50 Simple Things You Have to be Happy About

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We’ve all heard the phrase “money can’t buy happiness.” Modern society has done everything it can to refute this notion; I can’t count how many commercials advertising luxury items I’d never be able to afford have been shown on TV since I started writing this a half hour ago. It also doesn’t help that I’m watching Sportscenter reporters discuss multi-million dollar contracts for people whose job it is to throw and catch a ball.

But it’s easy for society to skew your perspective. Turning off the TV for a moment, pawing through a National Geographic, it’s easy to find examples of happiness sans material possessions across the globe: children living in slums, playing with a makeshift soccer ball, never pausing to wonder about the things they don’t have. Women walking dozens of miles a day to get clean water for their families, and doing so with pride. Men working for pennies to feed their children, and finding happiness in having shelter from the weather.

The happiest people are not those who have the most money, the biggest house, or the most “stuff.” People all over the world (who some would consider to have nothing) believe they have more than they’ll ever need. The richest people in the world could learn a lot from the poorest citizens in the poorest countries. Being monetarily poor is not synonymous with being emotionally bankrupt. Being happy is not about what you own; it’s about your mindset and outlook toward life. Most of the items on this list probably apply to you, and are 50 reasons you have to be grateful every day of your life.

  1. Waking up every morning

  2. Waking up under a roof every morning

  3. Waking up next to your love (or waking up to texts from a loved one)

  4. Seeing group texts from your friends first thing in the morning

  5. Taking a hot shower to start your day

  6. Getting rid of that morning breath

  7. Replacing morning breath with coffee breath immediately

  8. Leisurely eating breakfast before work

  9. Catching up on all your news feeds while you eat

  10. Work from home days

  11. Dressing to kill

  12. Having a great hair day

  13. Having a full tank of gas in your car

  14. Having a job to go to (any job at all)

  15. Hearing your favorite song on the way to work

  16. Getting down to business the second you get to work

  17. Feeling accomplished by 9:30

  18. Actually getting acknowledged for your work by your boss

  19. That second cup of coffee

  20. Being assigned a group project with coworkers you actually like

  21. Actually getting work done and having fun in the process

  22. Lunch breaks

  23. Pizza Fridays

  24. That first sip of caffeinated soda

  25. Getting back to work feeling refreshed

  26. Quitting time (be honest, nothing good happens at work from 2:00-5:00)

  27. Fridays!

  28. Paydays!

  29. Weekends!

  30. Calling your mom, dad, sister, brother, etc. just to say “Hey”

  31. The smell of your slow-cooked meal as you open your door

  32. An equally satisfying dessert

  33. Relaxing with a good book

  34. Watching your favorite rerun of your favorite syndicated show

  35. Answering Final Jeopardy correctly (especially when the contestants don’t)

  36. TV night with your significant other (or in the case of my wife and I: TV nights)

  37. Taking a vacation

  38. Taking a staycation

  39. Taking a mental health day

  40. The first orange leaf in Autumn

  41. The first snowfall of Winter

  42. The first 70° day of Spring

  43. The first Summer day when it’s hot enough for a swim

  44. Getting an even tan (for once)

  45. Holidays with friends and family

  46. Planning a life with your love

  47. Starting a life together

  48. Looking back on past successes

  49. Improving upon past failures

  50. Living every day of your life to your fullest potential

How Successful People Quash Stress

We all know that living under stressful conditions has serious physical and emotional consequences. So why do we have so much trouble taking action to reduce our stress levels and improve our lives? Researchers at Yale University have the answer. They found that intense stress actually reduces the volume of gray matter in the areas of the brain responsible for self-control.

As you lose self-control, you lose your ability to cope with stress. It becomes harder for you to keep yourself out of stressful situations, and you’re more likely to create them for yourself (such as by overreacting to people). It’s no wonder so many people get sucked into progressive rounds of greater and greater stress until they completely burn out (or worse).

Dwindling self-control is particularly scary when you consider that stress affects physiological functions in the brain, contributing to chronic diseases like hypertension and diabetes. And stress doesn’t stop there—it’s linked to depression, obesity, and decreased cognitive performance.

The ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure has a direct link to your performance. TalentSmart has conducted research with more than a million people, and we’ve found that 90% of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress in order to remain calm and in control.
The tricky thing about stress is that it’s an absolutely necessary emotion. Our brains are wired such that it’s difficult to take action until we feel at least some level of this emotional state.
Research from UC Berkeley, reveals an upside to experiencing moderate levels of stress. But it also reinforces how important it is to keep stress under control. The study found that the onset of stress entices the brain into growing new cells responsible for improved memory. However, this effect is only seen when stress is intermittent. As soon as the stress continues beyond a few moments into a prolonged state, it suppresses the brain’s ability to develop new cells.

Intermittent stressful events actually increase your performance by keeping the brain more alert, and most top performers have well-honed coping strategies that they employ under stressful circumstances to lower their stress levels and ensure that the stress they experience is not prolonged. This keeps their performance up and the negative effects of stress to a minimum.

The complexity of the human brain gives us the ability to worry and perseverate on events, which can create frequent experiences of prolonged stress. Fortunately, though, unless a lion is chasing you, the bulk of your stress is subjective and under your control. The plasticity of your brain allows it to mold and change as you practice new behaviors. So implementing healthy stress-relieving techniques won’t just improve your performance—it can train your brain to handle stress more effectively and decrease the likelihood of ill effects.

While I’ve run across numerous effective strategies that successful people employ when faced with stress, what follows are 11 of the best. As simple as some of these strategies may seem, they are difficult to implement when your mind is clouded with stress. Force yourself to attempt them the next time your head is spinning, and your efforts will pay dividends to your health and performance.