By Dr. Kate Siner
If you're like most people, you think happiness is a destination -- and that, of course, YOU have a one-way ticket there.
You might also believe that happiness comes with having everything you want. But, thinking this way can really mislead us and results in us looking for happiness in all the wrong places while comparing ourselves against impossible ideals.
We're constantly exposed to the media telling us our lives require event filled days, adventurous nights, and luxurious experiences in order to make it fulfilling. When we compare our lives against these images, our existence can seem boring or ho-hum when in reality our lives are actually quite normal.
If you find that each of your days fade into the next, remember: Nothing is wrong with your life and nothing is wrong with you! It's just that in reality -- some of life is just not that exciting. However, you can do some simple things to shake things up, break the rut, and put some "WOW" into our normal, ordinary days.
In other words: To really get the most out of life, we need to learn to make the most out of life.
Doing this is easier and more fun than you might expect. Best of all, it doesn't require that you climb a mountain or win the lottery to achieve it. So here are five fun ways to love the life you're living right here, right now:
1. Celebrate the super small stuff
We're the "meaning makers" of our life. If we don't create meaning, appreciate the little things, celebrate our wins, and mourn our losses, then regardless of how good it gets nothing is going to feel that special.
There are some celebrations that you probably already observe (like birthdays and major holidays), but how do you celebrate your little wins? What goal did you reach that's deserving of a high-five? Know that when you get a tiny raise, work out faithfully for a month, spend two years at a job, or even adopt a dog ... it all matters. So, dedicate time to celebrating you and the ones you love. Need a hand getting started?
Try this: Pick a "brag" from your week so far that you're most proud of. Ask a loved one to do it, too. Then find a way to celebrate your "brags" together -- just for fun.
2. Accept a fun challenge
When you look back on your life, you might notice that some of your most challenging times become the most meaningful. Challenges make us focus, think, and call on resources that we didn't know we had. Overcoming a challenge helps us feel significant and accomplished.
Pick something that you'd like achieve and set a goal for yourself. Or, take a risk to start something you've always wanted to do but have been afraid to try. And when you reach your goal -- that's right -- celebrate it! Whether it's learning a language, building a backyard deck, or finally organizing your online photos into albums, set a goal and make a game of achieving it.
3. Notice what a wonderful world you live in
One of the fastest ways to create meaning in your life is to look for things you're grateful for. So play a little "I-Spy" with your life. Call out what you already appreciate at home, at work, or with friends. Take a moment during breakfast or dinner to turn to a loved one (or friend) and tell them one thing you're grateful for, excited about, or intrigued by from your day.
Another approach is to tell one person per week how grateful you are for them or something that they've done. The great thing here is that when you express your gratitude, while those around you feel appreciated and noticed. It's a win for all involved.
4. Get curious when things don't go as expected
Most of us have unconscious expectations about how the details of our lives "should" go down. At the very least, we all have hopes that our lives will turn out in a particular way. When you're preoccupied with comparing what you have against what you think you should have, you're not able to appreciate what you have for what it is. It's that simple.
But let's get real here. Paying attention to what actually IS working in your day-to-day life is not about adopting a fake, sunny disposition about a crappy job or a hard situation. It's about getting clear on what's important to you and learning how to find it in your current situation.
5. Remember to feel your way through life
When we're bored or checked out, that's our reminder to check back in and ask ourselves, "What is it that I want to feel and how can I bring more of it into my day?"
One good way to move into each day is starting off in bed each morning asking yourself how you'd like to feel that day. How would you like to feel as you move through it? If there's a hard or challenging aspect of your day ahead, see if you can come up with a way to deal with it that handles the situation but also feels best for you.
As you go forward, build on and develop these five skills to start adding more actual enjoyment to your daily life.
But, don't worry if you have some days where you feel flat. It's normal. Remember that you can always wake up tomorrow and ask yourself, "What would I like today to feel like?"
This article originally appeared on YourTango.