Happiness is an elusive feeling that people spend a lifetime searching for. Some people find it through family, some people find it in volunteer work and some people find it in the little moments of their day. The first step to finding happiness is to identify everything that makes you feel: joy, anger, sadness, contentment. The second step is actively seeking happiness through goals and resolutions. Easier said than done, right?!
This 7-Day Challenge will help you set the groundwork for finding more happiness in your life. With these prompts and action items, you will focus on one aspect of your life and determine resolutions you can introduce into your day-to-day. Taking these tips, set goals for each month, working on a specific area and really track your day-to-day feelings. After each month, you will be able to keep the things that really helped and ditch the things that didn’t bring you joy.
Focus One – Relationships
Strong relationships are one of the factors most strongly associated with happiness, so it’s important to focus your energy on maintaining healthy relationships with those you love and care about. It is also important to note that relationships are one of the top 5 stressors in people’s lives.
To work on increasing your happiness through relationships, we first have to focus on eliminating the stress of people-pleasing. You can start with this exercise.
- Determine who you actually want to please. Is it your husband, your parents, your kids, yourself?
- Determine what is actually important to you. Is it your family, your faith, your career, your friendships, your free-time?
- When you are put in a situation where you need to say yes or no, consider who and what matters to you most and determine your answer based on that ranking. If you have to give up time with someone who matters OR give up time doing something that matters, maybe the answer is no.
Now that you know who is important, you can focus your energy on maintaining those relationships. That is not to say that you should not also maintain relationships with other people in your life, just keep in mind that stress and happiness do not go hand in hand. Prioritize those you have determined matter.
- Starting with the most important person, start a list of pain points of that specific relationship. For example, if you are married the most common causes of conflict are money, work, sex, communication, children, and appreciation. Be more specific than “We fight about money.”
- After each pain point, brainstorm ideas around how to make those point points less painful. For example, if one of the problems in your marriage is that you don’t receive enough verbal validation, you could write: I do things because I love my husband not because I need praise; don’t expect praise.
- Determine which solution to one pain point would provide the most value to the happiness in your relationship. You should have picked one solution for each relationship you listed.
Once you have your list of solutions, it’s time to set goals to implement these solutions into your day-to-day. Select 4 weeks of the year to devote to improving your happiness in relation to your relationships. Schedule time each week to your solutions. Some examples include:
- Praise others when they do things you appreciate. In return, do not expect praise when you do things for others.
- It takes 5 positive experiences to combat 1 negative experience, so work on creating more positive experiences.
- Give more hugs.
Focus Two – Work
Being happy positively correlates to being more productive at work. One option is to focus on pursuing a career that makes you joyful. Another option is to figure out what you enjoy doing in your free time and figure out a way to pursue that as a career. A third option is to find joy in your current career, whether it is your dream or not.
- Answer the following questions: What do you do when you are bored? Where do you go in your free time? What topics do you most enjoy reading about? When doing work-related tasks, which ones do you actually enjoy?
- Determine what all of these things have in common and why you find joy in them.
Now that you know what you enjoy about work and why you can prioritize those elements within your work week. That might mean finding a side-hustle. For example, if you enjoy research, taking notes and writing, maybe starting a blog is a path to happiness. If you enjoy cooking, athletics and money management maybe starting a meal-prepping business for Crossfit athletes is a good path to pursue. Alternatively, it may mean finding ways to fit more of these tasks into your current job.
Once you have your list of work tasks you enjoy and understand why it’s time to set goals to implement these solutions into your day-to-day. Select 4 weeks of the year to devote to improving your happiness in relation to work. Schedule time each week for your solutions. Some examples include:
- Start a project that might fulfill you such as starting a blog, managing a curated Instagram account, or teaching a cooking class with your local community ed. Remember, the key word is might, meaning that if you get into it and decide it is not for you, you can drop it and move onto another project.
- Accept failure as a necessary part of success. Develop a mantra you can repeat when you are faced with a failure at work.
- Adopt a mindset of asking for help.
- Find a morning and night routine that contributes to your workplace productivity. That could mean a specific wake up time, a daily lunchtime workout, set times to check your email and/or distraction-free timezones.
Focus Three – Money
Everyone has a different relationship with money, some of which are rocky and some of which are satisfying. Conquering your fears about finances can impact your happiness immensely. One question to answer right off the bat is whether you believe money can buy happiness or not. There is not a wrong answer to that question, but it is important to know which side you fall on. That answer will help you accept your relationship with money and how you spend it.
- Take a look at these categories and decide on one item (money does by happiness) or experience (money does not buy happiness) you can purchase (within reason) to help propel this aspect of your life towards happiness.
- Family and Friends
- Health and Wellness
- Your Environment (bedroom, office, kitchen)
- Next, to each category write 3-5 reasons why this purchase is necessary to encourage happiness in your life. Also, write 3-5 reasons why you deserve to spend this money on this specific purchase. Remind yourself of this list if you feel guilty about your purchase.
- Choose one month for each category and make your purchase.
During each month, also focus on making necessary purchases efficiently. Keep a list in each room of the house so you can list items that need to be purchased when they are close to running out, such as paper towels, toothpaste, etc.