Our lives are filled with stress. Spending long hours at work, in traffic, never having enough time to eat properly and then coming home exhausted to drop on the couch and turn on the television. This is the daily routine for a large percentage of the people on this planet.
It sometimes feels as if there is not enough time to do anything. People want to accomplish many things, but the general perception is that there is a lack of time. It is as if the 24 hours in a day weren’t sufficient, but 30 or even 40 hours in a day would be more appropriate.
Despite living in an era, which is more prosperous than any in history, people seem to keep on getting more depressed and isolated. In an era of instant gratification and a variety of choice, there are less and less genuinely happy people.
Most people cannot finish what they have started, cannot seem to lead healthy lives, cannot seem to get rid of unhealthy habits and cannot seem to get past their sedentary lives. Every New Year, new resolutions are made, only to be broken a few days later, never to be achieved.
So can we lead more productive and happy lives? What is the secret? What do you need to do in order to accomplish what you want and finally put an everlasting smile on your face?
There is no secret, but there are some things that you can do to help you improve your life. You need to realize that there is no magic pill that you can pop and turn things around. A permanent change will require a lot of hard work and self-discipline. Things in this world aren’t free, and the sooner you realize that, the better for you.
So what types of things do you need to do?
1) You need to set priorities
Many people have realized the importance of setting goals. Many of them have even learned the proper way of setting goals, according to the SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-related) criteria. However many of them fail to achieve these goals.
One of the main reason for this lack of success is forgetting to set priorities. People try to do too much and end up doing nothing. Instead you should start off slowly. Pick a few goals that you absolutely need to accomplish and work on those.
Which things are important to you? Which things do you need to do first? Work on those first and add the other ones later, once you have accomplished the most important goals that you have.
2) Train your willpower
Most people know that willpower is an important thing to have, but they seem to lack it. One key trait of willpower is that it is finite resource. Once you deplete it, it’s gone for a while and you cannot use it to do other things. However the good news is that willpower is like a muscle and it can be trained to get bigger.
What you need to do is to train your willpower. Concentrate on changing a habitual behavior. Start off slow and gradually increase the effort you put in. Magically after a few weeks, you will have bigger willpower and be able to accomplish things you would have given up on previously.
Willpower also spills over to other areas and so once you get bigger willpower in one area, a lot more willpower will be available for other areas as well.
3) Create positive habits
In order to create a lasting change, you need to concentrate your willpower on creating healthy habits. If something turns into a routine, you will no longer need to expend energy on doing it. It will be done as if by itself, automatically.
You will need to expend some willpower in order to establish a routine and the subsequent habit, but after that it will get much easier.
Having a good environment around you is the key to sustaining that habit. For example if you want to create a habit of eating healthy, you should stock up your fridge only with healthy stuff. So once you get the hunger pangs and open up the fridge, the only choice you will have is between healthy things. Once you have gotten used to this, your body will crave unhealthy things a lot less.
4) Eat and exercise
Your body needs glucose to function and your brain needs it too. Scientific experiments have proven that people who have a good supply of glucose or blood sugar in their body, also have more willpower at that moment and also make smarter choices. If your body lacks this fuel, your willpower gets depleted easily and you make worse choices. So you need to eat, especially foods that help fuel up your body.
You also need to exercise regularly. This is the ultimate training of your willpower. Once exercising becomes a habit, you will magically get a lot of willpower available in other areas too.
Of course all this needs to be coupled with a good night’s sleep. Sleep is very important and your body needs to be rested in order to work properly.
5) Focus on things that you can control and not on things you cannot
This is a classic Ancient Stoic principle that is very important for you to keep your focus and lead a happier life. You need to take matters into your own hands and try to improve on things that you can improve on.
Getting bigger muscles is something that you can work on and that you can achieve. The fact that you are 40 and short is something that you cannot affect, so there is no use in crying about it. Instead be grateful for the things that you have and try to improve upon things that you can control.
You see there is not much to it. You too can be more productive and happier. You just need to keep these 5 principles in mind and work on them. It won’t be an easy journey, but nothing ever is. You just need to keep chugging at it. You will be glad that you did. You will finally have that smile on your face, because you will have finally achieved true happiness.