The quest for followers, validation and success has most of us chasing happiness as if it's a milestone or destination. We've built such strong dependencies on external validation that happiness is now seen as a bi-product of success, and we don't give ourselves permission to be happy until we've attained that success.

Yet what if we realized that happiness isn't created by success, but is actually a source of success? The most successful people in my circles are happy despite the hard work and pressure that comes with their intense ambition. They were happy before they were successful, and during the process of becoming self-made millionaires.

If you feel like you're not happy, consider this list of daily habits that happy people maintain despite their crazy schedules and demands.

1. Recharge your batteries

Too often in today's world, downtime is viewed as lost time. This is a damaging perception that is just not true. Happy people realize the benefits of recharging, know how they refuel best, and honor the rejuvenation process.

There are so many ways to recharge, and it requires that you learn what works best for you. Lots of ultra-successful people I know frequent spas to detox in a hot sauna or enjoy a massage. As an introvert, I enjoy alone time. For others, weekend getaways, camping, hiking and journaling are also great ways to slow down and recharge.

2. Visualize a happy life

Successful people spend time dreaming about the future because it makes them happy, not just because it's productive. Anticipation and imagination are great tools for happiness. Consider this: don't you get happy when you plan a vacation? It's almost as good as actually being on the vacation.

Don't forget to spend time visualizing a happy future. Have fun dreaming of what you want to experience in your life, and embrace the feeling in that moment as if it's already here.

3. Practice gratitude

My success and happiness skyrocketed after I started keeping a gratitude journal every night. The process is to write down three things that occurred in the day for which you are grateful.

Not only is this a great way to end your day feeling happy, you'll also start to view your life and daily circumstances through a lens of positivity and gratitude. You'll notice all the evidence around you that you are lucky and that things are actually going better than you might think.

4. Clock out from work

Successful people know that there's more to life than their career or business. Know when to close the laptop and connect with friends, family, travel, or other interests. Accept that it's ok for you to enjoy your life and pursue the things that make you happy.

5. Laugh

Comedian Steve Harvey put it well when attributing his success to the law of attraction, citing laughter as key: "Laughter attracts joy and releases negativity," he says. And don't forget the health benefits. According to the Mayo Clinic, laughter relieves stress. It prompts the intake of healthy oxygen, unleashes endorphins, and soothes tension.

6. Go outside

Does your outdoor time amount to walking from cubicle to car twice a day? If so, carve out some periods for fresh air and sunshine. Being in nature has a way of "clearing the windshield" so you can see life with a fresh perspective, away from everyday worries, stresses and fears.

7. Make exercise a routine

Exercise is a happiness hack. Like laughter, exercise improves our mood by releasing endorphins. Exercise has been shown to reduce stress, ward off feelings of anxiety or depression, and boost self-esteem.

Just 20 minutes of walking can be beneficial. Consider taking walking meetings with co-workers, mapping out weekend hikes, or hitting the gym. Find something you enjoy so it's more likely you'll stick with it.

Final Word

The race for maximum productivity and success often keeps us from valuing happiness. The truth is, being happy can help us achieve even more in the long run. But it means viewing happiness as a daily mindset, not a destination. It requires seeing happiness as a choice, not as an outcome. Use this habits to cultivate more happiness in your day.