Some people think that happiness is a destination or a place to get to. This is inevitably a trap.
Maybe you say, “I’ll be happy when (fill in the blank).” For example, “I’ll be happy when I have saved enough to buy a house.” This soon becomes, “I’ll be happy when I’ve paid off the mortgage.” This means you are always postponing joy to some point in the future which may or may not come. And if it does come, you may find that you aren’t any happier. Instead of postponing your happiness in this way, start looking for the little ways you can feel happier today.
I’ve been reading Dr. Emma Hepburn’s excellent book, A Toolkit for Happiness. Hepburn says that feeling good is a “fundamental part of happiness” and that “all too often we don’t place enough importance on these emotions.” I couldn’t agree more.
We tend to ignore or dismiss our personal and emotional needs because we sense that neediness is unattractive. And culturally, men aren’t “allowed” to have emotional needs, so that also complicates matters.
I’ve created the free Emotional Index Quiz to help people figure out which needs are the ones that are most likely to make you feel your best. On the flip side, key needs that go unfulfilled will bring out your worst. Unmet needs leads to an unhappy, irritable or apathetic you.
I’ve written in depth about personal and emotional needs in the book, The Secret Laws of Attraction: The Effortless Way to Get the Relationship You Want. Unfortunately, we don’t instinctively know that getting our needs met is something we must do to be our best selves. Most of us try to get our needs met unconsciously with varying results. What isn’t surprising is that getting your “feel good needs” met feels darn good! Dr. Hepburn has created a colorful list of tiny things we can do to feel happier every day. She suggests that choosing three a day is one simple recipe for greater happiness.
Pick three things a day, such as something that…
- brings you joy
- makes you laugh
- relaxes you
- makes you feel connected
- nurtures you
- gives you a sense of achievement
- gives you something to look forward to
- satisfies one of your top four personal and emotional needs*
So, you might call a friend for a chat to feel connected or get a massage to feel relaxed. You can do little things like take a bubble bath, watch a funny film, or do 10 minutes of deep breathing. *To personalize this list, I’ve added the option of doing something to satisfy one of your top four personal needs based on your results from the Emotional Index Quiz. For example, my husband has the need for order. So he could satisfy that by tidying his desk, which might also serve to give him a sense of achievement.
The mission is clear. If you want to feel happier, you can do stuff that is likely to make you feel those good happy vibes. Do it daily for maximum joy.
To experience deeper levels of happiness, you may need to find a sense of meaning or purpose in your life. This is the job of life coaches. We know this means discovering your core values and finding ways to orient your life around those core values. For example, one of my values is to lead and inspire people. How can I do that? By leading a workshop or seminar, writing a blog or coaching people to achieve their biggest goals and dreams.
I’ve designed my entire life to orient around my top four values. So naturally, I love my career! Not only do I feel good on a very deep level when my clients achieve things, but my clients also feel good.
It is worth doing some deep work to find out what careers might give you the greatest joy, especially since we tend to spend so much of our lives at work. Thankfully we have the career assessments to make this process easier in the Career Change Kit.
What three things will you do today to feel happier?