There is no one way to ensure happiness. Some people seem to have everything and still can’t find joy, while others have virtually nothing and can’t stop smiling. In some ways, we aren’t in control of our mood, and as humans, our mood is very volatile. Happiness is a temporary feeling, while joy is a state of being. It seems to me, that the people who are always joyful are those that have mastered the practice of gratitude. I have discussed the significance of gratitude in previous posts. Now, I have started a new journal practice that I feel has helped me find gratitude in my daily life while also boosting my mood and challenging my mind. Today, I decided to share this practice with you. It’s not necessary to write it out, you can just think about it, or adjust it to fit your needs. I practice this journal activity (almost) every night before I go to bed. It only takes a few minutes, and it really leaves me feeling fulfilled as I drift off to sleep.
Here are the questions to ask yourself everyday in order to boost your happiness:
- WHAT BROUGHT ME JOY TODAY?
This question is clearly focused around gratitude. But, instead of asking “What am I grateful for?”, it anchors the question back to joy. When I think of gratitude, I almost feel as if I have to list the same “big picture” items: my family, food on the table, a roof over my head. And, while no doubt I am extremely grateful for these things, after a while writing the same items makes them lose meaning. Instead asking “what brought me joy today?” lets you focus on the small happenings of your day that made you happy. Even if you feel like your overall day wasn’t “joyful”, this question shows you that there is always at least one thing, big or small, that brought you joy.
2. WHAT AM I LOOKING FORWARD TO TOMORROW?
Just as it is crucial to reflect on today, it is equally vital to look to tomorrow. Everyday is a new opportunity to do something fun, or to make a new memory. If we neglect to establish things to look forward to in the future, each day runs together and nothing seems fresh or exciting. For this reason, every night, ask myself “What am I looking forward to tomorrow?” Usually, it lets you shift your mindset, giving you closure to the ending day and perspective on the new one. No matter how boring the next day seems, there will repeatedly be some event that evokes a joyful response. Again, no matter the magnitude, think of what makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning. Somehow, you’ll find that it just takes a small mindset change to take your focus from what you’re dreading about your day, to what you are looking forward to.
3. WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO TOMORROW?
The way this question is worded may seem to completely go against the whole “mindset change” you did with the last question. However, the reason I believe it is fitting to add to the list, is because it keeps you focused. Most of the time, regardless of how present I try to be, there is a whirlwind of “to-dos” running around my brain. Even if I really have nothing to do the next day, I find myself stressing to plan out how I should productively spend my free time. It can be a little exhausting. By honing in on one thing you may need to do the next day, it makes a laundry list of tasks a little less daunting. You should pick the largest task on your list and write it down. Finally then, you can wake up knowing as long as you get that item checked off, you have accomplished something. Now, if you don’t have a mind that works like mine, it is likely you have the type of brain that likes to avoid your to-do list. Maybe, your brain is contemplating other things as to disengage from reality. Asking yourself what you have to do the next day is helpful so that you can ensure that obligations don’t pile up.
4. HOW CAN I CHALLENGE MYSELF TOMORROW?
Everyone is fighting some sort of battle, always trying to better themselves. Humans are wired to be competitive, to show that they can overcome challenges. This is the reason I like to ask “How can I challenge myself tomorrow”. Let’s say that you struggle with procrastination, your challenge could be: “study for half an hour, uninterrupted”. Maybe you don’t get enough sleep, your challenge could be: “get to bed by 11pm”. Or, it could even be something deeper. Whatever you are challenging yourself with, writing down a goal and calling it a “challenge”, kicks your brain into “winner” mode. You can crush this challenge. And, if you don’t, just write the same thing down tomorrow (until you finally get it)…repetition is the key to success.
All in all, everyone finds joy through different things in life. To me, it’s especially helpful to contemplate these things, looking at the past and the future. Hopefully, this little exercise allows you to realize how much good is in your life, and keeps you focused on your goals. Please let know if this helps you, and keep in mind that happiness is simply a mindset…the ball is in your court.
“Happiness is a mindset for your journey, not the result of your destination.” -Shawn Achor
HAPPY Living 😉