So where’s the disconnect?
Someone once asked me what happiness means to me. My personal definition of happiness was filled with all the “extra” things in life (vacations, relaxing, playing). I talked about having fun and laughing. I talked about the things you do once you’re done with all the “important” stuff.
Hmmmmmm. That’s a problem.
One, because it makes happiness feel like an add-on item. Something you can’t just have, something that has to be earned. Like once you’re done adulting for the day, then you can do the things that actually make you happy (but adulting never ends….)
And two, it makes happiness feel like it’s just not that important. Like it’s not enough. It’s not purposeful, meaningful or productive. All things we seem to value over happiness.
But do we really?
No – we think those “important” things are the pathway to happiness.
They keep you busy. Seeking and searching. Filling your days. Striving to “live your best life.”
But your best life isn’t some perfect version of you doing life. It’s not about you being highly productive, deeply meaningful or unshakeably peaceful.
It’s way less exciting (and intense) than that. Which is really good news. You can take the pressure off.
You can stop filling your days with stuff that you don’t actually want to do. AND you can start to see the purpose in the normal “everyday” things you do.
While something may not directly make you happy, there are probably elements of it that contribute to your overall happiness factor.
Don’t minimize the mundane. See the function of it. The purpose of it.
Does your 9-5 give you the income to keep a roof over your head and food in your fridge? That’s important and definitely contributes to your overall happiness. Do you like your colleagues? Do you have flexibility? Or job stability? These are all really valuable things.
They’re everyday things – which are the things that make up your life. That’s what’s going to determine if you’re happy or not.
Can you see the value? Can you see how things contribute to or take away from your happiness?
Happiness isn’t an add-on item. It’s actually the simple, everyday things that allow you to enjoy your life. You don’t have to search for it because it’s right there in the fabric of your day. But you do have to stop letting yourself be distracted by all the busywork. All the stuff you think is more important than your happiness.
Once you do, you’ll stop comparing. You’ll stop minimizing. And you’ll stop limiting your own happiness. It’s all about your ability to slow down, see and appreciate what matters to you most.
Try this: Take an inventory of your day. List out all that you do from when you wake up to when you go to bed. Next to each item put a “+” if it contributes to your overall happiness and a “-” if it takes away from it. Make a decision about each thing – even if it seems neutral, it’s not. Tally up if you have more factors that add to or take away from your overall happiness.
Let me know what you noticed in the comments below!