As you hustle your hardest at work, you may sometimes forget to stop and ask yourself: “Am I happy?” Doing so is not only good for your physical and mental health, but it can also give you confidence and a pay boost at work.
But as author and creative entrepreneur Adam J. Kurtz says, there’s actually no big secret to happiness.
“Happiness is such a broad idea and we’re all so desperate for it,” Kurtz tells CNBC Make It. “We know what it feels like, we think we know how to get it and yet we aren’t happy 24/7, even though we know so much about it.”
In his upcoming book, “Things Are What You Make of Them,” Kurtz shares a mini-collection of inspirational essays and “no-nonsense advice” for “creatives.”
“If you’re using creative problem solving to make something happen, you’re a creative. Whether you are launching a freelance business, building a brand, managing a company of hundreds, or even planning a wedding,” Kurtz says you can be considered a creative, “paint splattered jeans or not.”
“By taking a second to really think about what happiness is, how to identify what we need, and how to manage expectations,” he says, “we might get more of what we really want.”
Here are the eight surprisingly basic steps Kurtz says you can take to be happier in life.
1. Embrace yourself
“Life is constantly reminding us about what we don’t have but what about all that we do have?” Kurtz writes.
While Kurtz has been putting out creative work for the likes of Urban Outfitters, Strand Bookstore and Adobe over the past 10 years, it was in the past two that he turned his creative passions into his full-time job.
But he says one of his biggest challenges as a small business owner is “getting past our own s–t.”
“We have so much potential and we don’t always know how to harness it,” Kurtz says. “When you work for yourself, every minute you’re not making something, you feel like you’re slacking.”
Take a moment to tune in to what is already present in your life and embrace yourself, he says.
2. Acknowledge sadness
Science shows that there are a slew of reasons you shouldn’t fake happiness at work, but Kurtz notes you shouldn’t hide sadness from yourself either.
“Recognize what is hurting you,” Kurtz writes. “This might mean taking real time to process.”
Succumbing to fear will get you stuck in a place you might not want to be, as former Google career coach Jenny Blake tells CNBC.
If you’re worried something, create a plan to address it, Blake says. If that means speaking with your boss, asking for help or making more time for yourself, moving is better than staying still, she adds.
3. Create and meet goals
“Having something positive to look forward to is important,” Kurtz writes, as it creates an incentive to be rewarded.
He says that creating and meeting goals, whether they are small or big goals, will encourage to continue setting further goals in the future.
4. Find fresh inspiration
It’s easy to get caught up in your line of work and feel like that’s all there is, Kurtz notes, so get out there and be inspired by the world.
“‘Your thing’ can start to feel like the ‘only thing,’ but there’s just so much to experience, learn, or invest in,” Kurtz writes.
To switch things up, Kurtz recommends traveling more, reading more or learning a new skill.
5. Enjoy nature
Kurtz puts out a gentle reminder to go out and soak in some sun.
“It’s not all sunshine and rainbows,” Kurtz writes, but scientifically speaking, he has a point.
Research shows that about half the world suffers from vitamin D insufficiency, which can really take a toll on your overall health.
“As for rainbows, well, you’ve got to weather the storm first,” Kurtz writes. “Hang in there.”
6. Celebrate the small things
Give yourself some credit for the small wins in your life
Kurtz recommends finding a sense of accomplishment even in some of your everyday tasks, like waking up in the morning, running errands or paying your rent on time.
“The things you take for granted might be major accomplishments for someone else,” Kurtz writes.
7. Don’t seek out perfection
As you pursue getting what you want, you may inevitably face a roadblock on the way.
Kurtz recommends that instead of seeking out perfection, try just being happy with what comes along.
“Find a way to be happy with what you already have,” Kurtz writes, “and you’ll always have exactly what you need.”
8. Forget the ‘destination’
While many of us may get caught up in trying to meet our end goals, Kurtz reminds that happiness isn’t a place or the end result that you might be striving toward.
“It’s cliche, but happiness is a journey,” Kurtz says. Happiness will find you along this journey.
“It’s hard to remember that when you’re really happy, and it’s hard to remember that when you’re really sad too,” he says. “But life is (hopefully) long and we’ll constantly be working towards becoming our best, happiest selves.”
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