So often in our adult lives, we find ourselves with a vague sense of dissatisfaction. We might have a nice house, a great car, a loving family and a career that’s headed in the right direction, yet there’s some gnawing sense of unease and restlessness in the back of our consciousness. It’s frustrating and annoying, and even more so because we can never quite quell it and make it completely go away. We feel unfulfilled and incomplete at some level that we can’t quite put a finger on, and we don’t ever quite know how to change it or address it.
That’s why it’s so important to make a happiness list.
Obviously, everyone’s happiness list is going to be different, as everyone has different ideas of what composes a life full of joy and happiness. We can’t tell you what ought to belong on your list, since you’re the only one who can answer that question. What we can do, though, is give you some ideas of how to start putting this list together, and some things to remember as you move forward on it.
Finding Out What Makes You Happy is Your Job
You may be surrounded by people who love you and who want to see you happy. They’re committed to supporting you, and that’s really, really important. In the end, though, they don’t know you as well as you know yourself. You’re the only one who knows your heart and your soul, and ultimately you’re the only one who can make the final call as to what makes you happy and fulfilled. All those loved ones may be invested in you and your happiness, but in the end, it’s really up to you.
Don’t Let Work Overrun Your Life
Even if you’ve got a job that you love – the kind of job that makes you feel like you have a real sense of purpose and a mission in life – it can be too easy to get overly-focused on that job, to a point where it robs you of the work/life balance you need. And if you’ve got a job that you don’t like, you can end up completely miserable and filled with dread every night as you think about going in to work the next day. Even a really satisfying job can be filled with stress and pressure and conflict. Remember that life is short, and whenever you’re faced with a stressful event or decision at work, ask yourself: will this matter in a month? Six months? A year? Five years? This is a question that can help you preserve some perspective regarding work.
Don’t Get Bogged Down in the Trivial
It’s doubtful that anyone ever laid on his deathbed and said, “I wish I had responded to emails more promptly.” We’re not saying you should just let the trivial slide because eventually, those little things have a way of bunching up and rolling together into one big thing. They need attention and they need to get taken care of. Day-to-day, though, these little tasks and details have a way of cluttering up the radar screen and soaking up so much of our energy that we lose sight of the bigger goals and the things that make a life full of joy and happiness. Don’t procrastinate on them – just prioritize which ones are the most important, move on them and get them out of the way so you can get on to the big picture again.
Happiness Doesn’t Happen Overnight
Things that made you happy in your teens or twenties are likely to not be the things that make you happy today. Remember that happiness and joy aren’t a finish line at the end of a long race, they’re something that we try to incorporate into our lives as a mindset daily. In the end, we’re really the ones who are responsible for it, and it takes practice. If horseback riding, camping, fishing, reading a good book, playing an instrument or enjoying a great movie are the things that make you happy, ask yourself how long it’s been since you’ve engaged in any of those things. If it’s been a long time, why has it been that long?
We don’t always know what makes us happy. Sometimes it takes a lot of soul-searching and reflection to figure that one out. Regardless of what it is that fulfills your life and gives it meaning and joy, however, it’s never too late to start moving in that direction. Putting together a happiness list is a great step toward organizing those thoughts and developing a plan that can take you down that road. Just remember that we only get one go-around, and it’s up to you and no one else to figure out what makes you happy and embrace it.