"Happiness is wanting what you get" is a quote I'm sure you've heard many times before. Even though we've heard it and we understand it, these words are easily forgotten when there are so many reasons to think about what we don't have. We live in a society driven by want. We're supposed to want to have the newest fashions, to live in the nicest house, to have a loving relationship, to be surrounded by fun and friends. Advertising and media encourage us to keep wanting, to be forever unsatisfied by what we have now. But if we focus on the future, on what we want to have, we are missing out on thinking about and enjoying what we already have. The constant state of desire so many of us are in only leads to unhappiness; it only perpetuates a feeling of never having enough.
In response to the constant wanting I was feeling, about a year ago, I started a happiness list. In a beautiful, bound journal, I keep a list of all the things that make me happy. Right now I have about 500 things on that list and it's constantly growing. You might think 500 is a lot of things, but if you sit down and think about the things that make you happy, you would be surprised how many you could list!
Every so often I sit down with the journal and write down new things that make me happy. It could be anything from "the color orange" to "the praise-filled email I received at work" -- if it makes me happy, it makes the list. Whether I list small things or big things, specific or general, writing out a list of things that make me happy makes me even happier (I should at that to the list!). Thinking about all of the things I am grateful for also puts my life, and whatever may be bothering me or bringing me down, in perspective. It's easy to get caught up in thinking about and listing all of the things we don't have or hope to have some day, but taking the time to create a list of all of the things that make you truly happy can be very inspiring. It also reminds us to stay focused on the present and to celebrate the life we have right now.
As an example, here are a few things that are making me happy right now:
- Sunshine spilling all over the grass outside my window
- Only 7 hours left until the work week is over
- Knowing that it's officially spring
- The Happiness Project email I read this morning
- Chatting with my friends online about the weekend
- Feeling refreshed after a good night's sleep
- Thoughts of seeing my dog later today
- Writing about positivity on my blog
- Warm air coming from the heater under my desk
- Recalling lyrics from new songs I heard on the way to work
These are only a few examples of things that are making me happy right now, but I strongly urge you to create your own happiness list and add to it periodically. Even just looking back over the things I've written can bring a smile to my face and remind me just how much positivity I really do have in my life. You might be surprised just how much a simple list can impact you!