I know, I know, a lot of us are getting very tired of thinking about and being asked whether we are happy. But hang with me for a minute and examine, I mean really examine, whether you are happy. Or said better, what your level of happiness is.
By happiness, I don’t mean giddy, laughing all the time, party like a rock-star feelings. I mean a deep, warm contentment with the major aspects of your life. Where are you with that?
Now before you jump in to determine your level of happiness, I invite you to put aside any judgments about what you find. This is not about what your level should be now – the shoulds in life do no good for anyone. This is about taking an honest look at where you are, which allows you to make informed decisions about how to shape your future in ways that improve your happiness. With that in mind, here we go…
Rating your happiness
Start by listing the major aspects of your life. For me, they are: health (physical and mental), friendships, romantic relationship, family, financial, intellectual/creative, professional, spiritual, physical environment (home, neighborhood, office), and leisure. For you, the groups might be different.
For each of the aspects you listed, rate your level of happiness on a scale of 1, almost none, to 10, deep, warm contentment.
If you’re in the 8 to 10 range on all the major aspects of your life, excellent! You can stop reading now. If you’re less than that in one or more aspects, read on!
Raising your happiness
Look at all the categories you rated below 8. Pick the one you would most like to address now and create a Happiness Action Plan (HAP). Don’t worry, a HAP is simple to create. It is just your answer to the question: What do I need to change to raise my happiness level just one number higher?
Let me digress here and address the question many of you might be asking - why am I not asking you to think about what it would take to get to 10? The answer is simple, change is not easy. If you’ve ever tried to lose a lot of weight, stop biting your nails, or quit smoking, you know this already. There is nothing more energy depleting than setting a goal that is beyond your reach. On the other hand, setting a reasonable goal is motivating and increases the likelihood of success. So, the rule here is start small and hold close the idea that any increase in happiness is progress forward.
Okay, with that out of the way, let’s get back to your happiness level. Be as specific as possible in your HAP, but remember, it doesn’t have to be elaborate. You’re just moving one level up, so keep your goals simple.
For example, several years ago when I did this exercise, I rated my friendships a 6. I had great friends, but felt disconnected at times because our busy lives made it difficult to socialize regularly. To raise my 6 to a 7, my partner and I decided to host monthly pizza nights where we invite a rotating array of friends. Although a simple plan, it did raise my happiness level and motivated me to incorporate other regular social events.
Now that you have a HAP, I challenge you to start implementing it TODAY! The only way you can make change happen is to plan for it and prioritize your plan. I’m not asking you to implement your entire HAP today, just do one thing now to move you forward. For me, that was making a list of people I would like to invite to pizza night. After today, continue to make daily progress on your HAP with the plan of having it completed in four weeks or less.
Whatever your HAP, I wish you all the best in bringing it to fruition. If you’re stuck about how to do so, seek feedback from friends or consider hiring a life coach to guide you in the process.
In peace and solidarity,