You’d think with a blog name like My Happy Place it would be easy to write a blog post on happiness. However, I’ve found in reality it’s quite the opposite. Happiness is not only difficult to define, but it’s difficult to quantify. Is happiness a fleeting feeling of joy? A lasting feeling of contentment? How happy am I on a scale of 1 to 10?
This topic has been on my mind since I read Julie’s post on determining your own happiness at Peanut Butter Fingers .
This post struck a chord with me since I went through a very rough time in my life a few years ago where the happiness that had previously come so naturally was something I had to create. Since I had always considered myself an inherently happy person I had no idea where to begin.
Slowly over the past few years, I learned how to create my happiness. For me, happiness means that I experience a feeling of contentment on a day-to-day basis. I am satisfied with where my life is at and where it is headed. I am not as affected by external surroundings as I once was, but have an inherent sense of self-worth. Sure I have days where I feel pretty down, but I have more days where I feel incredibly optimistic and blessed.
The two main techniques I’ve used to create my happiness include identifying and filling my life with things I enjoy, and changing my thought patterns.
Things I’ve added to my life:
A healthy relationship
Lots of play time with Harrison
A focus on nutrition (including taking a Human Nutrition class!)
More time with good friends
Frequent exercise and yoga at least once a week
Weekend activities like kayaking, wine tasting, camping, hiking and more
Lots of downtime during the week
The much more challenging aspect of creating my happiness has been changing my thought processes. I know for a lot of people the idea that our thoughts are something we control and not something that “happens” to us is a foreign one. It was foreign to me not too long ago. When I finally decided to change my negative thought patterns it required a lot of work. I realized I was letting my thoughts run rampant, which sometimes directly caused of sadness or anxiety. I decided to pay attention to what I was thinking. Then when I realized my thoughts were creating a negative pattern, I made a conscious effort to frame them in a more positive way. This process became easier over time, and eventually changed my life immensely.
One example from my life is something with which I struggled for a long time. I had a tendency to be critical and distrusting in relationships. Quite honestly, being in a healthy relationship that I wanted to keep healthy and positive is what pointed me in the direction of addressing the way I think in the first place. I realized when I was upset about something in the relationship, it was often because I was attributing negative intentions to my significant other which in turn lead me to look for other things that were “wrong.”
I was thinking negatively about a fantastic person who loves and cares about me and who wants to make my life better. What sense does that make? Reframing the way I think has completely transformed our relationship among other areas of my life. It is still takes daily effort, but I hope to remember the lessons I’ve learned about creating happiness throughout my life.