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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