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Nov 29

Enjoy What Makes You Happy

My son enjoying the splash pad at the Oklahoma City Zoo

The U.S. just finished celebrating Thanksgiving Day, which is a wonderful holiday devoted to spending time with friends, family, and giving thanks for the many blessings in our lives. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because I am able to take a break from work and everyday life to just slow down and enjoy some down time. I am thankful that my work gives everyone a four (4) day weekend off to enjoy the holiday, and during these days off I have really enjoyed unwinding and releasing some stress and tension that has been building up.

Too often we get caught up in the rat race of life, and we fail to really slow down and enjoy life, and the things that make us happy. We tend to push things the things that make us happy like spending time with friends, family, relaxing with a good book or a movie, to the side or marginalize them. Generally this leads to stress and general feelings of unhappiness and discontentment.

I think it is key to really identify the things in your life that make you happy, and make time for those activities, people, or groups. Even if what makes you happy seems to be mundane or a “waste of time” it is neither of those if it makes you happy, because sometimes the simplest things in our lives bring us the most pleasure. Of course it is important to make sure that the activities, people, or groups that make us happy aren’t based on attachments for material possessions, or support destructive behaviors, because that can cause the cycle of stress and general unhappiness to perpetuate itself.

While this may seem overly simplistic, we must make time to enjoy the things that make us happy. For me, family and friends are an important part of my life and bring me a great amount of joy and happiness, and so does reading, writing (which this blog is a wonderful outlet for), and driving my old Corvette (weather permitting of course). I know that no matter how stressed out I am, I can turn to these things to bring a sense of comfort and happiness, so they have become a bit of a refuge that I can turn to.

Sometimes it is also helpful to identify the things that make us unhappy or stressed out, and seek to avoid those activities. I know personally I get stressed out when I have a big project at work with a looming deadline, so I have learned to simply leave my work at work, and try to not think about work when I am not there; after all, it doesn’t do me any good to worry about something if I am not in a position or place to work on it.

Everyone wants to be happy, and live a content life, but too often we tend to focus on the negative rather than the positive things in our lives. By avoiding the things that trigger stress, and spending time with the things that truly make you happy, you can live a happier and more content life. Therefore, seek out what makes you happy, and allow those things to fill your life with joy.

Practical Tip: If you are like me, you may feel that you simply don’t have time for the activities that you enjoy. Often I have found it helpful to make some sort of schedule (mental, on my phone, etc.), that specifically makes time for an activity that I enjoy, which prevents me from pushing the activity to the side. Try setting aside time for activities that bring you happiness, which may help you to eliminate stress, as well as prevent stress from building up in your life.

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7 comments

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  1. iamnotshe

    OK. I’m open-minded. I usually freak out when i see “how to be happy”. I think i am pretty happy, but i tend to be a cynical comic … that’s how i express my feelings about overall life and my experiences. Humor lightens certain types of pain. I can’t compartmentalize that well — life tends to blend happy and sad at every turn … so … all in all i’d say i’m happy. I paint, i swim, i connect with loved ones frequently throughout the day … so i suppose when i write it seems odd.

    I can think of one thing, i won’t force myself to swim when i don’t feel like it. That would make me even happier.

    How do you handle unhappy things?

    1. Jason E. Marshall

      Well as you said life is a blend of happy and unhappy experiences. I think the key is to focus on positive aspects rather than negative aspects. For example, if I get in a confrontation with someone at work, as an attorney it is an unfortunate part of the job, I can choose to get upset or angry, or I can simply try to blow it off and focus on the many good things in my life, because no matter how “bad” most experiences may seem, they will eventually pass, and they are only a fleeting moment when compared to the entirety of life.

      Also, I think that humor is an excellent way to handle some of the negative or sad experiences; however, it is important to not simply use humor as a way to gloss over real problems. Sometimes we have real problems in our lives such as negative relationships, abuse, addiction, depression, etc., where it is actually dangerous to simply try and laugh it off, rather than really deal with the root cause of the problem. So in a way it requires one to really evaluate a problem, issue, or experience and decide if it is something minor that needs to be brushed/laughed off, or if it is something that really needs to be analyzed and dealt with.

      1. iamnotshe

        Right. Since i am in recovery i try to be honest. Humor gets me through the hard parts of living life sober and bulimia free. For me if i “act” to happy or if i genuinely feel lighter than air i think: Pink Cloud. For me that’s not possible. I DO BELIEVE positive thinking (or at least having someone remind me to be grateful) is a good thing for me.

        I need to be able to express poo smelling like poo, WHILE also saying a rose by any other name DOES smell just as sweet.

        melis

        1. Jason E. Marshall

          I think the key is to not simply “act” happy, but be happy. I also, believe that many people think that to be truly happy requires a constant state of ecstatic exuberance (pink cloud), but that really isn’t the case. Being truly happy involves maintaining a fairly constant state of equilibrium, where you aren’t dragged down by negativity, but instead focus on positive aspects. Admittedly, this is difficult, and I cannot even say that I have reached this state on a constant basis, although through my practices I am getting better. 😉

          To be truly happy first involves understanding who you truly are, your true-self. While the true-self is thrown about a lot in New Age/Spirituality circles, and therefore gets a bad name among the general public, it is really just an understanding of who you truly are at your most fundamental level, your essence. For me my understanding of who I am is that at my most fundamental level I am my “soul” which is the divine spark from the Creator (God). I came to this realization through contemplation and introspection that involved removing a great deal of “muck” (past experiences, pre-conceptions, prejudices, bad situations etc.) that I had built up and needed to work through.

          Once you understand who you truly are as a person, you will not only gain true confidence, but you will realize that external experiences don’t really affect who you truly are. Therefore, this allows you to stay in a state of equilibrium where encountering, or even stepping in poo doesn’t cause you to waller in the poo, but rather acknowledge that it (the situation/experience) stinks, and move past the poo 😉 Also, by being confident of who you truly are, you can more fully evaluate situations and your environment, which may make you realize that you are in a hole full of poo that you need to climb out of. 😉 (sorry for beating that analogy to death).

          It sounds like you are taking the necessary steps to overcome the poo in your life, and I hope you continue to enjoy the roses of life. 😉

          1. iamnotsheMeliss

            My dad ALWAYS used to say that. I thought he was the most peaceful man alive. He has anxiety troubles, but he used to say, “i think the key is to come to terms with yourself” … and he is ever-so right. Try not to put yourself in bad situations, or with “toxic” people, or simply FORCE yourself to do things just to check them off a list, or because you feel guilty. It’s definitely a process. I am here, and accounted for with all this sobriety and no more bulimic behavior. All new … processing, living, giving, accepting. Trying to sort out what feels “wrong” and focus more on what feels good and right (in many different ways).

  2. Morgan Mussell

    Some time ago, I heard talk of the benefit of listening to “that quiet little voice” that whispers things like, “It might be nice to…” or “that seems interesting.” You are absolutely right about the urge to push out pleasant seeming things, like down-time in favor of “being productive.”

  3. iamnotshe

    I think i’m going to google “shock”. I can’t make any decisions about happiness or sadness. I’m going through the motions of the day, but i can’t do much more. I watched our dog get put to sleep. I simply feel blank. I need more rest. I think that’s OK. I’m going to rest and watch some football. Thanks for posting. melis

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