Complaints. Frustrations. Anger. Upsets. Disappointments (sheesh, I could do a whole post on disappointments!). There are many other feelings that often get in the way of me and the emotion of happiness.
But it’s just that, right? An emotion? I grew up learning that happiness is temporary and bound to external circumstances; on the other hand, joy is something internal and is a state of being. For example, “the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). I can find strength and rest when I pause, pray, praise, and meditate on my Savior and the manifold blessings, physical and spiritual, He has blessed me with; knowing these things gives me joy that cannot be changed by outward things. When life seems difficult and nothing is going right, I still have joy in what my God has done, is doing, and has promised to do in my life. My joy isn’t hindered or taken away due to changes in circumstance. But I am not happy all of the time, because it is an emotion affected by my circumstances.
Our culture seems fixated on the pursuit of happiness. And who doesn’t want to be happy? But I think sometimes happiness seems like this elusive thing that we have no control of feeling or not feeling. When I start to feel depressed or frustrated with my circumstances, it is easy for me to think that forcing myself to feel happy is just fake. ->Now, I am not saying that life should be run by our emotions… although I can easily fall into that trap of thinking! When I just look around me and selfishly look at just me and how I’m feeling, it is easy to lose sight of an eternal focus- a spiritual focus- an other’s-first focus. When I take my eyes off my Savior, I start to stumble into self-pity!
Back to the point: I think once we realize that we are not going to be happy all the time (remember, it is an emotion more than a state of being), it frees us to actually be happy and find happiness day-to-day. Because I have realized that happiness is somewhat controlled by external circumstances, I can take a look at my life and ask, “during what circumstances or events have I been happy? What circumstances and events have led to feelings of disappointment, sadness, or failure?” Once I start analyzing my life and what makes my emotion of happiness more frequent, is it possible to then adjust my weekly schedule or events so that I am maximizing my ability to feel happiness? Now we are getting somewhere!
One of my favorite bloggers (seriously, go follow her!) posted not too long ago about the top ten ways she brings happiness into her life. I was really inspired by her post and started thinking…
How can I be happy? (More often than I already am- how can I be intentional about being happy?)
What are things in my weekly – and daily- activities that make me happy?
Can I incorporate these things in a greater way?
Can I make a pretty chart to help me figure this out?
I enjoy pretty charts and I think more clearly when I can write things down. However, I think this topic of how I can be happier is big enough to talk about in at least two posts! So today I am going to share Part 1 and give you a printable to think about this with me!
How to Be Happy Part 1: set personal goals for happier living. The chart I created divides up life into four different sections because I believe life can be sectioned off a bit when discussing different goals. These sections are Spiritual Life, Personal Life, Married Life, and Physical Life.
You can download the image above or you can download the Word document ->How to Be Happy: Part 1 Printable | NewlyWeddedWurl.Wordpress.com
I have several “big picture” goals that I want to keep in mind as I look at bringing more happiness into my life. For my Spiritual Life section, my big picture goals are to be growing faithful in prayer, doing daily devotions, and becoming less anxious/easily stressed (because I know that reflects a lack of faith in God). I have taken the time to analyze this part of my life and see what actions link to me feeling happier. I know from experience that I have a thankful heart, am more aware of blessings and joy in my life, and feel more happiness when I make time for prayer and devotions and when I am not stressing myself sick. Therefore, I realize I need to incorporate these things in my life on a regular basis to get these desirable results!
In Part 2 of my How to Be Happy series, I will look at specific monthly/weekly/daily goals to help me reach my big picture goals. My Spiritual Life specific goals will look more like setting a consistent morning schedule to set aside time for prayer, having a plan for different devotional books to work through every week, and keeping a journal so I can better catch myself becoming worried or anxious and turn to prayer instead of escalating those feelings of fear! (I’ll provide a FREEBIE printable in that post too!). But I think it is important to think in long-term, big picture goals first, so we know what we are striving for- and because there are often several things we can do to better reach those big goals!
Taking the time to stop and think about happiness and the way it affects my life has been a bit of an eye-opener for me, and I have wanted to talk about it for a while! In my next post on How to Be Happy I will show what my personal goal printable looks like, talk about how I got to those conclusions, and show how I want to change my schedule to incorporate the things that make me happier!
Do you know what makes you happier? Have you ever taken the time to analyze and change things in your life to make happiness more attainable? Will this printable get you thinking about your life and schedule differently? I would love to hear about it in the comments!