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18 Key Ingredients of a Happy Life

And the questions you need to ask yourself.

Source: unsplash

Sometimes growth is more about the questions we ask ourselves rather than searching for answers. Answers can keep us locked and stuck. But questions, like a rudder on a boat, can guide us or send us off in the right direction.

Here are 18 aspects of life you should care about, and the questions about them you need to ask yourself to spur personal growth.

1. How you wake up

Many wake up with negativity and dread and carry that into their day. Then they have a shitty day and that energy rolls over into their next day. It becomes a pattern and their days just become greyed out as they turn invisible. And life just becomes going through the motions.

You can break this pattern.

What wakes you up in the morning? An internal alarm clock blasting the sounds of obligation and worry, or the excitement of everything you will work on that day? If it’s the first, what questions do you need to ask yourself to change your state before you start your day?

What’s one thing you can do today to position yourself for better? What does better even look like if you can pour it into one day? What are you looking forward to today? Could this be the day that changes everything? If so, what would that look like? How do you need to think and behave to like yourself more and maneuver on a higher plane? How can you pull from higher frequencies like love and gratitude rather than worry, envy, and pessimism? What are five things you’re grateful for before you start your day?

Can you start today?

2. Nourishment

We are what we eat. I’m learning this more than ever these days. I used to see food as a way to satisfy cravings, so I only ate what I was craving or tasted good. Now that I’m 44, I feel that sh*t. In energy as well as love handles. So now I am finally starting to ask myself different questions. Here are some questions to ask yourself before you eat.

What are you putting in your body and why? Are you even hungry? Or are you feeding your emotions or boredom? Are most of your meals fast and processed or organic and locally grown? Do you care where your food comes from?
What about pacing? When you eat, is food scarfed down practically whole while burying yourself in social media or a time to practice mindfulness and be present with others? What would it look like to nourish your body instead of just feeding it?

Can you start today?

3. Home

My home used to be a hotel. I moved in after an expired relationship and considered it “transitional” living. I would be out and about for most of the day and only slept there. I worked in coffee shops. I didn’t see it as home because my definition of home was wrapped with a “picket fence."

But then a friend convinced me to make it feel like home because we all need a home, even while we’re waiting for one. The truth is, wherever you’re living is your home. And if you don’t make it your home, you won’t have a place to recharge. It’s not a home thing. It’s a quality-of-life thing. We all need a place to refuel.

Is your home complete chaos and feels like a prison or a safe haven where you can rest, reboot, and relax? How can you make your home feel more like home? Maybe you have roommates you don’t get along with? If so, do you need to have a conversation or find a new place? What can you do to make your home safe, comfortable, and a port to relax and reboot?

Can you start today?

4. Fitness

Fitness is a lifestyle. Not just a compartmentalized workout. It must be threaded into your life and you must enjoy it or it will be short-lived. But it doesn’t have to be inside a gym. Any activity where there is movement and sweat will give you dopamine and elevates mood. But most importantly it’s a way to establish a better relationship with your body which will give you more confidence and self-esteem. And that ripples into everything, from board meetings to your relationships.

When was the last time you worked out? If you go to the gym, are you just going through the motions or focusing on how your body moves and connecting with it? When was the last time you did fitness outside the gym? Are you challenging yourself to pursue various activities? If not, why? Time is never an excuse.

Can you start today?

5. Passion / purpose

You don’t need to know your purpose. But you should design a life that lines up with your passions. Or as much as you can. I understand that we can’t all quit our “day jobs” and follow our bliss, but making an effort to pursue what your passions are is when purpose starts to unfold.

What are you passionate about? Are you doing anything to feed them? If not, why? Do you believe and invest in your dreams or have five hundred reasons why it’s not possible? What steps can you take today to inject more passion into your life?

Can you start today?

6. Shame

We all have sh*t that’s happened in our lives that’s lined with shame, which then forms a hard crust that creates false beliefs and stunts our growth. We develop a myriad of unhealthy coping mechanisms to muffle our feelings of shame, all of which have a negative impact on our chose relationships. Anger, withdrawal, blame, contempt, control, perfectionism, and people pleasing. All to ease the pain of feeling unlovable.

If you want to be happy, you need to start cracking this crust and dusting it out of your life. How you ask? Simply put, acceptance and self-compassion. Here are some questions to get you started.

What does letting go of the past look like? Who do you need to forgive? Maybe yourself? If so, what does that look like? Do you burn yourself at the stake mentally and emotionally often or do you not believe in mistakes and see how everything you’ve done has led you to the next step in your life? Are there people in your life who still reinforce your shame? Do you need to draw better boundaries? Do you see the world (includes, people, events, and situations) with judgment? Or wonder?

When will you stop judging yourself? What does loving/liking yourself look like? But more importantly, when will you start?

Can you start today?

7. Anger and resentment

Anger is probably the fastest way to dip into a lower frequency. It’s impossible to be happy if you’re always angry and holding onto resentment. This was my entire twenties. It creates a happy shield and a very dark tunnel. Life is way too short to be angry and hold onto things people have done to hurt us. You will lose your power and have no energy left for you.

What are you angry about? Do you forgive instead of hold grudges because you know how it can turn you ugly and powerless? What do you need to do to be less angry? What are you reacting to? How much of your anger has to do with your own unhappiness?

Can you start today?

8. Trauma

No one enters adulthood unscarred. We all have some kind of trauma in our lives. But we don’t have to live with it.

What happened to you that has caused you to become bitter, jaded, and numb? Do you need to talk to someone? If so, why haven’t you? What do you need to process so that this doesn’t interfere with your daily life?
Or was what was painful at the time turned out to be a key part of your growth, story, and being a catalyst to others?

Can you start today?

9. Your values

If you don’t have values, you won’t feel valuable. Living a valueless life is like trying to fill a balloon (your self-esteem) when there are giant holes in it.

I didn’t have many values when I was in my twenties and thirties. I chased and did whatever I needed to do to fit in and get what I wanted. It didn’t care about liking myself. I only cared about if others liked me. This made me hollow, shallow, and unhappy.

Today, I have values. I hold myself accountable. I care about my character more than what others think of me. I line up by actions with my words. I try to be a good f**king human. It’s important to me. And because of this, I finally like myself.

What are your values? How do you define your character? By what you do, the things you have, and who you surround yourself with? Or by your heart, your beliefs, your mission, your message, your character? How can you line up your way of living with your values? What would you need to change about yourself?

Can you start today?

10. Your tribe

They say you are the average sum of the people you surround yourself with. I find this to be 110 percent true. We either sharpen each other or dull each other out. You’ve come across people who drain your energy and discourage your path. You’ve also been around people who bring you up and inspire you just by being around them, right?

Do you surround yourself with friends who are useless, inferior, and competitive? Or teach you things and inspire you to new heights? What do you need to do to surround yourself with people who will make you a better version of yourself? Who do you need to cut out of your life? What communities do you need to engage in to form new friends? What would an action plan look like?

Can you start today?

11. Intimate relationships

I don’t have to say how much our intimate relationships impact our day-to-day.
You know this.

Very well.

It’s probably the single greatest factor that can dent our day or make us feel invincible. I’m not saying it should be. It’s just how it is. Love either cripples us or makes us happier than sh*t.

So the question is —

Is your intimate relationship always a problem as it causes more pain than happiness? If so, what action steps can you take to improve your relationship so it doesn’t create anxiety? What can you do on your side? What do you need to communicate? Do you guys need to see a couples counselor?

Or is it healthy with solid boundaries that bring out the best in you? If you’re not in an intimate relationship, are you dating in a healthy way that’s not draining and discouraging? Or are you taking a break and working on yourself? If so, what does that look like? What do you need to shift as far as mindset and behavior so that you are on a good path that puts you into an attracting state instead of a chasing one?

Can you start today?

12. Your relationship with money

Money is probably the second greatest anxiety provoker. Or lack of money/security. But more accurately, it’s our relationship with money that creates panic and frustration.

What is your relationship with money? Does it own or define you? Is money is a source of anxiety and suffering?

Or is it something you earn by doing things that you believe in and make you feel alive and valuable?

Do you define your worth by money or is it a tool to build happy?

What do you need to do to have a healthier relationship with money? Do you need to redefine what money means to you? How do you not allow money to have power over you anymore? What would it look like to apply that mindset and redefinition to your daily life in thought and behavior?

Can you start today?

13. Sex

We are sexual beings. But many of us have denied that part of us. We have draped it with shame and guilt due to past experiences, upbringing, religious beliefs, our disconnection with our bodies, and all the shoulds we carry.
Sex isn’t just about sex. Sex is about expression, connection, and love. Not just with others but also with yourself.

When you think about your sexual experiences, do you feel that you know you’re supposed to like it but you secretly don’t get what all the fuss is about? Or there. Are. No. Words.

How could you approach your sexual experiences so that it becomes a new better healthier more meaningful and fulfilling experience? Do you need to have a conversation with your partner about what you want?

Can you start today?

14. Nectar

Joy is produced. It requires an ability. It doesn’t just fall into our laps. Our ability to seek nectar from our daily lives and produce joy is what creates happy. If you do not have this ability, you will always be chasing happy but never living it.
Do you have the ability to produce joy daily or is joy contingent on a lot of what ifs and things that are external? How can you produce joy in your life right now with what you have and where you’re at?

Can you start today?

15. Emotion management

We live in our heads. We are always thinking. Most of our thoughts are about things we cannot control. These thoughts are charged with emotions. These emotions are usually negative. This creates more negative thoughts and a pattern that needs to be broken if you want to live a happy life. If not, you will always be spinning and drowning in your heavy emotions.

Do your emotions control you completely and your life gets derailed because of them? Or are your emotions something you’re always aware of and you’ve become pretty good at managing them, expressing yourself, and not allowing them to own you? What can you do to start controlling your emotions? Who can you talk to about your feelings? What exercises can you do to start having more control over your thoughts? Can you actually take mediation serious and make an effort to do it daily?

Can you start today?

16. Comfort zones

We all live in our little comfort zones. They’re actually prisons that prevent us from truly living. It’s in making the uncomfortable more comfortable where growth and learning happens. If not, we will be stunted and far from happy.

Is your comfort zone very small and you barely move around so you don’t step outside of it? Or do you resist nothing? What would stretching your comfort zone look like? In what areas of your life do you need to stretch your comfort? What would stretching those areas look like?

Can you start today?

17. Love

Love isn’t just about romantic relationships. Love isn’t just about giving and receiving one’s heart and skin. I think we get so caught up in defining love as singular, something we give and get back from one person. That A, our happiness becomes dependent on it. And B, then love becomes conditional. We only give if we get. What if love is a state? A way of being. A frequency we maneuver on. What if love is not about an exchange?

Because life is love and love is life. What if you saw love as energy? Always existing. Always in you, in us. And instead of giving love, you are love. Yes, BE love.

What does that look like for you, to be love? How do you project your love into the world that is uniquely you? What state must you be in for love to run through you?

For me, being love means to literally imagine my heart, feel it producing love, pumping love, and allowing it to expand outward, through me, around me, and rippling out. Ego, insecurity, and fear will try to stop this process. But if you decide that you are love, the power of your heart and it’s magnetic field will override it and your thoughts and actions of love will follow that flow of energy. It doesn’t matter who you’re around or what room you’re in, your breath will be love. You will become a conduit of love/life.

What must you let go? How must you stretch your heart? Who must you forgive? How can you be a conduit of love?

Can you start today?

18. New lenses

The way we see the world determines everything, including our happiness.
What if you saw life as a dance instead of a destination? I’m not trying to be cute with words. Really see daily life as painting with all your senses, smell, touch, sight, sound, taste, and feel. Your imagination, your movement, your love, your pain, your compassion, connections with others and self, deeply feeling without judgment and what it means, all of it, rather than just running somewhere. Or trying to trace blueprints.

This is very hard to do. Because we all want things. We all have specific visions of what we want our lives to look like. I carry a very specific written vision board on my phone with all my wants and where I want to go. But as I grow in age and spirit, I am beginning to see life as creating a painting. With no intention of selling it. Just drawing. Experimenting. Experiencing. Coloring outside the lines. Over and over again, each day a new canvas. Paying attention to the subtext (energy, frequency, emotions), instead of the plot (events). Focusing on everything that’s underneath until it begins to drive your story and becomes the surface.

I believe this is what having new lenses looks like, seeing and feeling the world differently. Asking more whys instead of hows. Searching for lessons instead of the pot of gold which is actually a mirage. Total acceptance of the unfolding. That’s the key. That’s when good sh*t starts to happen and you can finally start checking things off your list.

It all starts with a choice. Let go of everything you think you know because let’s be honest, we don’t know sh*t. Instead, get very curious about everything. About yourself, your gifts, what you’re meant to do, who you’re meant to meet, all your resistance, and what you think your life should look like. And in that curiosity, you’ll start to see things you didn’t before when you weren’t paying attention to the subtext.

How can you change the way you see the world? How can you wear new lenses so you can see things in a different light? What would that look like in thought and action? How can you change your perspective or an event (past or present), a situation, how you see others, or your current life?

Can you start today?

Yes, you can.

— Angry

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