How to Upgrade Your Life (from the Inside Out)
I’ve got something fascinating to share with you in this article. If you’re into personal growth like I am, you’ll probably find it pretty interesting too.
Let’s talk about how to upgrade our lives from the inside out.
According to two decades of research, five inner strengths are tied to higher life satisfaction, also known as thriving. These are the strengths that make some people much happier in life than others. The cool thing is, we can all cultivate these five strengths.
First, I’ll explain how to figure out if you’re high or low on these strengths. Then, we’ll take a closer look at each of the five strengths and explore some practical ways to start boosting them within you today.
How to Upgrade Your Life Satisfaction
Character strength research falls under the umbrella of positive psychology. About two decades ago, researchers identified 24 character strengths, grouped under six broader virtues. Out of these 24 strengths, five are more commonly associated with higher life satisfaction.
I encourage you to take the VIA Character Strengths survey to get a breakdown of all 24 strengths within you. Here’s the link to the free survey (it should take you about ten minutes to complete).
Now, let’s dive into the five most important strengths for happiness.
Note: I recommend picking one strength to focus on for at least one month.
The number one character strength tied to high life satisfaction is hope. This means having positive expectations about the future, being optimistic, and focusing on the good things to come.
Hope is crucial because without it, we tend not to set or pursue goals. Think about it: if we don’t believe we’ll achieve a goal, why should we bother even trying?
Also, without hope, we tend not to take action to improve our lives and may stay in situations that make us unhappy.
If you take the Character Strengths assessment I mentioned earlier, you’ll see where hope is situated in your results.
If it’s in the lower half, you can really upgrade your life satisfaction by increasing your hope. And if you’re already strong in hope, you can still enhance it. Hope is my fourth character strength, and I know I can benefit from cultivating it more.
How to Cultivate Hope
Here are two research-backed ideas to increase hope:
- Think of Possibilities: Consider a goal you have. Let’s say you’d like to start a YouTube channel but haven’t because you’re scared of criticism and that it might not work. Every day for the next two weeks, write down three reasons why it can work, and why you can build a successful channel.
- Three Good Things Exercise: Write down three positive things that happened during the day every evening. Also, add how you contributed to each positive experience. For example, if you wrote that someone complimented you on your outfit, you could say that you bought the outfit and decided to wear it.
The second most important indicator of life satisfaction is zest – the feeling of enthusiasm and excitement for life. Zest makes life more exciting.
I have a friend like that. She’s always in for trying new things, doing activities, and visiting places. And everything is more fun with her. She also has a youthful vibe. If you notice, people with a zest for life look and ‘feel’ younger. You feel younger, too, when spending time with them.
How to Cultivate Zest
- Movement: Engage in physical activity you enjoy. Something fun that makes you feel alive. For me, it’s running in nature, and soon I plan to take up tennis. If you can find a social activity, it’s even better.
- Passion Project or Hobby: Find a project that makes you feel alive. The reason it works is that Zest is often associated with having a calling, a passion that gives us a sense of purpose. The closest thing to a calling that’s more accessible is a passion project.
I made a video about how to find your soul-aligned passion project idea. Click here to watch.
The third most important indicator of life satisfaction is gratitude, and it’s the easiest one to cultivate.
How to Cultivate Gratitude
On top of the exercise I mentioned earlier of writing three good things that happen every day, you could also write down a short gratitude list every day. Along with why you’re grateful for each thing, try to pick recent things to avoid repeating the same ones all the time. Gratitude and hope are close to each other, so when you cultivate gratitude, you also increase your hope.
In fourth position is curiosity, the desire or interest to explore and try new things. It makes you want to visit new places, try different activities, and be open to meeting new people. Life is richer when we’re curious.
There are many ways to cultivate a mindset of curiosity.
How to Cultivate Curiosity
- Learn About Topics That Interest You: List things you’re curious to learn. If you entered a big bookstore, what sections would you head to first? Pick one topic each week and delve into it.
- Experience List: List things you’re curious to try or experience and commit to doing one of them every month.
And the fifth most important factor to boost life satisfaction is love – warm and close connections with other living beings. It’s the close relationships we have with others and also our pets.
Apart from making time for the people we love – our partner, friends, and family – there are a few things we can do to cultivate this strength.
How to Enhance the Strength of Love
- Demonstrate Care: Show that you care for their well-being. According to love research, that’s the most important factor to cultivate strong relationships – showing that we care.
- Cultivate Warmth: Be fully present when you’re with someone. Avoid constantly checking your phone. Look them in the eyes, listen deeply, and avoid judgment. Another powerful way to cultivate warmth is to practice loving-kindness meditation regularly.
- You could take The Five Love Language Quiz with your partner to cultivate the strength of love in your romantic relationship. Share your results and, from now on, show them love in the way they like to be loved. Simple, yet powerful.
Here’s a guided loving-kindness medtation if you want to try it.
To upgrade your life satisfaction from the inside out, you can increase your hope, zest, gratitude, curiosity, and love.
Again, I encourage you to pick one strength and cultivate it for at least one month.
Research paper on this topic: ARTICLE