My current plan to move my happiness set-point higher is threefold:
1. Reduce the amount of time I spend doing things I don’t enjoy.
2. Increase the time I spend doing things I really enjoy.
3. Learn to find more enjoyment in the things I have to do.
If this sounds obvious, well, so’s your face. Sometimes the most profound epiphanies are common sense you haven’t yet applied.
I would have thought the third would be hardest, but I’m finding it possible to stay present and positive for long stretches at a time even while shopping with 4 year-olds. I’m up to like 20 minutes.
I find it’s actually the first prong which takes the most discipline because I have to divert time/energy/funds from things I crave but don’t actually derive joy from toward eliminating some of the drugery in my life. Lots of guilty pleasures aren’t even that pleasurable and have to be sacrificed even though they require so much less effort than really satisfying activities.
In any case, I’m making headway on all of the above, and I definitely have more positive feelings as well as higher life satisfaction. It’s going well!
Here’s a little info on prong 2 that you may not have consciously recognized. We all love engaging in our hobbies, but studies have shown that exercising a personal strength is even more powerful at boosting happiness that doing favorite hobbies. So what are my personal strengths? I took this survey at Via to find out what my top character strengths might be. I saw some very obvious flaws in the questions, and you might be annoyed by those, but even taking the test itself was an illuminating experience as I was forced to evaluate how important I thought each character trait was as well as honestly take stock of how well I embodied those traits I care about.
I’ll let you know which character traits my results listed as my top two core strengths.
Love: valuing close relations with others, in particular those in which sharing & caring are reciprocated; being close to people.
Appreciation of Beauty & Excellence: noticing and appreciating beauty, excellence, and/or skilled performance in various domains of life, from nature to art to mathematics to science to everyday experience.
I tend to think these surveys are stupid, but it’s like this one has known me all my life. And so I’m looking for more opportunities to appreciate beauty and excellence and to love and be close to people. Hard to think of anything I’d rather do.
By the way, here’s another creature name of Peppers who lives to Love.