5 Habits That Will Make Your Average Day Happier

This is a copy of my
tax return from 2010, just eight short years ago. And it says that during
the course of that year, I made a grand total $9,226. Contrast that to last year, 2017 where I made easily more
than 10 times that amount and with that increase in income came some lifestyle upgrades. Back then, I lived in a cramped dorm room and I had to share it with another person and beyond that, I had to share a bathroom with 43 other guys in my
hall compared to today where I've got a two bedroom apartment where I actually got my own bathroom, it's pretty fancy I know. And I've got a pretty good view as well. Also back then, I ate all
of my meals in the cafeteria or I made microwaved chicken nuggets, yes I know, those are very unhealthy, whereas today I can actually buy pretty much whatever I want, I can cook fancy food, I can
go out to eat more often.

So there's been a big improvement on the dining out front as well. When I look at my life
now versus back then, there is no question that things have improved across the board. Yet in my many ways, I'm no happier now than I was back then. I'm certainly a happy
person but then again, I always kinda have been. So what's the deal here? I've made all this progress,
I've put in all this work but for what exactly? This is the question that
deserves a closer look. As my experience is not at all uncommon, in fact, it's near universal.

In general, people do not
find themselves happier on a day to day basis as a
result of getting promoted, making more money or
making other life upgrades like buying a bigger house
or getting a better car. Instead, we find that
as our lives improve, our desires, tastes, and
expectations rise to match. The result is a sort of
happiness equilibrium. This effect has been called the hedonic treadmill
or hedonic adaptation. And a lot of psychological research has gone into this
concept in the recent past but it's definitely not a new thing. As Saint Augustine put
it, "A true saying it is, "desire hath no rest, is
infinite in itself, endless, "and as one calls it, a
perpetual rack, or horse-mill." That quote is over 400 years old and honestly, we've probably been thinking about this concept for
as long as our brains have been capable of
introspective thought.

Still, it's easy to forget
it, to get caught up dreaming about just how
awesome life would be if we had just a little bit more money or just a bit more space. And of course, the modern
world is all too eager to bolster these kinds of thoughts. As Daniel Kahneman, the
father of behavioral economics and the author of the book
Thinking Fast and Slow puts it, "People are exposed to many messages "that encourage them to believe "that a change of weight,
scent, hair color, "or coverage, car, clothes,
or many other aspects "will produce a market
improvement in their happiness.

"Our research suggests
a moral and a warning. "Nothing that you focus on will make "as much difference as you think." But what if you actually do
want to maximize your happiness? Or to phrase that question in
a way that appeals to me more, how do you improve your average day? If getting a bigger house
or making more money or getting more awards
and accolades won't do it, then what will? Well this is the kind of question that will get you a million
different kinds of answers. Some will recommend minimalism, some will recommend
different life philosophies or religious, and some will recommend spending more time jumping on trampolines which I hardly agree with. But here, I simply wanna
suggest five changes that you can start making to your life that in my experience actually do improve the average day to day experience
and make it a happier one. First, and I think most importantly, give yourself time to
tinker, explore, and play, or protect that time if
you currently have it.

One thing that a lot
of people start losing as they get older is
this unstructured time where they can tinker and explore, and this is something
that has happened to me for sure in the past few years. As I moved further into my career, become more successful, made more money, all these kinds of things,
I found that my schedule has a lot less time for
this kind of exploration. I have a lot of things
that are pre-planned that I have to do and there's certainly lots of external rewards
for doing those things but I found that I don't
feel I have the time anymore to spend an afternoon figuring
out how to set up an Arduino or how to code something just
because it seems interesting. And when your entire daily schedule is pre-planned and you feel like you're just some sort of regimented robot, things can start to get
a little bit depressing. So protect that time. Actually I read an article
in QZ just the other day saying that doctors are
now prescribing play for children because
parents are in this mad dash to over schedule their kids' lives.

They get them signed up for school, and music lessons, and
sports, and all kinds of stuff to the point where
there's never any moment where the kid can just go outside
and do whatever they want. And I don't wanna knock
the good intentions of these parents, they think
that what they're doing is going to prepare their
children for the future and give them a leg up. But as science has found
recently, play is very important. So if you are a parent, give
your kid unstructured time but even if you aren't, protect your own. Play isn't something that
benefits only children, it also benefits adults,
it's useful at any age. Secondly, make sure that you're
staying physically active and make that physical activity fun. We are built to move, we
are built to exercise, we have these bodies that are adapted for working and moving
through an environment. So if you're constantly sitting around, whether it'd be through work of whether it'd be coming home and watching Netflix or playing video games
at the end of the night, you're naturally going to start
feeling less and less happy.

Now when people are told to exercise, their brains usually go to things like running on a treadmill, or
getting a gym membership, things that feel like an obligation. So what I'm going to suggest for you here is to find something that
you truly enjoy doing that's fun but it still
gets you heart rate up. For me right now, that's rock
climbing and mountain biking and I still also love going
to the arcades to play DDR. I found lots of ways to exercise that I'm truly excited
to do every single day and that makes my day to day
experience a much better one. So you should do the same. Alright, tip number three
is to work to minimize things in your daily
life that you don't like. Instead of asking yourself
how do I get the bigger house, how do I get the better car? How do I get that next thing that seems like it's going to improve
my life exponentially? Ask yourself, what do
I have to do everyday that kind of annoys me? Now I can probably make an entire video listing off examples here so
I'm just going to give you one.

If you have a long commute
and bumper to bumper traffic that you absolutely hate doing, then how could you kind of
take that out of your life or at least make it better? One suggestion would be to actually change the time at which you make that commute. A lot of people can meet during rush hour because they wanna get
up at a certain time, they might wanna workout
at home and then go to work but what if you got up
maybe an hour earlier and then you drove to work at 6AM when there's nobody else on the road or maybe instead of driving to work, you ditched the card
altogether and biked to work. We actually just got an
office a couple of weeks ago and I found that it
took me about 15 minutes to drive to work in regular traffic but only 17 to ride my bike there so really just a two-minute difference. And if you factor in the
time it takes me to drive through the garage and
find a parking spot, biking is actually faster,
not to mention more fun.

So whatever it is, analyze the things that annoy you and start to look for ways that you can either remove
those things from your life or optimize them and make
them a bit more bearable. Tip number four is to take
the occasional big break. This could be taking a
vacation or inviting a friend to come stay with you and
doing some different activities in your own home but you
need to break yourself out of your routine every once in a while.

And this is something
that I am pretty bad at. I get a lot of things on
my plate and I feel like I don't have time to take
a vacation or that I need to optimize travel by you know, scheduling a bunch of business trips instead of just vacations. But when you actually take a vacation, you get a mental reset. And that mental reset sort of revitalizes your brain's ability to work effectively and makes you overall happier. So if you have the time,
or even if you don't feel you have the time, find the
time to take these big breaks.

They don't have to take a lot of money, they don't have to
involve a ton of travel, they just need to get you
out of your normal routine and have you do something different. Now we've got one more tip that
I wanna share with you here which is really, really important but before I share it, I do
wanna also share an observation about something that is not
going to make you happy. So if you think about
the hedonic treadmill, if you think about the
fact that these increases in your life and whatever
areas they may come from aren't going to make you
happier on a day to day basis, then it becomes pretty clear
that a lot of the reasons that we use social media for such as growing our follower account or getting more retweets or likes, all these things aren't
going to make you happy.

And I think this bears mentioning because the people, the
engineers, the product designers who are behind these companies
are paid huge salaries to design these apps in a way that makes them essentially addicting, that makes them feel like they are going to make you happier. But from personal experience, I can tell you that your
average day to day happiness is not going to change when you go from two likes per tweet
to 100 likes per tweet. It really doesn't make a difference. So yes, use social media to
bring about certain benefits, you can make new relationships through it, you can bolster your career through it, but don't be chasing those vanity metrics, the likes and the retweets
and the followers, because they will not make you happy.

But what will make you happy,
which is our final tip here is face to face interaction with other people on a daily basis. I really wanna mention this explicitly because a lot of people are content to have digital
relationships, to IM people, to talk to people over Skype
or play games together, and these things are all great and they can forge good friendships but nothing replaces actually
seeing people face to face and doing things with them in real life. Now with all this talk
about the hedonic treadmill and how all these
progressions aren't going to necessarily improve
your day to day life in the way that you think they will, I do think it bears mentioning that I am not suggesting you
abandon all of your goals, sell your possessions and go live in a mountain as an ascetic.

Unless you want to, I mean
that could be pretty cool. I think Martin would wanna do it. But seriously, the fact
that increasing your income or getting a promotion at your job, or getting a better
house won't necessarily improve your day to day happiness as much as you think it will, doesn't mean that these
goals aren't worthwhile. For one, achieving those goals might lead to opening doors
that actually could lead to day to day happiness improvements. But a more important point is this, I believe that an integral
part of being happy is the very process of
evolving and progressing. Humans beings are built to explore, to test their limits, to
constantly try new things.

We are not happy being stagnant. As Ray Dalio put it,
"Evolving is life's greatest "accomplishment and its greatest reward." Now one area where
progression and evolution tend to bring pretty quick
happiness improvements is in creative expression. In fact, I find that I'm much happier when I figure out how to, say,
film something really cool like this slow mo shot or
learn a new editing technique. And the great thing is these improvements in creative expression tend to come a lot more frequently
than big career jumps. So if you wanna further
improve your average day, find a way to get creative. You could do it the way that I do it through making videos, or playing music, or the way that my best
friend Martin does it through macro photography or
in many other fields out there that you probably haven't discovered yet. And if you wanna accelerate
your skill development in the field that you choose and master new techniques
quickly, check out Skillshare.

Skillshare has an expensive catalog of over 20,000 courses and
tons of different topic areas like digital animation, video editing, drawing, and business, and lots more. Their courses are also hands-on, almost always including a sample project that you can sink your teeth into so you can start learning actively. Now one course that I wanna
highlight for you this week is the Fundamentals of DSLR
Photography by Justin Bridges. Photography has a ton of disciplines, yes, there's macro photography, there's landscapes and portraits, but all of these disciplines rely on a fundamental foundation
of camera skills, aperture, lighting, ISO, shutter speed.

And Justin's course goes
through all of these different techniques
along with recommendations of what camera gear you
should buy in the first place and the best settings to use. So if you wanna start working
through Justin's course, or any of the other courses
in Skillshare's catalog, then click the link in the description down below and sign up. And when you do, you're
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After that, Skillshare
is still very affordable, costing about as much as
a Netflix subscription so this is definitely
something you should try if you wanna start improving your skills. I wanna give a big thanks to Skillshare for sponsoring this video and being in support of this channel and as always guys, thank
you so much for watching. If you enjoyed this video
and found it helpful, consider hitting that like button and also hit subscribe right there so you don't miss out on new videos when they come out every single week. You can also click right there to get a free copy of my book
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Thanks so much for watching guys and I will see you in the next video..

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