There are two words that will always lead you to success. Those words are ‘yes’ and ‘no’. Undoubtedly, you mastered saying yes. So start practicing saying no. Your goals depend on it! – Jack Canfield
- 1 Why Do We Do Things That Make Us Unhappy?
- 2 What Makes You Happy?
- 3 How To Find Out What Makes You Happy
- 4 Do New Things To Be Happier
Why Do We Do Things That Make Us Unhappy?
There are a few reasons.
1. We want to please other people, so we do things that we don’t want to do.
I used to watch horror movies to make my friends happy. I know that making them happy by watching a horror movie sounds ridiculous, but my friends really enjoyed those movies, and when I wasn’t all ‘into’ it, they were not happy about our evening together!
In any case, I’m a very sensitive person, and horror movies, or even negative shows, really affect me and my mood in a bad way. I think in part it’s because I tend to visualize what’s happening and carry that visualization out into the real world. Whatever the reason, horror movies do not make me happy.
It took a long time for me to stop going to those kinds of movies. I remember the first time I did it. My boyfriend and my best friend wanted to see a movie about a girl getting possessed, and I obviously did not want to go. Finally, I got up the nerve to say no, and I seemed to disappoint them both. However, they went to the movie together and enjoyed it, and I enjoyed my time at home watching something that made me happy. So it was a simple thing, but it gave me two hours of my life to do something that made me happy, and it also gave me countless nights not thinking about the possession of some woman, which also made me happy.
You are not always going to have a choice to say no in life, but taking that choice when you can will help you experience a lot more happiness than if you don’t take it.
2. We think we are going to be happy THIS TIME.
Have you ever gone into a situation knowing that it usually doesn’t make you happy, but think that maybe this time you will really enjoy it?
I’m so guilty of this, and I’m sure you will relate. We’re supposed to learn our lesson after one time. Right? Well that’s not the way it works in a lot of cases.
For me, it was my mother-in-law’s. I tried to view myself as an enlightened person…somewhat anyways. I felt as though I should be able to accept my mother-in-law for who she was and just be happy in the moment. However, it never worked out that way.
Each time I went to my mother-in-law’s, I felt like THIS was going to be the time that I enjoyed the visit. But I only enjoyed it once, and that was when I did not have a lot of interaction with her. Otherwise, it has never made me happy. And it does not make her happy either.
Now, I only go when my nieces are there and I know I’m going to experience laughter and joy. I will also go when we are going to take her out to somewhere she enjoys and will express some sense of kindness to me. Otherwise, my husband drops me off the coffee shop and I relish the time alone at work writing until he comes back.
This isn’t to say that I don’t think some things can get better. I think it is all about how we frame situations in our mind and then approach them. However, sometimes it is just not easy to frame a situation in a positive light, and if we have the choice, I think that is the time to withdraw ourselves from the situation.
What Makes You Happy?
Generally, the things that make you happy are the things that give you satisfaction and pleasure. You know when something makes you happy because you feel good after doing it.
This may seem very clear when I say it like that, but it is not always clear when you are in the situation.
For instance, in a study done it Cambridge University, Prof. Jacqueline Scott and it team of academics surveyed 30,000 people in 34 countries. The results were that men felt happier, and domestic arguments were reduced, the more they took on chores around the house. This goes against the law of man doesn’t it? Really against the law of human nature! Nobody likes to do chores, and I’m sure they didn’t jump up all giddy to do them. But apparently, doing the chores did make them happy. I think it is because it gave them some sort of satisfaction around the house.
So, things that we would not think would bring us happiness may actually bring us happiness. The point is to listen to your inner being and decide what makes YOU feel good. If working 12 hours a day really does make you feel fulfilled and happy, then by all means work 12 hours a day. However, if you find that you are not experiencing a good work-life balance, and you would rather work 8 hours a day, then you need to find a way to work 8 hours a day.
Now, if you find that something, such as making other people feel miserable makes you happy, you may need to work on something there. You should not find happiness in other people’s misery, and you may have a mental disorder that needs to be addressed.
How To Find Out What Makes You Happy
If you are caught up in a routine (which most of us are), then it can be hard to figure out what actually makes you happy. The reason for this is because you get so busy going through the daily motions that you are not able to slow down and really pay attention to your body, emotions, thoughts and reactions. Following are a few ways to figure out what really makes you happy throughout your day.
Step 1 – Pay attention to your body
Your body is the ultimate indicator of how you are feeling. There is no other tool like it. By paying attention to your body, you can figure out exactly how you feel at any moment of the day.
For instance, is your jaw tight right now? If it is, then tension is likely inside of your body which could indicate stress.
Does your stomach turn when you think about things you have to do? This is an indicator that you are experiencing stress around a certain event.
Or, do you feel light and happy and well, which is an indicator that you are going to do something that makes you feel good.
Your body never lies. The way it feels is a direct result of how you are thinking and feeling. Therefore, if you’re happy, your body will feel happy, and if you are unhappy, your body will feel unhappy.
A great example of this is my Dad. He has Lupus, and his mind-set is often situated on negative things. However, when he does stuff that makes him happy, like watering the garden, he feels physically better. Right now, he is on his first ever cruise, and for the week before he left, I never heard a complaint about his ailments (which has NEVER happened before.) In addition, my mother wrote and said he is enjoying himself and they have been doing a lot of stuff. Since my dad rarely gets out of the house because he doesn’t feel good, this is an indication that he is doing something that makes him happy and his body is responding appropriately. So obviously the cruise is making him happy and hopefully he will book more cruises to continue that feeling!
Step 2 – Pay attention your energy level.
Negative activities drain your energy big time. They make you tired, sad, restless, etc. When you are doing things that feel good, your energy will be high.
For me, I can relate this to going out dancing. When I’m having fun dancing, I could likely dance all night without getting tired, and the night would fly by. However, if I am visiting with someone who does not make me happy then all night with them feels like 10 years!
Even if you think you are doing something that makes you happy (like an addiction, such as drinking, smoking, or gambling), pay attention to your body and it will let you know what it is really doing to and for you.
Your energy level, along with your body signals, will tell you all you need to know about how you feel around a certain situation.
Remember, just because your friend enjoys dancing all night, doesn’t mean you have to. You may enjoy reading a book all night. Find what makes you happy and try to it is much as possible. This life is too short to live in a state of drained energy!
Do New Things To Be Happier
So, there are probably a lot of things that make you happy already. However, it is important to try new things or else your brain just becomes a big pile of mush and you miss out on things that could make you even happier.
For example, my dad thought he was happy doing nothing, but because he is having the best time of his life right now, it is obvious that this new adventure is making him happier than doing nothing.
Routine is important to our stability in life, so it may not be easy to try something new every day. However if you take one or two days from your week and do a new activity in them, then you may discover something to add to your routine to really make you feel happier. Examples are:
- Going to a new relaxing park
- Trying a new restaurant
- Sitting on your deck listening to the trees rustle
- Playing a board game
You get the idea. The point is that whether you try something small or something big, you may just find something that makes you feel good, both physically and mentally, and that will add to your overall happiness in life.