Can you learn how to be happy? Is happiness much like any other habit, in that we have the opportunity to practice and reinforce happiness? We’re not suggesting a quick fix, but TrainHeroic’s co-founder, Josh Sutchar, spends the next few minutes working to convince you to try his checklist approach to hacking happiness in your own life.
While we often fixate on this idea of success and perfection, Josh suggests a slightly different direction, focusing less on striving for perfection and instead, taking a few small swings at simply being happy every single day.
As Co-founder and Vice President, Josh has been on his professional journey with TrainHeroic since 2011. Prior to joining TrainHeroic, Josh played football for coach Jim Harbaugh at the University of San Diego. Josh was lucky enough to be coached by strength coach Shannon Turley (Stanford) and Stephane Rochet (US Navy) and realized quickly how impactful strength and conditioning was on human and athletic development. Today, Josh leads TrainHeroic’s Coaching Services Team, learns from TrainHeroic’s internal team, coaches, and customers, and does his best to train like he’s still playing ball. He’s been waiting patiently since 2009 for the phone to ring with the NFL commissioner announcing he’s been drafted and we just don’t have the heart to tell him to give it up…”
// Learning How To Be Happy Is A Daily Habit
It was not yet 6 am and as I walked into our college weight room, I noticed that there was fresh paint above the weight racks that read:
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” -Will Durant
Coach Rochet built much of the equipment in that weight room himself. I’m not sure where he found the time or the budget, but he did, and I remember him spending his weekends in there on his hands and knees hammering together the sleds that would help mold our team into a championship bunch that offseason.
I’m not sure why, but that quote stuck with me and 10+ years after the fact, it still does.
“Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
How badly do you want to be excellent though?
And if the answer is “not that bad” is that a fundamental flaw?
How To Be Happy With Yourself
For me, I’ve been on a simpler quest and although being excellent would be, well… excellent, simply seeking happiness for my own life would be just fine for me personally.
Happiness (rather than excellence) feels far more worthwhile but that’s just one man’s opinion.
To experience excellence without happiness sounds fruitless to me.
To experience happiness without excellence, well, I’m okay with that.
Not that two need to be mutually exclusive, but if I have the option of pursuing just one of those, I’m pursuing happiness.
“Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
What if we replaced “excellence” with “happiness” then?
Would it still hold true?
Like excellence, could happiness be attained by simply “doing things “(the right things), repeatedly?
I believe so.
And here’s what I’m proposing is true.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Happiness, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – yours truly
Happiness Is A Habit
I believe that most of us can make a conscious choice to be happy, in the same way that we can make a conscious choice to be healthy, informed, or even successful.
You see, you don’t simply wake up and say “I choose to be healthy, or I choose to be informed, or I choose to be successful.”
You don’t wake up and say “I choose to be happy” or even “I choose to be excellent.”
As we quote Will Durant saying, excellence is a habit. It’s the result of the many small choices that we make each and every day.
In my pursuit of happiness, I’ve concocted a recipe with 7 specific habits that I believe, when done with consistency, and over time, manufactures and manifests happiness in my own life, and I don’t think I’m special by any stretch.
I think these 7 habits can do the same for you. They can manufacture and manifest happiness in your life.
More importantly, I believe that the person that you’ll become as a result along the way will put you in a state where you’re able to share and spread that happiness to those around you too.
Most importantly, I believe that you can take these 7 habits today, and that you can begin manufacturing happiness for yourself and those around you immediately.
Now, before we dive in, I want to acknowledge that each of us is a unique being.
// Learn How To Live A Happy Life
The 7 secrets have worked for me in my own life and I encourage you to test my hypothesis (that it will work wonders for you as well), but please know that I arrived here through years of trial and error.
I’d encourage you to do the same and to be honest with yourself along the way.
Evaluate what’s working, what’s not, and how you can take the 7 secrets as a starting point on your path toward pursuing happiness in your own life.
One last thing before we dive into the 7 secrets, and here’s my promise to you:
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If you implement these 7 secrets for 7 days, without making an exception, you’ll find yourself noticeably happier
You’ll smile more often
You’ll set a new standard for yourself and your life, in how you feel, who you are, and what you expect from and for yourself day-in and day-out
The Seven Secrets On How To Be Happy
Here is the list of seven secrets I have come up with to help me learn how to be happy. Remember it is a habit. You have to want to be happy for it to come true.
Secret To Happiness 1 – Wake Up Immediately to Your Alarm + Take a Cold Shower
There are two important details here.
The “Immediately” part is intentional and there’s a reason behind it. I won’t pretend to be smarter than I am so I’ll spare you the explanation, but there’s a real impact (and a hugely positive one) to waking up immediately when your alarm goes off. No snooze button, and no laying and thinking about how you’d rather stay in your warm cozy bed. In fact, don’t let your brain make any of the calls at this point. Phil Knight said it best, Just do it.
Here’s the science on why if you’re a nerd like me.
Now that you’re up, turn the shower on and set the temp as cold as it’ll go.
Now jump in.
Let the water hit your face, back of your neck, and everywhere else. There are few things that compare to the freezing cold water hitting the back of your neck first thing in the AM.
If you’re like me (human), you’ll be scared of getting in, anticipating how uncomfortable it’ll be. Now, I don’t consider myself especially brave or courageous, but there’s a certain bravery and courage you’ll develop by doing this first thing in the morning.
As you wash yourself in freezing cold water, every single cell in your body is waking up. Your lymphatic system is getting a good ‘ol flush too. Here’s why that’s important and why this made the list if you want to take a deeper dive.
You’ll find yourself smiling as you jump out of there, wearing your hard nips as a badge of honor as you get ready for the day.
There are real science-based benefits to taking cold showers but this doesn’t make the 7 secrets because of the physiological benefits.
There’s something special about that feeling of accomplishment you’ll have just 5 minutes after getting out of bed, replacing the time that you’d typically fall back asleep or wake up reaching for the snooze button… again.
Spartan’s Joe De Sena explains in his book Spartan Up that everything that we do in life is relative and if you can start your day off miserably (Joe’s poison is a treacherous training session), then sitting in traffic for an hour is quite easy.
After your cold shower, things get easier!
Secret To Happiness 2 – Journal for 5 Minutes
When I was 26 years old and living in Boulder, CO, I came across a book that changed my life forever.
Hal Elrod’s The Miracle Morning.
The takeaway from the book (for me) was that you set the tone for your day through your actions in the AM. Hal walks readers through how you can create your “miracle morning” by putting together a list of “must-haves” each AM before you start your day.
Hal asks readers to spring into action by waking up 30 minutes earlier than they typically do, incorporating the Miracle Morning into their day and their life.
Hal explains why the various elements of the miracle morning are vital, and he specifically lists the importance of:
1. An attitude of gratitude each AM
2. Visualizing what a great day would entail
There are both scientific and physiologic benefits and I can’t recommend the book highly enough.
Thanks to the advice that I put into action from that book, so many critical pieces of my life began coming together.
More importantly, I noticed a shift in my energy.
I had more energy, and more specifically, I had better energy.
Things that I visualized in my miracle morning started coming to fruition throughout the day, and not as a one-time thing either.
Hal helped me find the 5-minute journal, which takes all of the science of whatal teaches in the Miracle Morning, and puts it into a format where you have the opportunity to get all of the benefits (gratitude, visualizations, affirmations, and more) by journaling for just minutes per day.
I could take a deep dive into the specific benefits I’ve seen personally, and the $22 investment in the 5-minute journal has been the best investment I’ve made on a product. Ever.
I remember flipping through the pages of my journal in 2017 and thinking to myself at the turning of each page, “oh, I remember that day, that was such an awesome day” and how the journal has made each day distinct, unique, and memorable is something that I can’t put a price tag on.
Taking the 5 minutes each day is a no-brainer and the benefits outweigh the costs 100,000 times over.
Secret To Happiness 3 – Meditate for 10 Minutes
“If you don’t have 10 minutes, you don’t have shit.” – Tony Robbins
Think about it.
Here are the benefits of meditation and to start, simply spend 10 minutes per day.
I’ve found that a subscription to Headspace was both affordable and helpful in holding me accountable.
Here’s the thing that I’ve found to be true about meditation, it’s not always obvious as to how much I’m benefitting from it but I’m not smart enough or dumb enough to argue with the research around it.
For this one, I figure the upside far outweighs the downside and there’s a certain calmness I feel on days when I meditate, and quite the opposite on days when I feel like I can’t afford to.
A $9/month subscription to Headspace has made meditation easier to integrate into my life.
Secret To Happiness 4 – 100 Reps While at Work
“I’m gonna knock out 20 air squats, who’s with me!?”… crickets…
I rarely have any takers, but I’m okay being the guy in the office that gives people the opportunity to feel good and to move a little bit (more on this with the next secret too!)
As soon as I get into the office I snag a sticky note and draw down five circles, and I fill in one each time I complete 20 reps of something physical.
That is typically push-ups, sit-ups, air squats, lunges, crunches, or band pull-aparts since those are quite easy to get done next to my desk.
Filling in the circles helps me to remember that I need to get up and move, and keeps my energy high while I’m at the office.
If it’s noon and I haven’t filled in more than 1 bubble, I’m behind the ball and need to get to work (or more accurately, get away from work for a few!).
Secret To Happiness 5 – Walk
Similar to the 100 reps, I’ve found that taking a 20-minute walk each day does a few things for me:
1. It forces me to get up and move
2. It gives me an opportunity to get some vitamin-D (especially in the winter)
3. It gives me an opportunity to hang with my colleagues or call my family
4. It reminds me that you can always find 20 minutes to take a break!
Go ahead and draw a circle on that same sticky note, just like this, and fill that sucker out each day.
I’m confident that you’ll find that you’re more productive, have better relationships because of it, and that the simple 20-minute walk will contribute (in a big way) to making you 😊.
Secret To Happiness 6 – Water
The other 5 circles on the sticky note each day are reminders to drink 5 glasses of water.
Every time I finish a cup, boom, I fill in a circle.
Again, if it’s noon and I’ve only filled in 1 water circle, I know I’m behind the ball and need to get to work.
We’re funny, us humans. We’re always looking for an edge, a quick fix, something to help optimize our performance, and we often overlook the simple and most powerful things which can be right in front of us.
Water is the most powerful performance enhancer on the planet, more so than any mental or physical “supplement” you can imagine.
Still need to be convinced? Check this out.
Secret To Happiness 7 – Workout
“The easiest way to convince your body that sitting in traffic is not worthy of a stress-induced freakout is by showing your body what real stress feels like, in the controlled setting of your daily workout.” – Joe De Sena, Spartan Up
I firmly believe that working out (and training hard) can equip you for anything that life will throw your way.
There’s just something special about the feeling, the pride, and the confidence that you have after getting beat up and knocked down, but getting up and getting through a challenging training session.
Conquering one of those every day is an opportunity to build confidence in ourselves and there’s something very real and tangible about having confidence in yourself and it’s not all squishy and soft.
I’m typically training with Power Athlete using TrainHeroic, but when I can’t get that done, I make sure that I do something truly tough each day.
Whether it’s a short run, long run, 100 burpees or a long training session at the gym, getting a real training session each day is something that will mold more than just your body.
// Happiness is Power
Now, I know we’ve all heard that “Knowledge is power” and personally I think that’s bullshit.
Knowledge is potential power though, so don’t let the potential power behind this go to waste.
To help you take this “knowledge” and turn it into something powerful for you.
Here is my challenge to you:
1. Make a checklist that looks like this, with all 7 secrets clearly outlined or click here for a printable version
2. Follow your plan. Simply complete these 7 things every single day for the next week, without a single exception
3. Start now
The How to Be Happy Checklist
Here you have it:
1. Wake up immediately and take a cold shower
4. 100 reps
Oh, and here’s a disclaimer.
This won’t be easy.
Not many things that are worthwhile are.
So, prepare your mind and make a resolution to yourself that you’re “all in.” I mean, it’s for 7 days (unless, like me, you decide that you’d like to be happier forever).
Good luck and just know that I’m here if you have a question, suggestion, feedback, or if you want to share your stories on how the seven secrets changed your life too!
Email me anytime at [email protected].
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TO THE NEXT LEVEL
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