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Happiness and How to Pursue it
Happy people don’t just wait for an opportunity – they focus and create happiness. They know what makes them happy and engage in activities that put them in the “zone.” They give generously even of themselves.
Use these 4 techniques to experience more joy in your life.
1. Get out to be happy.
purpose. decide Plan to be happy today. What meetings, events and work do you have planned? How can you enjoy them?
A leadership trainer, Gail learned how to be happy early. She grew up on a farm and helped milk the cows and feed the pigs. Every morning her mother would open the curtains and say, “Today is going to be a great day Gail!” Gail was excited to get out of bed, put on his boots, and work in the fields before school. One rainy morning when her mother entered her room smiling with her daily greeting, “Today is going to be a great day,” Gail said, “No no! It’s raining!” They went back and forth like this for a few minutes. Gail’s mother then turned off the lights and closed the blinds. “You’ll probably go back to sleep. If you’ve already decided it’s going to be a terrible day, it probably will be.” Of course, it turned out to be a very long and boring day.
“I really got the message my mom was trying to teach that day,” Gayle recalls. “It’s influenced my whole outlook on life. Now I focus on making every day better, and I pass that message on to my students.” Gail is a very energetic and cheerful person who loves her work. At her seminar, she pulls out rocks painted by her 92-year-old mother that say, “It’s a great day!”
First thing in the morning, go to Ananda. Think about the day’s events in your mind and imagine being happy. Some days will be happier than others, but at least you’ll be off to a running start. That single act of deciding to create happiness will bring you more happiness.
2. Know what makes you happy.
What makes *you* truly, honestly happy? you Not your family, friends or co-workers. What makes your day? Take a moment right now to write down 10 things that make you happy. Let your thoughts flow freely. Maybe something you haven’t done in a while will pop up on your list, like watercolor painting or playing tennis. Rebecca, a flight attendant, enjoys fresh-cut flowers, knitting, gardening, and walking her two dogs. George loves number puzzles, making movies for fun and hiking. Find out exactly what makes you happy, big or small.
The database manager implements the recipe for her pleasure every day. “Laughing makes me the happiest,” she says. “I try to do it early in the day. I finish my comedy routine by visiting with my colleagues and the rest of my day is filled with those happy vibes.” Her co-stars also benefit. Her humor is infectious. Because the sense of belonging filters through the group, co-workers can rely on and have each other’s back when needed.
What’s on your list? Prioritize things that make you happy. Sprinkle them every day. You will benefit. Your family and colleagues will also benefit. And happiness almost always increases productivity.
3. Be engaged in what you do.
It’s important to do what you love. Equally important is finding ways to fully engage in what you love to do. Whether it’s knitting, running, or designing a website–find the activities that draw your full attention to them.
A working professional, Jeff finds time to indulge in his passion for basketball. “Every Tuesday and Thursday from 8 to 10 p.m., I get together with the kids and play basketball. It’s my escape. For those two hours, I don’t think about anything but crossover dribbles, rebounds and jump shots. I lose myself. I’m in the moment with the rest of the kids. . We don’t talk about what happened that day or what went wrong. It’s therapeutic.”
What activities keep you from thinking about everything else when you’re immersed in them? What things absorb you in the present moment? The key is to find something that you have some skill or mastery in, but that also challenges you. A balance between challenge and mastery leads to what psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls “flow.” Your brain and your body synchronize for a better experience. It doesn’t matter what the activity is, all that matters is that you do it. The more engaged you are at work, in your free time and at home, the happier you will be.
4. Make a contribution.
In what ways do you like to give? Your life is bigger than you. When you give of yourself–your gifts, time, and talents–you make a difference to others. Whether it’s a small project at your children’s school or a lifelong commitment to a cause like Hospice or Habitat for Humanity, try to contribute to others.
Busy professionals can still find time to contribute. For example, Janice takes one hour a week to tutor a student. John, a full-time civil engineer, volunteers for Save Our Shores. Maya, a working mother, volunteers for a fundraiser at her daughter’s school. “I get to use my skills in a way that empowers these kids. I enjoy the projects, I love being involved, and I see the difference in providing things like art supplies to kids so they can express their own budding interests.”
Contributions can come from how you spend your free time and volunteer hours. It can also come from your chosen profession.
The highest form of giving is when you give freely, without expecting anything in return, rather than out of obligation, guilt, or pressure. It’s not about giving so your name will be put on a plaque. It’s giving for the sake of giving, because you care.
What can you do today to increase your happiness? Start by setting out to be happy. Then take a moment to remember and list the things that make you happy and start doing them. Engage in activities that put you in a state of flow—perhaps running, playing music, or sculpting. Remember to contribute to others, even in simple, everyday ways, like paying the toll for the person in the car behind you. Follow up and increase your happiness. You’ll be glad you did.
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