Do More of What Makes You HAPPY

Do More of What Makes You HAPPY

Life is busy. Schoolwork, homework, work work. Cooking, cleaning, carpooling, eat, sleep, repeat. Sometimes I feel like a hamster chained to a wheel that never stops spinning. Of course, if I were, I’d far exceed my daily goal of 10,000 steps. Sadly, that doesn’t happen very often. Wait, does that mean I’m a sloth chained to my desk? No, I’m not that either, but I digress …

My point is, we can get so buried in the busy-ness of our days that we forget to make time for the things that bring us happiness. Or, in my case, we FORGET what makes us happy.

Some people reading this right now may be laughing (or shaking their head) because they know me. Grumpy Cat is my spirit animal … I might not be the most believable person to be writing a post about this topic.

Bear with me.

Suspend your disbelief, jump off that hamster wheel for a few seconds, and let’s talk about happiness.

Why is happiness important?

An article published online by the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley lists six specific ways that happiness is good for your health:

  1. Happiness protects your heart.
  2. Happiness strengthens your immune system.
  3. Happiness combats stress.
  4. Happy people have fewer aches and pains.
  5. Happiness combats disease and disability.
  6. Happiness lengthens our lives.

My wheel is spinning too fast to evaluate whether the studies they cite are solid, but even without scientific evidence, most people would say they feel better when they’re happy.

Prerequisites to happiness

Are there such things as “prerequisites to happiness”? If you ask anyone in my family, they’d say, “Duh!” My youngest gets hangry. And no one’s happy until she puts some food in that angry little stomach. Snickers Monster, anyone?

My weakness is sleep. I’ve been a grumpy, sleep-deprived, zombie for almost twenty years. Not good. But when I get a nap, we’re ALL in a much better mood. A clean house, doesn’t hurt either. Clean clothes that are magically put away and dirty laundry that finds its way off the floor and into the laundry basket are golden. But, that brings up an important point. Are all “prerequisites” valid or are some of them unnecessary hurdles?

I’m not a happiness expert (we already established that) or a psychiatric professional, but my thought is that there are some basic physiological needs that are essential (e.g. food, sleep, shelter) and some that are hurdles (e.g. that elusive clean house). Sounds a bit like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, but again, not a psychologist. The key is finding ways to meet your valid happiness needs and to put the hurdles behind you. I’ll let you know when I figure out how to be content in spite of a messy house …

What makes YOU happy?

What makes ME happy may not make YOU happy. While I could blissfully wander the aisles of Hobby Lobby for hours, my husband would rather sail a ship through a tsunami. He likes challenges. I … get seasick. But that’s okay–I have daughters who will HAPPILY help me spend money there. It’s a win-win situation for all.

What surprised me as I’ve been writing this post, is that I’m not sure what truly makes me happy anymore. (Sad confessions of a busy mother.) I’ve been staring at the draft of this post for two months, because I haven’t had time to figure this out. I know … Sad. But, it’s something that we all need to consider, because life is too short to miss out on joy.

So, here’s OUR homework:

  1. Make a list of your prerequisites to happiness.
  2. Honestly appraise that list to make sure your prerequisites are realistic and truly required. (And, no, having a Ferrari is NOT a realistic prerequisite.)
  3. Make a list of what makes you happy (write it down)–it can be pretty and inspirational or just functional–whatever makes you happy πŸ™‚
  4. Post that list where you’ll see it often.
  5. Find some time in your busy day to fit in a little happiness.
  6. OPTIONAL: Post a comment and tell me what makes you happy–I’ll try to do the same. Maybe we’ll inspire each other!

5 Replies to “Do More of What Makes You HAPPY”

  1. I love this post. A friend and I have been talking about it lately. What is it about being a Mom that makes us so focused on the emotions of others that we forget about what makes us happy? I’ve had a rough few years, so I think my prerequisites to happiness have dropped a bit. A clean house would be nice, but isn’t required. I’ve found that odd things make me happy these days. Nail art. New websites. Writing. I get happy when I make a writing goal. I get happy when I see a friend meet a writing goal. I really get excited when I see one of my students or my extra kids succeeding. Nail art. (The nail thing probably has to do with the amount of time I spend typing every day!) I have grown children who are still kind and call their mother. That makes me happy. I’m a very blessed woman. For a while, I was too sick to work. Now I can work again. THAT makes me happy, since I only do work that I enjoy. I think it was the time I spent being sick that makes me thing this is such a powerful, beautiful post.

    1. Yes! I think as a mom, we have so many others depending on us–they’re our prime responsibility (and also huge source of happiness). But we can’t forget ourselves. I need to make my happy list–TODAY! I can’t seem to let go of the clean house thing. Walking into someone else’s messy house doesn’t bother me a bit (unless they’ve achieved hoarder status) but I can’t concentrate when mine is a mess. Maybe that’s more of an ADD thing πŸ™‚ And nail art … my nails just need an overhaul! I think I’m going to have to go the fake route. Then I’ll think about the art! But, the other day I did get a pedicure with my youngest and her BFF and one of my BFFs. THAT made me happy. Working on my website makes me happy–thank you for making that a reality. I have a feeling you make ALL of your students happy. Their websites are amazing creations, thanks to your help and guidance! You are my hero for figuring out what you love to do and having the courage to do it!

  2. Great post, Kimberley, and you got me thinking. What makes me happy are the simple things in life – a beautiful sunset, a spring flower, the cat doing something funny, hugging my daughter, sharing a look with a my husband, laughing with friends, doing something well, a tasty meal, connecting with people in real life or on the internet, as your post reminded me. Maybe that’s the key – just remembering to notice all those little things that make up our days. And I really should write some new posts for my website – you inspired me to create a list of topics so I can actually write something πŸ™‚ Thank you for a fab post and staring mey day with a smile!!

    1. Hi, Becky! I miss you and your classes! (They are so challenging but SOOOOO much fun!) Thank you for your comment and for sharing your happiness. You are absolutely right about noticing the small things. It’s very easy to get so hung up in the whirlwind of life that we rush right past the purring cat, the snuggly kid, the tiny miracles of the outside world–whispering for us to notice. And yes – I loved your post and would love to read more. Don’t forget your book too. My girls loved the first two chapters. I’m sure they’d love the rest of it too! Thanks again and take care!

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