By now you should have a month’s worth of happy things written down and have been reviewing them regularly. It is time to analyze the data.
Look at the full month’s entries and see if you can spot patterns. Find the who, what, when, and where, how and why about the thing that makes you happy.
- Who – Your family, friends or pet? Children, teens or adults? Male or female? Maybe you are happiest alone.
- What – what activities make you happy?
- When – in the morning, in the evening, on weekends, after work, before work
- Where – inside, outside, at home, away from home, in a new place, in a place you visit regularly, in the city, in the country.
- How – alone, with others, quietly, loudly, slowly, quickly, planned, spontaneous
Now for the hard part – the Why
Why – What about that activity improves your mood? What benefit do you get? What are your motives? Are they healthy or destructive? Are there any downsides to these things? Do they harm other people? This is the time to be brutally honest with yourself. If you find your motives are not healthy, work on your list for another month. Don’t beat yourself up – awareness is a great gift and seek help if you need it.
For example: Shopping used to make me “happy”. Or I thought it did but in truth it wasn’t true contentment. Buying a new pair of shoes or blouse was a momentary pleasure not lasting peace. My motive was impressing other people. In fact, the financial consequences far outweighed whatever fleeting joy I got out of it. I worked hard to examine every purchase based on why I wanted it. Now my favorite kind of shopping is grocery shopping because I am buying things that nourishes my family physically. That is a way I show my love for them – good, healthy, home-cooked meals.
Write out a few sentences filling in the who, what, when, where and how for the activities that show up the most or you enjoyed the most.
Here are a few of mine –
Going to my gym and working out while listening to music and/or reading my Kindle after a long day’s work because it helps me release the tensions of the day, gives me feeling of accomplishment and I am doing something good for my physical and emotional well-being. That makes me a better partner and role-model to my children.
Taking day trips on the motorcycle with my boyfriend on weekends, taking my camera along, to visit a new place, try a new restaurant and interact with new people because I have learned that everyone has something to offer.
Spending time with J because she is such a warm, caring, sharing person who I admire greatly and who adds so much to my perspective on life due to her different culture and background. She helps me grow.
The next step is to actively incorporate of these things in your life as possible – not in whole necessarily but in parts. For example –
- Schedule gym days and/or exercise into my week making it a top priority.
- Rather than going to the same old restaurant, try a new place next time.
- Talk to people that I encounter every day rather than just on special trips and listen to what they have to offer.
- Be more intentional with my friendship with J – take more initiative to plan time with her and find ways to help her like she helps me.
- Print and frame my photographs to fill my office with memories of the places I visited.
Now that you are aware of what makes you happy, contented and balanced – you will now focus on reinforcing these things for the next month before moving on to Step Three – and yes, keep recording at least One Little Thing each day.