What makes you happy? We are responsible for our own happiness so I want to insure that I do whatever is necessary to keep me happy and healthy. People are often focused on their goals. instead these are habits I love to do and want to make sure I make time for them in my busy schedule. Writing them down helps me keep them in the top of my mind. for the most part they are activities I’ve been doing in previous years and I know they do a lot for my well being. What activities make you happy? I encourage you to make your own Happy Habit List
1. 2 weeks of vacation time – this is something I instituted 3 years ago when I noticed that some years went by with no real vacation. I try to find something early in the year to put on my calendar for July. sometimes I split the vacation time so there is some left for later in the year. Knowing it is on my calendar in January gives me something to look forward to.
2. Meditation time each day – this is a practice I am developing with the help of a coach friend. I love doing it but get so involved in my work taking time for this is often challenging. I’ve set up a special quiet place in my home to do this that is inviting and restful. it helps having a coach remind me too.
3. Exercise 3 times a week – Ok I said these are habits I love to do but not this one. I just love the way I feel after I am done Amazingly even though I don’t love it I am very good about doing this regularly.
4. Read at least one book a month that is non work related – I have a book club that keeps me honest on this one. I’ve been doing this for about 5 years now and have read a variety of books both fiction and non fiction. this month was the autobiography of Sidney Poitier and last month In the Heart of the Sea, a book about the whaling ship, Essex, that sank in the 1800s.
5. one concert or play each month – since I love music this one isn’t difficult either. during the month of December I went to two different Christmas Concerts. I love religious music of all types. (I sing in a Gospel Choir) December is a really good month for hearing this kind of music.
6. one totally free day each month with no agenda – not so long ago Massachusetts had blue laws that kept all stores closed on Sunday. that meant Sunday was a really quiet day. I love the peace and quiet of having nothing scheduled. you probably can tell I am a planner so not planning is hard for me but when I do it I love it.
7. Have pedicure, facial or massage at least 6 times during the year. another way to relax is to get away from it all for an hour or so. I enjoy it when I do it but unless I put it on my calendar I forget about it.
8. try something I’ve never done – I try to do something new every year. Last year I went to the opera in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the year before I sang a solo at a workshop in Italy and another year I learned Yoga. this year who knows maybe I’ll take up painting, do an improv class, or try ball room dancing.
9. More flowers in the house – I love gardening and in the summer bring lots of flowers into the house. this winter I picked up some winter evergreens to spread throughout my home but there is nothing like a beautiful flower to lift my spirits. In December I bought a beautiful rose for my kitchen table and today I bought a lovely flowering primrose plant that sits on my kitchen window.
10. Grandchildren Time – Nothing is more fun for me than spending time with my grandchildren. Last year I took my granddaughter to her first ballet. it was special performance of Cinderella for young children. she loved it and I loved watching her enjoy it. the same day I took my grandson out for an ice cream cone and scooter ride (He rode it not me). He likes his ice cream in a dish and eats it very slowly (to make it last). Lots of time for a nice chat and very special seeing the world through a child’s eyes is wonderful in the true sense of the word. (full of wonder)
What will make me really happy?
In life we make the biggest mistake of all, and that is we expect external things or people to make us happy. If I had a fabulous husband/partner/lover I would be happy for ever. If I had the latest car I would be ecstatic. that job promotion, that’s what would make me happy. If I lived in a warmer climate, I would be happy. If I had lots of money in the bank, yip, that would do it for me. Thinking about it, what would make you happy right now? and for how long, until you thought of something else that could do the trick.
Obviously, therefore external things and people are not going to make us happy in the longterm, as they constantly have to be replaced with something else. and if that something else is not available then we are unhappy. Look at somebody like Britney Spears. You would think that she should be happy. she is pretty, she is a talented singer and dancer which she has been able to exploit and make a lot of money of, she is a celebrity she even has children. What else does she need? yet she had to book into rehab to hopefully kick her drinking habit. Sure sign of unhappiness.
What is it then that gets us into that heaven of feeling bliss, contentedness, peace within, all of the above. There is something inside of us, that triggers off the happiness button. it requires some real effort to find out what it is. Some people are really lucky, they instinctively know what it is that makes them content with their life. we know these people as they give off a vibe that attracts us to them. but how do we find that same internal reality that will give us the focus and purpose in life.
Many books have been written about this. There is a mile long of blogs that deal with this issue. and yet, I’m sure you have read some of them, and pondered the question many times. I certainly have. I even have a mission statement that I have written down. Now all I have to do is follow through on it but it certainly has helped me to clarify a lot of things in my mind and has enabled me to reflect on where things haven’t always run smoothly and why. and what needs to happen in the future, for me to find that contentment that I, like everybody else, am looking for.
It all goes back to the idea of passion. What has gotten you passionate in the past. What got you all heated up and enthusiastic. What made you read or study all night. What made you tinker in your workshop for hours without realising you hadn’t had breakfast or lunch or dinner. What made you forget all your troubles and got you living in the moment? and what of those moments could you continue to live through on your own, without the need for company, encouragement, admiration etc. with other words, what ‘thing’ made you feel passionate without any help from anybody else.
When you think about this, don’t get carried away with thinking it has to be some deep philosophical thing. If you are at your happiest in the kitchen, icing a cake, or you love watering your vegetable patch, then you have found something that makes you passionate. Baking and gardening are wonderful passions and can be developed to make a living for yourself, entertain you when you are alone, or be shared with others. your internal passion doesn’t necessarily have to be – I want to help other people – kind of focus. although having said that, the most pleasure one gets is often from helping others. The question that you need to answers though, is what makes you happy, and not what you think you should be doing.
Life has often knocked the passion out of us. we have worked hard, many times at something we haven’t actually enjoyed doing. we have given up a lot of our time and freedom to look after kids, parents, siblings, a business and many more examples. with all of that hurried existence, we have forgotten what our passion is. Finding that again, could be the difference between always feeling discontent no matter what happens in your life, or reaching a happiness that comes from within and is not dependent on any external things.