practice, you give yourself the gift of presence… And that’s where true happiness is found.
When you are in the present moment, you aren’t dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. You’re simply being.
When you are present and fully experience the “now”, you can be fully alive and truly experience each moment in all of its glory.
Short of skydiving or partaking in another sort of extreme sport, there’s no better method that I know of for getting present than a mindfulness meditation practice.
Meditation is proven to help: (source)
- Lower blood pressure
- Alleviate symptoms of insomnia
- Reduce depression and anxiety
- Reduce pain
- Reduce symptoms of IBS
- Aid in smoking cessation
- And so much more
And luckily, it doesn’t take much time to reap these benefits.
Studies have shown that meditating for as little as 10-20 minutes a day can have profound benefits of your life, happiness, and overall well being.
Whether you to do a guided meditation, practice Transcendental Meditation, or simply sit and focus on your breath for 10 minutes, any sort of mindful activity will help you get out of your head and into the present moment.
When you consider that some of the world’s most successful people including; Arnold Schwarzenegger, Oprah Winfrey, Tim Ferriss, Tony Robbins, and Paul McCartney swear by their meditation practice, it should be pretty obvious that this is a practice that is worth you time.
Try it out for the next 30 days and watch the magic unfold.
Optimizing Your Work and Finances for a Happy Life
1. The Exact Amount of Money You Need to Be Happy (Hint: It’s Less than You Think)
I think that everyone should get rich and famous and do all of the things they ever dreamed of so that they can realize it’s not the answer. ~Jim Carrey
We’ve all heard the saying that “Money can’t buy happiness”.
According to all of the best research, this is verifiably false.
Money can indeed buy happiness and individuals who are currently under the poverty line will experience a dramatic increase in their baseline happiness levels by increasing their income.
There is a point of diminishing returns.
Researchers have found that once an individual reaches an income between $80,000 and $100,000/year (depending on their location), increasing their income, even doubling their income does not have an appreciable effect on their baseline happiness levels.
I can vouch for this first hand.
When I went from broke and living on my brother’s couch to my first six-figures, the increase in my happiness and quality of life was astronomic!
I was able to buy the things I wanted, enjoy richer and more fulfilling experiences, and enjoy my days knowing that my bills were covered and my debt was eliminated.
However, when I went from $100,000 to $300,000 and upwards, I didn’t notice a significant rise in my quality of life or mood.
Sure, I can buy nicer things now than I could when I was making 100k a year, but it hasn’t lead to any significant increases in my happiness.
I’m not that much happier because my business is doing 7-figures instead of 6-figures.
If you are currently struggling with your finances, don’t worry.
You don’t have to become a millionaire to be happy. You don’t need hundreds of thousands of dollars every year to enjoy your life.
You just need to earn enough to cover your basic needs and have a little bit left over.
Once you hit 6-figures, you can shift all of your resources to focusing on other areas of life such as your health and relationships as these areas will have a much greater impact on your overall well being.
2. Why You MUST Do Work that You Love
The only way to do great work is to do work you love. ~Steve Jobs
Humans are meant to work.
It’s part of our nature to create, innovate, and explore.
But sitting in a cubicle, typing in numbers, and avoiding our douche bag manager? That’s about as far from nature intended as you can get.
It’s hard to feel happy when you are forced to spend 30% of your week doing things that you hate.
If you want to be truly happy then you need to do work that matters. I would even venture to say that it’s more important that you do work you enjoy than that you do work that generates $100,000+ in income.
In my own life, I was 100X happier when I was broke and living on my brother’s couch building Knowledge for Men than I was earning $60,000 a year in a retail management position that I despised.
Doing work that you love is one of the greatest gifts that you can give yourself.
There’s no better feeling than waking up in the morning and feeling excited that you get to work that day and nothing compares to the sense of satisfaction and joy you get from seeing thousands of lives impacted by the content and products that you create.
If you are currently in a job that you hate and you are looking for an escape plan, then I want to invite you to check out my free online training where I share the exact strategy that I used to go from a dead end job to a 6-figure coaching practice.
No matter what your current skill set or expertise, there are people out there who are willing to pay you for your knowledge.
It’s possible to earn multiple six figures working part-time and doing something that you love and in this free training, I show you exactly how to do it.
If you’re willing to put the principles and practices that I teach to work, you can and will have a successful online business that can generate money while you sleep and allow you to work from anywhere in the world.
Just think about what that would do for your happiness…
3. Work with Inspiring People
You are the average of the five people you spend your time with most. ~Jim Rohn
As you will see in the next section of this guide, few things have a bigger impact on your happiness and overall quality of life than the relationships that you cultivate and the people with whom you spend your time.
And whether we like it or not, you will likely spend 30% of your time (or more) with your coworkers and employees.
As such, it’s imperative that you find a way to work with people that you love.
When you are surrounded by positive and happy people in your workplace, even the dullest and most monotonous tasks can feel fun and exciting.
However, when you are surrounded by negative people and energy vampires, even the most enjoyable projects can feel like a dead weight around your neck.
Regardless of where you are currently working, you need to make a conscious effort to spend more time with coworkers who inspire and motivate you and less time around the soul-sucking negative Nancy’s.
If this means that you need to transfer departments, switch careers, or start your own business then so be it.
Life is far more enjoyable when you are surrounded by awesome people.
Do what you need to do so that you can enjoy the people you work with and feel excited about seeing your coworkers every day.
4. Stay Out of Debt and Save Everything You Can
Rather go to bed without dinner then to rise in debt. ~Benjmain Franklin
If you’ve ever been under the yolk of serious debt then you don’t need any research or peer-reviewed studies to understand what I’m about to tell you.
When you are constantly wondering about whether or not you will be able to pay the bills and struggling under a mountain of credit card debt, it’s hard to feel happy.
Crippling debt makes it difficult to live a life of meaning and purpose and detracts from your quality of life in every appreciable way.
I wrote an entire guide on mastering your personal finances and have a simple 5 step system for getting out of debt that you can check out here.
Since I’ve written on this topic before, I won’t spend too much time harping on this point but it’s important for you to realize that it’s difficult to be truly happy when you are a slave to debt.
Get out of debt and get into life.
5. Spend Your Money on Experiences and Adopt a Minimalist Lifestyle
If you have a lot of money and a lot of nice stuff, but you’re spending your time doing things that you dislike, then your minute-to-minute happiness and overall happiness is likely to be pretty low. ~Elizabeth Dun, Professor Psychology at University of British Colombia
If you want to experience true and lasting happiness then making money isn’t enough. How you spend that money is equally important to your overall well being and sense of joy.
Most American’s are stuck in the consumer culture.
They spend money they don’t have to buy things they don’t need so that they can impress people they don’t even like.
And it shows.
Nearly 13% of the population is on some form of antidepressant and the average American household holds more than $137,000 in debt (mortgages included).
In her book, The Myths of Happiness, researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky states:
Why are materialistic tendencies important to identify? A mountain of research has shown that materialism depletes happiness, threatens satisfaction with our relationships, harms the environment, renders us less friendly, likable, and empathetic, and makes us less likely to help others and contribute to our communities.
Yes, you read that correctly…
Being materialistic depletes your happiness, makes you less likable and damages your relationships.
Your desire for more things is killing your joy.
So what should you do about it?
In my own life, I’ve found that committing to a minimalist lifestyle and spending money only on the things that I need and truly want (i.e. Things that bring me joy, not just things that impress others) has resulted in a massive boost in my happiness and levels of self-esteem.
Even though I earn a phenomenal income, I still live in 500 square foot apartment, drive a Subaru, and wear clothes from Target and Marshalls.
I don’t buy things that I don’t need and I don’t go into debt to impress other people.
If you want to experience true happiness in all areas of your life, then begin by asking yourself a simple but radically uncommon question.
“What is the least that I need to be happy?”
Not… “How MUCH do I need to be happy.” but how little do I need.
When you trim the fat out of your life and take an objective look at what you really need to feel happy and fulfilled, you will quickly realize that happiness isn’t about addition, it’s about subtraction.
If this is resonating with you and you’d like to learn more about minimalism and living a simple life, then I recommend that you check out my podcast interviews with Joshua Miller, Leo Babuta, and Ryan Nicodemus.
These three minimalists have built an extraordinary life by doing more with less and, if you’re willing to take their advice and follow in their footsteps, so can you.
Optimizing Your Relationships for a Happy Life
1. Socialize with Positive People Every Chance that You Get
There is nothing on this earth to be prized more than true friendship. ~Thomas Aquinas
According to an 80-year long study conducted by researchers at Harvard, strong friendships and positive relationships have a higher correlation to lifetime happiness and fulfillment than any other factor.
The quality and quantity of your relationships will have a bigger impact on your happiness than money, fame, success, material possessions, or even doing work that you enjoy.
Studies have found that people who are satisfied with the quality and quantity of their relationships are less likely to die of cardiovascular disease, suffer from depression, or experience chronic health issues.
Relationships matter. And they matter more than most people might imagine.
If you are currently living in isolation or spending the majority of your time alone or with toxic friends, you must make a conscious effort to expand your social circle and spend more time with positive people.
Find friends that you love. Spend time with inspiring people. Surround yourself with positive like-minded individuals who will hold you to a higher standard and encourage you to perform at your best.
No man is an island and if you aren’t actively cultivating empowering relationships then you are unknowingly cultivating a life of anxiety, depression, and apathy.
2. Be Selective About Your Life Partner
Marry the right person. This one decision will determine 90% of your happiness or misery. ~H. Jackson Brown Jr
Few things will have a bigger impact on your happiness and quality of life than the person with whom you choose to share you life.
Studies have shown that happily married couples tend to experience greater levels of happiness and satisfaction than their divorced and single peers.
They’ve also found that being unhappily married can result in an increased risk for depression, heart attack, and even cancer.
Who you marry (or partner with) matters and it matters a lot.
As such, it’s important that you are selective when choosing a life partner.
Falling in love is easy, but staying in love is hard.
If you allow your hormones to dictate your decisions and cause you to marry the wrong person, you can expect a lifetime of misery and drudgery.
However, if you take your time, become a strong grounded man and find a partner who compliments your personality and encourages you to be your best self, there is no limit to what you can accomplish and the happiness that you can experience.
3. Join a Men’s Group or Other Mastermind
As iron sharpens iron so one man sharpens another. ~Jewish Proverb
The best shortcut that I’ve found for accelerating your social success, surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals, and finding people who can help you make better decisions and experience more joy is, bar none, joining a men’s group.
When you surround yourself with other men who are focused on growing, expanding, and becoming their best selves, you will accelerate your success in every area of life.
You will have strong men around you who don’t b.s. or sugarcoat things who will hold you to the highest standard and demand that you become your best self.
Men’s groups give you a safe place and a sanctuary where you can go to learn, grow, and be supported by other men who are on the same journey as you.
I recommend using Meetup.com or another similar resource to find men’s groups in your area so that you can start learning, growing, and becoming the man that you were born to be.
Optimizing Your Personal Growth for a Happy Life
1. Read for 30 Minutes a Day
Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. ~Joseph Addison
While there aren’t any studies I can cite or research that I can pull to back up this claim, my own anecdotal experience and the experience shared by hundreds of coaching clients suggests that reading improves overall happiness and well being.
The reason for this is simple.
Humans are inherently curious creatures.
That’s why we’ve gone to the moon, explored the deep ocean, and devoted our lives to the pursuit of knowledge.
By carving out 30 minutes a day to read about a topic that interests you, you are exposing your brain to novel stimuli (which results in a massive hit of dopamine) and equipping yourself with the best ideas for how to handle the tricky topics of life, women, and work.
I don’t know a single person who reads every day that isn’t happy.
When you read, you are downloading information that took decades to acquire into your brain over the course of only a few hours.
You can equip yourself with the knowledge and skillsets required to succeed and achieve in every area of life.
No matter who you are or what your current situation is, there is nothing in your life (and I mean NOTHING) that cannot be improved by expanding your mind and downloading the best information possible into your head.
If you are looking for a place to get started, I recommend that you check out my guide, The 50 Best Books that Every Strong Grounded Man Must Read.
I’ve read hundreds of books and interviewed more than 400 experts who have shared their recommendations and this list is the culmination of the best books and resources that I’ve found after more than 6 years in the personal development business.
2. Journal Regularly
Cheap paper is less perishable than gray matter. And lead pencil markings endure longer than memory. ~Jack London
Studies have shown that regularly journaling about your struggles, challenges, and goals can help decrease depression, anxiety, and stress.
Which, of course, correlates to more smiles and fewer frowns.
Journaling is a powerful tool for self-actualization and success.
It allows you to look at your thoughts and problems objectively and really get to the heart of what’s going on.
I’ve often found that simply sitting and writing about a problem or idea for 15-30 minutes can completely change how I view that issue and how I approach the solution.
It’s easy, free, and takes only a few minutes a day to reap the massive benefits that it provides.
So grab a pen and a scrap piece of paper and get started today.
3. Practice New Skills Every 3 Months
Once you stop learning, you start dying. ~Albert Einstein
If you aren’t growing you are dying.
For some reason, our society seems to have accepted the idea that education ends after you graduate. But nothing could be further from the truth.
Your education begins when you throw your hat at graduation, it doesn’t end.
One of the best ways I’ve found to increase happiness and fulfillment is to regularly learn fun and challenging skills.
Whether it’s Brazillian JuJitSu, cooking, Tango, parkour, or the guitar, finding ways to expand your skillset and learn new things is a powerful way to increase your happiness.
When you have a deep repertoire of skills to draw from, life becomes richer and more fulfilling.
When you can cook delicious meals for your friends, serenade your lover with a beautiful song, and move through your environment with the ease of a ninja master, life becomes 100X more interesting.
There’s no greater satisfaction than knowing that you have the skillsets and strategies to thrive in any environment.
So drop the remote and pick up a new skill.
It might just change your life.
4. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. ~Neale Donald Walsche
The antithesis of happiness isn’t unhappiness, it’s boredom.
And there’s nothing that’s more boring than living a life stuck in your comfort zone.
Everything that you love today was once outside of your comfort zone.
You weren’t born with any natural skills or abilities. You earned them by stepping outside of your comfort zone, trying new things, and becoming a stronger man.
If you want to live a truly happy life then you must constantly expand your comfort zone and try new things.
Try out hobbies and activities that you are unsure of. Talk to new people and expand your social circle. Take on challenging new responsibilities at work.
Do something every day to break up the monotony of everyday life and get more comfortable with doing the uncomfortable.
Life begins where your comfort zone ends.
The only way to live a truly rich and rewarding life is to live life on the edge. Do things you’ve never done, travel to places you’ve never been, live a life that is unique and exciting and, at the end of the day, you will look back on your time on this planet with no regrets.
5. Practice Daily Gratitude
Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. ~Mealnie Beattie
Studies have shown that people who regularly practice and express gratitude are happier, more optimistic, and more likely to take care of themselves and the people around them.
The reason for this is simple.
Gratitude rewires your brain and forces you to focus on everything that is right with your life instead of everything that is wrong with it.
I don’t know you and I don’t know what you’ve been through, but I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that, if you are reading this article right now, you have a LOT to be grateful for.
Even if your life feels like a never-ending shit show of failures and disasters, you have so much to give thanks for.
You have access to the internet, clean water, and food.
That’s more than can be said of a significant portion of the world’s population.
By taking a few minutes each day to write about the things that you are grateful for you will naturally start to notice and appreciate those things more.
You will find yourself being overwhelmed with a feeling of abundance for the simplest of things from a hot cup of coffee to the warm sheets in your bed to the food on your table.
Gratitude eradicates fear and depression and allows you to live a life of joy and abundance.
Commit to 30 days of daily gratitude and your life will change forever.
I guarantee it.
6. Love Yourself More
To be kind to others, be kind to yourself first. ~Debasish Mridha
One of the simplest yet most difficult ways to experience more joy and happiness in your life is to simply love yourself.
We live in a society that seems hell-bent on self-loathing.
Around every corner, on every screen, and at every turn, there is someone or something telling you that you aren’t enough.
Advertisements tell you that you aren’t earning enough money, your family tells you that you aren’t performing well enough, your friends make you believe that you need more stuff to be happy.
But the truth of the matter is that you are enough.
Right now, just as you are, you are enough.
You have the right to experience happiness and joy on a daily basis just because.
By loving yourself and treating yourself with respect and care, you can experience more happiness today.
Ignore the negative voice in your head that tells you that you aren’t worthy of love and happiness.
Eradicate all feelings and mental loops of negativity and self-doubt.
Love yourself like your life depends on it.
Because quite frankly… It does.
At the end of the day, there’s no tactic or strategy that can trump this basic truth.
Happiness is a choice.
In this very moment, you can choose to experience happiness.
You can choose whether or not you will focus on the positive things or your life or the negative ones.
You can choose whether or not you will take action on what we’ve discussed to create a life of joy and abundance.
You have a choice!
So choose happiness.
Life is too damn short to waste your time in a miserable state.
We live in a time of unprecedented freedom, opportunity, and abundance.
Realize this, accept this, internalize this… And then act on it.
Happiness is your birthright.
So claim it.
And choose to be happy.
Your life depends on it.
If this content impacted you in any way, please share it on your favorite social media channel. I’m on a mission to impact one million men with life changing content and your support makes a huge difference.
Also, if you want to dive deeper into the concepts and strategies that I discussed in this article, you can get my FREE 3-part video training series on becoming a stronger more Grounded Man here.