I am not a doctor. I am not a researcher. I am not a happiness expert.
I am a human being who has (at the time of posting this) lived for less than thirty years and has accumulated thoughts about how life works. These are some of those thoughts. I hope that you get value from them.
Here are seven necessary rules that I believe you need to live so you can figure out how to be happy and experience a durable sense of authentic happiness.
1. Feel your feelings fully.
Stress is simply the compounded unfelt feelings that live in your body. The more things you don’t feel, the more stressed you feel. When you don’t feel your feelings, tension shows up in your body. You get sick easier. It’s harder to be happy about life.
Practice cathartic practices. Release anger. Relinquish jealousy. Cry fully. Remember: life isn’t about feeling better, it’s about getting better at feeling. Regularly allow yourself the time and space to let it all out. You’ll be glad you did.
2. Give more.
We all suffer to the degree that our mind/ego convinces us that we are alone. That we are isolated. That life is ours alone to suffer through. Honoring your emotional states is necessary, but so is getting out of your head and back into the remembering that your life is ultimately about service to others.
When I feel stale, stuck, stagnant, I start chipping away at my service to humanity. I check in with a client who needs support. I write an article that will hopefully alleviate pain in the world. I send one of my best friends a message telling them how much I love them.
When you get stuck in your head, try giving more. Give whatever you can. Give your gifts. Make art. Volunteer. Ask someone you care about how you can make their life even 1 percent better, and then deliver on that promise.
This will be part of your life’s mission — today, and forever.
3. Live simply.
A cluttered life is as ineffective as an umbrella with a hundred tiny holes in it.
Cut down on the number of things that you allow to take space into your calendar. Invest in a few deep friendships rather than spreading yourself thin with a hundred acquaintances.
Acknowledge that you wear only 20 percent of your clothing the most, and donate the rest of your wardrobe to people who will actually wear what you ignore. Work in your zone of genius more often than not, and let go of the dozens of things that you do that are taxing, time wasting, and unfulfilling.
Live simply. Your heart will thank you for it.
4. Seek to understand others.
Instead of expending endless energy trying to make yourself seen, known, and understood, seek to understand others. How many months of your life will you save by avoiding petty jealousies, arguments, and ego-squabbles by seeking to understand the person across from you first?
Do you have a judgment about someone? Learn from it. Own your projections.
Does someone trigger the f*ck out of you? Is it hard for you to be around them without being in your head and quietly resenting them? Great. Another learning opportunity. Use it all.
Your mind is your greatest teacher if you are willing to observe it without judgment. Everyone you cross paths with is a teacher for you. Never forget this simple fact.
5. Engage in regular flow states.
Crying, self-reflection, honoring your body — all good things. But it is also imperative that you are regularly filling your life with positive flow states. Ever heard of flow? This guy wrote the bible on it.
In essence, flow is the state of being fully immersed in a specific activity. You can experience flow while dancing, gardening, cooking, having sex, or creative writing. Whatever it is that you do that makes hours pass by in the blink of an eye, make sure you’re regularly scheduling these things into your calendar.
6. Honor your body and mind.
Engage in exercise that feels like play. Drink enough water. Eat healthily. Sleep for at least 7.5 hours per night. Regularly engage your body with sensual touch, masturbation, or massage. Make these things non-negotiable.
Limit the amount of fear-based news (mental junk food) that you consume. Fill your brain with loving and inspirational messages from people whose brains you want your brain to soak up energy from. Spend time with friends who love you. Spend time with friends who challenge you. Journal often. See a coach or therapist. Meditate on gratitude. Empty your mind to someone who is a loving and safe space.
Do these things often. Just as you can’t eat enough in one sitting to be satiated forever, specific self-care habits must be engaged in on a consistent basis in order to experience the ongoing benefits.
7. Invest in your relationships.
Harvard did a 75-year study. The results? The quality and depth of your relationships is the biggest determining factor of long-term health and happiness, above all else.
Adding another $10,000 to your annual income probably won’t make you that much happier. Hosting a weekly dinner gathering that allows you to dive deeper with your favorite people will make you happier. Spend more time with your favorite people. Go deeper with them. Regularly remind your tribe that you love them.
When you lie on your deathbed, you will wish that you had apologized to someone you cared for. Or spent one more lazy afternoon with your best friend. Or told that one person how you really felt about them.
Do that today. Invest in your relationships. Get offline and connect with your people. Now.
This article was originally published at Jordan Gray Consulting. Reprinted with permission from the author.