What is the difference between being happy and cultivating happiness?
Is happiness something that is achieved? Is it something that we get after a lot of hard work or when something amazing happens to us? A lot of ideas around being happy in western society, seem to suggest that happiness is an end goal. Something we get after X, Y and Z happen. When we get that new job, when our car is finally fixed, or when we have enough money to live comfortably without stress, etc.
The examples above seem to state, “When I get X, then I will be happy”. But is it possible to be happy in spite of not meeting those requirements we seem to think we need? I know I talked about not postponing our happiness until the future in my last blog post in this series, but how exactly do we do that day-to-day?
Is it possible to create our own happiness despite the situations and events around us? The answer is YES; but how do we go about doing that?
I’m going to cover daily habits for happiness later in this series, but for now, I want to talk in general about the idea of cultivating happiness vs the idea of just spontaneously “being happy”; That, suddenly, one day out of the blue we will just be hit with a wave of happiness and live happily ever after.
Because something like that is unlikely after years of unhappiness or apathy, how can we go about trying to actively create our own happiness on a weekly/monthly/ long term basis?
Sometimes just waiting for something to change can be effective, depending on the situation, but a lot of the time, actively doing something about our problems can really help or at least give us a more hopeful sense about the situation at hand. Actively working at making something better helps to empower us, and can help to take away our feelings of hopelessness.
So below is a short list of general things you can implement in your life that I find help to keep my happiness/mood at a stable level:
1. Adding elements to your daily routine to help keep you mentally sound.
Adding different elements into your day that help to balance your mood creates a foundation for you to build upon when it comes to enjoying life more. I will be covering this further in another blog post in this series but general self-care like making sure you eat something substantial, showering, exercising and not working yourself too much, etc, are important steps to implement to help keep you mentally sound.
A second part of adding elements to your routine that can help you to feel happier day-to-day is to try to add in small fun elements throughout the day. Instead of postponing fun until our days off or when we feel we have time for it, trying to incorporate things that we find fun into each day.
This can be anything that you find fun. Examples of this can include watching cartoons with breakfast like you did as a child, having a 10-minute dance party at some point during the day, listening to fun music while you are making dinner or working on something that doesn’t take much focus on the computer, singing, playing with a pet, etc. Or you can even perform the whole first act from Hamilton by yourself as you clean the house…N-Not that I do that…
By adding fun elements to each day, it helps to remind us to try to enjoy life to the fullest and not to push all our fun until the weekend. I also feel that these fun elements help to prevent the build-up of stress throughout the day, or at least relieve it somewhat. That on top of the self-care elements incorporated into each day creates a balance in mood that is imperative to overall happiness.
2. Scheduling time for yourself
Every so often, maybe weekly or biweekly, try to set a day for yourself. You’ve probably heard of self-care days and you can make this day a self-care day if you want, but I prefer to make this a day where I’m the priority and get to do all the things I want that day – not that you make other people make you the priority, but that you yourself make you the priority, and you can do whatever you want (within reason haha).
If you want to spend the whole day in bed watching Netflix and have the freedom to do it, do it. If you want to play Animal Crossing or make pancakes or have a movie night or whatever you love to do, do it.
You don’t have to go as hardcore as spending the entire day doing all the stuff you want because I know a lot of people can’t drop everything to take a whole entire day just for yourself, but maybe you can set aside a few hours in the evening once a week to spend time doing the things you really enjoy without feeling guilty that you should be doing something else. This also gives you something to look forward to throughout the week.
3. Having a “Things that cheer me up/make me happy” list
Make a list of things that make you laugh, things that make you instantly happy that you can fall back on if you are having a sad day (not that you should necessarily be avoiding being sad but that’s for another post in this series). News bloopers and other funny videos like GMM edits/compilations are some of the things on my list.
I recently discovered the audio commentary that Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart did for the Twilight: Eclipse DVD and it is now on my list. I literally bought the special edition DVD on amazon because I was laughing so much at the clips of their commentary on Twitter and YouTube, and it instantly cheered me up after having a bad few days.
A lot of the time they are just roasting their own movie and there are so many times where they are talking about stuff and Rob says something weird and is like “just cut this out” and the editor proceeds to not cut any of it out. Seriously, it’s hilarious. I never really watch film commentaries but the Eclipse one is gold.-Eclipse rant over-
Anyway, back to the point. Having a list of really funny things that make you laugh can be helpful if you find yourself falling into a slump and need some cheering up. Watching items from my list usually makes me feel lighter by the time that it’s over. This is particularly good if I had a hard day that day or was in a negative mood.
4. Making a “small” monthly goal to achieve
Make some sort of monthly goal no matter how small and work towards it throughout the month. They say progress is happiness. I’m not 100% sure about that but it can help our self-esteem to feel like we are progressing at something and not just lying stagnant.
Whether it is a big goal like “learning a language” or “getting a degree that you want” to work towards or something smaller like “drink more water” or “finish that book”. Making and achieving a small goal each month can help us feel proud of ourselves and give us a sense of accomplishment.
5. Work towards a “big” goal that you think will add to your overall enjoyment of life.
Think to yourself, what are some big goals/achievements/things you want that will significantly increase your happiness in the long run. This can be a goal like in my last point but it will usually be something more long term like maybe you want to own your own house, you want to be able to work from home so you have more time, or you want to lose a certain amount of weight.
The main difference between this goal and the goals in my previous point is that you feel that achieving this goal will help you feel a greater sense of happiness or enjoyment out of life once you have achieved it (I know I have been warning against putting all your happiness on achieving big goals but you are still allowed to work towards goals that you feel will increase your overall enjoyment of life. Just don’t stop yourself from allowing yourself to be happy in the meantime).
This could mean saving for a car so you don’t have to get the bus anymore or even something like starting therapy. Once you have decided on the goal, put in place a long term plan so that you are doing something working towards this goal every month. This isn’t about stressing yourself out so try to make the steps towards this goal each month manageable or even pretty easy if you can.
If you are saving for something you want to buy, calculate out how much you need to be putting away each month/week so that you can get it by the deadline you have chosen. Then put that money aside as soon as you get your income for that week/month, etc.
If it’s something like going to therapy or learning a skill you think will help your life, then maybe choose a time slot each week or however often you feel you need and schedule to do that thing then.
Working towards making our lives better in the long run, can help us feel more hopeful and positive about the future. It can also make it easier for us to deal with current problems and not to get consumed by them.
So those are some things you can implement to help you cultivate happiness in your life. These are things that I find help me and I hope that they can help you too if you are trying to increase your enjoyment of life on a day to day basis. Below is the other blog post in this series if you want to read that too. Also, make sure to follow my blog on Bloglovin or follow me on Pinterest if you want to make sure you don’t miss the next episode.
Other blog posts in this series:
Have a great day and I’ll talk to you soon.
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