What Would Make You Happy?

Happy PuppyWhat 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:”

  1. I weighed 20 pounds less
  2. I wasn’t in debt
  3. my boss was more understanding
  4. gas was less expensive
  5. it was less humid and 80 degrees out
  6. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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?

Photo credit: Happy Puppy! by B Rosen via flickr

Is Control an Illusion?

I was thinking about control the other day and how we don’t have control over a lot of things that happen in our lives.  We can’t control the weather, our friends and family or the other drivers.  Sometimes this can be rather frustrating for me.  Where is spring?  Why is it still chilly here? Why is that person tailgating me?  Who’s going to be nice and let me change lanes?

So, last weekend when I heard someone say that being in control of our lives is just an illusion, I immediately nodded my head in agreement.  After all, just look at the list of things I can’t control.  The list of things I can’t control is infinite.

Then I remembered the one thing I do have control of in all situations.  I am in control of how I choose to react in each situation I’m in or observe.  I get to choose whether the guy tailgating me annoys the heck out of me or not.  I get to choose if I complain about the cold day or enjoy the fact that the sun is out.  You get to make those same decisions in your life.

So, is control an illusion?  I guess it depends on what you’re trying to control.  Are you trying to control the situation or your reaction to the situation?  I find it’s less stressful for me when I make the decision to control my reaction, rather than the situation.

What do you think?