There are many books on the market on the subject of happiness: where it comes from; how to get it; how to keep it; how to cope when it seems elusive. I've read many of these books, and they truly have been helpful and interesting to me. But I think William Morris has the best advice of all as stated in the quote I've included here to the left.
Taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life. That's what's important. Being real. Having an honest-to-goodness interest in your life, moment to moment. Marveling at them. Appreciating them. Savoring them.
It's easy to think that your life is mundane if you are constantly looking at it as compared to that of celebrities or friends who have more affluent lifestyles. But consider looking at your life as if through a microscope instead. Take every aspect of your life and think of the simple things that make it so awesome.
I've mentioned the Circle of Individual Perspective exercise before. Draw a circle and divide it into six sections. Next, label each section as follows: Career, Relationships, Financial, Health, Spiritual, Well-being. Now, rate your happiness in each of the six areas of life from 1 (very unsatisfied) to 10 (very satisfied). Finally, draw a line across each pie slice approximately at the point that represents your satisfaction. For example, If you rated your health a "5," you would draw a line across the midpoint of that slice. If you rated your financial situation an "8," you would draw a line across that pie slice close to the edge of the circle. This exercise is also sometimes called "The Wheel of Life," because, once those lines are connected, you can see how bumpy your life is compared to one in which each segment is quite equally satisfying. Once you see that wheel, you can devise strategies and action plans to smooth things out and get each section closer to "10."
Now, back to those "details."
Career: What is most satisfying about your career? Who at the office makes you smile whenever you see him/her? What simple ritual do you look forward to taking part in each day at work?
Relationships: What little things do you love about your family and friends? Who can you be alone with in a room, not talking or doing anything together, but feel totally comfortable with? Do you have a sweet memory that pops into your head as soon as you think of a specific friend? Do you have someone in your life that you can be silly with and it's totally okay? Do you have someone in your life who totally "gets" you? Do you have that special person in your life that you want to tell everything to as soon as it happens? Do you have a special bond with someone who just makes you smile whenever you think of him? Do you have a person in your life who you absolutely love to do thoughtful things for--pick up a colleague's favorite coffee on the way to work, write a love note to your spouse before you leave for work in the morning, or stop by an elderly neighbor's house to read to or play cards with her? Do you have simple traditions that you look forward to participating in when you get together with certain friends and family?
Financial: What are you thankful for regarding money? What inexpensive activity do you love to do--maybe something you did as a child and still find joy in? Do you feel secure money-wise? If you are financially secure, what is one frugal thing you still do to save money? Do you have simple saving tips you learned from your parents or friends that you still use? Do you keep a jar for change in the house somewhere and look forward to seeing how much you've saved by the end of the year? Every little bit helps. (Side note: Jim is a genius at finding loose change. He has funded a significant portion of our vacations with found money at various times over the years. Tip: look in coin returns at store checkouts and in vending machines (and on top of them), on the ground, on the floor, under seats and seat cushions, etc. He never swipes money he personally sees people drop, however. He picks it up and returns it.)
Health: Are you thankful for your good health? Are you thankful for the health professionals who offer kind, encouraging words in times of illness? Do you find something funny to laugh at even when you're in the hospital? What tips have you picked up over the years that have helped you maintain good health? What simple health-related rituals do you enjoy practicing? What are some tricks that you have picked up to make fitness fun? Do you have simple, healthy recipes that you enjoy preparing on a regular basis? Do you have favorite go-to places for deals on healthy foods and exercise equipment? Do you relish taking advantage of a 10-minute window of time to dance around your living room or go for a quick walk?
Spiritual: What simple things bring you peace? What symbols of goodness and faith make you smile when you see them? What beliefs bring you comfort during hard times and joy during good times? Where is your favorite place to contemplate, meditate, or think? Do you find peace in visiting the resting place of a loved one who has passed on? Do you believe in guardian angels? Do you find joy in doing simple acts of kindness for others? Do you find it natural to be an honest person? Do you feel comforted by the belief that spiritual entities/beings/higher powers are looking out for you? Are you living your life purposefully?
Well-being: Do you feel thankful for your life as it is right now? Do you generally feel happy? Do you wake up every morning, excited to start the day and see what it has to offer? Do you find that your life is pretty much stress-free, or that you can handle the stressful situations you encounter in a healthy way? Are you generally in a good mood? Do you feel as if you are contributing to society in a positive way?
These are just some questions you may want to ask yourself about different facets of your life. I'm sure you can think of others that pertain to your life specifically. The important thing is to ask yourself, "Am I happy?" and "What is happiness to me?" Then, live your life each day as close to your values and beliefs--your true self--as possible to help facilitate a feeling of true happiness.
What is your take on the topic of happiness? Do you think it comes from the inside or the outside, or a little bit of both?