For some of us, the ultimate goal in life is happiness. It is our truest pursuit and our most sought-after dream. Whether that is obtained via fulfillment in our work, contentment in our relationships, or passion in our hobbies, we strive to find happiness.
And yet, this search for happiness can be a lifelong search, especially if we look at happiness as something that will come once we achieve certain goals — a nice home, a perfect spouse, the ultimate promotion. When we meet these goals, instead of being happy and content, we often just begin looking for ways to achieve an entirely new set of goals.
Happiness shouldn’t be something that happens to us in the future, someday, if things go well. Happiness should be grounded in the present. It is who we are now, with the people we’re with now, doing the things we’re doing now. If we’re not with people who make us happy and doing things that make us happy, then we should take action to make it a reality.
That’s the simple formula for happiness. Take action, do the things that make you happy, be with the people who make you happy, and be happy with the person you are now. (Disclaimer: this probably doesn’t apply, of course, to those who are clinically depressed or who have other similar medical conditions which I am not qualified to discuss.)
Don’t wait for happiness. Seize it. Leo Tolstoy said, "If you want to be happy, be."
Here’s a list of actions you can take today to seize that happiness. You don’t have to do these all at once, but you should do most (if not all) of them eventually, and sooner rather than later. Pick one or two and start today.
1. Be present
Don’t think about how great things will be in the future. Don’t dwell on what did or didn’t happen in the past. Learn to be in the here and now, and experience life as it’s happening, and appreciate the world for the beauty that it is, right now. Practice makes perfect with this crucial skill.
2. Connect with others
In my experience, very few things can produce happiness as well as connecting with other human beings, cultivating relationships, bonding with others. Some tips on doing this.
3. Spend time with those you love
This might seem almost the same as the item above, and, in reality, it’s an extension of the same concept, albeit a more specific application. Spending time with the people you love is extremely important to happiness and yet it’s incredible how often we do just the opposite. We forgo connection in lieu of spending time alone, disconnecting from those we love, or spending time with people we don’t much like. Make it a priority to schedule time with the people you love. Make that your most important item of the day. Personally, I have a time when I unplug from work and the rest of the day is for my family. Weekends are exclusively for my family. And by setting aside this sacred time, I ensure my happiness by letting nothing come between me and the people I love most.
4. Do the things you love
What do you love doing most? Figure out the 4-5 things you love doing most in life. Make those the foundation of your day, every day. Eliminate as much of the rest as possible. For me, the things I love doing are: spending time with my family, writing, reading, and running. I do those things every day and very little else. It may take awhile to get your life down to your essentials like I have (it took me a few years of careful elimination and rescheduling and saying “no” to requests that aren’t on my short list), but it’s worth the effort.
5. Focus on the good things
Everyone’s life has positive and negative aspects — whether you’re happy or not depends largely on which aspects you focus on. Did you lose today’s softball game? At least you got to spend time with friends doing something fun. Did you sprain your ankle running? Well, your body probably needed a week’s rest anyway, as you were running too much! Did your baby get sick? Well, at least it’s only a flu virus and nothing life-threatening, not to mention you have a wonderful baby to nurse to health! You can see my point — almost everything has a positive side, and focusing on the positives make all the difference.
Happiness isn't a destination it's a journey. Start yours today!