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Combing Out the Tangles: Increasing Happiness

November 28, 2015 | By | Add a Comment

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Everyone could more than likely stand to be a little happier, a little more fulfilled, and a little more content. It’s really difficult to do that when you are constantly surrounded by messages that if you have this (career/technology/romance/car/lifestyle/etc.) you will be happier. Usually those things are totally wrong for me, but it is still easy to get caught up in chasing after them.

Still, it is important to be happy for a lot of reasons, including beard growth! I have a theory that if I am happy and content, I am giving my body a signal that says, “Hey, everything is good right now, so extra resources can be devoted to non-essentials.” It’s just a theory, but I’m going with it anyway! I used the following process to try to get a handle on my own happiness and review it periodically to see how I am doing:

Make a list (or two)

Almost everyone would like to be happier, but sometimes we seem to get lost while we are looking for it. To get a handle on how to go about improving my happiness, I started out by making a list of things that make me happy, or that bring a lot of joy to my life. It can really help me get things into perspective when I have it all laid out in simple black and white. When I made my list a few years ago, I was surprised at how many of the things on the list were free or almost free, and took very little effort to participate in.

Additionally, if you are still wanting to improve in the area of stress reduction, you could make a list of things that add stress to your life. This can also help put stress into perspective, so that you have a clear handle of what to work on.

Pick an item on the positive list and actively work toward increasing it

There is probably at least one thing on the list that would be relatively easy to do, and really healthy for you. One thing that I wrote on my list was hiking. So, I started looking for places to go hiking locally, and started taking walks in my neighborhood (lots of hills and trees in Pittsburgh, so it isn’t too different from hiking) every day that I couldn’t make it out to the woods.

Autumn Canopy outdoor photo by Joe Farrell for TitleBeard

Pick an item on the negative list and actively work toward decreasing it

Realistically, a lot of the things that stress us out in our daily lives aren’t things that we can avoid entirely. On the other hand, there are often ways that we can go about things to make them less stressful. We can’t necessarily stop paying our bills, even if coming up with the money all the time can be a struggle, but maybe we can do other things to make our finances more stable, like sticking to a budget, or eating in more.

I had one particular job that was causing a high amount of stress, and made the decision to live without some of the things I was used to having in order to reduce that stress. It turned out that it didn’t bother me all that much to not have cable TV. Downgrading the car was a little more difficult, but I also saved money on gas, which reduced financial stress even further. It took me a while, but with slow, steady work, I was able to reduce the the big distractions from my happiness down to minor annoyances.

Find ways to stretch your passions

No matter how exciting it can be to do things the things that make us happy, over time they can become routine and lose a little of their luster, so it is a good idea to look for ways to expand and grow those passions. Making progress toward a larger goal, and seeing yourself continuously improving will keep things fresh and exciting.

I had always wanted to go backpacking, so to keep myself focused in my hiking pursuits, I decided to work toward going on some overnight backpacking trips. I had to work on conditioning myself to walk longer distances, as well as work on increasing the amount of weight I could carry in a pack without becoming exhausted. This gave me some clear objectives to work toward, with some easy ways for me to see and measure my progress on my way to my ultimate goal.

Following this type of plan allowed me to take control of my own journey toward happiness, because it kept my goals clear and simple. It isn’t over yet, though, because I need to keep going back and considering my progress. If I find that I haven’t made much progress either increasing an area of happiness or decreasing stress for a while, I will usually switch up what I am working on so that I can get back on track. I hope that this process, or something similar of you own making, is useful to you in pursuing your own happiness!

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Joe Farrell is a proud member of Steel City Beard and Mustache Club, and currently serves as their Philanthropy Chair. As co-founder of Evolve Coaching, Joe works with individuals seeking to improve in the areas of social skills, employment and academic success. Joe has been practicing the care and feeding of facial hair for as long as anyone can remember. Does he have a chin? The world may never know.

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Click here to view all of the entries in the Combing Out the Tangles series.

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Category: Combing out the tangles, Featured, Joseph Farrell

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