You can be happier now. Not tomorrow or next week, but now. Grab a pen and piece of paper and write down your answers to these 4 questions.
I can still hear my parents telling me that I should do what makes me happy. Their advice was great, of course, and well intended, no doubt…
"Absolutely! I'll certainly do that.” (I mean…is there any other way of responding to this?)
And then life happened. The ups and downs I’ve experienced over the years, getting my Bachelor degree, a bad relationship followed by a great relationship, a burnout, a happy holiday, you know… life, the usual... One thing I never did though was ask myself what actually makes me happy.
I am not exactly thrilled or proud of this, particularly as I have come to realize that "How we spend our days is how we spend our lives." This quote from Vertellis Chapters (and credited to Mark Twain) is the inspiration for this blog post. After all, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do.”
Become & stay happy
Do I feel happier now than I previously did in my life? I think so. Have I achieved the highest level of happiness (whatever that may be)? I’m not so sure. I see happiness as an ever-changing state of being, something that requires attention, self-care and self-reflection. Bart wrote about self-reflection and the reason why he thinks everyone should do it in a previous article (check it out here).
By being aware that we need to invest in self-care and in taking time to self-reflect, we are empowering ourselves and creating our own happiness thus reducing the likelihood of falling into the "busy and stressed" trap of everyday life.
Now, for the 4 questions. Take a second to grab a pen and some paper and go through the questions below. You'll feel an instant happiness boost. The best part? It will only take a few minutes!
4 questions to find out what makes you happy
Have your pen & paper? If not, go grab it! I'll wait. ;)
Write each question down, leaving enough space to answer each question. Don't spend too much time thinking about your answer, just go with the first thing that comes to mind. Be as honest with yourself as you can. Doing so will make for some great insight and help you see what works and what doesn’t in your life. You’ll get clarity on the things you truly enjoy doing and what activities don't bring you as much joy.
Question 1: What are some things that you enjoy doing at the moment?
Meeting up with your friends every week? Cooking every weekend? Running your own business? Do you enjoy reading? Are you taking piano lessons?
Question 2: What are some things that you’re not currently doing but you’d really like/want to do?
Change your job? See your friends more? Eat fewer sweets? Read a book or a magazine without being distracted by family or your phone?
Question 3: What are you doing in your life that you’d rather not do/don’t want to do?
Spending a lot of time on social media? A long commute to work? Conflicts with family? Spending too much money? Having coffee with your neighbor every Wednesday?
Question 4: What are you not doing in your life that you don’t want to do either?
This is an important question that deserves a brief explanation. This question identifies unhealthy behaviors that you have already dealt with and changed in your life. Think of smoking for example. Maybe you were a heavy smoker and quit smoking a while back. Therefore, smoking is something you're not currently doing and don't want to have back in your life.
When you're done writing your answers, take a moment to read what you wrote for questions 1 and 4. I promise you: it will make you feel good!
Your answers to these two questions show you what is already going well in your life and what contributes to your happiness.
Now read your answers to questions 2 and 3. This will enlighten you to what's not going as well in your life, perhaps even what's keeping you away from your happiness. Trust me: everyone lists at least one, if not more, things here. We are all human!
Ask yourself how long you've been doing these things you don’t really want to do. Months? Years? "As soon as the children are older / there is more money / I have more time - I will change something." Words like "later" and "soon" are usually stopping us from pursuing our own happiness.
Awareness is the first step on the way to a new reality! [Vertellis Chapters]
Review your answers to questions 2 and 3 and write down a few simple action steps to help you change the current situation and turn it into a positive experience.
Ask yourself questions like: What do I need to make this happen? Who can help me with this? How much time do I want to spend on this?
Let’s say you would like to spend two hours at home next Saturday, on your own, reading a book. Tell your partner about it, make a plan on how to make it happen, ask if he can take the children out that day and give you some space so you can disconnect and read your book. If that’s not possible, then think of another way to make it happen - if your first idea doesn't "work", no need to change the goal, just change the approach!
You know what makes you happy better than anyone else and you also have the power to make it happen in your life. Use this quote from Vertellis Chapters to help you turn things around: "The bad news: time flies. The good news: you are the pilot."
Anique has a background as a Social Worker & Integrated Lifestyle Coach. She loves writing and a chance encounter with Sijmen from Team Vertellis, in Bali, made her decide to join the team. When she’s not writing, she likes to read about contemporary topics, spend quality time with the people she loves, sharing good food & good wine. Her two cats, Hugo and Fleur, are an endless source of joy and happiness in her life.