To live happily, "to live deliberately, live deep and suck out all the marrow of life" be sure you are consciously striving to make each and every single one of these happen every day...
What do the happiest people you know do? Smile and laugh. A lot. Why should you make such an effort to laugh and smile? For starters, it activates the release of neuropeptides that work toward fighting off stress. Dopamine endorphins and serotonin are released. A study published in the journal Neuropsychologia reported that seeing an attractive smiling face activates your orbitofrontal cortex, the region in your brain that process sensory rewards. This means that when you see a smile, you feel rewarded.
Do you ever wonder why super happy people are always surrounded by other super happy people? That's because in part smiling and laughing is also contagious. "In a Swedish study, subjects were shown pictures of several emotions: joy, fear, anger and surprise. When the picture of someone smiling was presented, the researchers asked the subjects to frown. Instead, they found that the facial expressions went directly to imitation of what subjects saw. It took conscious effort to turn that smile upside down. So if you’re smiling at someone, it’s likely they can’t help but smile back. If they don’t, they’re making a conscious effort not to."
Laughing and smiling has a direct correlation therefore, to your mental state, attitude and overall happiness. Dale Carnegie said it best in his popular 1936 book: "Happiness doesn't depend on outward conditions. It depends on inner conditions. It isn't what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it."
Laugh and be happy.
Learning is never ending. Mortimer Adler once said, "The purpose of learning is growth, and our minds, unlike our bodies, can continue growing as we continue to live." As long as we are alive, there is always a chance for learning and growing. We can learn from harsh mistakes, a new opportunity everyday, or we can pursue new and exciting pathways or outlets of learning and growth we haven't yet tapped into. We can continue to grow and get better in our personal lives, with relationships, in our professional lives, with finances...any area of life. The possibilities are endless. “Education is the power to think clearly, the power to act well in the world's work, and the power to appreciate life.” - Brigham Young
3. Lift. Heavy.
Lifting heavier weights releases more muscle-growth and fat-burning hormones than lifting light weights. Better fat burning, better metabolism, better bone density when you lift heavy, not to mention the mental fortitude you will develop. Let's be honest, it's darn right scary to get underneath a squat bar with 2-3-400lbs on it...but the accomplishment and feeling of doing something you thought previously impossible is limitless to your positive mental state and will carry over in every aspect of your life. To feel real pressure, to battle the impossible fight against gravity and win is completely empowering.
“Just remember, somewhere, a little Chinese girl is warming up with your max.” – Jim Conroy, Olympic Weightlifting Coach
4. Lend. (Help)
No possession or object, not any drug on earth, no amount of money, no lavish accomplishment or praise...nothing can match the feeling and fulfillment of lending. Giving yourself to others, truly becoming a servant beyond what is in it for yourself, helping others is the single most rewarding feeling you can ever experience. Once you make that turn, put yourself in position to accept this realization your life changes forever.
Fulfillment has been noted for centuries as what people want and crave out of life. If you seek fulfillment (and who doesn't, really?) then look no further than helping out your fellow man. You don't need to be rich or attain any particular skill set to lend. You can hold a door open for a stranger, help an older lady carry her heavy luggage, give up your spot in line for that guy that obviously needs to get through it faster than you. Find your strengths, your talents and share them with others, become a teacher, coach, or mentor even if it's not an official title.
The way in which you lend a hand or help others is endless. When you truly, sincerely start giving with no expectation or return in mind, just out of the pure kindness and goodness of your heart, then and only then will you start to yield an almost magical return. You'll be a part of this continuous cycle, this circle that keeps coming back around. "The more you give, the more you get back" is very true. Even when you feel you have nothing, give.
5. Love. (Give Thanks)
Every day of your life should be Thanksgiving. Giving thanks is a form of love and appreciation. Almost any problem or adversity can be solved with love. We often forget or overlook what has been done for us, or who has helped us. This acknowledgment is so very important, not necessarily to them, but to ourselves. Giving thanks humbles us and therefore liberates us. Saying "thank-you" means that you are ridding yourself of your ego, you are admitting you didn't do it by yourself. Look at anyone throughout the history of time...they didn't do anything by themselves. There is no such thing. Everyone has had and needs help...but that's the beautiful thing about it, It goes back to that magical return, the continuous cycle that keeps coming back around I just mentioned.
Giving thanks has to come from the heart as well. You can't fake it. Why is it so hard for us to simply mutter the words, "Thank-You" to often the people we love and cherish the most? Ego. Plain and simple. Start showing more and more appreciation, more humility, more love. Even for the simplest of things, say "thank-you." Keep track of how many times you say those two powerful words. Giving thanks and showing love will liberate you. Beautiful things start to happen, life opens up.
Notable Sources: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cutting-edge-leadership/201206/there-s-magic-in-your-smile. Henry David Thoreau, "Walden". Dale Carnegie "How to Win Friends and Influence People"