Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
It’s a well-known phrase in the United States Declaration of Independence. Many of us are still trying to pursue that last bit. But what defines the achievement of happiness? Money? Love? Children? And, more importantly, can we stay happy while we’re in its pursuit?
Even more, once we have it, how do we maintain it?
Aristotle famously once said, “Happiness depends upon ourselves.” It’s such a short and simple phrase, but it means so much.
It really is dependent on yourself. The happiest people in the world are not necessarily the richest, or most famous. They can be found in all walks of life. It starts from within. It starts with yourself.
Want to know the top eight things I live by to help me reach this goal?
Now, I’m not perfect. Not even close. But I gathered some ideas I felt made a difference in keeping me happy.
Listed below are eight of these ideas. I take each of them on lightly and don’t pressure myself into having to get them all done at once.
After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
I know the ideas look great on paper, but they’ll feel even better once implemented into your own outlook and life. Remember: we are human. Sometimes life can throw its occasional curve ball and push you offtrack. That’s ok. The key here is to get up, dust yourself off, and get back to it. Back to your own pursuit (and maintenance) of happiness.
Eight Ideas to Keep You Happy
1. Make lists, lists, lists.
Take notes on projects you’d like to start. Vacation spots, places you’d like to eat at, people you need to call.
I have a ‘notes’ app on my phone and have an appropriate category set up for each of these lists. A hand jots down a note in a list within a notebook. When someone gives me a personal recommendation or I read about something that sounds great, or even remember something that I’d like done, I jot that down. This helps to keep me engaged in the things I’d like to experience, and to have things that I look forward to doing.
Along these lines, studies have found that people show happiness in the planning stages of their vacation, when they look forward to going away, much more than upon returning from the trip. Read on the results in the Huffington Post article, The Happiest Part Of Your Vacation Isn’t What You Think.
2. Raise money for someone.
Do this outside of a charity organization so that you can hand them the entire amount you raise. Not a percentage or a portion, but the entire amount. Make a difference in that person’s life. It will feel so good.
Helping someone without any agenda,and without a need for something in return has to be one of the best feelings in the world. Of course, check with the person or family to ensure that there is a need and that they agree to the fund raising in their name. Also make sure to ask whether they’d like their name included or excluded. Anonymous works just as well. I recently did this at a party where my friends and I raised money for a fellow mom battling breast cancer. More on this to come.
If you don’t feel comfortable raising for a specific person, you can alternately raise money for your local hospital or children’s school.
3. Add plants.
I did just that, after a recent trip to Aruba. I noticed all the greenery, and all the plants that were at the hotel, and I took in the beauty and decided to add this to my own household and work. Plants give off life (that’s the nerd in me speaking, as they do actually give off the oxygen that we breathe), and plants make people happy. A wonderful article covering this topic and listing many of the health benefits of plants in the home is The Perks of Being a Plant Lover.
4. Think about your children and your spouse when they are not with you.
Though it’s wonderful being with them, sometimes they can drive us crazy. But what better time to think positive thoughts than when you’re away? Take a few minutes out of your day to think of the good things they bring to your life, no matter what your situation is.
5. Do something nice for friends.
Randomly spew off three names of friends and send each a text saying something nice. You could tell them you love them, or just that you’re happy that they’re your friends. But something nice to make their day. Do this once a week.
Here’s an example I’ve picked out, to make it simple for those who want to have it one-click away: a fantastic gift for your friend that they’ll surely love: bath bombs, with easy purchasing and delivery from Amazon, or a book of 500 Reasons to Appreciate Friends, titled, Friendship Is.
They’ll get your point. And love it.
6. Carve out a few weekend hours to purge.
Every month, purge a little. Old letters, unwanted clothes, parts of your life you no longer need. Let them go. Donate them to a charity, if possible. It’s like a cleanse, except it’s external, yet it still helps you feel cleaner and healthier.
7. Put aside ‘me’ time.
Whatever makes you happy and keeps you grounded, do that. Set aside specific time during the week to do it. Working moms, we have it hard, but it’s so important for us to take a break from both motherhood and work responsibilities on a regular basis to decompress. Take part in yoga, go for a hike, listen to tunes, go to the mall (but of course, spend what you have).
8. Take a vacation and disconnect.
That means leaving the phone or other electronic devices home. No phone means no work or friends taken with you on your trip. It means quality (and I mean quality) time with your little and loved ones. Even if there’s fighting here and there, these are still bonding moments. You’ll be surprised with just how much the kids will appreciate it.