What Makes You Happy?


How are you doing with your HQ — Happiness Quotient? Do you know what really makes you happy?

“Happiness seems less a matter of getting what you want than of how you feel about what you have.” says David G. Myers PhD, Professor of Psychology at Hope College in Holland Michigan. David Lykken, a psychologist and Professor Emeritus at University of Minnesota says his research shows that each of us has a happiness set point determined by our genes. You can’t change the set point much but you can do some things that allow you to bounce above that happiness level.

What is really amazing is that the research shows that the things that we think would make us happier like money, physical beauty, and social prominence do not matter.* It’s other things that cause that little bounce! So what gives you that bounce and why is it important?

Shortly after my marriage ended about 20 years ago my children went to spend the weekend with their father. It had been a long time since I was totally alone for a weekend.

To cheer myself up I thought I would go to the supermarket and buy the kinds of food that I liked. The problem was that I was so used to shopping for everyone else in the family that I had no clue as to what I liked!

For a lot of reasons I was not very happy at that moment but what was really tragic is that I did not know what might make me happy. Needless to say over the years I’ve learned many ways to cheer myself.  Read this blog post about recovering from a bad mood.

So what are some strategies that make you happy? For some it might be just the smell of an apple pie in the oven — or the taste of it in your mouth!

Others might look to an accomplishment to make them happy. For an author perhaps it is finally finishing a book, for a mountain climber it may be reaching the peak, and for a bird watcher see that special bird he/she has been watching for.

Still others may find happiness in the world of nature – a spectacular sunset, a beautiful bird, the calming effect of the ocean or a lake.  I could watch birds feeding at my birdfeeder for hours.

When my clients determine their own life’s priorities, I am amazed at how many forget to make themselves a priority. If you do not take responsibility for our own happiness no one else will. If you are not happy, your relationships will not be satisfying and your other priorities will suffer. So really knowing what makes you happy is a critical issue. It affects your whole life.

Cheryl Richardson in her book, “Take Time for Your Life”, says her basic coaching philosophy is “extreme self-care.” She says, “This means putting your self-care above anything else—saying no unless it’s an absolute yes, choosing to spend your time and energy on things that bring you joy, and making decisions based on what you want instead of what others want.”

Knowing yourself and what you want is really key here. What are some ways to get to really know yourself? One way that has worked for me is journaling. The idea comes from the book, “The Artists Way” by Julia Cameron. She suggests you write in stream of consciousness every morning.

Another idea is to just spend time by yourself for quiet reflection. For others it may be by being with friends. Sometimes a good friend can help us to see the joyful aspects of our own lives better than we can ourselves.

Putting yourself first can help you to identify ways that make you feel happy. The next step is to be open to really appreciating the opportunities to feel good during the day.

If you focus on the present and really appreciate what is going on around you, you may in fact find some things that will make you happy that you might have missed in the past. Appreciating the small pleasures in life can go a long way in increasing your happiness quotient.

Take Action:
Sometimes you need to remember what happiness feels like.
Try some of these ideas for a reminder:

  1. Put on a happy face and walk confidently with long strides and arms swinging and eyes straight ahead.
  2. Spend time with happy people.
  3. Daydream about a time and place that you felt completely happy.
  4. Close the door and the windows, put on your favorite music and sing as loud as you can. (Often this works best if you have a toy microphone or a real one! If not a hairbrush will do!)
  5. Create your own idea here and let me know what it is.

*Information and quote from an article that appeared on the front page of the Boston Globe on October 11, 2000.

Take the first step in increasing your HQ. 

Finding a way to increase your happiness takes time.  Often it is easier when you work on it with someone else.  If it is comfortable for you ask a friend for help.  Perhaps you can help each other to increase your happiness level.  It just takes little consistent forward steps.  If this isn’t something you want to discuss with a friend feel free to call me.  I’ve helped hundreds of clients to figure out what their priorities are and how to integrate their priorities into their lives.  Isn’t it time for you to help yourself?  Call me at 781-598-0388 or email me at asparker@asparker.com.  Put life priorities in the subject line and include your telephone number.  We can discuss your priorities when we speak on the phone.  Not sure what they are?  I’ll help you to articulate them.


Comments are closed.