Happiness does not simply happen. A person does not suddenly stumble across happiness. Happiness is the result of careful tending and a person who wishes to be happy must tend to their own happiness.
Tending to your happiness does not need to be difficult, complex, or time-consuming. It can be as simple as this four-step formula:
Making yourself a happier person really can be that simple.
Step one is an important one because unhappiness is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Many people are unhappy because they don't believe they deserve to be happy and they lock themselves into patterns of behavior that make them unhappy. You must trash your unhappy thoughts and trends.
Look inside yourself and find out what (and when) you think about things that make you unhappy. Is there a specific time of day that you tend to be more unhappy? Is there a specific task or routine that seems to feed your unhappiness? Is there something that you do or think that contributes to your own unhappiness?
Once you identify the areas of your life that cause you unhappiness you can find ways to confront it and combat it. Sometimes you can make a change to avoid the trouble spot altogether, but when that's not possible find ways to make it less difficult on yourself. Adjust your schedule or your expectations if that will make things better.
Recruit help when you can. Just easing off one task or freeing up a few hours can make a huge difference in your attitude. When all else fails and you can't change or share something unpleasant than don't hesitate to give yourself a reward for accomplishing it. Knowing you will be rewarded can sometimes make difficult tasks more palatable.
Step two is key. Some people have been unhappy for so long they have forgotten what happiness looks like and feels like. Envisioning yourself happy can help create the happiness habit. Thinking about your own happiness will also help counterbalance times when you are unhappy or working through unpleasant tasks. Think about difficult times as simply stepping stones to happy times.
Step three cannot be overlooked. If your basic needs for food and sleep are not met then you will not be able to focus on happiness. Obviously it is not impossible for hungry, sleep-deprived people to be happy, but most humans are a lot less likely to be happy in that state. Food and sleep provide fuel for both body and mind and the healthier your body and mind then the better chance you have to achieve happiness.
Step four is the final step to achieving happiness. What do you desire? What do you wish for? What do you dream about? Allow yourself to dream big but don't overlook small wishes and desires. While a two-week cruise might be great just having a weekend at a local resort might really give the rest, relaxation and escape you might need. Or perhaps you'd really like to lose 30 or 50 pounds but finding a way to work in some exercise a few times a week might give you more immediate gratification while eventually accomplishing your long-term goal.
Make a list of your desires, wishes, and dreams -- big and small -- and keep that list some place handy. What can you do this week to achieve a small goal? What can you do this month to take a step toward a big goal? Sometimes you don't even need to accomplish your goals to achieve happiness. Sometimes it is simply enough to know that you are working toward your dreams. Often happiness is found on the path to our dreams. Often happiness is created while we strive to make our wishes come true.
You can make yourself a happier person but you must tend to your happiness. So often we spend more time tending to our outer possessions than we do tending to our inner ones. You can make a few changes to your life to find a better balance and that will help create more personal happiness for you.
Herb Sennett writes about life and how to enjoy it more.