"Sustainable Happiness? Six Ways to Get There." I agreed with most, some so-so, but when I reached "Make Your Own Happy List," I perked up.
At first it seems simple. List all the things, people and places that make you happy. It's a worthy exercise, making you focus on what makes the world spin better for you. Nice to know. Nice goal to have - being happy. But it goes further, and of course I saw this as a writing lesson.
1. Make a list of what makes you happy about life. People, places, things, hobbies, actions, holidays...you name it.
2. Make a list of what makes you happiest about writing. Being alone, obtaining a byline, money, a book on a shelf, the freedom of expression...you name it.
3. Mark next to each item how long it's been since you engaged in that expression of happiness.
4. Study each item in terms of sustainable happiness. Which items keep you happy? Make others happy? Aid the world? Also, which items don't make you happy, or are detrimental to others?
Sustainable happiness means actions that reverberate into the world, making it better. Some of what you do has no impact on others, and you'll notice those as you try to stretch the definition of happy to fit them. You'll also find yourself at times playing martyr, where depleting yourself is for the betterment of others. Be careful of that, because when exercising something on the list means there's less of you, it's never good.
Look at the items on your Happy List that rank the highest. If they don't create chaos or hurt others, then you've found a solid sustainable happy item. Plan for it. Keep it foremost in your daily ritual.
There's something about being happy that makes success happen. Either that or we're too busy being happy that success doesn't feel quite so urgent.