It takes a long time to grow an old friend.

~ John Leonard ~

Will a List Make You Happy?

June 17th, 2012 ~ Est. reading time: 2 mins, 16 secs

"I think you're the one meant to do this happy list."

Can drawing up a list possibly make you happy? Well let’s experiment to find out. Get out a sheet of paper and rule a line down the middle. Head one side “Things That Make Me Happy” and the other, “Things That Leave Me Unhappy.”

Now, write down everything you can think of that makes you happy. But don’t over analyze. Just rush and write as many as you can quickly capture and give yourself a few minutes, to keep it focused. When I did this, years ago, I had things like: “patting my cats”, “hugging Ruth”, and “eating ice-cream.” But your list could be very different. So give it full reign. If you need more room, grab more paper and simply keep going. Your happy list can be as big as you like it to be.

Now I’ve noticed something when people commence this exercise. Some people freeze up and say, “I can’t think of anything that makes me happy.” Or, they get stuck after four happy thoughts and get distracted. But to make this work, you need to keep on adding to create a goodly list. The more you can come up with, the better.

Having done this until you feel your ideas are running dry, stop for a while and consider the state of your personal happy list. Now, fill in the other side with all those things that make you feel unhappy. Again, don’t labor the list with details. Just be quick and brief.

Giving yourself at least a few minutes for each, it’s time to stop and consider the significance of what you’ve got. As a rule, the more you’ve got to find happiness in, the easier it is to trigger happy moments. That is, if they’re simple enough to achieve. For instance, if it takes climbing Mt Everest without oxygen for you to feel happy, then happiness won’t happen often. On the other hand, if all it takes is patting a pet, then you’ve got ready access to a great happiness trigger sitting right under your table.

Likewise, the same applies with those unhappy trigger events. Some may be indirect, like global poverty. While others, such as dreading domestic abuse, are a clear and immediately confronting challenge.

What this information tells you, in a plainly stated way, is how much you find delight in and how much causes you unhappiness. Even comparing the amount of points on either side is revealing. For this reason, allow yourself to reflect on what you’ve said and, if you want to give it more substance, continue to add to it.

Will writing this list make you happy? Well, what’s your thoughts? I believe activities like these can be a catalyst for more happy experiences and insight. But, to me, being happy at a satisfied level remains a far more engaging thing. That’s why I wrote Happy: How To Have a Beautiful Life Now.

Somehow, in a world of busy-ness and distraction, one of the most important aspects of our life has been lost; or at least, confused. Which means if writing lists isn’t enough, consider what is and give it priority. After all, life has not time for dress rehearsals.




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