I think you’d like to be happier. Regardless of your current level of content, nearly everyone I’ve ever known would like to be happier than they are. Recently, I heard researcher, Richard Florida discuss some emerging trends among younger professionals. In a discussion with some young adults after Florida’s presentation, his findings appeared to be true. I know they are true for me — if not in practice, they are at least true in desire. Ruminating on Florida and with a H/T to his books, “The Great Reset” and “Who’s Your City”, I’ve come up with 4 steps you can make to increase your personal happiness.
1. Move Closer to Where You Work. When we lived in Houston, I burned 2 hours a day on I-10. Not only did this cost me precious time with my family, it could have cost me my life. The drive was so long and motionless, and after a tiring day, I’m confident I fell asleep behind the wheel several times. Currently, I live in a house that’s not nearly as nice as my previous home, but I was committed to walking or riding my bike to work. I’ve gained 2-hours a day with my kids, plus I walk to work, and my neighbor’s — whom God insists that I love — know me and see me daily.
1. A.(Or Move Your Work Closer to You) Don’t hesitate to ask your boss for flexibility (work-at-home, a 4-day/10hr per day work week, etc…) and freedom (to begin new projects or work on something outside your job description, but something you’re interested in). As a boss I can attest, if a co-worker is producing and behaves professionally, you’ll almost always get a “Yes.”
2. Find Meaningful Work. If you’re just collecting a paycheck (which is a big deal these days), you need to find a way to add meaning to your work. That doesn’t always mean quitting your current job and traipsing off to something new. It may mean being reassigned or re-tasked in your organization. It could also mean finding a local non-profit to partner with. Simple fact: If you don’t have meaning in your work, you’ll burn out, hate your job and everyone there, and eventually end up hating yourself and your life.
3. Invest In Relationships. This needs to be both real and virtual. Facebook, Twitter, and FourSquare have their place, but you need to meet with the same people regularly. I suggest getting involved in a small group or ministry in a local church. All people need connection — deep connection — to live their best existence. One of the first things people say when a celebrity gets arrested or finds themselves ensconced in a scandal is this: “Where were there friends?” Find them, use them, you need them.
4. Buy Smaller Stuff, If You Buy At All. We didn’t have a large house when we lived in Houston and we deliberately moved into a smaller home when we moved to California (which wasn’t difficult). Anyhow, a smaller house means less time spent paying for and cleaning-up a larger home. The average American family is smaller than it ever has been. Cell phones and laptops tout how small they are. The only things getting bigger are bellies, TV’s and houses. And guess what? Most of us don’t need all that space. We’re whittling our lives away — money, time, etc… — getting BIGGER things that we don’t need. At the very least we can buy the nano version of optional items.