I have been thinking about what makes me happy, with the goal of doing more of whatever that is. Not what I think makes me happy, but what actually makes me happy.
A good example is working out. I thought working out made me happy, but it doesn’t really make me happy. It just makes me feel not bad. Playing basketball makes me happy. It takes up all of my mental and physical capacity (I am still learning the game). Afterwards I almost always feel refreshed- sometimes I also feel like throwing up- but still refreshed.
How did I decide what actually makes me happy? I tried to observe after which indicators I am most happy. I found two: after I laugh uncontrollably and after I am completely engaged in an activity.
This is pretty much exclusively spending time with family and friends. The more comfortable I am, the more likely I am to laugh. My daughter has elicited more laughter from me than anyone I can remember. Waking up at 6 am has never been as fun as it is now.
This happens a lot when I am learning something new about a topic that I enjoy. I already mentioned basketball- which I think of as learning the sport. Reading a good biography is another one. There is something about reading a story about a real person (that did something awesome) that grabs all of my attention. This also sometimes happens to me at work, but only when I am working on something new and difficult. It specifically has to be something that I have almost never done before. It happens more often than not when I write.
So what did I learn? If I want to be happy I should spend more time with family and friends, play more basketball, and do things that force me to learn something new.
When I was going through the exercise, I started thinking about what causes me the most unhappiness. It was much less difficult to come up with this list. My cell phone and emails are the largest source of my unhappiness. Followed by over eating- which leaves me unhappy for a minimum 36 hours. And finally not seeing the sun in a 24 hour period.
There is something to say about stopping and thinking about these things. The clarity helps me with understanding myself and crafting a happier routine. I don’t think I am going to be able to get rid of my cell phone anytime soon, but hey, a boy can dream.