Sometimes I get obsessed with certain things. Like this Tobu remix of Maja Francis' "Come Companion." I listened to it on repeat for an entire work day. Yes -- for 8 hours. One song. Eight glorious hours.
Another topic I've recently obsessed over is happiness. I watched a documentary about happiness with the key learning that it is part genetic, but most of it is controllable. And people in third-world countries are not markedly more unhappy than first-world because our expectations are too high. I listened to a TED Talk on happiness. Then I read a book called, The Happiness Project.
The whole book was about how to make small changes to be a bit happier. What I liked best about the book was that she stressed not being unhappy to try to find happiness, but that there is always room for improvement. I'm not going to recap the book, but my takeaway can be summarized in one sentence:
Be more than fine.
When you talk to someone, what's one of the first things you ask? It's probably, "How are you?" And the answer is probably "Good!" or "Fine!"
But why are we settling for fine? Shouldn't we strive for awesome or excited or fabulous? If we hold ourselves to the a higher standard of happiness, then wouldn't the world be a bit brighter? I think yes.
So then I decided to try to implement some happiness techniques into my daily life. Gretchen, the woman who wrote the book, kept a spreadsheet and goals to track for every month. Realistically, that would only cause me anxiety and stress. Plans don't make me happy, so I just have a list created in the Notes section of my phone.
I tried to keep them manageable, but also genuine ways to make myself a bit more cheerful:
- Be Present. The podcast highlighted that daydreaming actually makes people more unhappy. I'm not sure how they calculated that exactly, but seems easy enough to test out. As an added bonus, I want to expand this past just skipping daydreaming, and also commit to putting down the phone. Not just in not taking pictures when I should be living in the moment, but really being present in life through simple actions like putting my phone away for dinner and posting on social media after the fact, not during.
- Bike. I've owned a bike for three years now and rode it a total of one day. More specifically, the one time I rode it was in a parking lot the day I got it. And yes, I almost did hit a parked car. Looking past that, I used to LOVE biking. I've got the bike, and I like biking, so why am I not doing it? The Happiness Project talks about the inertia of happiness, where easy earns in happiness (like watching TV) seem like they'll suffice, but really more challenging happiness activities (like finding a bike path and riding my bike), are going to make me happier in the long run.
- Use my spices. Once I bought my house, one of the most important purchases I needed to make was a spice rack. Why? Because it felt adult, and it was a symbol of the next step in my life. So now I own a spice rack. And unless I use it, it's clutter. And clutter makes you unhappy. So I'm committing to making a recipe featuring one spice a month. The rules on this one are simple: I can use more than one spice at a time, but one spice is the featured spice of the month. On that note, does anyone know what to do with celery salt?
- Internalize complaints. I complain. All. The. Time. Research shows complaining to others makes everyone unhappy. So I'm going to aim to not do that anymore. Unless I'm complaining with a purpose -- like trying to fix the problem and asking for advice -- I'm going to either let the complaint pass or write it down and not say it out loud.
- Volunteer More. I like the way it feels, and the only reason I don't do it more is because I don't plan that well. Thankfully, my old roommate invited me to an event, so I'll be volunteering this weekend! I'm also going to look more into recurring volunteer opportunities, which will give me an energy boost.
- Work-out and eat right. It's not a diet. It's not a work-out plan. It's just a commitment to myself to do better. If I eat one cookie, there is no reason my whole day is ruined. I don't have to beat myself up about it, but I also don't need to break down and eat the whole cookie jar.
What small changes could you make to your life that will boost your happiness?