I just got off the phone to one of my best mates. He is one of the best because of how he makes me feel. He is loyal, truthful and so absolutely genuine all of the time. I love the bloke!
So this got me thinking about happiness. I think a lot about happiness and like most people, I go through periods of ups and downs. I do try my best not to resist what is and rather try to analyse why I feel like I do at that time.
So that got me thinking, if I have an experience, hobby or endeavour that always brings me fullfillness, why do I not actively partition more time to experiencing it more often? My life feels like it's constant - train, motivate, work, eat, sleep and repeat at light speeds. It rarely slows and as such, those things that I love too often fall victim to lack of time.
These experiences bring me a feeling of emotional wealth, of richness. If I said to you, "hey, go and open that box for inside it, there is a million dollars", I dare say you would go and open the box. Well in the same way, if I know that my wealth lies inside "that box", it would make sense that I make regular plans to open the box more frequently.
I realise that in order to feel fulfilled, I need to do more of the things that make me genuinely happy. Seems like a no-brainer hey? Well if that is the case, I'd say that collectively, we're a bunch of duds because we are too busy chasing the chase to stop and open that box.
So What's The Fix?
It's simple really... simple, but not easy. But nothing worthwhile is...
- Step 1 - Identify what things really make you happy.
- Step 2 - Plan for or schedule those things in regularly.
- Step 3 - Immerse yourself totally in the moment when it manifests and resist the urge to jump to the next "thing".
What Does That Look Like For Me?
So before you give it a shot, here is the list of things that make me REALLY happy, genuinely happy:
- Spending quality time with my family - nothing brings me into the present moment more than rolling around with and getting cuddles off my niece and nephews. Hopefully one day, that will be my own kids. Without being a parent, I can only imagine the true depth of how that feels.
- Being near the ocean with a coffee when the sun is shining - My mood has gone through the roof over the last three weeks as spring has arrived. Sitting with my partner and a coffee in the early morning or late afternoon sun allows me to reflect on my life situation and makes the stress in my life feel less stressful.
- Having a beer with close mates - The effect is not the same when the group is too big or involves people I'm not close with. Yet having 4-5 beers with my best buds and chatting about the footy is just perfect. I realise that to fully enjoy it, I need to stop at 5 beers otherwise I've destroyed what was great about it by waking up crappy the next morning and feeling sorry for myself.
- Investing in my health - it's a "cause and effect" relationship for me when it comes to my health and how I feel emotionally. I see food and exercise as medicine and whilst I enjoy the activities of eating and exercise in their own right, it's the mental clarity and energy that emanates when I have nailed it that gives me the buzz. On the flip side, nothing wrecks me like a week of inactivity and poor eating.
- Self-development and sharing knowledge - My greatest fear is my brain shrinking. I try to learn as a means of growing myself and I feel my true life purpose is to share what I have learned with others. I never want to stop learning and challenging my status quo because I feel that learning can completely transform the way in which you interpret your world.
- Travelling - I can remember being 23 years old and having a travel tick list that read... "Vanuatu...". I was green and I knew NOTHING about life or the world. I was intellectually "smart" but completely naive from a world perspective. Now I'm 33 and the list is long and contains some very unique places like Sardinia, Malta, Turks and Caicos... I think about what travel has taught me about myself in this 10 year period and think "wow, imagine in another 10 years what I may find out..."
Two Huge Revelations...
As I reflect on my happiness list, two profound things have dawned on me that I believe will be the same for you:
- Not one item on my list is a "thing"; they are all experiences. Houses, cars and expensive suits do not make me happy. In fact, as I tidied out my clothes cupboard on the weekend and threw out bags of stuff that cost me loads of cash, it really highlighted the point.
- ALL of the "happy" list items are experiences that bring me into the present moment; that lock me in the NOW and block out the background static. When you see the incredible smile on your niece's face when she has not seen you in a few weeks, there is nothing else to think about. All happiness lies in the present moment.
Now To The Planning
The reality of life is that you can't escape the bills, the chores and the errands. Your existence in a modern world requires you to attend to these things.
Importantly though, you have a chance to open that box a little more frequently by committing time to planning for or scheduling them in. Try not to get so washed up in the day to day that you neglect the very things that make you feel content.
For me, the planning involves things like:
- Taking a day off the gym to be at the beach for a sunrise;
- Taking a drive to see my family at least every 3 weeks;
- Doing the groceries on a Sunday so I am prepped for a healthy food week;
- Enrolling in a course that stretches my brain;
- Putting together a budget that allows me to save for a holiday;
- And picking up the phone to simply say 'Hi' to a close mate when it's been a while.
I encourage you to do the same. Open the box. A richness lies inside...