What if you could make your life amazing? Well, you can; and here’s how!

What if you could make your life amazing? Well, you can; and here’s how!

via Eric Barker

You already know a lot of things you should do to improve your life. Where we often get stuck is knowing what’s most important. What comes first. Where to start.

Asking yourself these questions is: A) a powerful personal exercise, and B) a great way to provoke an existential crisis. So let’s get the answers like we did in high school and just cheat off the nerdy kid…

Gallup scientists asked way too many people way too many questions and, unsurprisingly, got some really good answers about what makes life amazing.

From Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements:

Gallup conducted a comprehensive global study of more than 150 countries, giving us a lens into the wellbeing of more than 98% of the world’s population. From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, we asked hundreds of questions about health, wealth, relationships, jobs, and communities. We then compared these results to how people experience their days and evaluate their lives overall.

After crunching all the numbers, Gallup found there were 5 factors that were really critical. And then the estimable Tom Rath wrote them up in a wonderfully readable book titled Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements.

The good news is that there are things we can do to improve in all five categories. And they were simple and interesting enough to make me stop bingeing “Ray Donovan” and start typing.

Let’s break them down — in order of importance — and get this here show on the road…

“Career Wellbeing”

It isn’t necessarily about your job — it’s more about what you do with your time. It’s basically a measure of how subjects responded to the question, “Do you like what you do each day?”

It’s not too surprising this was the most important factor. If you don’t like what you’re doing the majority of your life, well, that’s probably not going to be a very happy life.

People who scored high in this area were “more than twice as likely to be thriving in their lives overall.” But only 20% of people scored that high. So what made all the difference?

You don’t have to be ecstatically happy with everything all the time. That makes you the crazy guy nobody wants to sit next to at lunch. But it is very important you be engaged.

When Gallup randomly tested people throughout the day to see what they were doing and how they felt (measuring heart rate, cortisol levels, and mood), they saw there was a world of difference between those who were really involved with their activities and those who were just counting down the minutes until the workday ended.

The former were far happier and less stressed. So much so that the people in the top 20% enjoyed workdays as much as weekends. (Yes, apparently that is possible.) Engagement made all the difference.

And it had long-term impact as well. People with the lowest engagement were far more likely to later be diagnosed with depression — and to have cholesterol and triglyceride levels that looked like a stick of butter.

From Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements:

…those who were actively disengaged in their careers in 2008 were nearly twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression over the next year… As employees’ levels of engagement at work increased, their total cholesterol and triglyceride levels significantly decreased. And those with decreasing levels of engagement at work had an increase in total cholesterol and triglycerides… Boosting your Career Wellbeing might be one of the most important priorities to consider for maintaining good health over the years.

So what do we need to do to increase engagement?

Use your strengths as much as you can. Doing what you’re good at makes you six times as likely to be engaged and more than three times as likely to be happy with your life.

From Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements:

One of the essentials to having fun at work is getting the opportunity to use your strengths every day. When we build on our strengths and daily successes — instead of focusing on failures — we simply learn more. Compared to those who do not get to focus on what they do best, people who have the opportunity to use their strengths are six times as likely to be engaged in their jobs and more than three times as likely to report having an excellent quality of life. Our global data show that these people can enjoy a full 40-hour workweek, while those who do not get to use their strengths get burned out after just 20 hours of work per week.

Beyond that, spend as much time as you can with people at work that you like. When surveyed, who did people least enjoy spending time with?

Their boss. What was it about El Jefe that really cratered people’s engagement levels? It wasn’t a mean boss — it was a supervisor who ignored them. And on the flip side, the best bosses focused on their employees’ strengths.

If you have a boss like this, you’re very lucky. There’s almost zero chance you feel actively disengaged at work.

From Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements:

The most disengaged group of workers we have ever studied are those who have a manager who is simply not paying attention. If your manager ignores you, there is a 40% chance that you will be actively disengaged or filled with hostility about your job. If your manager is at least paying attention — even if he is focusing on your weaknesses — the chances of your being actively disengaged go down to 22%. But if your manager is primarily focusing on your strengths, the chance of your being actively disengaged is just 1%, or 1 in 100.

(To learn more about the science of a successful life, check out my bestselling book here.)

Though “Career Wellbeing” was number one, it’s not everything. After all, there’s more to life than work. Your personal life is very important too…

…keep reading the full & original article HERE