“The plain fact is that human beings are happy only when they are striving for something worthwhile.” – Unknown
Some of us feel successful doing different things. Some of us get that feeling from getting straight A’s in a class, some of us do not. Some may get that feeling when they score that new job, others do not.
The fact of the matter is that all feelings of success for most of us have one common theme no matter what the outcome.
We all feel successful and happy when we LEARN.
Learning is something I’m fairly used to. I learned awhile back that learning is part of my personality. I’m hard-wired to like it and enjoy archiving any and all information just because I may need it some day in the future. I’ve always understood learning is a big piece to my success but until yesterday when I read Scott Dinsmore’s post on learning, I didn’t think of it as such an important piece to everyone’s success.
To Scott’s point, I agree completely. You cannot continue to move forward if you are not learning. In fact, that is the only thing you have direct control over.
For example, maybe you didn’t get that promotion because it “just wasn’t the right time.” Then, continue learning. Find areas that interest you or areas of opportunity and become better at them. If you still don’t get promoted then at least you’ll have the skills to take elsewhere. No one is in control of your career or life except you. And no one can stop you from learning. You’re in complete control.
Learning something new and then sharing with others is one of the best and easiest ways to feel successful. It can be the smallest thing or your life’s work. It all feels the same.
Maybe you’re unhappy? I doubt you’re unhappy with every aspect of your life but maybe you are. Take a hard look at what area(s) in your life you’re unhappy with. Fill that gap with learning. Find out what it is that you don’t like and figure out a way to integrate a new skill or hobby into that void. You’re now happier because you’re successfully learning something new and adding value to your life but you’re also not wasting time thinking about how unhappy you are.
The best part is there are so many different ways to learn. So many different levels to it. Some examples could be:
- Research your next big purchase: Most people just go out and buy a new car because they’ve heard good things from friends or they like the look. Next time you buy a car really research it. Go to edmunds to see hundreds of consumer reviews. Find car forums to see what real-life people (not friends or family) are saying about the car brand new and 100,000 miles later. Really learn about the purchase. It’ll allow you to make a better decision and have greater pride about what you own.
- Go to YouTube or TEDtv and watch some great videos: Some are very inspirational, some are the most educating 30 minutes you’ve ever had. Either way, you are learning something new in a very short time-frame. You’ll step away feeling happier and hopefully motivated. (I’m actually trying to make a habit of watching one Ted video each morning.)
- Read a book: Fictional, nonfictional, biography, whatever. Reading a book always allows you to jump into the mind of someone else. Whether it’s the author or a character in the book, it gives you an opportunity to see the world from a different lens. That’s never a bad thing and you always end up learning something new.
- Learn to play an instrument: I realize this is a much more time-consuming thing to learn but some of us have enough time to do this. The greatest thing about learning a new instrument is that every day, every lesson gives a sense of satisfaction and happiness. You don’t have to be an expert at guitar to walk away at the end of the day feeling successful about it. You just have to make progress.
- Watch a documentary: This is by-far my favorite way to learn something. I’m a visual person and get hooked to any sort of connection I can make with the person or group relaying a message back to me. Head out to Netflix, Hulu or any other video on demand service and watch a good documentary. Whether it’s a positive or negative message, I guarantee you’ll walk away from it not only feeling like you’ve learned something but hopefully you will want to take action as well. (I’ve watched many documentaries but if I had to recommend one I would point you toward 180˚ South on Netflix for free.)
We’ve all been in those moments where we just feel bored. We’ve all had moments in our careers and our lives where we don’t feel like we’re fully giving it our all. I will tell you from experience, learning is one of the only ways I’ve found to get out of these slumps.
If you find yourself in one of these situations, I encourage you to do one of the examples from above or something else you can think of to bring learning into the mix.
Think of a time in your life where you were unhappy. Did you get out of that slump or maybe it just hid for a while?
It’s likely that if you got out of it there was learning involved. Maybe it was just talking to someone, but you learned what they had to say and hopefully they said something to make you feel better.
Now, take a hard look at your life right now, present moment. Are you unhappy with any aspect? Hopefully not, but you may be. If so, think about something you can learn that will help take your mind off of it and ultimately resolve your problem. Try to learn something that will directly affect your unhappiness.
As an example, maybe you’re unhappy with your physical health. Simply, go online and look up a few easy exercises that anyone can do from anywhere. Now, take 20 minutes and do them. You’ll feel better not only because you learned a few exercises you can do at any time but you also just put into action something that will fill that void of unhappiness in your present life. You’ve taken the first step of learning and then doing.
I realize not every situation is as easy as the one above, but you can see how learning something and then putting that knowledge to use can make you successful and ultimately happy.
If you have a few more minutes right now why don’t you head over to TEDtv and search for a video of interest. Maybe it’s about learning, or motivational, or inspirational. Whatever it is, I guarantee you’ll learn something you didn’t know before.
Take the time to learn and enjoy giving it back to others. That’s the easiest way for you to be successfully happy.
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