With the ongoing science experiment that is my life, I’ve occasionally stopped after having an exceptional day to reflect on what it was that brought me happiness. What really makes me the happiest?
This particular day I was sitting back during that dusky hour at the end of a long day. I’d been working and organizing the house, closet and workshop, when I had an epiphany. I was experiencing a feeling of contentment that seemed odd and out of place because, as I thought more about it, I realized I hadn’t gone anywhere that day. I hadn’t bought anything, and I hadn’t even spent any money. I’d only exerted my will onto my environment, yet I felt great about what I had done that day. Better than a lot of other days where I had tried to buy the same feeling through movies, fairs, and amusement parks.
Reflecting on What Brings Me Happiness
I was experiencing a feeling of hard-earned accomplishment and it was giving me a high that was better than many things money can buy. It made me think, “If I can be this happy, having not even left the house or buying anything, how can I duplicate this experience?”
Does happiness really come from within, as I’ve so often heard philosophers and uninformed hipsters alike say? If so, how could I get more specific about this concept and really identify some things along these lines that make a person happy? Over the next few years I came up with a list of other times that I get this same high, with the hopes that I could more consciously be the author of my own happiness.
What was it specifically about the experience that I could learn from and make a formula for future days when I also might want to have a smile on my face? Below are a few common themes that seem to show up over and over, across a broad spectrum of activities.
1 Being in Nature.
2 Organizing clutter/making good use of my space.
3 Completing my to-do list/Setting goals and accomplishing them.
4 Helping someone I care about.
5 Connecting with other people/comradery/bonding.
6 Getting better at something.
7 Feeling valued for my input.
8 Getting completely lost in the moment/an activity/ being fully engaged in an activity and losing track of time.
9 Sharing knowledge with other people and seeing them grow.
10 Focusing on the positive even when I may not feel like it.
11 Listing the things I am grateful for.
12 Having a clean car.
13 Having a clean kitchen-These things act like visual reassurances for my sub conscious, letting me know that I’ve got a clean and managed platform to address the surprises and uncertainties that are inevitable in daily life.
14 Seeing someone make a mistake and not making them feel stupid about it (Road ragers this may apply to you).
15. Restoring or repairing something old or worn out to be new(ish) again.
Do you notice the common theme with these? They don’t require a lot of money to attain, yet when people think about ways to be happy, the first instinct is often to buy something as if to unintentionally reveal that our inner belief system equates happiness with money. Well I propose that we rewrite our internal monologue to at least consider that this doesn’t need to be true the great majority of the time.
How about you? When are you the happiest? Can you repeat these feelings? Can you apply it to some other activity? What healthy activities do find give you a conscious or unconscious boost to your happiness that don’t cost money? Please feel free to post in the comments below.
Having a bad day? Check out these ideas for how to troubleshoot your way right out of it.