What are your priorities? In the United States we focus on success, accomplishment and status. We often get so wrapped up in everything that we become completely disconnected from our community. We live in “the land of the free,” where we all have more than we need, yet the U.S ranks very low on the happiness scale. How can that be? The fact is that we often focus on the wrong things. Rarely do we step back to evaluate what is truly important and what makes us truly happy. Unfortunately, it usually takes a catastrophic event or a tragedy in your life to make a shift. The interesting thing is, when you are happy, you tend to better in your job and accomplish more in your life.

Health is also something we take for granted, at least until we lose it. The factor that both happiness and health have in common is simplicity. Most of the time the truth lies in the simplest answer. Here are 5 steps that will help you live a simpler, happier, and healthier life.

Step One: Start your Morning off Right.

Too often we get up and scramble to get everything done. We go through a checklist in our mind of everything we need to accomplish for the day, and then we wonder why we feel so chaotic and rushed throughout the day. Try to take 15 minutes to a half hour to let yourself wake up and appreciate the quiet and still of the morning. Have your breakfast outside if you can. Practice not speaking first thing and just be in the moment.

gradenStep Two: Plant a Garden or Participate in a Community Garden.

When you are involved in helping and watching something grow, you have a sense of pride and accomplishment. When you combine that with working together in your community you really increase your happy mojo. Humans were meant to work together in a community, and one of the oldest ways we worked together was through farming. Also, when it’s harvest time, you get to enjoy the great tasting fruits and veggies that you worked really hard to help grow!

Step Three: Exercise

Well duh, right? Everyone knows that exercise is good for you, but many people stress themselves out and cram into gyms to just get it over with. Try exercising outside. Here in Boulder there are so many places to hike, run, or bike. Not only are there a lot of places, but they are breathtakingly beautiful. Exercising outside lets us be closer to nature and increases all of our senses, as well as gives us a healthy dose of fresh air and vitamin D.

cookStep Four: Cook at Home

You don’t have to be Julia Child to make a wonderful meal. When you cook your food, you are more likely to eat healthier and cut out processed foods. Cooking at home is even better when we cook with our significant other or friends. Again, humans are social creatures, and we need a sense of community. Try having potlucks and BBQs with your friends. This way it is not so much work for you and it is so much fun!

Step Five: Get Rid of your Cable.

How dare you! Yes, I know this one may be hard for some of you. Here is the thing. All the black box wants to do is to sell you things you don’t need and tell you that the world is ending. The TV has become part of our culture as Americans. On average, we watch 34 hours a week! Imagine what you could do with that time: read a book, learn a foreign language, work out, have an amazing conversation. Again, when we isolate ourselves and numb our brain, it makes us less happy. Now I am not saying you have to get rid of your TV all together; just think about limiting it to maybe 1 hour a day.

We all have the capacity to be happy and love our lives. We should feel connected with our community and friends. It is easy to get caught up in all the consumerism and negative things that are happening in the world, but at the same time we can make the choice to live a little more simply and slow down from time to time. So get out there and have a wonderful day!!

In the end, it’s not going to matter how many breaths you took, but how many moments took your breath away.

– Shing Xiong