11 Things I’ve Learned About Happiness in the Last Decade

Let go of the things that held you back in the 2010s. It’s time to focus on who you want to be in the 2020s.

Justice King
Jan 23, 2020 · 8 min read
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Photo by Cristian Escobar on Unsplash

Welcome to the 2020s. The opportunity for new beginnings has finally arrived once again. January is the perfect time to implement good habits that’ll lead to personal growth — if you know how to take advantage of it!

First, it’s essential to recognize that, while the new decade is upon us, most of us are still the same people we were a matter of weeks ago back in 2019. Bummer, I know. Unfortunately, our habits don’t just change overnight. By acknowledging this and accepting that bettering yourself will be a gradual process, you can flourish in 2020.

1. Don’t waste time on things you don’t believe in (or with people who don’t believe in you).

You’ve only got so much time; use it wisely. Dedicate it to the things and people who are productive to your life. Every ounce of your life that you devote to “nonsense” takes away from time you could be using to do something incredible. Evaluate the things in your life and decide where you want to invest your time. Anything that detracts from your productivity and wellbeing or just simply doesn’t contribute to it shouldn’t be high on your list of priorities.

In The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo encourages her readers to get rid of items that don’t make them happy and clutter their homes (or other personal) spaces by asking them, “does it spark joy?” Drawing inspiration from Kondo, I ask you: does it spark productivity? If the answer is “no,” spend less time on it.

Watch less television and put away your phone. Start surrounding yourself with people who motivate and support you.

2. Take time to acknowledge your accomplishments, even the small ones

We often forget what we’re capable of and fail to recognize the things we’ve achieved. Sometimes it’s hard to realize you’ve got an impressive resume unless it’s all listed right in front of you. By resume, I don’t mean a list of all of your job experiences; I mean all of the experiences and personal accomplishments that have made you who you are. When you’re quickly moving from one goal to the next, it’s easy to forget to give yourself credit. Remembering to slow down from time to time and recognize that you’ve done something great for yourself or for someone else is essential. When you reach a goal, give yourself a pat on the back (literally or figuratively, whichever’s more effective). There’s no achievement too small to be appreciated. Recognize your potential and use that as fuel to motivate yourself from within.

When you’re feeling diminished, take a moment to think about everything in your life that you’re proud of. One at a time, relish in the goals you’ve reached as they come. Take time to acknowledge and appreciate yourself. If you don’t, who will?

3. Value other people’s time.

Don’t waste anyone’s time. In the first point, we talked about how important it is. If you don’t value other people and their time, they won’t value you. It’s a valuable lesson to implement in all areas of your life and can be beneficial for your personal relationships and your career.

Have you ever been stuck somewhere waiting for someone who’s late without a good reason? If not, I can tell you it’s no fun.

Don’t be late. It says a lot about you.

4. Turn off your phone.

Believe me when I say you have nothing to lose from taking time away from your phone. For a lot of people, it’s an unthinkable suggestion. But it will help you see the bigger picture. There is so much more to life than a screen. I recently wrote a piece called I Got Rid of My Phone for a Week for The Startup here on Medium. In it, I describe the eye-opening experience of parting ways with my phone. Spoiler: it boosted my productivity and reduced my stress.

I’m not radically suggesting that you throw away your phone. I’ll admit that it feels like a necessity at times in today’s “digital-centric” world. I’m just suggesting you two take some time apart — a digital detox, if you will. Try going one day without it and get back to me.

5. Don’t compare yourself to others.

Don’t do it. We all slip up on occasion and catch ourselves making comparisons, even when we’ve learned not to. It’s incredibly easy to do when you’re scrolling through Instagram and seeing nothing but “perfect” lives and “perfect” bodies. We ask ourselves why we aren’t doing the things we see other people doing. Just remember that what you see online isn’t always the full picture.

Social media platforms are designed to be curated by each user to highlight the best parts of their lives. You’re only seeing what people want you to see, so don’t be fooled into thinking your life doesn’t live up to the false realities presented to you online. Also, don’t trick yourself into believing that you’re unworthy because you haven’t managed to accomplish what someone else has. Everyone moves at their own pace.

6. Decide how and when to use social media.

If you’re an avid social media user, it’s crucial for your wellbeing that you have a healthy relationship with it. While some may simply cut social media out of their lives completely, it’s not that easy for everyone. Maybe it’s an essential part of your career, or you’re trying to build an online brand for your business. I recognize that, and I’m not saying you need to get rid of it. However, you should be more mindful of how you use it.

You get to choose what you share online, so why shouldn’t you also decide what you see on it?

Is that gym post making you feel bad about your body? Unfollow.

Is your favorite celebrity influencer peddling unhealthy products? Unfollow.

Are all those travel posts giving you severe FOMO? Unfollow!

Organize your social media timelines in a way that makes you happy when you scroll through them. Your go-to online community should be a safe haven, not an anxiety-inducing hellhole. You can have positive associations with the digital world; you’ve just got to learn which parts of it are making you feel like sh*t and then change (or unfollow) them.

7. People come and go.

Most people won’t be in your life forever; that’s a given. Sometimes people come into your life for a reason. They’ll teach you something, lead you to new opportunities, open you up to life-changing experiences and help shape you into the person you’re going to become — and then they’ll leave. That’s right, it happens, and that’s okay. Learn to appreciate the experiences you share with people while they’re in your life and be grateful for what it taught you.

Some people will be worth holding onto — people who have your best interest in mind. They’ll change your life forever.

Find them, and don’t let go.

8. Be patient. Good things take time.

Quality over quantity, you’ve heard it before. It’s a common phrase for a reason and a rule you can almost always follow. Striving to produce a higher volume of something solely because we’re taught that more equals better can seriously detract from its quality. Put hard work into everything that you create.

Take your time.

Learn to be patient.

Don’t rush it.

9. Trust people until they give you a reason not to.

You’ll get hurt and blindsided. You’ll also meet incredible individuals. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable will lead you to extraordinary experiences and reward you with new understandings that will help you see the world in different ways.

Like I mentioned before, relationships will end and friends will leave. You’ll also outgrow relationships and decide for yourself that it’s time to go. Even so, those relationships have the potential to open you up to possibilities you couldn’t have imagined.

Don’t be naïve, though. Not everyone has the best intentions. Some people are just out to screw you.

10. Travel while you still can.

Travel to learn. Travel to discover. Travel to get to know yourself better. Life will always get in the way. Don’t let that hold you back. Rather than telling yourself you’ll travel someday in the future, book that trip now. If you practice being monetarily conscious, you can find reasonable ways to spread your wings on a budget.

A lot of people put off travel, endlessly waiting for the day that they become “financially secure.” Financial security may never necessarily be your reality. Before you freak out, I don’t mean that you’ll never make money or find success. All I mean is that if you continually adjust your lifestyle to match your income (i.e., spending more when you start making more), you’ll never regard yourself as financially secure. According to an analysis of spending behaviors in America, “almost 40% of U.S. households spent more than their income in 1990.”

Spend responsibly, budget intelligently, and travel now. It can change your perspective and help you discover parts of yourself you never knew existed.

11. Fail — a lot.

I believe the most successful thing you can do is fail. And when I say fail, I mean at everything. Fail at love. Fail at making friends. Fail at business. Fail at finding happiness. Fail with family. Fail at the gym. Fail all the time, but don’t let it keep you down. Get back up and learn a lesson from it.

Every failure is an opportunity to grow; every business idea gone wrong, every joke fallen flat, every broken relationship. Failing teaches you things you may not have known about yourself. It shines a light on the things you never knew you needed to fix. So don’t be afraid to mess up at something you haven’t tried before. Don’t give up when things don’t go as planned. It’s going to happen, so embrace it. Go out there and be a failure.

Learn from it and use it to your advantage. If you don’t, then all you’ve done is failed.

If you want to be happier and successful in life, you’ve got to keep yourself open to new ideas and experiences. Everything that happens to you has the power to change the way you live, think, and grow. Learn to adapt to changing circumstances and make the most of what life throws at you. By reflecting upon your past accomplishments and failures, you can strengthen your sense of self and promote personal growth from within.

Be more mindful of your daily habits and behaviors and the 2020s will be your decade.

Thanks for reading! If you have any questions or want to let me know what you’ve learned in the last decade, feel free to reach out to me!

This article was published at www.arewestrangers.com

The Ascent

A community of storytellers documenting the journey to happiness and fulfillment.

Justice King

Written by

Former Editorial Assistant at Lonely Planet 🇬🇧 🇨🇦 Writer, Activist, Environmentalist, Feminist, Traveller.

The Ascent

A community of storytellers documenting the journey to happiness & fulfillment. Join 150,000+ others making the climb on one of the fastest-growing pubs on Medium.

Justice King

Written by

Former Editorial Assistant at Lonely Planet 🇬🇧 🇨🇦 Writer, Activist, Environmentalist, Feminist, Traveller.

The Ascent

A community of storytellers documenting the journey to happiness & fulfillment. Join 150,000+ others making the climb on one of the fastest-growing pubs on Medium.

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