In July of 2011 I hit the lowest point of my life. I was 170 pounds overweight, I was at a job I absolutely hated, and I lived in a place that made me worried about my family’s safety. Oh yeah, I owed over $100,000 to the IRS (almost forgot about that one).
One day that July I was sitting on the couch crying as everything came crashing down on my head at the same time. The straw that broke the camels back was my wife and I separating. Everyday we fought about everything because of all the problems I brought into our lives.
I sat there that day with the TV on not really thinking about what I was watching. A commercial came on showing this happy family playing on the beach. They were laughing and happy. I wondered why that couldn’t be my family?
Today my life is a miracle. We are truly happy and it happened in ways that I would have never expected. I searched and searched for the answers to happiness. They were right under my nose.
If you’re struggling or if you just want to live a happier life I have four tips that can help you get there.
1. Sleep more
At the end of the day a lot of the reason we feel the way we do can be contributed to not getting enough sleep. When you don’t have enough energy for the day it naturally affects how you feel and your attitude.
Sleep is something we know we need yet don’t get enough of consistently. How much sleep should you get? That’s specific to each of us but I can tell you that you can always use more.
If you look at some of successful people in our history you’ll see they average around 7 hours of sleep a night. Doctors have a lot to say about not getting enough sleep and all the health problems it leads to. This article by CNN really makes you think.
When I was depressed during the rough times I compounded the problem with a lack of sleep. With the job I hated I slept three to four hours a night, which wasn’t healthy. I was a jerk and gained weight from the odd hours and a lack of motivation.
If you’re feeling drained or a little down try getting an extra hour of sleep every night. Turn off the prime-time TV shows and go to bed a little earlier. You’ll wake up refreshed and ready to tackle your day.
After you’ve tackled any sleep issues it’s time to move more. At my heaviest I was 370 pounds. I woke up and looked at myself in the mirror and hated life. My happiness could definitely be linked to my weight.
I started slowly by walking for 30 minutes a day. After I started to lose a few pounds and felt better I started running. Over the course of a year between exercise and eating right I was able to lose 160 pounds.
Running may not be your thing but find some sort of physical activity that you can do that will get your heart pumping. Start slow and if at all possible start your day with exercise. When you do you’ll have the energy you need all day. It’s an amazing and mind refreshing way to start your day.
The stats are staggering as to what exercise can do for your body and state of mind. They’re also staggering to the crisis we face with our health. This report is eye opening from the President’s council on fitness.
With the weight gone I have more confidence and more energy. I’m more productive and all of this has lead to living a happier life. My wife is also happy having half a husband. If exercise isn’t a part of your life you should add it. You’ll see amazing results and it will lead to a happier life.
3. Do work you love
Yeah I know, easy said than done. Right? There are many physical and mental issues that can arise from doing work you hate. This piece by the Huffington Post clearly points them out.
I can tell you from personal experience that the job I hated was part of the reason for me gaining weight, not sleeping enough and not experiencing happiness. Even when I wasn’t at work I still thought about it and it affected my attitude in a negative way.
Finding or creating a job you love is hard. It’s also not one of those things you can change overnight. However if you start working on it today you can get closer to finding or creating work you love.
If you listen to the news you’ll hear how bad our economy is and how there’s no opportunities. As you’re reading this realize that today 2.5 billion people will also be online with you.
If you’ve ever wanted to start a business or help a current business there’s never been a better place than the Internet. Everyday people are experiencing true freedom by having online businesses. You can also use the Internet to find that job you love.
In 2011 I started on the journey to create an online business. Now in 2014 I’m writing this post from my home in Maui, Hawaii completely supported by my online business. It’s not easy but it is possible.
The point here is that you spend 40-60 hours of your week working. One way or another it will affect you. If you’re not happy with your work start the process today. Take the first step even if it’s a baby step.
4. Stop comparing
It’s natural to compare where are or what’s happening in your life to what someone else is going through. If someone is experience success we tend to want to compare where we’re at to where they’re at. Don’t do it!
As I made big changes in my life one way I measured my progress was comparing my results to what others were doing. I learned the hard way that comparing yourself to others only leads to bitterness and heartache.
Your journey is YOUR journey and shouldn’t be compared. Make changes at your pace. As long as you’re moving forward you’ll get there. If someone gets there before you congratulate him or her and then focus on your journey.
Getting caught up in the comparison game won’t help you. If you want to live a happy life live your life. Once I stopped comparing and really focus is when change happened. The Huffington Post does a good job laying out how comparing yourself to other people takes away from your happiness.
You can live a happier life if you decide you want to and take action to back up that decision. I lost 160 pounds, left that job I started to write, speak and coach full-time.
I moved from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Maui, Hawaii. I wake up everyday happy and excited for what the future holds. It took three years of hard struggle but I can tell you after the storm there’s always a rainbow.
You have the power. Life is too short to live and then die with regret. Do something about it, start today. Work on these four areas and I guarantee you’ll be living a happier life.
Which one of these are you working on? Which one do you need to work on?
This article first appeared on the Huffington Post