Life is a roller coaster with easy coasts, fun turns, heart-pumping twists and terrifying plummets before yet another ascent. That steamroller pushes through different parts of life, from your career to your personal relationships to your passions in life.

When you plummet, it may be a short or long trip, and you may pass through several of those aforementioned parts on the way down — because all aspects of life are interconnected. Financial issues affect your marriage as you struggle to keep a roof over your heads.

You feel stuck in your career and life, but try to present a smile to the world, hiding how you feel inside. You reason that life isn’t all bad, and you know the ups are coming again — but it’s hard to dig yourself out of a funk and find the joy and beauty in the present.

Anxiety and stress impact your physical, mental and emotional health. Adverse effects may occur in the form of harmful behaviors like overeating or substance abuse. During the down times, remembering the most important things in your life gets tough, but you can still find happiness through gratitude.

1. Invest in Experience, Not Stuff

Many know that your memories and experiences hold more importance than acquiring material wealth, but it’s hard to let go of the fact that you need money in modern society to survive. You feel pressured to keep up with the status quo, adding more stress to your plate. It’s easy to get lost in the game of keeping up while being an unwilling participant.

The ideal amount of money to earn that makes people happy falls between $60,000 and $75,000. When it comes to life evaluation, the ideal income caps at $95,000 because an excess of this amount leads to unhealthy comparisons socially as you move beyond what’s required for comfort.

Poverty affects the lives of many, but the economic gains of the few create a disparity that places depression and distrust in the hearts and minds of all. Even lottery winners don’t find happiness after their initial feelings of elation. Focus more on investing in experience over material items. Expand your horizons locally and abroad. Spend time with your family, and make more time for yourself.

2. Prioritize Relationships

As social creatures, humans depend on interactions with others — particularly in close relationships with friends and family. Invest energy and time into your relationships. Call a friend between errands and suggest meeting up for a coffee, a dinner date or thrift shopping.

While a little “me time” matters, too much isolation adds to your stress and detracts from the quality of your relationships. Balance your alone time with social time.

3. Spend More Time in the Moment

How much time should you spend living in the past? What about the future? Living in a constant state of stress increases your risk of depression and heart disease, among other chronic conditions.

When stress takes hold, count your blessing instead of depressing minutes ticking slowly by. It’s hard to count your blessings when you feel down, but a little dose of gratitude and happiness will help take the edge off stress. Keep a pocket-sized journal to write down a small blessing daily, and see how much it improves the quality of everyday life.

When you live in the present, you don’t count the minutes. Step into the flow of life. Your focus remains in the present, where you direct it toward your goals and absorb everything you can with your senses.

4. Feed Yourself Well

To survive, you must fulfill your basic needs of food, water, and shelter. Beyond that, you need to feel loved, give love and do what you need to lead a full life. So, feed yourself well.

Your mood is affected by what you take in, and eating well-balanced meals with colorful foods on your plate will help provide you with your daily recommended nutrition.

At the end of a long day, you probably eat a big meal and overload, so switch up your routine with more, smaller meals and better snacks, such as nuts. Almonds are high in vitamin E and give you energy, and many varieties of nuts contain vitamin E, magnesium and copper.

You must also feed your mind and heart. Learn a new language, or take dance classes. Balance your heart and mind to find the path to happiness.

5. Do Not Live Passively

Routines supposedly ground you — healthy ones, that is. Too much time spent on passive activities, such as tube time, affects your personal happiness, relationships, and overall health.

Limit your screen time, and get outside. Exercise releases endorphins and increases levels of contentment. Start with an evening walk in a nearby park surrounded by trees, water and wildlife. Connect more with nature to understand yourself better and be an active participant in your life.

6. Help Others

Help someone out. The smallest acts of kindness make someone else’s day better, and yours, too. Acts of altruism, whether doing community service or picking up the tab for a stranger’s coffee, make generosity and positivity contagious.

Helping someone else get through the day will help you flow through yours with a smile. It makes living in the world a little more worthwhile.

You can’t buy happiness, but you can invest in experiences that make your life fulfilling.

Jennifer Landis

Jennifer Landis

Jennifer Landis is a wife, mom, writer, and healthy living blogger. She enjoys longs walks around the block with her toddler, prefers tea over coffee, and eats way too much peanut butter. You can find more from Jennifer on her blog, Mindfulness Mama or follow her on Twitter @JenniferELandis

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