Inspiration for today’s post came by way of a meme with these words:
“Do more of what makes you happy.”
It sounds like such a simple command. However I know from experience that adding to my happiness by doing more of the things that I enjoy is not as easy as it sounds.
What is Happiness?
Being happy is more than having a positive mindset or a Pollyanna attitude. The word origin, from Middle English hap and y, literally means lucky implying good fortune contributes to being happy.
Happiness is a state of well being that encompasses living a good life, one with a sense of purpose and deep satisfaction. Being happy can include strong, high frequency emotions such as joy, love, amusement, gratification and hope.
Psychology Today wrote:
“Research suggests that happiness can improve physical health. Feelings of positivity and contentment seem to benefit cardiovascular health, the immune system, inflammation levels, and blood pressure, among other things. Happiness has even been linked to a longer lifespan—providing more years to continue striving for fulfillment.
Those are powerful reasons to cultivate happiness. So why does being happy seem to be such an elusive state for many people? To do more of what makes us happy, we have to know our own particular brand of happy.
In Pursuit of Happiness
We have a tendency to put the happiness of others ahead of our own, because we fear doing otherwise is selfish. Ignoring our own state of well being not only harms us, it ultimately doesn’t make others happy either. Not really.
There are times when it’s important to put the needs of another ahead of our own. Parents often make sacrifices for their kids to ensure their wellbeing. However, to ignore our own happiness, thinking we are benefitting someone else, skews perspective and creates bitterness.
In reality, I can’t “make” someone else happy nor can another create happiness in me. We are each responsible for our own state of joy and wellbeing. In fact, one of the best things I can do, to encourage another, is to live, really live, in happiness. Being happy gives other people permission and freedom to be happy too.
Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, points out another important truth. If we pretend to be other than who we really are, in an attempt to make others happy, then our choices will lead us away from our happiness.
What Makes Me Happy
Once we understand that happiness is an inside job and we are responsible for creating that state, we can focus on doing more of the things we enjoy. Regularly indulging in small pleasures, trying new experiences, going on adventures and being with people we love increase our joy.
I’ve learned, during my life’s journey, to accept responsibility for my own happiness. Cultivating my joy becomes a matter of doing more of what makes me happy.
Currently my list of happy-inducing activities includes:
• being creative – writing, drawing, creating vignettes, repurposing items, coloring
• gardening and being in nature
• spending time with family and friends
• spending time in solitude and reflection
• learning new things, trying new experiences
• watching movies and listening to music
• daily ongoing conversations with the divine
• living in optimal health and wellbeing
• afternoon tea time
This is my unique list. I make sure that I practice some of these activities everyday. As I shift and grow, my list shifts as well. I become aware of what I need to do more of…and do it…not because I have to but because I want to.
What Makes You Happy
Your list of what makes you happy will look different from mine. And it should. What makes you happy will differ from what makes me or your best friend or your spouse or anyone else happy.
What brings you joy? Which activities make you smile, brighten your day or create anticipation? Do more of those things. Everyday.
And if you don’t know what brings you joy and contributes to your happiness, start there. Fear can block the path to happiness. Do you fear that pursuing your happiness lessens someone else’s? Have you been shamed or ridiculed for doing things that are meaningful to you?
Work through the blocks, clear old energy, focus on who you are right now and make a list of what you would love to do. And begin to do more of what makes you happy.
Continually feeding happiness feeds the heart and soul as well. You…and me…being happy are beautiful gifts to offer to the world.