I can still hear my parents tell me that I must do what makes me happy. Their advice was great, of course, and well intended, no doubt…
"Absolutely, I will certainly do that.” (I mean… is there any other way of responding to this?)
And then life happened. The ups and downs I’ve experienced over the years, getting my Bachelor degree, a bad relationship followed by a great relationship, a burnout, a happy holiday, you know… life, the usual... One thing I never did though was to ask myself what makes me happy.
I am not exactly thrilled or proud of this, particularly as I have come to realise that "How we spend our days is how we spend our lives". This quote from the Vertellis Chapters (and credited to Mark Twain) is the inspiration for this blog post - getting happier now: “twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do.”
Become & stay happy
Do I feel happier now than previously in my life? I think so. Have I achieved the highest level of happiness (whatever that may be)? I’m not so sure. I see happiness as an ever changing state of being, something that requires attention, self care and self reflection.
By being aware that we need to invest in self care and in taking time for ourselves, we are empowering ourselves and creating our own happiness thus reducing the likelihood of falling into the "busy and stressed" trap of everyday life.
You can be happier now. Not tomorrow or next week, but now. Simply take a pen and paper and become happier immediately thanks to the following 4 questions. The best part about this? It will only take a few minutes!
You’ll find 4 questions below. Write them down on paper, leaving enough space to answer each question. Try and not spend too much time thinking about your answer but rather go with the first thing that comes to mind. Be as honest with yourself as you can and write everything that you can think of as you go through each question. Doing so will make for some great insight and help you see what works and what doesn’t in your life. You’ll get clarity on options and the things that you’d rather do instead.
Question 1: What are some things that you enjoy doing at the moment?
Meeting up with your friends every week? Cooking every weekend? Running your own business? Do you enjoy reading? Are you taking piano lessons?
Question 2: What are some things that you’re not doing but you’d really like / want to do?
Change your job? See your friends more? Eat less sweets? Read a book or a magazine without being distracted by family or by your mobile phone?
Question 3: What are you doing in your life but you’d rather not do / don’t want to do?
Spending a lot of time on social media? Long journeys to your work? Conflicts with family? Spending too much money? Having coffee with your neighbour every Wednesday?
Question 4: What are you not doing in your life and you don’t want to do either?
This is an important question that deserves a brief explanation. This question identifies unhealthy behaviours that you have already dealt with and changed in your life. Think of smoking for example. Maybe you were a heavy smoker and quit smoking a while back.
When you're done writing your answers, I'd like to ask you to read what you wrote for questions 1 and 4. I promise you: that will make you feel good!
Your answers to these two questions show you what is already going well in your life and what contributes to your happiness.
Then continue reading your answers to questions 2 and 3. These will show you what's not going as well as you’d want to in your life, perhaps even keeping you away from your happiness. Trust me: everyone lists at least one, if not more, things here. We are all human after all…
Ask yourself how long you've been doing these things you don’t really want to do. Months? Years? "As soon as the children are older / there is more money / I have more time - I will change something." Words like "later" and "soon" are usually stopping us from pursuing our own happiness. Awareness is the first step on the way to a new reality! [Vertellis Chapters]
What now? How can I become happier now?
Review your answers to questions 2 and 3 and think of a few actions that you can take in the near future, something that will help you change the current situation and turn it into a positive experience.
Ask yourself questions like: What do I need to make it happen? Who can help me with this? How much time do I want to spend on this?
Let’s say you would like to spend two hours at home next Saturday, on your own, reading a book. Tell your partner about it, make a plan on how to make it happen, ask if he can take the children out that day and give you some space so you can disconnect and read your book. If that’s not possible, then think of another way of making it happen, perhaps Sunday is an option too for example, and agree on making it happen, together.
Reading a book is just an example, of course. You know what makes you happy better than anyone else and you also have the power to make it happen in your life.
Use this quote from the Vertellis Chapters to help you turn things around : "The bad news: time flies. The good news: you are the pilot ”.
With lots of love,
Anique from Team Vertellis
Bio: Anique has a background as a Social Worker & Integrated Lifestyle Coach. She loves writing and a chance encounter with Sijmen from Team Vertellis, in Bali, made her decide to join the team. When she’s not writing, she likes to read about contemporary topics, spend quality time with the people she loves, sharing good food & good wine. Her two cats, Hugo and Fleur, are an endless source of joy and happiness in her life.