Read on from DLM:
Posted: 12 Jul 2011 03:09 PM PDT
How happy are you?
Happiness is becoming a huge area in psychological research and even in government policy, with the UK government exploring a “happiness index”. It’s tough, though, to define exactly what happiness is, and what makes us happy.
There are two broad ways of looking at happiness, though: short-term happiness (a great cookie, a bottle of wine) and long-term happiness (financial security, achieving your goals).
Both types of happiness are valid, and important. The problem is, they’re often in competition.
Let’s say you’ve got a goal of losing 50lbs this year. You know you’d be happier and healthier if you weren’t carrying that extra weight. To achieve long-term happiness, you need to go on a diet.
In the short-term, though, it’s not that easy. A slab of chocolate cake, or a large glass of wine, might seem like just the thing to cheer you up at the end of a long day – or to celebrate with friends.
It’s the same with lots of other goals. Perhaps you want to save up money for a fantastic holiday abroad in five years time – but in the short term, that means cutting back on eating out and buying new DVDs.
Or maybe you’re trying to get qualified for a new career – something that would make you much happier in the future, but that requires a lot of hard work right now.
Looking to the Long-Term
Most of us find it much easier to see immediate rewards – and consequences – than ones which are years away.
If you want to achieve your goals over months or years, try:
- Creating a vision board or another visual reminder of your goals, so that they’re constantly in front of you
- Breaking your dream into smaller steps, so that you’ve got something more immediate to focus on
- Writing down your reasons for pursuing this goal, so you can go back to your list whenever your motivation flags
Don’t pin all your hopes of happiness on some far-off future, though. There’s no point working a 60 hour week and making yourself thoroughly miserable in the belief that things will be perfect as soon as you’re making a six figure salary.
Life is for Living – Right Now
If you’ve got a tendency to prioritize long-term happiness at the expense of day-to-day pleasures, then start looking for some small ways to bring a little joy back into your life.
I’m not suggesting that you go out and get drunk every night, or that you stuff yourself with cake or go on a spending spree. There are plenty of other ways to enjoy yourself.
- Setting a budget for discretionary spending, so that you can buy magazines, computer games, books or whatever it is you enjoy
- Looking for forms of exercises that you find fun – exercise boosts your mood right now, but also improves your health over weeks, months and years
- Giving yourself time each day for leisure activities. (And I know TV gets a bad rap, but I personally think there’s nothing wrong with watching your favorite show once in a while.)
How happy are you? Do you need more long-term or short-term happiness in your life? Feel free to share your thoughts and ideas in the comments.
|Written on 7/12/2011 by Ali Luke. Ali writes a blog, Aliventures, about leading a productive and purposeful life (get the RSS feed here). As well as blogging, she writes fiction, and is studying for an MA in Creative Writing.||Photo Credit: shawnzrossi|