We all do trivial things which take up our time unnecessarily, deplete our energy, steal our focus, or detract from our relationships with loved ones. Wasting time is just one of many behaviors that lead to unhappiness in the long run, when we fail to achieve our goals, or regret the things that we didn’t do. Instead, we should be cultivating these 7 intentional behaviors, which contribute to lasting happiness:
1. Learn From Your Mistakes
Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Be afraid of repeating the same mistakes over and over again. When you make a mistake or something goes wrong in your life, ask yourself, what can I learn from this? What does this situation have to teach me?
2. Build Your Own Culture
Instead of following what is hip, popular, or prevalent, ignore that, and build your own culture of beauty and meaning, based on your own values. Focus on what YOU find meaningful, not on what other people do. You don’t need to be wedded to pop culture, advertising, fashion, celebrities and entertainment, none of which exist to make you happy. They represent a biased, one directional flow of information which says nothing about who you truly are or what your life should be like.
3. Make The Best Use of Your Time
This statement is both a warning, and an admission of truth. We don’t always accomplish what we want to accomplish, no matter how successful we are. In light of the fact that time is limited, ask yourself what matters most to you, and do it. Set priorities, and do what you can now. Cut things out of your life which are merely wasting your time while providing no long-term value. What will you regret doing or not doing at the end of your life? Knowing the answer to that question will give your life purpose, and guide your actions today.
4. Be Radically Honest With Yourself
“Anything outside yourself, this you can see and apply your logic to it. But it’s a human trait that when we encounter personal problems, these things most deeply personal are the most difficult to bring out for our logic to scan. We tend to flounder around, blaming everything but the actual, deep-seated thing that’s really chewing on us.” ― Frank Herbert, Dune
5. Be Grateful
“We must place our happiness in what we are, not in what we desire; man must seek his happiness, and find it in himself.” – Frithjof Schuon.
6. Focus on the Present Moment
There is no point in focusing on embarrassments or failures that happened long ago. It’s normal to feel pain over past events, such as your own bad decisions or being hurt by others. But victim-hood does nothing except keep you trapped in a perpetually disempowered and unhappy state. You can work through past experiences using an introspective process if negative past events are still affecting you today, but don’t get stuck on the past. The point is to learn, accept, and move on.
7. Spend Time With Happy People
You must learn to be a happy person and a good companion yourself. Nobody likes to be around a perpetually negative person. Socrates said, “Know thyself.” When you truly know your own personality, tendencies and weaknesses, you’ll be able to see things more objectively. You’ll know when a person is simply incompatible with you, when a relationship is too negative to maintain despite efforts to change it, and when you should move on. You’ll know what makes you happy, and you will work to create a life that enhances your happiness.
The Secret to Happiness: Stoic Gratitude and the Art of Living
The Shadow: How Introspection Can Teach You Everything You Need to Know About Yourself