How to Find Your Happy Place
Although my husband and I will celebrate twenty-one years of marriage at the end of this month, about 16 years ago, I fell in love with someone else.
More accurately, I fell in love with a place which almost upon arrival became my happy place. I’m talking about an island off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts called Martha’s Vineyard…that is my happy place. And my writing location for this post. 😊
While I’d love to go on and on about the reasons why I love it here, that is not what’s on my mind this week.
It’s great to have found a place that evokes feelings of joy and peace, that feels like a home away from home. But I’ve learned that if the rest of life is congested with stress and the struggle to find my happy is constant, then time in that place is only a Band-Aid on a gaping wound.
After a couple of weeks, “real life” must resume.
What if I told you that I’ve discovered that this sort of happy, the kind triggered by a place for many, can be cultivated through habitual practice?
It’s true. And it’s been proven.
Happiness can be developed and sustained through internal resolve, not external stimuli. As it turns out, only 10% of your happiness is dependent on circumstances.
Thus, it’s completely within our control to be happier. And like any other skill, we can increase our happy quotient as we consistently apply a few simple strategies.
KNOW THY SELF, GROW THY SELF
Who and what makes you smile?
What do you enjoy?
What do you value?
Do you feel connected to a purpose?
Your happy begins with answering these simple questions. Many are caught in the comparison trap and cannot see clearly what they really like, want, or value. Sometimes the gleam of another person living their "best" life is too bright to fully appreciate the shine of your own. It’s critical to overcome the tendency to compare. Just look away.
Do you…every day, all day long. Anything else will compromise and devalue your unique expression in the world.
Quiet the voices of guilt. They used to spring up for me whenever I was doing something that I enjoyed but didn't involve service to others. Now I call it out. I say, aloud, This is my no guilt leisure time! That’s for my benefit and for those around me.
Also, make a daily commitment to self-improvement. “What you do everyday matters more than what you do once in a while,” reminds Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project.
Happiness is exponentially experienced as you engage socially. Spend time with friends that you enjoy. With a busy life, this may mean that you must plan months in advance. Just do it. Be generous with yourself and your time.
In more intimate relationships, rehearse this truth: I am only responsible for me. You cannot change your partner. Decide to give according to your heart’s resolve in your relationship, not based upon what you expect to receive. Don’t keep score. Make every effort to avoid unnecessary conflict that many times reflects each person’s attempt to “out-victim” the other. Focus on what you’d like to see in the relationship and muster the courage to articulate it, both in word and action.
Find ways to express your gratitude regularly in your relationships. It is easy to take the people that we value for granted, especially if we see them daily. I’ve been guilty of this. Recently, I decided to consciously connect with each of my family members according to their best way of receiving, their individual love languages. This can be hard, especially when the love language is at odds with how I like to express my love and gratitude. I’ll keep you posted on how that goes. (Pray for me, y’all.)
GO BIG OR GO HOME
Set big goals. This may sound a bit out of context in this happiness discussion but trust me, it’s related. When you set a goal that is beyond your reach, you are forced to grow to achieve it. This act of growth satisfies a self-fulfillment need. (Think Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs).
Each of us has a need to express ourselves fully in the world. When the unique self is suppressed, happiness is also stifled. Setting goals that stretch us activates a growth cycle.
Just eat the elephant one bit at a time. Break the big goal into smaller steps. Focus on each step. Stay encouraged through your community and self-talk. For me, my self-talk includes a quote or motto every week to keep my head in the game, so to speak. One of my favorites is Vision drives Discipline.
BACK TO BASICS
Take care of yourself! This may be obvious. I’m compelled to list it here because I’ve been known to be the chief offender in this area. Self-care is not about a periodic spa visit or a bi-weekly nail appointment. It includes adequate sleep (7-9 hours per night); a healthy diet (I suggest a whole-food, plant-based one); physical activity (regular exercise); and a cultivated spiritual life.
Finding your happy place is a self-generated state of being, not a location. More vacation time doesn’t equal more happiness nor does more wealth (after about $100K per year). 🤨The key is to abandon the search and to put your hand to the plow, cultivating happiness, like a garden.
Plant the seeds by deciding which of these exercises you will incorporate in your life. Nurture the development of happiness through consistent practice. Reap a fuller and happier life.
It’s simple but it takes work. You can do it!
I still enjoy my happy place…mainly, because simple pleasures like homemade ice cream & donuts from a back door (it’s an MV thing), merry-go-round rides, and sunsets take on a magical air when shared among family and friends. 😍
Here's to experiencing a new level of happy!
Until next time…