Action 27

I can take steps for increasing my positive emotions such as joy, contentment, love, gratitude and happiness. I have the ability to look into the future and discover what will make me happy. I can create a “bucket list” of pleasurable emotionally uplifting activities that I can enjoy and that I want to do more often. I can also make a list of “safe” and engaging activities that I have not yet experienced, but that I would like to do. I can schedule “fun” activities. Now, that I have thought about the things I would like to do, I can now set out a schedule, anticipate possible obstacles, and just do it! I can engage fully in an upward emotional spiral of pleasurable, happiness— enhancing activities. Positive emotions do not just come by themselves. I can do something about them; broaden and enjoy life to a fuller extent.

“Don’t wait to get sick to figure out what makes me happy.”

Useful Information

People who engage in such happiness-generating activities live longer, get sick less often, and cope with stress more effectively. Let us take a moment to consider, “What makes you truly happy?” Take a moment and answer the following Hinge Questions:

  • “What do I enjoy doing most?”
  • “What do I value most?”
  • “What is most important to me?”
  • “Who are the people who make me most happy?”
  • “What can I do to increase my level of happiness?”
  • “What is it that makes life worth living?”
  • “What matters most to me in my life?”

Stephen Joseph, Ph.D., has offered the following exercise as a way to help individuals determine what makes them happy.

“Imagine suddenly waking up on a desert island, knowing that you will have to live the rest of your life there. Take a few minutes to reflect on the people you would miss most. Then reflect on the places and the activities you would miss. List all of these people, places and activities. Now think about how much time you spend with the people on your list, visiting those places and doing those activities. Now choose one person, one place, and one activity and make a commitment to yourself and write out a contract to yourself promising to do this. Such an imaginary exercise can help individuals formulate the reasons to be happy. Once such reasons are found, then happiness will ensue.”

(Joseph, 2011)

Now, consider some of the answers offered by others like yourself.

The largest determinant of happiness is having a supportive network of close relationships. Happiness is a collective phenomenon and positive emotions spread through social networks. For example, recent research has found that the acquisition of money like winning a lottery does make people happier, but only if they spend it on other people, rather than on themselves.

In addition, Sonja Lyubomirsky has indicated that the following activities have been found to contribute to happiness:

  • Practice acts of kindness, caring, compassion to others and to oneself. No act of kindness, no matter how small is ever wasted.
  • Invest your time and energy in family and friends. Seek opportunities to connect.
  • Contribute to the welfare of others. Make a positive difference in the world. Act like a good house guest who wants to leave this place in better shape than he/she found it.
  • Develop a life purpose, especially one that is not just about you.
  • Count your blessings, rather than your burdens.
  • Be optimistic.
  • Appreciate life’s joys. Pursue the small pleasures of life.
  • See the “spark of decency” in others.
  • Never lose sight of the strengths and virtues that reside within you.
  • Thank a mentor. Express appreciation.
  • Make a gift of your experiences (lessons learned) with others.
  • Develop and practice strategies of coping with stress.
  • Identify and share your “strengths,” “islands of competence” with others.
  • Possess a sense of humor and be playful.
  • Take care of your body.

Remember that the happiest people do not necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have. See the following Website for additional descriptions of happiness-engendering activities: Visit www.authentichapiness.com.

Quotable Quotes

“Live with vision and purpose. Resilient people don’t wait passively for the future to happen to them. They become the future by consciously creating it. The present is pregnant with the possible.”

—Joan Borysenko

“There is a saying that yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift. That is why it’s called the ‘present.’”

Action 28