The simple question of what makes you happy can be the hardest one to answer. It might not be what you think, so ditch assumptions and start again.
It seems like a simple enough question, right? What makes you happy? For most of us, we can think about a thing or two that gives us joy in the moment. But, if you are looking for long term happiness, that can be much more fleeting and harder to come by. If you want to know what makes you happy, it may take a lot more introspection and question asking.
We all think that there is going to be some major event in life that is going to set our course for happiness. Whether it is finding the right career, purchasing our dream home, or finding the person of our dreams to settle down with and have children *or not*, most of us have a grand idea about what will make us happy.
5 ways to uncover what makes you happy
Most often, even after we attain those things we strive for, we find ourselves disillusioned by them not making us happy at all, which can make us feel empty and disconnected. The key to finding what makes you happy is not to put too many eggs in one basket or think that if you just attain something in life, all your problems will be solved.
The key to finding what makes you happy is to look for the small things, not the larger and grandiose ones. The best things often do come in the smallest packages. But, all too often, we don’t recognize them because we either save opening them for last or don’t give them a chance even to be opened at all.
Happiness is something that we float in and out of. If you want to know what makes you happy, then you have to stop taking happiness for granted and pay heed to the things that bring you joy.
Just like everything else, maximizing those things that make us smile, and minimizing those things that wipe the smile from our faces, will give us a pretty awesome outlook.
#1 Record those things that make you feel happy. I can’t be the only one who is sitting around one minute and thinks to themselves, “Man, I really feel happy right now.” Unfortunately, those are typically the times right before the shit hits the fan, and I wonder how everything was so wonderful and then so crappy… so quickly.
The key to finding out what makes you happy is taking concrete notes, mental or otherwise, about what it was that was going on when you felt moments of bliss. There was most certainly something about the period that struck your fancy and made you feel whole.
By taking stock and recognizing what it was that brightened your day, you can try harder to put yourself into those positions or to seek out those people who bring out the best in you and your well-being. Being scientific about your emotions can help you to create the perfect storm for more good times than bad. [Read: How to be happy in life and live life to the fullest]
In the same respect, make a note of those things that squash your happiness. If it is a relationship or a person that can bring a room down, make a note about that too. If someone takes away the happiness you feel like a negative vacuum, then it might be time to limit the influence they have over your life.
#2 Stop making assumptions. We all think that we know what it takes to make us happy, but sometimes those assumptions are completely wrong. We think that money makes us happy, only to find that we save so much we become obsessed with holding onto it.
We think the luxury sports car will bring us joy only to find that our time is spent parking it too far from the lot so it doesn’t get a ding, or never enjoying a beautiful drive just in case we are in an accident.
If you want to know what truly makes you happy, you have to throw away preconceived notions that you have always thought you knew, and start from scratch, taking from your current situation.
#3 Think hard about the things that make you happy… really hard. If something makes you happy like your significant other bringing you a gift, take the time to figure out what it is about the situation that makes you happy. Dissecting it to find the real source of your joy is the only way to repeat it and to recognize it.
Perhaps it isn’t the gift at all. Maybe it is the fact that they thought about you and that made you happy. If you know that it is the attention and the caring that made you smile, then you might be able to see that same happiness in other situations instead of just believing that it was about buying you something and spending money on you. You might be just as happy with a text message saying “I love you” or a post-it note.
#4 Think like a child again. Remember when you were a kid and Christmas morning seemed like the happiest moment you can ever think of? Those things that we dream about when we are little get lost in the shuffle, but they aren’t always as “pie in the sky” as we remember.
There are times when those small dreams we have as a child can come back to make us big time happy as an adult on a smaller scale. Trying to view the world as you did as a child without all the pretentiousness, name brands, and tainting of social pressure can return you to the things that can make you really happy.
You don’t need the big bang and going above and beyond; it just takes the innocence that you had to look at any experience with newness and joy and happiness in your heart to see happiness in its purest form. [Read: 13 happy things you need for a perfectly happy life]
#5 Hang on to that feeling. Happiness is fleeting, there is no doubt about that. No matter how happy we are, there are going to be times when things are going to come in from the outside and mess with the bliss we feel in our heart. Peaks and valleys are what love and life are all about. The key is to not fall out of the cycle of happiness.
Once you have a handle on what is a priority and what makes you happy, hold onto it and remind yourself when things are both good and bad. Life is too short not to find those things that bring you your own personal heaven, and make sure to have them in your life for a lifetime. Reminding yourself often is the key to happiness, maybe not 24/7, but overall. [Read: 7 easy steps to be blissfully happy in a relationship]
When you leave this earth, the hope is that you take with you the best of times and leave the unhappiness in your wake. Don’t carry too much baggage around or let too much of yesterday eat up your today to be happy overall and to make your go around the best possible. Find what makes you happy. I mean really pinpoint what it is that your heart sings for.