It kind of doesn’t get simpler or more effective than this: Do more of what makes you happier. But do you? What does it even really mean? And how can we do more of what makes us happier?
“Do more of what makes you happier” is one of our Happier Place core principles*. First of all, let’s unravel it from back to front to pinpoint what it’s really all about. First of all, there’s a reason why we’re not advocating for the much more ubiquitous “Do more of what makes you happy“…
… happier (vs. happy)
We have two theories about why we prefer happier vs happy. If you think they contradict each other just pick either one for whatever situation or state of mind fits best… you know: just pick whatever makes you happier.
- Happier is even better than happy – and definitely much better than meh. So if you’re already feeling pretty good because you’re watching a sunset, imagine how much happier you’d feel if you were also sipping on a cocktail. (So in that specific situation “happier” could also mean “more drunk”. That also works for us.)
- Sometimes “being happy” or even the concept of a “state of happiness” seems a bit unrealistic. Is it even possible to be completely happy? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe you can’t always be happy, but you can definitely always be a little bit happier.
… of what makes YOU…
It’s about doing things that make YOU happier. It’s not about making others happier (like your partner, family or dog). And yes, maybe that seems obvious. But think about how often you find yourself planning or doing something that you think will make you happier – but actually you’re just feeling good because you made someone else happier. That’s also lovely – but it’s just not what this post is about.
It’s also not about what is supposed to make you happier. Sure going to the gym, volunteering, or visiting a friend are all wonderful actions that can make you happier. But also allow yourself to do the things that are simply just for you, for fun, for relaxing, for laughing, for doing something that maybe you know isn’t “for a purpose” or “respectable” or “something you want to tell others about”. Just please don’t do anything that harms others.
Okay, I want to be very clear here. Yes, it is about doing more… but it’s not about adding yet another thing to your long to-do list that might quickly turn into a long regret-I-didn’t-do-this list. It’s about giving yourself permission to do non-chore/non-agenda things that you “wish you had time for.” Guess what? You know you have the time. You just have to allow yourself to take the time to do things that make you happier more often – or adding a little “makes me happier” spice to something you’re already doing.
And in my experience, if you let yourself take a break and do something that makes you happier for a little while, you’ll have more focus and energy later to “get those to-do list items done” more efficiently. And if you let yourself have that dessert tonight, then maybe tomorrow you’ll feel more motivated to go for that run, which will end up making you even happier (serotonin and all).Give yourself permission to be a little bit happier!Click To Tweet
How to actually do more of what makes you happier:
- Think of the actions and things that (might) make you happier. Maybe even write out an actual list. You might be surprised by what you find in your own head and heart – and you’ll be inspired to do some…
- Keep a Fun-Was-Had Calendar (that’s the tip we personally practice)
- Turn it into a 30-Day Challenge. Again marking a calendar works well for this strategy – especially if you want to turn something into a habit you’ll keep doing after the challenge is over.
- Put the slogan “Do more of what makes you happier” right in front of your face. We currently offer stickers, a can cooler and as of August 2018 a girls’ T-shirt with the slogan. But you can also just write it on a sticky note and place it wherever.
But do we really need slogans and reminders for something so obvious?
Everyone will have to answer that question for themselves. But dare to be honest! My answer is yes, I do. And here I’ll dare to get a bit personal about how I realized that:
About five years ago, two things happened:
- I experienced a form of burnout (which came hand-in-hand with a very disruptive identity crisis), and I accepted that being a workaholic wasn’t something to celebrate.
- I read something that seems so trivial but blew my mind: One of the five biggest regrets people on their deathbeds have is that they didn’t allow themselves to be happier. Until that moment it had NEVER occurred to me that this was “a thing” – that people, including myself, weren’t giving themselves permission to be happier.
So I focused on positive change and doing more of what makes me happier – without feeling so guilty about it. But I still need reminders to stay on this happier, healthier, more fun path. All those realizations (and more) led to Scott and me launching Happier Place – so we can encourage other people to be a little bit happier.
Now go do more of what makes you happier,
P.S.: We’d love to hear from you what things you do that make you happier. To kick-start our inspiration exchange, I’ll share a few of mine in the comments below…
P.P.S.: The photo above shows Whiskey running up Grey Rock Mountain in Colorado, which means we were both doing something that made us happier.
* More Happier Place Core Principles: