As I was heading out for a hike yesterday morning, I ran into the lady from my floor that I had blogged about before. In brief, she has been facing recurring bouts of depression for almost 20 years now, and I have had some thought provoking and moving conversations with her about this over the last few months.
“Guess what?!?!?” she excitedly exclaimed the second she saw me. “I made my list.”
“You made your list??? Your happy list?!?!?!!!!”
“Yes,” she beamed.
“Oh my gawd, you don’t even know how happy that makes me.”
*beaming* “You should come over and see it sometime.”
“Oh my gawd that’s so freaking awesome!!! I’m so happy for you right now. You bet I will.”
And with that we parted ways. Elevator door closed. I was still traveling down to the parking garage. Only now I was grinning from ear to ear, instead of from eyeball to eyeball. The wonder of the happy list strikes again!
What is the happy list, you say? Well, it’s quite literally a “happy list.” A list of things that make you happy. I got the idea of the “happy list” this December, when I kept pulling a tarot card that instructed me to take the time in the next month to pay attention to what makes me happy. Who thought that something so seemingly simple could have such transformative effects. Parsimony.
So. Come. Play. What is it that makes you happy? Just generally speaking, what three, five, ten things come to mind?
When was the last time you did each one of those things?
Now think about your day-to-day. What regularly made/makes you happy? When was the last time you spent the better part of the day feeling happy? What were you doing?
First step is thinking about these questions. Next step is to grab a notebook and write the answers down. Don’t worry if you draw a blank. Just write down what you can. Now that you have a foundation, no matter how big or small, set the intention to tune into what it is that makes you happy for the next while. It doesn’t have to be a month, but do it for at least a week. Write things down as they come up, or just reflect on what made you happy that day at a set time each day. Set the intention. Then follow through. You’ll be surprised at what you come up with when you shift your focus to tuning into what brings you happiness.
Now that you have the beginnings of a “happy list,” begin applying it to your every day life. Right now, free time is a premium for me. I have maybe 3 hours of it each weekday. And that’s ok because it’s temporary. And more importantly, it’s ok, because I have set the intention to spend those free hours doing at least one thing off my happy list, on 4 out of 5 weekdays. And while half of Sunday is spent doing work, I block each Saturday off to play – no work, no thoughts of “responsibilities” – just me and whatever it is that my heart wants to do that day. It’s amazing the difference that doing this has made in my life. I don’t feel as burned out… and I’m validating my Will’s call to be heard and fulfilled. In the past, as soon as I start getting extra busy with work-school, the first things that I would let slide would be those things that I do for me, that make me happy. But life is about balance. And I think that life is about being happy. Because happiness is contagious. And a deep-rooted sense of happiness not only feels good, but it allows you to open up to a place of peace, gratitude, and loving-kindness that you can then reflect outwards into the world.
So make your happy list. Remember that it’s dynamic and ever-changing, just like you, but its essence is always the same. If you’re extra busy right now, prioritize the contents of the list and concentrate on one or two things for the time being. For me, it’s yoga and meditation. Then, with time, work on freeing up time to make room for doing more things off the list on a daily basis. And keep adding to the list. Then, slowly, slowly, as you keep tuning into what makes you happy, and actively start making decisions based upon fostering the happy… well, I reckon that you’ll start to build a life that’s based on doing the things that you actually want to do, because they’re in line with the ball of happy that is you. And then you’ll have anything and everything that you’ve ever dreamt of and then some, because you’ll be aligning yourself with who you truly are… not with what you feel obligated to do. Hmmmmmmm. Glowing balls of happy. Each and every one of us. And it’s all within our reach. It really is. How nice.