Level Up Your HappinessA new survey called “The World Happiness Report”, compiled yearly since 2012, indicates that Americans are as unhappy as they have ever been. The United States ranks #19 as the happiest place on earth ranking. This same report states that addictions are causing considerable unhappiness and depression in the U.S. According to the CDC, antidepressant use is up 400% over the last decade. A 2017 U.S. News & World Report Headline reads – “2017 A Record Year of Unhappiness”. We live in a world where happiness seems elusive to many. Yet, overall, researchers state that you can control about 40% of your happiness. This post is about you impacting the 40% of controllable factors to boost your happiness.
If you are on this journey of Loving YOUR Life with me then a big part of getting there is growth and development. How intentional are you with respect to how you live your life? In coaching situations when I ask people what makes them happy more often than not there is a silent pause followed by either “that’s a good question”, or “I don’t know”, and that is perfectly normal and reasonable. It’s just not going to get you a happy life.
Figuring out what makes you happy, and as a subset, what makes you unhappy, is one of the questions on the Road Map to creating a life that you love. Frequently, once someone starts to consider and explore what makes them happy what shows up is all the things that they are unhappy about in their life, or how drained they often feel, or what is annoying. That’s normal and actually helpful. Before I get into the specifics of leveling up your happiness I want to mention intentionality.
Abraham Lincoln is quoted as saying, “You can have anything you want, if you want it badly enough.” When I say intentional I mean deliberate or on purpose. Because I have a commitment to enjoying my life, I am intentional about how I plan and use my time because having free time allows me more time toplay and have fun. As you are looking at having a life that you LOVE, intentionality is probably critical. You want to be directing and steering your life not sitting back and letting life happen to you. We could say that the difference is intentionality.
To level up your happiness you have to first know what makes you happy. It might take some soul searching if you are just going through the grind of life. Pause. Think. Consider. You might be in a position where there’s not a whole lot of things in your life that make you happy, which would be very sad, but at the same time represent a lot of opportunity. You might have a belief that you are not supposed to be happy. Whatever the case, to level up your happiness you will have to determine what makes you happy and how you can sprinkle your life with the things that make you happy. The things that soothe your soul. The things that make you smile. The things that energize you. What are those things?
The biggest objection or perhaps one of the more common objections I have heard from individuals on this subject is: I don’t have the time. Meaning, I don’t know what makes me happy and I don’t have the time to figure it out. Alrighty then, I can’t help you. The balance of this post is for the readers who want to take charge of their lives and have their lives go in a more positive and happy direction.
When people typically begin to explore what makes them happy, sometimes they just don’t have a long list of things that make them happy. That is absolutely fine! If you can’t think of things that make you happy, then you might consider trying out some new hobbies, joining a volunteer organization that services some community project or area that you support, or at least engage in the exploration of what could make you happy. Maybe you need a new tribe to do social things with. It’s hard to say what it will take for you to come up with a list of things that make you happy. All I know is that if you have a commitment you will find a way to get there.
Now, if you have experienced a loss, a trauma, a health problem, or other difficulty, finding happiness might take a lot more effort. Yet I know that it can be done. Let me give you an example. Some. Years ago, when I was really up against it and in a difficult position I recognized that I needed to add more happiness to my life so I made a list of what made me happy. Then I looked at my particular circumstances to see what from my list what was realistic and doable. I ended up combining three things that made me happy – playing with children, doing arts and crafts, and being of service to others – into an offer to a friend that I would babysit her kids for free if I could do arts and crafts with them. It was a beautiful thing all around. We ALL enjoyed it. It made me very happy. There in a very difficult and dark time I found a creative way to be happy. It still makes me happy today remembering those times with someone else’s beautiful children on loan to me. There’s always a way to infuse your life with happiness.
I am not saying, by the way, that if you have suffered a loss, a trauma, or other problem that you should not be sad. You have to feel your feelings and possibly grieve. And you can feel your feelings or grieve and still have some joy in your life in my humble opinion or in my experience.
If you are new to the concept of doing what you love or having more happiness in your life, I would ever so strongly suggest that you reward yourself for any little activity you do in the process. Rewarding yourself will help you move more quickly to having this as a habit or practice. The more committed you are, the more creative you will become about how to implement this in your everyday living. They say it takes more than 21 days to forge a new habit. If you have not been living your life with intentionality and lots of joy, fun, and love, I would absolutely reward yourself on an on-going basis. Why not? After all, your rewards are supposed to make you happy!
True confessions now…I am such a firm believer in this idea of being happy and having fun that many years ago when I worked in sales for Xerox Corporation and had to make cold calls, I came up with a method for making cold calls fun. I made a little game out of it (with and against myself) to see how many cold calls I could make in a day AND how many people I could make smile in the process. It was actually fun. But it was fun because I made a game out of it. And bonus – it was very effective.
What is it you love? What makes you happy? What soothes your soul? What makes you smile? And then how can you work those things into your life? If you are along for this delicious ride to loving your life, and you get this part done, you will have completed one of the questions on the road map! Woo hoo for you!
Based on a peek at the research on unhappiness there are several areas to move into for the next few blog posts to help you move into a position where you have more happiness in your life. Some of the areas include dealing with health problems since that is a major source of unhappiness in the U.S., training your brain, neuroplasticity of the brain, and managing your thoughts, as well as dealing with depression, numbing yourself to pain, and moving to a higher emotional quotient (or higher emotional intelligence). I have no illusions that life is easy. I know how painful and difficult life can be. I just also happen to know that you can have happiness, joy, and love in those most challenging times. Stay with me on the ride to loving your life.