Guest Writer: Kathleen

What do people want in life? It’s a question psychologists have attempted to answer for centuries. I was pondering this answer one day myself, so I decided to ask the most reliable source I know- Google.

Google provided me with 7,620,000,000 results. Astounding, right? Considering there were more results than people on Earth, I decided to start by clicking through the top three results. Forbes, Huffington Post, Life Hack, all came up with extensive numbered lists, ranking what people really want in life. The number one on each of them? Happiness.

Happiness can be difficult to achieve and even harder to maintain. In fact, Time Magazine published the 2017 Harris Poll Survey of American Happiness, reveling only 33% of Americans consider themselves to be happy. Surprisingly, that was up 2% from the previous year in 2016, where only 31% of Americans considered themselves to be happy.

I was a little discouraged when I first read the study, and I started to wonder if I was in the 33% percent. What did happiness really look like? As many do, I felt as though I had checked the boxes for “happiness staples” such as friends, family, and health, but taking an introspective look to my internal happiness was a completely different story.

To gain some perspective, I read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, and I can honestly say it changed my life. Like many people, she also had all of the “happiness staples,” but felt as though something was missing. She decided to spend an entire year trying to make her life more happy and fulfilling. She devoted each month to working on something different, such as family, marriage, and friendships, and recorded her progress through charts, journals, and blogs. The result? She actually felt drastically happier. She now is the author of numerous books about happiness, and hosts a weekly podcast, Happier with Gretchen Rubin. (It’s on Spotify, definitely worth a listen!)

I decided to start my own quest to discovering my own happiness. That meant also understanding what makes me unhappy, bored, frustrated, and sad. With my own journey with finding happiness, I came up with three “Happiness Guidelines,” which helped me feel happier on a daily basis. Here are my findings:

  • Connect by Disconnecting. I read once that our phones connect us from people far away, but disconnects us with those sitting right in front of us. Social media for me was entertaining, and an excellent source of self-affirmation. I felt better about myself with every single “like” and comment I received. At the same time, it was a major source of anxiety and my #1 time waster. I hated when people scrolled through their phones in social settings, and even hated it more when I did it myself. I found once I started scrolling, it was a psychological vortex, and I was completely unaware of my surroundings. I did myself a favor, and deactivated my Facebook and deleted the Instagram app on my phone. I made an effort to leave my phone in the car when grabbing dinner with friends, and carry a book with me to waiting rooms or coffee shops. My result? I felt more connected with the world that was in front of me, and more in control of my own happiness. Prince Ed provided me an awesome perspective in just a three minute video titled, “Can We Autocorrect Humanity,”  which can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRl8EIhrQjQ
  • Just do it, now. I found if something was going to take me less than 5 minutes to do, just doing it right then resulted in delayed happiness. Simple tasks like, putting laundry away, putting dishes in the dishwasher after you use them, hanging clothes back up after deciding not to wear them, making your bed, making your lunch to take to work, etc., were not things I necessarily enjoyed doing, but I found I was happier later in the day when I did them. Also, it saved me a headache and lots of time on the weekend from playing catch-up. To make the “I don’t have time” excuse no longer valid, I timed myself to see how long it takes me to do short, mundane tasks. Unload the dishwasher? 4 minutes and 27 seconds. Make my bed? 3 minutes and 15 seconds. They took less time than I thought, which made me more likely to do it. Coming home to a clean kitchen and a made bed at the end of the day made me less stressed, and overall, happier.
  • It’s okay to say no. I love to socialize, almost as much as I love putting on sweatpants and sitting on my couch watching reruns of The Office. I rarely used to say no to a social event, with the fear of hurting someone’s feelings, or missing out on a great time. The first time I said no without an excuse, like sickness or fatigue, was liberating. I was direct and felt no guilt from being dishonest with a lame excuse. I also found it was okay to say no to things I don’t like to do, in spite of what society tells you. For example, I despise yoga. I have tried to like it, and have done many different types.  I am inflexible, and spend a majority of the time sweating and counting down the minutes for the class to be over. Instead of forcing myself to like it because it’s good for me, I tried meditating through an app on my phone, and I loved it! Just because society likes it, doesn’t mean you have to. I found out its important to discover why you don’t like certain things, such as exercise or cooking, and find an alternative.

My happiness journey is never ending and far from perfect. Regardless of where you are in life, I encourage you to find your own guidelines, and start on your journey to understanding yourself and what makes up your own happiness. “Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.”

If you have a happiness journey, questions or comments, I would love to hear from you!

 

Find your happy,

Kathleen

contact info: kathleen.west.2@us.af.mil

 

 

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I'm a 22 year old passionate about spreading positivity and building confidence. There's so much on the internet that causes us to feel insecure. So I wanted to create a safe and positive place for us to empower and encourage each other!

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