What would give you the most happiness right now?
Is it something that you can do right now? Well, why aren’t you doing it?
Is it something you can do later today? Yes? Then make plans to do it! Wait, you’re saying your day is filled – you simply don’t have time today, or even tomorrow to do it. Really? Are you sure? Are you putting yourself last on the priority list?
Or is it something that you won’t be able to do for quite a while – something you need to save for or wait for?
I ask because too often we answer questions like “what would give you the most happiness right now?” with things we can’t accomplish in a day or even over the course of a week. Or we answer with things we can’t control at all. Sometimes we answer with “I’d be happy right now if:”
- I weighed 20 pounds less
- I wasn’t in debt
- my boss was more understanding
- gas was less expensive
- it was less humid and 80 degrees out
- I was on vacation somewhere
Let’s take a look at these responses.
I’d be happy if I weighed 20 pounds less or I wasn’t in debt.
Items one and two are goals you have some control over, but you can’t achieve those goals in one day or a week. If your goal is like one of these two you can approach it a couple of ways:
- What small step can I do this week that will take me closer to that goal? For example, you could find out which gyms are close to you and what their hours and fees are, or create a budget with a debt plan.
- Who do I get to be when I reach that goal? How do I feel? What small thing can I do this week to be closer to that? What other things can I do to feel that way? Maybe at the lower weight you aren’t ashamed of your body – how does that show up in your day? Do you avoid certain activities? Maybe you can create a mantra and attend one of those activities this week.
I’d be happy if my boss was more understanding, or gas was less expensive, or it was less humid and 80 degrees out.
Items three, four and five are goals that you have no control over. You can’t control your boss, gas prices or the weather no matter how hard you try or how much you wish you could. In these situations:
- How can I behave differently in those situations so I am happier? Maybe you can take a deep breath and decide not to get upset with your boss, find a way to drive less so you don’t have to get gas as often, or find activities that you can enjoy in the current weather.
- What can I be grateful for in this situation? Perhaps you’re grateful that your boss is a wonderful problem solver, that there is gas available (or maybe you get good gas mileage), or that the sun is out.
I’d be happy if I was on vacation somewhere.
If you said something like item five then you’re probably not taking enough, if any, time for yourself in a normal week. We all need to recharge our batteries and take time for ourselves. It’s not selfish and our families will survive without us (yes, you might need a babysitter) – oh, and our coworkers or clients will be OK too. Take some time this week to do something that recharges your batteries. Maybe that’s a walk by yourself, lunch with a friend, a movie (alone or with a friend) or whatever it is that gives you some time to relax and take care of yourself.
So, what would give you the most happiness right now?
A show I LOVED to watch in the 90’s was Daria. I re-watched it recently and was thinking about this exchange in the episode called “The Teachings of Don Jake.” (If you haven’t heard of Daria, or don’t remember this episode, that’s OK, it will make sense.)
Daria and her father Jake are hiking down a trail and it splits into two paths. One path is blocked with a sign reading “DANGER! TRAIL WASHED OUT.”
Jake – Look at that, Daria: a fork in the trail. If you go one way, you can’t go the other.
Daria – This is going to depress me, isn’t it?
Jake – This way over here leads to an entry-level job. A little bit of money in your pocket. Soon, you’re wearing a suit and tie every day like all the other faceless saps, living in a boring little house in a bland little town, and doing so well you’re in debt up to your disappearing hair! That’s where that trail leads, Daria.
Daria – I guess that other trail is the one that leads to personal and spiritual satisfaction. That’s why they don’t want you to take it.
Jake – Dammit, Daria! You’re brilliant!
(Jake climbs over sign and walks down closed trail)
Do you ever feel like Jake? Do you feel the path to being happy at work or at home was (or is) blocked off to you? And while you’re going down the main path with everyone else, do you wonder how you got there?
I remember looking around my cubicle after one particularly hard day at work and wondering how the heck I did I end up here? I was supposed to be in a job that made me happy, not one that paid the bills but left me with no energy at the end of the day and dreading every phone call.
Sometimes when we’re in the thick of it, we can’t see the way out. We just see the next obstacle, the next bump or bolder in our path. This is especially when we need to stop and take a step back.
Here are four things you can do when you find yourself completely frustrated at work and needing a bit of a boost:
- Breath – sit up straight, close your eyes and breathe deeply for 3-4 breaths.
- Change the Scenery – Get up and walk around for five minutes or at least get a glass of water.
- Remember – Why did you take this job? What did you like about it?
- Review – What do you like about your job now? How can you do more of what you like and less of what you don’t? You might want to talk with your boss or supervisor about shifting some of your work (you’ll be more productive working on the things you like).
What do you do when you find yourself in the thick of it and stuck?
“People are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” – Abraham Lincoln
I’ve been thinking about this quote a lot the last two days. And I wonder: Do you agree with it?
I go back and forth with it. I agree because we always have choices about how we feel and act in any situation. So, if you’ve made up your mind to be happy (or unhappy for that matter) you’re much more likely to have that result.
However, I disagree because I have these voices in my head that tell me I’m not good enough and that no one really wants to hear what I have to say. These voices pop up regardless of me deciding to be happy. And they can be really hard to shut up!
Like I said, we get to choose how we feel and act in each situation we are in. For me, part of that choice is recognizing when those voices pop up and deciding if I’m going to listen to them or not. And I run into problems when I don’t recognize the voices for what they are and listen to them.
Those voices have appeared a lot for me this week. And I retreated into myself quite a bit, because that’s more comfortable than putting myself out there. Today I recognized it for what it was and noticed one big change from how I would have reacted last year or even a few months ago. I started to beat myself up over it and then realized beating myself up over it only makes me feel worse and doesn’t move me forward. So, I recognized what was happening, forgave myself, and then moved on with my day.
I’m committed to being happy, but it doesn’t always come easy. And that’s my problem with the quote. It makes it seem so cut and dry, but we do have to start somewhere and a decision to be happier is a good place to start.
Tell me what you think. Do you agree or disagree with the Abraham Lincoln quote?
I found three blog posts while writing the “Being Happy” series that I want to share with you:
Let me know what you thought of these three posts!
This post is the eighth and final part of a series on Being Happy. Links to the other posts in this series are at the end of the post.
This marks the end of the “Being Happy” series. So, now you have my six happiness suggestions. In my post at the beginning of this series I mentioned that I was looking for someone to “tell me everything I needed to do in three easy steps to be happier.” The six suggestions are just that, suggestions, and not a magic pill or easy steps.
“Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product.”
The hardest part of it all is continuing to do it. You get to decide each day and each moment what your focus is. As an adult, I’ve had two very unhappy times in my life. Each time I eventually recognized it and made the decision to change myself. Notice that I said I’ve had two very unhappy times in my life. At some point I stopped being happy and had to decide to be happy again.
“People are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
~ Abraham Lincoln
The biggest factor in being happy is you. You get to decide if you’re happy or not. Examine your life and determine what you want to change and then commit to it. Sometimes it’s downright scary, but the journey is beautiful and it’s yours. Remember, big changes don’t always happen in one giant leap, they often happen in many small steps. People on the outside looking in may only see the giant leap (think of “overnight sensations” that have taken years to get there), but the small steps are there.
I hope you found some useful information that you can apply in your life. My suggestion is to focus on one item from the list every week or two and take time to evaluate how you’re doing with it and what you need to tweak.
Tell me what you think! What suggestion was most helpful? What did I miss? What would you like to see next?