It’s easy enough to talk about happiness and the things, people, and experiences that make you happy when you already feel good. But what about those days when you’re not happy or everything just seems “off?”
When we’re legitimately angry, frustrated, or sad, it’s often difficult to think of anything else. In those moments, our emotions cast a dark hue on everything around us.
So what can you do to break through that darkness?
One of my favorite techniques is to make a list of what DOES make me happy. This can be an exercise you do in the moment or something you build when you’re in a good mood, to reference later as a tool.
I call the items on this list my Happiness Leads because they help me find my way out of my negative emotions.
Let me be clear. This isn’t a magical process – making or referencing a list like this is not like flipping a switch to turn a light on. You most likely aren’t going to do this exercise and suddenly feel entirely different. Remember, the emotions most of us associate with being negative serve a purpose and whatever’s causing them most likely still needs to be addressed.
What this exercise DOES do is help you take that first step forward. If we go back to the light analogy, this might be like lighting a single match to combat the darkness. The world around you may still be dark, but now you can make out more shapes (or possibilities) in front of you.
The fact is, as I mentioned above, when you’re overwhelmed by these emotions, it’s hard to focus on anything else, which means it’s also extremely difficult to think of solutions or how to move forward.
These Happiness Leads distract those thoughts, even if just momentarily, by introducing something positive. When our thoughts and emotions are in a more positive space, we tend to be more creative and solution-focused. So by allowing these thoughts in the door, you automatically shift yourself closer to a frame of mind that is better equipped to address what’s causing your angst.
So then here’s the next question, if you find yourself needing to generate some Happiness Leads:
What makes you happy?
It’s funny how a question can be so simple and so complex at the same time.
For now, let’s put aside the more complex concept and focus on the simple: literally identifying things that stir up emotions you associate with happiness. Emotions that come to mind for me are:
- Sense of Adventure
When I think of those emotions and I look around my home, I can come up with a list pretty quickly. In fact, the list below has been abbreviated for the sake of this post. Some items will make sense to most people, some won’t but it doesn’t matter because this list is for me (and for you, Dear Reader, but only as an example 😉).
Things that make me happy:
- My husband (and cuddling with him, playing games, talking, etc.)
- My dogs (and playing with them, petting them, seeing their joy after a walk)
- My books (especially some nostalgic ones from my childhood like Anne of Green Gables)
- Pictures with friends and family
- Wine bottles I’ve picked up on different trips and now use as decorations
- My running shoes
- The feeling of putting my hair in a pony tail
- Being outside
- Tall trees that look like they’ve been around forever
- Treasure maps
- Old skeleton keys
- Random acts of kindness
- Watching others dance and have fun
- Dancing on my own and singing
Again, I could go on but the point here is demonstration and inspiration.
Using my list as an example, what comes to mind for you? What are some simple things that make you happy and, therefore, might be the tether that helps guide you out of the darkness?
If you’re in a sharing mood, feel free to add some of your own examples in the comments. You never know if that could spark a moment of inspiration for someone else.
And, of course, if you need more help coming up with action-oriented solutions that will help you take one step closer to overall happiness, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to discuss how we can work together to help you achieve your goals.
Until next time, don’t forget to let that light shine! ❤️