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11 Small Ways to Create a More Satisfying Life

Image of orange clouds at sunrise. Counseling, Katherine Broadway, Raleigh Psychotherapy

From when you get up in the morning to when you go to bed, life can be difficult and challenging. There are things that we cannot change and there are things we can; sometimes, the only thing we can change is our attitude, but even that can make a significant difference and make our life more satisfying.


Joan hated to get up in the morning. She decided she did not want to dread mornings any longer, so she carefully examined how she felt when she awoke, and what might make her feel better.

One highlight of the morning for Joan is her morning coffee. It warms her, wakes her, and makes her feel nurtured. On a shopping trip, she discovered a single-cup coffee machine with a timer that was small enough to sit by her bed.

Now, each evening before she goes to bed she gets her coffee ready. She now awakens to the smell of freshly brewed coffee and can enjoy it before she gets out of bed.

Just as Joan improved her morning with a simple change, you can change things about your day to make your life more pleasant and enjoyable.


1. Find Ways to Use Your Commute: You can fill your mind with what you enjoy. On your way to work, listen to an audiobook, podcast or some of your favorite music. Your local library has many audio books on CD and for download. Podcasts, Ted Talks, and streaming music are also available online for free.

2. Arrive early: You might ask why anyone would want to get somewhere sooner than necessary. This will start your day in a relaxed way: no rushing and stressing. Arriving early will start your day with pleasure rather than anger and frustration.

3. Plan your day: No plan is set in stone, but having an idea of what you need to do and when to do it will lower your stress. Before you leave work, make a plan for the next day. Make a plan for the next day's personal business and tasks before going to bed at night.

4. Time Inventory: Take a time inventory to see how you are actually using your time. Are you efficient or are you losing valuable time by switching tasks too often? It takes more time to refocus than to finish a job once it’s started.

5. Take a Break: I cannot say enough about the value of a short break. It refreshes you, helps you think more clearly, gives you energy, a new perspective, and a clearer focus.

6. Exercise: It is not necessary to go to a gym or exercise class to get benefits from exercise. Any movement will increase the flow of oxygen to your brain and reduce stress. It can be as simple as walking the steps in your building, or taking 5 minutes of your lunch break for a stroll. You could learn some calisthenic exercises or simply stretch.

7. Be positive: Again take an inventory: how much do you complain? For every complaint you have, think of a solution or positive thought. The more you complain, the more negative you will feel; the more positive you are, the better you will feel. We are influenced by our own thoughts and ideas.

8. Be helpful and ask for help: When you help others you will feel better about yourself and less alone.

9. Office/personal gossip and politics: Even if you want to advance in your job, politics are not the way to achieve your goals. Talking about others will catch up with you and cause conflict. The best way to get ahead is to excel at what you do, help others and be positive.

10. Be adaptive: Life is about change. Adapting to change will make your life flow smoother and create less conflict inside and out.

11. Don’t take criticism too personally and seriously: Criticism is someone else's opinion. Evaluate what they are saying and be honest with yourself. Look for the “grain of salt” and use it to your benefit. Let the rest go.

A satisfying and happy life is not something that just happens. We have to work and create our lives for ourselves. There are many, many more ways to improve your life than I have mentioned. If you have other ideas and ways you make your life more satisfying, please share.

If you are having problems creating a happy life call me, I can help. (919) 881-2001.

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