Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about happiness … what does it mean? How can we get more of it? How can we sustain or hold onto it?
Seems this is always an “issue” for me, as my feelings of elation or excitement don’t stick … at least not for long …
The more I consider it all though, I’m wondering if one should be striving more for those regular, routine, rhythmic, and perhaps more consistent “hits” of happiness, instead of constantly maintaining that happiness “high” … truthfully, we probably couldn’t stand to be in that heightened state ALL OF THE TIME …
Too much of anything is … WELL … too much …
Happiness is, after all, just an emotional state … a feeling … and while some people aim to avoid “feeling,” I kind of think “feeling” (in all its forms) is what life’s all about … I WANT those highs, but I also want a sense of peace and contentment … I WANT those highs, but I also want to hear truths … to witness and to listen to other people’s stories, so I can cultivate more understanding … more compassion … more empathy for others … and, truthfully, sometimes I even just want to sit in the sadness for a few minutes … I want to recognize the hard … and acknowledge the pain …
Personally, I’ve had to work incredibly hard in the last several months to not let my emotions “win.” If we’re not careful, our “feelings” will “rule the roost.” They’ll “run the ship.” And, if we’re getting really honest here, they’ll even make us do and say things we would never do or say when we’re “in control.”
Need some examples? Some proof?
Our feelings “win” when we yell at our kids.
Our emotions “rule” when we beat ourselves up after a simple mistake.
Our feelings come out on top when we “bail” … when we “skip” opportunities.
Our emotions are victorious when we put off what’s important to us.
Our feelings come first when we put everyone else first.
Our emotions cripple us when we overreact to a minor disruption in our day.
I’m curious … are your “feelings” governing your life?
I’ve definitely let this happen over the years … and it’s definitely caused some pain and misery … granted, I DO trust that some feelings of discontent have led to some important changes in my life, so DO take stock of your feelings … I’m not advocating “stuffing them” or avoiding them (remember, “feeling” is what life’s all about) … but I DO want you to consider, how your THOUGHTS (which are essentially your feelings) are serving you … are they helping you (and those around you)? Or are they harming you (and those around you)?
I’ll admit, it’s hard work to get a handle on this whole “feelings” thing … I’m 37, and I have only recently started to get the hang of it … and I still tend to “spiral down” at times …
This week, while listening to the Happiness Podcast, episode #314: Happiness – The Step by Step Approach to a Happy Life, Dr. Robert Puff offered these six steps to “getting back to happy” …
- Acknowledge that life changes.
- Say: “I feel off right now!”
- Ask yourself, “What THOUGHTS are causing me to feel off right now?”
- Ask yourself, “Can I do anything about it right now?”
- If I can’t do anything about it right now, accept what’s happening.
- The next time I DO have an opportunity to do something about it, I’ll give it another try.
Here’s a simple example …
You’re getting ready to head out the door and your toddler pees her pants … a “change” has occurred … acknowledge it (Step 1). You feel frustrated because now you are going to be late. Say to yourself, “I feel off right now” (Step 2), recognizing why you’re feeling “off.” It’s because your toddler peed her pants (Step 3). Can you do anything about it? The first obvious step is changing your toddler’s clothing. You might also want to let your employer know that you’ll be a few minutes late (Step 4). Accept what has happened (Step 5). In the future, it might also be a good idea to give yourself some “extra” time, so if something like this happens, you have time to address it without being late (Step 6).
By working through this simple process, we can quickly and efficiently “get back to happy” … back to what’s right in front of us … back to the present … back to the mom we want to be for our kiddos … back to the employee we want to be when we (finally) get to work for the day … a little bit of “work” and a few rough minutes doesn’t turn into an entire rough day …
I personally like this simple method of “getting back to happy” when we’re feeling off … but I also want to advocate (once again) for that more “regular” … more “routine” … more rhythmic and consistent happiness. I wonder if we wouldn’t all benefit from a little happiness “scheduling” in our lives or from a few happiness “dates” perhaps?
Does going for a walk with a friend absolutely thrill you? Text her and make a plan.
Do you love creating beautiful things? Schedule some time every Wednesday night and get crafting!
Do you have a TV series you absolutely love? Make time Thursday nights!
Is spending one on one time with each of your kids really special to you? Put it in your calendar.
Do you love puzzles? Set aside 15 minutes of “puzzle-time” each day.
By “planning” our happiness, we make sure it happens … not just once in a while or randomly here and there, but on a regular (and consistent) basis … soon, we’re not just experiencing the “highs” (and the imminent crash that follows) … instead, we’re well on our way to crafting a consistently happy and joy-filled life … and, really, isn’t that what this whole thing is all about?
It’s time to get out your day planner (here’s what I use) to make some plans for your consistent and ongoing happiness …