When are you happiest?
I am happy on a midwinter Sunday afternoon with the thought of a whole day of no commitments stretching out in front of me. It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does I put on sweats, grab a book or magazine, and curl up on the couch under a blanket. It’s such a luxury!
I am happy on a warm summer day when I have a few minutes to pull a lawn chair out into the middle of my yard and lay there, eyes closed, soaking up the sun. (Yes, I know…skin cancer, but nothing feels as good as the sun shining down on you!)
Happy moments also come at a dinner with good friends, family parties, snuggling around a campfire with my kids, listening to what comes out of my 4 year old’s mouth, and racing in triathlons.
But…I am happiest when I am hiking. When I am 90% of the way up a steep mountain, sweating and panting and exhausted; then I am happiest. The reward of the summit is just ahead but for now I am working hard, waiting and hoping that I will be able to complete what I have started. There is a certain excitement and joy in that.
I know that sounds crazy for those to be my happiest times; but it is in those moments I am completely present. In those moments I am most myself.
I am alive!
And, it’s the moments that we feel most ALIVE in that often make us the happiest. I know that we have a strong desire for comfort (see my first two examples!) but there is a special joy in accomplishment. There is nothing like the knowledge that you accomplished something difficult, something unique or special, something new.
Our lives so easily slip into the mundane.
Days slip by in a blurred chaos filled with jobs and school and errands and emails. Head down, we push forward, always running, just to complete a day and crash into bed exhausted at night. We wake up the next morning barely remembering the day before; not that it matters because there’s no time for reminiscence anyway. It’s time to be off and running again…
So, how do you fight the constant pull to move forward from one task to another? How do you get more out of life? How do you feel alive?
Find what activity truly makes you happiest. If watching your favorite TV show is what you have come up with, go back to the drawing board. You will be surprised how great you feel by accomplishing something (I once watched a Saved by the Bell marathon, but that’s not the type of accomplishment I mean!). It’s not easy, or very relaxing, but it’s real. It’s what you will always remember.
Create, learn, experience, or challenge.
Now, share with others. Help others. This, sharing our joy in life with another person, brings the most happiness.
It is in these activities, this sharing, that life stops feeling mundane and you feel alive!
Again, when are you happiest? Now, find a way to create that moment and then share it.