“Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”—Albus Dumbledore
** Many of the ideas expressed in this article have been elaborated in our newest workbook—CHOOSING HAPPY: ADDING HAPPINESS IN YOUR LIFE.
We all have specific items in our lives that equal happiness. These “items” can include things, times, places, people, sounds, tastes, etc. They consist of one’s answers to the 5Ws of happiness—the what, when, where, who and why of happiness. These items will vary depending on the individual.
These items “spark joy” in your life. They account for little sparks of happiness, lasting sometimes only seconds. Nevertheless, they have a considerable compounded impact on your happiness levels.
When we think of adding happiness in our lives, we often think about making big changes—moving to another city, getting married, having children, etc. This is a common misconception of happiness.
Happiness, more often than not, lives in small moments. Over time, these smallest items are compounded to more happiness in our lives than we ever thought possible.
Think of some of your happiness items. These items should bring you some happiness consistently. Here are a few examples:
- the sun rising
- a picture of your family
- your childhood home
- a conversation with your best friend
- a smile from a stranger on the street
- a warm coffee prepared by a barista
- time to read your new book
- a walk out in nature.
Over the course of this article, I will discuss three metaphors you can use to cultivate more sparks of happiness in your life—happiness wells, happiness stacks and happiness hubs. I encourage you to only take what you need.
Now, a happiness well is a metaphorical space where all the happy items in your life are stored. From this well, you can draw up some pieces of happiness at any moment. The great thing about wells is that they do not dry up easily—they can provide you with a source of happiness for many, many, years.
However, happiness wells are not without their challenges. The biggest obstacles to consider with regards to wells is that you are tasked with having to manually raise water when you need it. Happiness wells are no different, to have access to your items of happiness, you must continuously choose to source up these items. This requires a very active choice on your part. You must make the choice to use time and energy to ensure that happiness is a part of your daily living.
It is also important to note that your happiness items are hidden at the bottom of your happiness well. And it is easy to forget what cannot be seen. It is essential that you find ways to remember the riches that can be found at the bottom of your happiness well.
Daily practice ideas: (1) remind yourself daily that you have a happiness well by writing yourself a note on your bathroom mirror, (2) create a list of the items that sit at the bottom of your well for easy recall, and (3) choose to bring up one happiness item daily to add happiness to your life.
The happiness items in your life can also be stacked for easier access. To stack these items, you need a list of all the items that bring happiness to your life. From there, you can choose items that can be stacked to amplify their happiness effect. For example, if dogs and volunteering both bring you happiness, volunteering at the local dog shelter could bring you a lot of happiness.
You can also use this strategy with habits that have the potential to bring you more happiness. By stacking habits that revolve around happiness, you are improving your chances of practising happiness on a daily basis.
This can include stacking a happiness habit to an already existing neutral habit such as brushing your teeth or to pre-existing happiness habits such as taking an evening stroll in a park. Here is an example of happiness habit stacking: when you brush your teeth (existing habits), you play the happiness song you know (new happiness habit).
Daily practice ideas: (1) choose a small happiness habit that you can easily stack to your morning or evening routine, (2) keep a notebook to track your stacked happiness habits to stay on track, and (3) create a running list of happiness items to see which items could best be stacked.
Another way to add happiness in your life is by building happiness hubs. These hubs are groups of items that hold similarities and which can be grouped together. Here is an example of a happiness hub. You could plan a get-together for all the people in your life that make you happy.
The key is to put make your happiness hubs as accessible as possible. Happiness hubs can live in your house, in your community, where you work and in your mind. For example, you could regroup the books, movies, games and music that bring you happiness on a shelf in your living room for you to see every day.
By making happiness hubs visible and accessible, you are increasing your chances of accessing them to boost your happiness.
Daily practice ideas: (1) write words and quotes that make you happy on your mirror or fridge, (2) make the phone numbers people in your life that make you happy favourites in your phone, and (3) dedicate a visible shelf in your house to store happiness items.
At the end of the day, adding more happiness to your life is about creating better habits for yourself.
Happiness Related Resources:
ACTION FOR HAPPINESS: https://www.actionforhappiness.org/
HAPPINESS RESEARCH INSTITUTE: https://www.happinessresearchinstitute.com/
HAPPINESS REPORTS: https://worldhappiness.report/