The 7 Habits of Happy Men

Male unhappiness creates an emotional deficit that often bleeds over into men’s relationships, their jobs, and their health. Studies reveal that unhappiness among men can result in emotional isolation, depression, anger issues, physical sickness, and even early death.

The good news is that studies also show that happiness is intentional and can become a habit. Even better, it’s tied to seven daily behaviors that can lead you to a greater sense of fulfillment, joy, and getting “more life out of life” than you ever realized.

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They Pursue Life Goals

Ray Dalio, hedge fund manager and author of “Principles,” writes that “principles are the fundamental truths that serve as behaviors that get you what you want out of life.”

Men who experience the highest levels of happiness are the ones who pursue what is important to them and make daily decisions to stay on track. Commit to the principle of staying focused on what you truly want to accomplish and the willingness to say “no” to anything that would detract from that focus. 

Each time you make a principle-driven decision about your life’s goals, you can expect to feel better about yourself and happier as a result. Need an additional dose of motivation? Read">books about productivity to help you stay focused. 

They Make Gratitude a Practice

The happiest men make gratitude a daily practice. As a result, they literally rewire their brains to alleviate depression and negative emotional impact, training themselves to experience greater joy.

Studies reveal that even small improvements in gratitude can have far-reaching effects, from greater physical strength, appetite control, impulse control,">improved sleep, decreased depression, and greater dopamine release leading to fewer aches and pains. Start today by spending a few minutes reflecting on the feeling of being grateful for the good in your life and the good you’ve contributed.

They Exercise Daily

In the book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, the authors make the case that if pharmaceutical companies could squeeze all the mental/emotional/benefits of physical exercise into a pill, the world’s population would be beating at their gates to buy it.

Physically active men who engage in daily exercise and practice sound health habits experience lower levels of depression, lower anxiety, experience greater dopamine release for greater joy, sleep better, experience greater quality positive emotions, live longer, and more importantly, experience higher levels of personal happiness.

Just 20 minutes of daily exercise can put you on the path to greater happiness and resiliency, so get moving today. If you're looking for a quick and simple workout, try this">six-round bodyweight circuit. 

They Value Progress, However Slow

The happiest and most fulfilled men have a deep need to make progress in their lives. In his book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Dr. Daniel Pink reveals that what motivates men is the experience of their ability to control their destiny. This sense of self-reliance and autonomy is developed through adopting a growth mindset where you make incremental gains with the occasional breakthrough towards your goal.

Progress is a byproduct of positive effort resulting in the quality of “happily succeeding” versus trying to “succeed in order to be happy.” To help, progress -- small or large -- should be recognized and celebrated for contributing to the direction of your life’s goals. This behavioral loop of effort and reward offers you positive emotional support to keep you moving forward toward your goals.

They Forgive & Forget

“Forgiveness is the fragrance of the violet on the heel of the one who crushed it," said Mark Twain. 

The ability to forgive is the tactical nuke of happiness. The power to forgive someone, or ourselves, for all of our human frailty and weakness reflects how healthy a man’s mind truly is.

Forgiving someone for hurting you isn’t the same as saying it’s okay that they did it or that you have to allow them back in your life. It simply means that you’re no longer willing to invest the mental/emotional bandwidth in reliving the trauma it caused over and over again in your thoughts. Instead, you’re letting it go and refusing to wallow around in a gutter of anger, depression, fear, or other low-value emotions.

And this includes forgiving yourself.

The happiest men are the ones that accept their weaknesses and shortcomings by realizing that they are not perfect. Yes, you may have done some really bad things or something stupid but, if you remember the growth mindset from earlier, you are not stuck in place. Instead, commit to becoming a better person instead of flogging yourself over and over again about it.

In the end, forgiveness allows you to move on and become a better man, which is kind of the whole point.

They Are Mindful & Present-Focused

The happiest men are those that spend time experiencing the peace of the current moment. Men who spend too much time thinking about the past often experience the most regret and sadness. Worse, this can make them fearful of creating a more compelling future, becoming a vicious cycle of learned helplessness.

Two powerful tools can help you avoid this trap and become happier as a result: Meditation and journaling. Daily meditation has been proven to lower stress, and help people become more present in the moment and emotionally self-aware.

Ray Dalio kept a journal throughout his life as he built his company, Bridgewater Associates LP. The lessons he recorded on his journey to becoming a billionaire hedge fund manager proved invaluable, and helped him keep sight of what was important to him on the way: his family, friends, and colleagues.

Commit to spending 5 to 10 minutes alone and quieting your mind while recording your life experiences in a journal to serve you in the future.

They Make Socializing a Priority

Men who spend more time alone, in the absence of family and friends, are more likely to live shorter lives and experience a lower quality of life.

Something as simple as eating dinner with family or a significant other can elevate feelings of happiness, creating deeper feelings of intimacy. Spending time with friends at sporting events or taking part in poker night are effective ways to create a sense of belonging, further increasing feelings of joy and contentment. Mentoring or parenting a child foster strong feelings of contribution and feeling “needed,” serving a greater good than one’s self and offering purpose. Make it a ritual to eat together as a family or go out with a group of friends on a regular basis. Stay off social media and interact more one-on-one as well.

Over time, you’ll create greater bonds and satisfy that part of your DNA that needs to feel needed and contribute creating positive emotions. Even better, you’ll help others experience that as well.

They Prioritize Their Own Wellbeing

From an early age, you’re taught to be a protector and provider, which is noble, to be sure, but not enough to develop into a balanced, adjusted man.

Your mental well-being is just as important to the other roles you live up to and needs to be a priority.

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