While we each may vary (to some degree) on the specific things that make us happy, we mostly agree that happiness is what we want most out of life. Happiness can be characterized as positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.
When I asked my friends what made them happy, they responded overwhelmingly with “time spent with love ones,” as well as achievements, and moments of pure pleasure. Their comments were in line with the findings of psychologist Martin Seligman, who is one of those credited with the Positive Psychology movement.
Seligman uses the acronym PERMA to summarize the elements that seem to create happiness in humans:
- Pleasure (tasty foods, warm baths, sun on your shoulders, etc.)
- Engagement (or flow, the absorption of an enjoyed yet challenging activity, using talent strengths)
- Relationships (social ties have turned out to be extremely reliable indicator of happiness),
- Meaning (a perceived quest or belonging to something bigger), and
- Accomplishments (having realized tangible goals).
Research also indicates that 40% of my happiness is within my own control. So I got to thinking…what if I made a list of those things that make me happiest. Here is what I came up with:
- Morning Practice- time spent grounding and centering before I start the day. For me this might include reading something inspirational, looking at my goals and intentions, listening to music, prayer and/or meditation.
- Hanging out with family and friends.
- Feeling connected through shared experiences.
- Cooking healthy foods that taste great.
- The feeling I have right after I exercise.
- Being in service or making a difference for someone else.
- Crawling into my very own bed…early!
- The warmth and glow of fire: Camp fire, fireplace, lighting candles.
- A clean and organized home or work area.
- Cuddling with my dog.
- Experiencing something new.
- Being in nature: watching snow fall, listening to the birds, appreciating the deep blue Colorado sky.
Try writing down an initial list…I feel happier just thinking about it.