A few years ago a friend said to me, “What right now makes you happy, truly happy?” It’s such a simple question it would seem, but I stared blankly and thought, I’m not sure I know. I then wondered what happiness was. What really did make me happy? Worryingly, I struggled. Times were tough and I really didn’t know.
If you don’t know what makes you truly happy then how on earth can you fill your life with happiness? It was a good question and I started to write down the few things that did. Spending time with my family and friends was number one; but that wasn’t always possible. So I thought again. Having a bath, that was another. My list wasn’t that long because at the time I was bedbound and unwell, but I knew that it was important to try to do things in my day that gave me joy. So I set about trying my best. Slowly, very slowly at first, change began to occur. I started to discover more and more things that made my heart sing. For me, many of them revolved around people, but I soon discovered new ones, and now my list is pretty long!
Research shows that doing this exercise and, if you can, engaging in a variety of happy activities – whether spending time alone, reading or listening to music, meeting friends, exercising or doing something that feels particularly meaningful to you – will bring about different kinds of satisfaction that together contribute to your overall happiness.
The important thing is to try to make time to do things that make you happy, however big or small. On a busy day, it can be as simple as smiling at somebody; on another, it may be watching a favourite film. If you reflect on these activities at the end of the day, research shows that those experiences will stay in your memory and then you will be able to gain pleasure from them later on.
One of the changes I have noticed since I started this exercise is that I now find happiness in much smaller and simpler things, and that I am aware of them, and am able to reflect on them and be grateful.
So, in the busyness of daily life try to find time for yourself; and every day do something that makes you happy, however small. See how things change. Have fun!
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