In light of recent revelations about changes that needed to be made and breaking out of the little bubble I have built for myself, I decided to start by breaking everything down and working out what it was that I actually wanted to do to make those changes in a productive way.
I was talking to my sister-in-law recently and she suggested creating a Happiness List. It was quite a profound idea – thinking about what it is that creates happiness and actively working towards it.
It’s sometimes difficult to remember that we are responsible for our own happiness – there is nobody else that knows us as well as we do – and a Happiness List is a great way to take charge and create a personal level of accountability.
I thought I would give it a try…
How to Create a Happiness List
Consider what the purpose of the list is. For me, it is a way of being able to sit back and identify things that I enjoy and bring happiness. By creating a list, I am documenting specific things and then actively working towards them in a mindful way in the same manner that I would with goals I set for other areas of life – it serves as a reminder to make time for positive things. Creating a list also reduces the risk of becoming distracted by the trivial.
Be conscious that you are staying true to yourself and authentic in what you are including in your list. Choose things that you WANT to do or experience rather than things you feel you should. There is no such thing as a guilty pleasure – make no apologies and avoid adding things that are more likely to impress others than yourself. Your happiness list is not for your Instagram feed.
Try and focus on experiences rather than possessions. Create moments and memories instead of adding to a collection.
Keep it achievable and realistic. There are plenty of things that I am sure would make me extremely happy (overlooking the Grand Canyon being at the top of my current bucket list), but most of them are way out of reach financially.
Avoid overthinking. Start by listing the first things that spring to mind.
Make yourself a priority. This can be a difficult concept for those who spend their time looking after others, raising a family, helping their friends and neighbours. It’s important to remind yourself that your happiness also matters and create some time just for you, even if it is just for 30 minutes.
Avoid seeking perfection. Have you ever looked forward to something and built up the potential of it so much in your mind in advance that you’re left feeling disappointed when it doesn’t work out how you wanted? Me too, many times. Take a step back and relax a little – go with the flow.
Prompts for Creating a Happiness List
Struggling with ideas of what to include on your happiness list? Here’s a list of prompts that may be helpful.
In the home
In your local neighbourhood
Places to visit
Food & drink
Books, TV, films, music and podcasts
Creativity and hobbies
The five senses and the art of savouring
Skills you want to learn
Acts of kindness
The perfect day
Outfits that give you confidence
Mindfulness and breathing
My Happiness List
Taking a day off. Not just taking part of a day off but still doing some work anyway, actually taking a full day off where no work is involved whatsoever. No emails, no calls, no checking accounts. A whole day off to myself.
Friday nights. A great film, freshly washed jammies, my favourite food and curling up on the couch with The Bloke, without looking at any tech.
Doing absolutely nothing. Doing nothing is often seen as being unproductive, but taking time to do nothing but rest actually rejuvenates the body and mind, making it possible to work more effectively later.
Going for a long walk on a beautiful day. I’ve never particularly enjoyed A friend of mine has an enormous dog and I live right next to beautiful woodland and parks, so I am going to borrow him on a day of glorious weather and go for a long walk. There is nothing more uplifting than seeing a dog live their best lives.
Date night. Spending time somewhere fun with The Bloke, just because.
Being ahead rather than playing catch-up in my working life. I love the feeling of looking at a completed checklist and knowing that everything is already done, rather than trying to cram everything in at the last minute.
Trying out new places in the city. Birmingham is ever-changing with a plethora of incredible things to see, do and eat. I want to make an effort try some of them this month.
Saying no. I’ve always been a total people-pleaser and often find myself feeling resentful in circumstances that I am taken advantage of. I want to start saying no if it is inconvenient to my time, finances and/or happiness and give no explanation or make no apologies.
Setting boundaries. This is more of a personal thing that isn’t something I want to give details about, but I want to start setting reasonable boundaries and actually enforce them when those closest to me overstep.
Being spontaneous. I’m a chronic planner, so starting the day without a plan and no idea of where it will take me feels like a lot of fun.
The ultimate playlist. When it comes to music, there’s no such thing as a guilty pleasure. I have everything from classic 80s stadium rock, 90s trance and all the best ballads from the greatest boy bands of all time.
A gorgeous view. Sitting back, being present and taking it all in.
Writing. Even if there is no purpose behind it, the act of writing is something that I have done for years just for fun, helping to develop ideas or develop the mind. I use my Bullet Journal on a daily basis, often to just freewrite.
My favourite foods. There are certain foods that I could eat all day, every day, and sometimes it is nice to treat myself.
Spend time with uplifting people. I’m lucky in that I have friends who I enjoy spending time with and always make me laugh, so I would like to make the effort to spend time with them.
Bullet Journalling. I’ve used a bullet journal for years and some of my happiest, most relaxed times during the week is when I am writing and doodling.
I’m looking forward to it!
What about you guys? What makes you happy? Let me know in the comments below!
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I have heard of happiness lists and they sound like a practice I could benefit from, so I loved reading your thoughts on said list and seeing how you created your own!
Thanks so much, Jaya!
This is wonderful! Writing is no therapeutic and gratitude Journalling especially is rewarding. 🙏
Thanks Miriam! I love my bullet journal – I use it every single day! Totally agree – writing is so therapeutic. What do you like writing?
I write every day. I have a gratitude journal that I write in every night before I go to bed. And then there’s my travel articles of course.
“Working towards happiness”
What a great concept. I’ve always thought of happiness as some spontaneous miracle. Thinking of it as something you can work towards makes it achievable…Guess I have to roll up my sleeves 🙂
Thank you! I think it’s a combination of actively seeking it and then finding joy in the pursuit. It has helped to get me out of the rut I sometimes find myself in!
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