What to do if you don't know what makes you happy.
Being "happy" can be as simple as doing something that creates the feeling of happiness. Sound like a double conundrum, right?
When we talk about being happy (or any other positive emotion), it can sometimes bring dread or stress to some people. After all, if they knew how to be happy, they would already be doing the things that make them happy! Happiness – it’s fairly vague. ANY positive emotion will lead to happiness. Don’t get hung up on “feeling happy”. Focus on “feeling good”! There’s a hack that will let the good times roll for you. You don’t need to have an activity planned that will bring you happiness. I know. Some lucky people have their hobby that makes them happy, have a place that makes them happy, or have a certain activity that makes them happy; and they can go to their thing when they need an injection of happiness. I, for one, never really have had any of those things. It was always frustrating to me. I wanted to enjoy exercise, knitting, or reading the latest fiction book – but none of them ever “stuck” for my happiness go-to’s. Because of that, I have tried SO many things as new hobbies! I just wanted one to stick! One day, though, I had an epiphany. I realized that I was happy when I was doing something that created the feelings I wanted. How is that different from a decided upon activity? It’s a thin line; but an important one. If you love knitting, you would go grab your yarn and knitting needles to bring happiness, right? You have a specific set of items that you grab so happiness can ensue. If you don’t love knitting (or whatever), you reach for the FEELING you want, and find something to create that feeling in your life. Let’s say you are looking for that happy feeling of hope. What activity could you do that would bring the feeling of hope into your life? Here’s an example – painting a room. For most people, the act of moving the furniture to the middle of the room, taping the door frames and baseboards, laying down plastic, stirring the paint and then painting are not high on their list of happiness activities. BUT the end result IS! It brings a renewed sense of life into the room. One of hope, rebirth, and freshness. By painting the room (activity), it lead to hope (feeling). Let’s do a few more examples! Love. Let’s say you really, really want some extra love in your life. What could bring that feeling to you?
volunteering at animal shelter
sending a letter to a good friend
doing an anonymous act of kindness
Peace. If you want more peace in your life, what could you do?
learn mindful meditation
get things from your to-do list done
sit outside with some iced tea and the breeze on your face
Looking activities that bring the specific emotion you want is so much more powerful than picking up your yarn for the sake of knitting (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) When you focus on the specific emotion you want, you tend to get more of that in your life without you even trying! TIP: If you are so far down in the dumps that you can’t even come up with a positive feeling (been there), try this:
Figure out what your main gripe is right now.
Think about what is the opposite of that gripe.
Now you have a good feeling to go after!
For example, if you are feeling overwhelmed with things you need to get done, what would make that feeling go away? Well, getting things done would make that feeling go away! Here’s what I would do:
make a list of things that I need to do
decide if I want to start with the small things first and then the big things or visa versa
start doing the things on my list
I know it seems over simplistic; but there is true beauty in the easy things. The opposite of overwhelm is accomplishment. Doing the items on your list will achieve accomplishment; and after you are feeling accomplished, you will be feeling better, and will be able to choose a better feeling next time. A Challenge! I challenge you to pick a feeling you’ve been yearning for lately. Commit a day, a week or a month to finding activities that will bring that feeling to you. I’ll go first. I want to feel more focused. For the next week, I will:
Write in my journal to get the crazy thoughts out of my head.
Create a plan that I can follow. One that I feel good about that won’t micro-manage my time.
I’ll check back in one week to share my results. ****** Update: This past week has been… busy! It started when I had to take our car in to get a recall fixed. It was supposed to take about 30 minutes, but it took FIVE HOURS!!! I took my notebook with me so I could start creating my plan. Wouldn’t you know it, I was way too distracted by simply seeing other people that I hardly wrote anything down. I was able to spend a lot of time with my thoughts though. I figured out a lot of things in my head, and took time to do some mindful meditation. Thankfully, it was a beautiful day outside. I think because of that five hours I had to myself, I was able to work out some mental kinks that I would have otherwise distracted myself from. This past week, I had no need to journal out my crazy thoughts because I didn’t have any. My plan was to, basically, just jump in and get my site going in a cohesive direction. That is underway now. And that was my plan that I created – quit belly aching about all the unknowns that comes with a new site, and just get it done. I did meditate daily. Well, I tried. Many times I had thoughts of what I wanted to do with my site running through my head. It was a constant re-direction to my breath when it came to meditations. In my book though, that’s okay. The meditations I was doing were based on being mindful of my breath. As long as I noticed my attention had strayed from my breath, I was doing it right. All in all, action is what it took for me to feel more focused. Sometimes I think I need one thing, but really it ends up being something simple instead. So, that was my week of feeling more focused!