Here’s my happiness list

What's on yours?

How often do you stop and think about what’s really important for your personal happiness?

What activities seriously lift your mood – without giving you a hangover afterwards?

In this extract from one of my books – I’ll tell you mine.

Coronavirus update

The main Covid-19 update I’ve made to this Insight is to add the letter ‘R’ against those activities that have been partly or completely restricted by the lockdown – and the letter ‘E’ where time for such activities has been Enhanced.

Frankly, I was amazed to see how many ‘E’s are on my list.

Feel free to share some of your ideas in the comments below and either way, you might find it useful to write down what really matters to you – on your own personal document.

You’ll then have something to review for ideas – when things get tough, which they do for all of us from time to time

Now, we’re all very different, so we all have our own, unique ideas about this.

Here are mine, in no particular order:

  • R.   Spending quality time with loved ones.
  • E.   Remembering great times: looking over old pictures and videos. 
  • E.   Planning more great times.
  • E.   Watching a great film.
  • —    Having a good laugh.
  • E.   Working on – and delivering something useful to others.
  • E.   Helping others to fulfil their potential, listening to their stories and supporting them in their efforts. 
  • —    A loving relationship, someone who listens and cares.
  • R.   Hugs and kisses too.
  • E.   Slowing down occasionally – taking time out to appreciate life and our freedom (in this country) to choose what we do and say. 
  • E.   Sitting, alone, quietly – with no music or any other distractions – thinking through ideas for dealing with the important stuff.
  • E.   Getting those ideas onto paper – or into a book – or onto this website – or into a video.
  • E.   A session of FULL ON physical exercise.
  • R.   Trying out new and exhilarating activities: like water skiing, snow skiing, skydiving, flying aeroplanes. 
  • R.   Learning other new skills: in music, art, dancing, sports or anything else that stretches me.
  • E.   Literally stretching in an online yoga lesson – with Adrienne!
  • R.   Or being stretched out with a massage.
  • R.   Or getting some joints ‘unlocked’ by an Osteopath.
  • E.   Resting and listening to great music.
  • R.   Or, watching great musicians perform live.
  • E.   Reading a great book and discovering wonderful ideas.
  • E.   Getting outside in the fresh air, seeing and feeling nature all around.

What do we have in common?

Now it turns out that this idea of quality time with family and friends is on most people’s ‘real happiness’ list. See here for a funny story on that

And that ‘back to nature’ idea is apparently a universal mood improver too.

Oliver Burkeman has spent some considerable time studying happiness philosophies – and the popular ‘self-help’ industry – around the world.

His two books:

Help: How to become slightly happier and get a bit more done’ 

The Antidote: Happiness for people who can’t stand positive thinking’

Offer valuable and humorous insights into both the truly useful and positively dangerous ideas for achieving happiness.

Burkeman’s books and some of my other favourites – are listed here

According to Burkeman, most people are attracted to the outdoors and this could be because it helps us deal with one of our biggest hang-ups – a desire to feel in control.

This is what he says about it:

‘We spend our lives swinging back and forth between believing we have more control over the world than we do – and feeling, just as wrongly that we have none… Nature seems to reset this wild pendulum and restores a realistic balance. Elemental landscapes drive home how tiny and powerless we are. And any encounter with nature, even a two-mile stroll, requires self-reliance and demands that you take responsibility for what you can control. You have to not get lost and not fall off cliffs.’

This is so true. Try heading out to walk, climb or ski in some serious hills or mountains.

You simply can’t do that – and get home again 😉 without feeling good about looking after yourself on the journey – and getting a better perspective on your problems.

See here for more thoughts on ‘perspective’ 

One final thought

Notice how very few items on people’s REAL happiness lists involve spending a ton of money.

And yet, before Covid, in aggregate, we were spending vast sums, unnecessarily, in search of happiness!

What was going on?

Well, we were clearly falling prey to the many manipulative marketing ads – that promise us happiness in exchange for yet another purchase.

How they do that – and how we can turn their techniques against them – is something we’ll come back to another day.

In the meantime, if you can – and you’re not doing them already – try a few walks in the country or your local parks.

Go on, take that brisk walk today – or tomorrow – and see if it lifts your mood.

Thanks for dropping in


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