Chasing Happiness: 7 Steps to a Happier and Less Anxious Life (Part Three)

This post is part three of the three-part “Chasing Happiness” series.  Click here to view the rest of the series.

5) Visit Your Happiness Islands

Your daily grind probably includes rushing to work, experimenting with curse words in traffic and too little sleep. Your weekends may be riddled with things like cleaning the cat box and buying groceries. Unless you’re a glutton for activity or happen to truly enjoy cat litter, it’s likely your life is streaming onward with nary a stab at any activity that makes you happy.

This is a good way to create, rather than alleviate, anxiety. It is also a good way to create a sea of ongoing misery.

Make room for happiness.

It’s tough to be happy if nothing you do makes you happy. You can change that by acknowledging and seeking your Happiness Islands. What the heck are Happiness Islands? They are little pockets of pleasure filled with things that make you happy. But before you can charter your personal boat to one of your island, you first have to figure out what they are.

What makes you happy?

Make a list of times when you’ve experienced the most joy. The list can include anything and everything that brought a smile to your face and laughter from your gut. Maybe you enjoyed a recent weekend picnic. Or you couldn’t stop laughing at the movie you saw last week. Perhaps this afternoon’s dog walk was a real hoot.

You could easily fall into an unsuccessfully chase for happiness if you stopped the list right here. You might erroneously believe the picnic made you happy because you had a new picnic blanket. Or the movie made you happy because you had a free coupon. Or the dog walk was pure bliss because the dog was out on his jazzy leather leash.

Don’t stop the list there. Do the next step, which starts with another question.

Why do these things make you happy?

Look beyond the picnic blanket, free movie coupon and leather leash to find the true origin of the happiness behind the situations on your list. The real reason the picnic was so joyful could be because it presented a chance to get away from the hurly-burly daily pace and out into nature.

The movie may have been a prime example of spending time with family and friends and a boost to your creative thinking. The dog walk again gave you time with your favorite furry family member and perhaps a chance to help the neighbor bring in her groceries.

Delve deep to discover the real reason behind the happiness. Then duplicate the scenarios as frequently as life allows. Find out what makes you happy. Then put yourself there. A lot.

6) Get rid of the Misery Ships.

No life is fully and only stocked with joy, and sometimes we cannot avoid situations or things that bring us misery. But sometimes we can. If what we’ll call Misery Ships habitually circle your Happiness Islands, you need to sink those ships whenever possible.

Create a Misery Ship list full of things that make you unhappy. Examples may include working long hours or filing paperwork. Perhaps you’re not a fan of water-cooler gossip or buying every fund-raising item some kid comes to the door with. Your goal with the Misery Ships is to avoid them when you can. Sorry, you may still have to file paperwork at work, but at least you’ll know not to volunteer for it!

7) Visit your Happiness Islands daily.

At least once a day, do something that makes you happy. Perhaps you can’t always schedule a full-fledged picnic at the lakeside, but you can take a brisk walk in the park at lunch instead of gulping down a burger at your desk.

You may not always have time or cash to go to a movie, but you can indulge in creative thinking with your family and friends through books, creating artwork or hanging out at poetry and literary readings. People watch at the park and make up stories about their lives. And you can’t walk your dog too many times, nor can you do too many good deeds that help neighbors, friends or even strangers.

Make it a habit to include at least one Happiness Island visit in your day, every day. You can prompt this activity by asking yourself a simple question every morning.

What can I do today to make myself happy?

This is not a selfish question. Nor is it a selfish act. Heck, if every single person on earth decided to do one thing each day to make his or herself happy, folks would have far less time to make other people miserable. Their good moods can also be contagious, offering a positive pump to everyone they encounter.

And don’t say you don’t have time for this. Make it a priority. Schedule it into your day as you would a business meeting or appointment.

If you don’t set your priorities, someone else will.

And that someone may have Misery Ships lined up for perpetual cruises to hell, the cat box, or a giant archive of paperwork to file. You can always find a moment for even the quickest visit to at least one of your islands. Just be aware that you may like it so much and note such a positive change in your life, you may make Happiness Island-hopping an ongoing habit. In that case, Bon voyage!

This post is part three of the three-part “Chasing Happiness” series.  Click here to view the rest of the series.