The Happiness Habit
Can we CREATE happiness in our lives?
According to Jeff Olson’s “Slight Edge”, happiness is indeed nothing that “just happens” to you. It will not fall down from the sky in an act of Godly inspiration, and it will also NOT be the automatic byproduct of hard work. Neither are people happy just because they bought expensive toys, like a sports car, a yacht or a luxury apartment. Even indulging in a little reward, because you need to “live a little”, can lose its power and become a routine.
You have to actively work towards happiness.
A great way to do this is to develop a daily habit where you move yourself towards being a happier person.
It has worked for me over the last 8 months. Here is what I do:
Every day, I write down 3 things that I am grateful for.
That’s it. The key here is “every day”. You gotta be consistent. And five minutes in the morning, that’s all it costs.
How did I start it?
Back in February 2014, I had just finished reading “The Slight Edge”. I was literally “blown away” and started to implement the lessons in this book.
I had also just downloaded an app called “Day One”, which basically is a great way to keep a diary – because it synced to all my devices. A “Common place” where I could store my thoughts anywhere I was.
So every morning, I got up to make my bed (see http://lifesciencementor.com/always-make-bed/), sat down at my computer and wrote up what immediately came to my mind. The weather, a successful experiment at work, connecting to an old friend, dating – whatever it was.
I did not spend forever on this. I just looked around in my apartment, out the window and remembered the day before. So most of what I wrote was pretty mundane. But if that came to my mind and made me smile a little, I wrote it down. Some days I had more than 3 points.
What is the result of following this habit?
I am a happier person…
… there is literally no day I was truly unhappy.
Over the last eight months that I was following that habit, I could observe some interesting patterns.
Take May as an example – 100 items I was happy about, and I realize that they fall into 4 categories: Health and Fitness, Social Life and Business/Career, with a couple of “Others” (in my case, the “others” mostly consisted of being happy about the sun rising in the morning).
I think people call them the three “F”s: Fitness, Friends, Freedom (because working on your business is a chance for you to earn money and become free).
Here are some examples of what I was grateful for:
A loving family and friends that appreciate and support me.
Dating and Sex.
Getting good sleep.
Being able to cook a simple meal.
Sticking to my goals, even when I’m tired or distractions appear.
You see how these goals can also take on their own dynamics? How they positively reinforce what I am doing on a day-to-day base?
Another interesting observation: anything that promises instant gratification vanishingly rarely makes it onto the list.
I indulged a lot in sweets and snacks on the weekend. I surfed the internet. I searched for the “quick fix” that gave me instant relief.
But those things, I did not remember the next morning!
I would put “free weekend” on the list, but not “the pizza I ate yesterday”.
That told me something about what truly made me happy.
Why does this method work?
I think it works because it accomplishes several things:
#1 – It gives you a “reward”.
You think of something nice, and you have to smile. For example, nowadays, I am very thankful for something mundane like my space heater. It puts a smile on my face. I think about cosy times I had in the past this time of the year. November. Thanksgiving. Christmas.
#2 – You are looking forward to the morning.
Before I had this habit, I’d think “oh well, another day, let’s get up, although I’d rather sleep”. Now I think “let’s get up and see what is already great about this day.”
#3 – You are educating yourself to becoming a more positive person.
If you get up and then check your eMails and Twitter feeds, you are already reacting to something other people ask you.
By writing down what you are happy about, your first act of the day is remembering what makes you happy.
You truly ACT to create happiness in your life.
Mike from Dangerandplay.com says that once you give in to negativity, you are on a downward spiral that is tough to get out of.
By writing down what you are THANKFUL for, you occupy your mind with positive thoughts and literally leave no place for negativity.
Check also these articles:
What has worked for you to make you happier in your life? Or is there something that permanently clouds your mind?
Let me know in the comments below!