People always say “go to your happy place”. This implies you have to search and find a location of sorts, essentially externalizing happiness. What if your happy place came from within and you carried it with you? YOU are responsible for making yourself happy, not someone else. While that may sound harsh, think of it this way You are in control! Most people do not like the idea of feeling out of control. So why do people make their happiness contingent on someone or something else?
Extrinsic vs. Intrinsic Value. Extrinsic means “not part of the essential nature of someone; coming or operating from the outside”. Research shows that too much investment in extrinsic goals detracts from overall enhancement and wellbeing. Intrinsic means “belonging naturally, essential”. Investment in intrinsic value, or the essential part of self, enhances our overall wellbeing and life satisfaction. An example of this would be the comment: give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day; teach him to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime. Invest in yourself, the intrinsic value of yourself, and you will reap the rewards.
So how do you put yourself in the director’s chair of your life? Mindbodygreen.com has great suggestions to create your own happiness:
Acknowledge Your Achievements
Self-deprecation has become second nature to some people. Rather than giving themselves a pat on the back for a job well done, people have a tendency to downplay their work, pick at what they did wrong, and detract from what they did right. By acknowledging personal achievements, you can begin to see value in yourself.
Make Yourself a Priority
Take time to do things that you enjoy: workout, read a book, have a cup of coffee by yourself, etc. What do you like to do? If it is difficult to think about things you enjoy, you may be putting other people’s interests ahead of your own. By making yourself a priority from time to time, you will actually have more energy and more of yourself to offer to others. In making yourself a priority, you are sending the message that you matter.
Be Mindful and Present in Your Day
Not only should you make yourself a priority and acknowledge that achievement, you should also pay attention to that moment. Let’s say, for example, you take the time out of your day to workout. You acknowledge that you can do more reps of an exercise than you could before. But, if you are distracted and thinking about what’s for dinner, you are missing out on the joy of your moment! Be present with yourself and pay attention to the small moments in your day your favorite song comes on the radio, you catch a beautiful sunset, or you like the feel of a hot cup of tea in your hands.
Showcase Your Awesomeness
And I don’t mean on social media. By trying to “prove” to others how awesome your life is, you are basing your happiness on how they respond = contingency. Instead, show yourself how fabulous you are. Trophy cases are made for a reason. Cork boards are a great place for ribbons and medals. Picture frames lining your hallway remind you where you’ve been, the great times you have had, and the people in your life.
My best friend once told me, “do something to surprise yourself, each day”. It’s easy to settle into a routine. Routines can create a sense of comfort, safety, and stability. These are not bad things, but routine can also get stale as we wait for things to happen to us…extrinsically. Instead, try something new. Go to a different restaurant or try a different fitness class. New things remind us that we’re alive.
What’s Your Win?
What needs to happen for you to have a great day? I bet you can name that one thing. What on your list of things to do needs to happen for you to feel accomplished? If you list your “win” for the day and try as hard as you can to get it done as soon as you can, you will feel happy ALL DAY LONG.
On a final note, try smiling even when you don’t feel like it. Smiling releases endorphins and can lift your spirits. If you didn’t feel like smiling at first, you will by the end. If you make your happiness contingent on something out of your control, you leave yourself open to be disappointed. When you create your own happiness, it is longer lasting and has a lot more value.