Adrenaline ran through my entire body and specs of mud splattered on my legs.
The clouds had just opened up to unleash a warm summer rain shower and I was ripping through the tight single-track trail surrounded by massive pine trees.
Every so often I’d emerge from the forest to capture views of the ski town of Park City, Utah below and a field of sunflowers. I was in total flow as I maneuvered my mountain bike gracefully through the tight, flowy trail. Coldplay’s song “Adventure of a Lifetime” was blaring into my ears through my headphones and the timing and lyrics couldn’t have been more perfect.
Then it hit me. “I’ve never felt happier. Not just in this moment, but in my life overall.” Maybe you’ve had one of these moments in your life. A moment where you say to yourself, “I love my life and I truly feel happy.”
I pondered over the past seven months at what had taken place in my life and as soon as I got home I wrote down exactly what I’d been doing in my life to create this overall state of happiness. I realized I wasn’t just a little bit happier, I was 10 times happier! And yes, in case you were wondering, I still feel that feeling at this very moment as I write this post.
I’d like to open up and share with you exactly what took place to increase my happiness tenfold. I hope that some of these actions will inspire you to increase your state of happiness tenfold.
1. I left a relationship that wasn’t serving me.
I grew up being taught to grit it out no matter what. And please don’t mistake me, I’m all for working through problems and challenges with your intimate partner. That’s part of life. But we all have our breaking point.
After close to a year of severe negativity, and feeling like I was collapsing under the weight of a ton of bricks, I ended it. In removing ourselves from the whirlpool of constant conflict, something amazing has happened as we both have gone our separate ways: we’re both happier. In the end, your partner can’t make you happy, only you can make you happy. When I realized that I was 100 percent responsible, my awakening began. Can you relate to this situation? Are there people in your life that you need to sever intimate ties with in order to find greater clarity and joy? Sometimes you need a clean break.
2. I stopped kidding myself about doing work I didn’t love.
Do you have to talk yourself into why you are going to your office everyday? Are you justifying your job? I stopped doing this and got brutally honest about the work I was doing. I felt like I was dreading each moment. That sounds a bit extreme and you might not be at that breaking point, but could you do something that you really felt charged up about? I know you can. Life is way too short to be doing something we dislike. It didn’t take long for me to find something that charged me up and I not only started loving what I was doing, my income increased fourfold too. It is possible.
3. I started trying to see each moment as perfect.
Whether I was stuck in traffic with my kids, flying on an airplane, or spending time in nature, I began to notice moments. Some were amazing, and some were well, less than ideal. I began reflecting at the end of each day and asking one simple question which I would write in my journal: “What did I learn today?” This was a game changer. I began to see that on the challenging days I actually learned more about myself than on the days where everything seemed blissful.
4. I started eating cleaner and healthier.
My downfall in eating has always been that I justify eating crap because of my workouts as an endurance athlete. As a vegan ultra-athlete (I would think hyphen after ultra?), I wasn’t eating terrible, but I wasn’t eating great either.
I began by eating two pounds of veggies per day. One pound of cooked, one pound of raw. I usually got one pound of greens in during the morning simply by making an exceptional green smoothie, and for the night-time pound, I would do one pound of steamed spinach. Once I had that down, I’d add in two large servings of beans per day. That was it for about a month. Greens and beans. I’d eat a lot of them, feel full, and something happened—I started to get really lean. My abs turned into a six-pack for the first time in years, I started feeling great about myself, and I had more energy.
5. I started being more adventurous.
Enhancing my “adventure factor” was huge for me. This didn’t mean that I had to put on a hat like Indiana Jones and trek through jungles, although that would have been cool. Adventure for me became just mixing up my life routine, which is naturally hard for me because I like to do the same things that I’m comfortable with.
But I began to break out of that mold and it felt totally liberating. When I would go skiing, I sought out a new run totally off the beaten path. When I was tempted to go to the same restaurants I would always go to, I would Google recommendations and check out a different flavor. Turkish food? Sure. I would simply ask the question, “How can I make this situation more fun and adventurous?” Have fun with this question. It gets your brain working at a whole new level!
Give these things a shot or do what you know works for you personally. It definitely takes a lot of courage to implement significant change to become happier, but I know that everyone can do it. Even if you just start small, begin. Life is too short for us to not live at a 10x’d happiness level.
Author: Brock Cannon
Image: Mark W/Flickr
Editor: Catherine Monkman; Caitlin Oriel