Everyone wants to be happy, but sometimes we don’t know how to go about getting there. Our lives are so complicated and busy that we may have trouble figuring out what brings us pleasure in life. Here are three ways to explore what makes you happy.
- For one week, keep a journal of the things that you do. It doesn’t matter if you think you are a good writer or not–this journal is just for you. Use it to record what you spend time on during the day–and, crucially, which of those things make you happy. Do you enjoy going to the gym? What about walking your dog, watching TV, cooking from scratch, or cleaning your bathroom? Notice the little things, too. Does it make you feel good to start a new project or check something off your to-do list? What about giving someone a compliment or putting money in the tip jar at your coffee place?
2. For the next week, keep a journal of the things that you feel. This time, instead of writing down what you do during your day, write down what emotions you feel, and which of those make you happy. Do you get a good rush from the feeling of accomplishment? Or being useful or well-prepared for something? What about feeling organized, generous, creative, or attractive?
3. Experiment with making different choices. There are a lot of small things in life that aren’t set in stone. Take the next few weeks to explore the choices you make in your life. Change up your workout, rearrange your furniture, make something new for dinner or breakfast, try out a new TV show or genre of book. You can also switch up your routine. Always eat dinner in front of the TV? Eat while reading a book or listening to a podcast. Always go to the grocery store on Saturday? Try going after work some day. Some of these choices may make you immediately realize that you liked things the way they were! But that’s still a helpful result.
4. Bonus: what if you find that you are happy with things that you think are bad habits? If it turns out that you like your workspace messy or you love eating dessert every day, don’t worry. Strive for balance. If you like a messy space, just be sure that you are organized enough to do your job, and don’t worry about the rest of it. If you love dessert, make sure that you exercise regularly and eat well otherwise. Of course, if something that you do makes you feel happy in the short term but guilty in the long-term, then overall, it doesn’t actually make you happy.