Every tradition and many guidebooks have teachings about how to be happy. Yet that question remains one of life’s great mysteries. As a beginning to understanding happiness, start by asking your self the following questions and then journaling what comes up for you.
2. Sometimes we have to see what doesn’t work for us before we can acknowledge what does. In the space below, list people, possessions, achievements and events you thought would bring happiness but haven’t. What was the false promise in each?
On the first line, complete the following:
I would be happy if only…
I won’t be happy until…
3. Now think of a time you were happy without either of the above. How much do you rely on circumstances or things to make you happy?
4. Recall the happiest moments of your life. Where were you? What was happening? Who was involved? Think about what these times had in common. How could you get more of that satisfaction in your life now?
5. Want to know what makes you happy? Keep a journal. Set a timer to go off every hour. Briefly note what you’re doing and rate your feelings on a scale of 1 (not at all happy) to 10 (very). See how the feeling comes and goes, regardless of circumstances.
And if you would like to pursue happiness a bit further, Nina Lesowitz and Mary Beth Sammons have a suggestion based on a growing amount of scientific research: Try saying, “Thank you”. Their book, The Grateful Life, weaves together scientific studies, simple advice, and personal stories from people who’ve become happier and healthier by bringing gratitude into their daily lives. This sweet, small yet comprehensive book makes a convincing case for gratefulness as the key to physical and emotional strength, better relationships, and ultimately success and happiness.
Is there someone you can thank right now? Maybe it could be thanking yourself for something you appreciate. If not, how about being grateful for this very moment?