I wonder how many people have asked themselves that question. I know that I hadn’t until the last few years. I think we don’t ask ourselves that because we’re afraid it makes us sound selfish and self-centered. After all, it’s not always about us and our “happiness”, is it? And that is true.
To always be concerned only for ourselves and our own happiness would indeed make us self-centered. But to never ask that question is to invite self-pity and depression.
We are so much better for ourselves and others when we seek a healthy balance. But that’s not usually the case. Most people don’t even know what makes them happy. They’ve never asked it of themselves so how could they?
Now before I go any further with this, there have been many studies to document that there are “universal” activities that bring most people joy. The most important one is being of service to others. I think that’s true of everyone I’ve ever talked to. We almost always feel better when we give of ourselves, even if it isn’t well received or appreciated all the time. We also feel happy when we’re around the people we love. But beyond that, the activites that make us happy are as unique as each of us.
For me, I like getting on my elliptical. It makes me happy to know I’m doing what is right for my health. I feel happy when I don’t overindulge in wrong eating. (which isn’t very often, by the way).Other things that make me happy:
- Painting——anything and everything, pictures, walls, furniture. etc. Being creative in any way makes me happy.
- The first cup of coffee in the morning practically makes me giddy.
- Snuggling in my warm bed in a very cold bedroom.
- Sitting on the beach
- Decorating my home and the homes of anyone else who will let me.
- Butter pecan ice cream and pizza. (not necessarily at the same time)
- Wandering aimlessly in a book store, especially a used book store
- Collecting seashells
- Sitting in a coffee shop
- Sitting in a library
- Digging in the dirt
- Comfortable clothes
- The color yellow
- The color aqua. (I guess it’s really all colors. Be it in fabric, paper, paint, etc.)
It’s important to know what makes us happy because when we’re dealing with some “blue” days or depression itself, or when we’re stressed, it’s good to know what we can turn to that might spark some joy. Sometimes just thinking about what we enjoy brings relief.
You notice I didn’t list things like God, family, friends, etc. Those are a “given” for most of us.I wanted to list some totally frivolous activities so you can be encouraged to do the same and not feel guilty. I’m not.
By the way, it’s OK to know what makes you happy.
It’s not just OK. It’s highly recommended by many mental health professionals.
I would love to hear from you. What really makes you happy? Not what you think you should say. Not what you think is the right thing to say. In case you don’t know where to begin, consider this. What causes you to lose track of time? Anything that causes you to lose track of time (it’s called being in the “flow”) is probably an activity that makes you happy. Give it a go. Just the act of writing it down is therapeutic.
God bless and have a good day.