Most of the time, we strive for happiness in every area of our lives: at work, in relationships, and everywhere in between. Yet there’s evidence that we’re more unhappy than ever. Is it because of the massive influx of technology? We’re hyper-connected at all times, yet in many ways we feel more isolated.

I’ve made the conscious decision to ignore the negativity about our generation often pushed by the media and live by a handful of principles that help me feel happy and fulfilled each day.

Lora Schellenberg (the author) and her Knomo Beauchamp Backpack in Grey Linen

1) Keep learning

Gone are the days when your educational journey finishes the moment you receive your University diploma and join the workforce. There are always new things to learn and discover. Embrace curiosity, and approach the world like a child playing in the snow for the very first time.

In the TED talk “10 ways to have a better conversation”, Celeste Headlee advises you to “enter every conversation assuming that you have something to learn.” She goes on to reference a brilliant quote by science guru Bill Nye: “Everyone you will ever meet knows something that you don’t.” Try to see every experience, even the bad ones, as an opportunity to learn something.

It helps you look at the world more positively when you make a mistake and figure out what you can do better next time. Remember, it’s actually okay to fail.

2) Be resilient

Your resilience muscle is one you should always try to exercise. The ability to bounce back from the inevitable pain you’ll experience in life will only help you moving forward.

This past year, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg gave an inspiring and heartfelt commencement address to the University of Berkeley’s graduating class. Sandberg suddenly and tragically lost her husband in 2015, rocking her world to the core. With two young children in tow and an extremely demanding career, this was by far the hardest moment of her life. She says in her speech “When tragedy or disappointment strike, know that you have the ability to get through absolutely anything.”

See every point of sadness and hardship as an opportunity to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and face the world a little bit stronger and wiser. After all, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?

3) Step outside your comfort zone

As the saying goes, “a comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.”

I’ve always considered myself a shy person, never being the first to strike up a conversation with someone new. I decided to set a small, actionable goal to help overcome this: Compliment the next person in public I saw whose style I liked. This was a huge deal for me, and when the time came, I initially froze up and nearly ran away. But then I did it, and guess what? No one died. In fact, the girl told me I made her day!

If you’re not shy, I’m sure this sounds ridiculous to you. But think about what would make you step outside your comfort zone. Eating alone at a restaurant? Taking a course in something new? Skydiving? Whatever it is, aim to do at least one thing a day that scares you, no matter how small. And, as mentioned above, don’t be afraid of failure. Failing helps you grow.

4) Don’t have expectations

I always found that when you expect things from others, you often end up disappointed. If I can help it, I try not to expect anything from anyone. If you think about it, no one really owes you anything.

When I apply for jobs, for example, the second I click submit on my application, I pretty much forgot about it. Other than reminding myself to send a quick follow up to the hiring manager a week later, I don’t think about it too much. Instead, I move onto the next application. After all, the company doesn’t really owe me a response. But if they do get back to me, and I do get even just a first interview, I’m overjoyed.

5) Remember that everyone has insecurities

This last point I remind others of quite often. We all find ourselves feeling envious or jealous of others at times; it’s human nature. You look at those around you and think they’re prettier, thinner, more muscular, more intelligent, in a better relationship, whatever.

We often forget that we’re all human and that all people (even those we’re envious of) have insecurities. I’ve found that some of the most gorgeous women I’ve ever met are the most insecure about their looks. On the flip side, some of the most confident people are simply better at hiding their insecurities. But they definitely have them.

So, if you’re still skeptical about the idea that you, too can have a fulfilling life, I urge you to check out Eric’s story here.

And remember to ask yourself every so often: “if I died right now, would I be able to say I died happy?” I hope on most days your answer would be “yes”.

Lora Schellenberg

Lora is the Marketing Lead at global education company General Assembly, passionate about community and helping women gain confidence and find fulfilling careers. Say hello on Twitter @LSchells7

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