Happiness. That elusive feeling that we search for, strive for, wait for. According to the Merriam-Webster, happiness is defined as
: the state of being happy
: an experience that makes you happy
2 a : a state of well-being and contentment : joy
b : a pleasurable or satisfying experience
For the purposes of this post, I am focusing on the regular definition, along with part 2 of the full definition.
Happiness is a topic that has been coming up a lot in my life lately, from many different sources. There was a replay of a podcast on TEDRadioHour
focusing on happiness and a few from OnBeing
that were very happiness-centric. Then of course there are the upcoming holidays, which definitely get me thinking about happiness and the quality of my life. A post that first really got me thinking about happiness both in life and in myself came from this Instagram post and is what really got the idea for this post going.
This is a lesson I have really learned over the past few years. When I was in my younger 20s, a lot of my plans for life…well, they didn’t go exactly as planned. Not even close. It took a long time for me to pull myself out of the emotional hole that I had found myself in, had allowed myself to wallow in. Even longer for me to realize that not only could I be happy again someday, but I could be happy now.
I didn’t have to wait for a new plan or figure all of the pieces beforehand. I could figure out how this new life was going to look and take joy in the life that I had. Building this new life on the basis of joy, of contentment, has been one of the most difficult and rewarding things that I have ever done. And I’m not even close to done or ever really will be done. Building this life is a journey, one of discovery and exploration. I look back at that unhappy, confused and lost girl and don’t even recognize her. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that girl was ever me.
My life may not look anywhere close to what I expected it to at 28, but I am so much happier for that fact than I ever could have imagined. And so, with that, here are some things I have learned about happiness along the way:
- Don’t wait for happiness to find you. You can find happiness in small things and those things do add up.
- Along that same line of thought, don’t put your focus on someone else making you happy. That feeling is fleeting if it comes from external sources. I know we have heard it all before, but happiness, at least lasting happiness, comes from within.
- Make small, manageable goals for yourself. Then go out an achieve them! The feeling from meeting those goals is awesome and can help a lot, especially if you have been having a hard time finding any happiness lately.
- This is something I did frequently and still do on a regular basis. Large long terms goals are great, but when you are at a place in your life where you are struggling, they can feel more crushing than uplifting. For myself, I had to take myself out of those big goals that were overwhelming me and focus on small things I could do that day. There was a point where those goals were just as simple as shower and cook myself an actual meal.
- Routines can help a lot! My daily routines center me, give me some normalcy and security, and help me to at least accomplish basic things each day. They also allow me to adapt better to sudden changes and be more spontaneous!
- If you have a really hard time setting up daily routines, check out FlyLady! I know that some of her early baby steps can seem silly or unimportant, but they really do work! This site and community helped me to graduate college and to keep myself together when my life was falling apart. I don’t follow my routines as strictly as I did then, but the ones I learned there still form the backbone of my daily routines now. And whenever I feel like I need to reset my routines I go back through the baby steps!
- Make time for yourself! I know, we all have heard this before, but it really holds true and can be so difficult to do. This can be taking the time to workout, read a book, or really anything.
- Tip: Think of a few things you really enjoy and set aside time to do at least one of them on a regular basis. I’m not talking about the things we do almost out of habit that are enjoyable…I’m talking about the things that really brighten your day, make your week, etc. The things you love!
The list above is just a few things that I have learned over the past few years. While I know none of them are particularly new ideas, they are ones that I had a really hard time fully understanding or internalizing. Sometimes we can here those “life lessons” so many times but they don’t really click until much later. That was how these lessons were for me.
Now, to finish this post off, my 50 things (in no particular order) that make me happy. This is inspired by this post from Brey over at Ordinary Adventures. If you haven’t checked out her blog before, you should definitely head over there! She has so many awesome posts!
- Date nights with Boyfriend
- Getting greeted by our dogs when we get home
- Cooking a new recipe
- Spending time with my parents and extended family
- Creating a new mosaic
- Making a new piece of decor for our house
- Working with my dad on the house remodel (he does most of the work, but I like to pretend I’m a help :-P)
- Curling up with a favorite book
- Reading a new book
- When I’m writing a blog post and it’s just flowing wonderfully
- When I get a like or comment on one of my posts or pictures
- Working with my camera
- The smell of Lemon Garlic Chicken cooking (This smell just takes me back to my childhood)
- Watching our dogs play
- Seeing the house slowly coming together
- Watching a favorite TV show
- Watching Disney and Pixar movies
- Listening to jazz
- Horseback riding
- Hiking in the woods
- Seeing a play live
- Pretty much any time I’m hanging out with my mom
- Cuddling with Boyfriend watching movies
- Making fused glass jewelry
- Going to bed with freshly washed sheets
- Listening to podcasts
- My workouts
- The BBG community on Instagram
- When I get a new hairstyle down
- Getting a haircut and style
- Doing henna
- Watching my flowers grow
- Growing my own vegetables
- Cooking with vegetables and herbs from my garden
- My new craft space
- Watching the leaves turn in the fall
- Petting my dogs
- Cleaning my house
- New workout clothes
- Changing out decorations as the seasons change
- Taking a walk with the dogs and Boyfriend
- Playing MarioKart
- Trying new foods
- Seeing friends I haven’t seen in a long time
- Making new friends (made even more exciting because I’m not great at this)
- Seeing my physical capabilities improve as I work on my fitness
- Wearing my favorite pieces of jewelry
- Dressing up for a date night with Boyfriend
- Yoga practice
What lessons or truths have you learned about happiness so far in your life? What things make you happy?