What Makes You Happy?

This is the last post for 2015, and a good way to start the new year! See you on the flipside!

If you’ve reached a point in your life, where you feel like you are “stuck”, and not making progress, you might need to take a step back, and reevaluate your life; figure out what makes you happy. Sometimes people are lacking the experience, self-awareness, or access to the professionals, that can help “fix” their lives. There are a few things that you can try to do, in order to pull yourself out of your current situation.

Note: I recommend that you complete the next section with pen and paper, not on the computer. When I write things down with pen and paper, I seem to get more out of it, than I do when I simply type something into a word processor. It might work that way for you as well. Writing is a little more personal, and it uses different parts of the brain.

In order to find out what makes you happy, you’ll need to start by figuring out what you are passionate about. There are a few things that you can write down, which might help get you back on the right track:

  • Figure out what your purpose is in life. If you’re not where you want to be, you can also write down any factors that led you to arrive in your current situation. Think back to when things were different (better).
  • Create a list of approximately 10 things, or activities, that make you happy. If you’re not happy in your current life situation, this might not be easy. Take some time, and really think about the answers.
  • List a few things that you like about yourself. Again, force yourself to come up with about 6 items, even if you have trouble.
  • Write down 4 (positive) words that your friends, family, or coworkers, would use to describe you. If you need help, ask them!
  • Figure out what your ultimate goal is in life. You need to have some place to put your focus. It might be graduating from college, buying a house, obtaining a stable job, etc…

This list will give you a few positive notes about yourself, and, also, help you track down things that are wrong in your life, and goals that you would like to achieve. It’s not perfect, but it will give you a place to start. You can add additional bullet points as you see fit. The purpose is to discover a few things about yourself that you might have missed, or forgotten.

Looking Back

Once you’ve completed the above tasks, and you have an idea of what your passions are, you’ll need to think about your past, and try to figure out what caused you to derail. Why did you lose sight of those passions?

There could have been many issues. Maybe you just lost sight of your goals. You might have started a relationship, which caused you to lose focus. Maybe those goals didn’t fall in line with the goals that your family, or peers, had in mind for you.

Whatever it is, it’s important that you fully understand what happened, so that you can move your focus back to where it needs to be.

Moving Forward

Once you have all this information, you’ll need to find a way to put your passions back into your life. You need to make time to meet both your short- and long-term goals. It can help to imagine what your life will be like, once you’ve achieved your goals.

If your goal was to buy a house, how might your life be different, when you’re living in that house? If your goal was to graduate from college, how might that change your life? It’s important to really focus, and picture yourself in these situations. Once you do that, your goals can become more than dreams.

Another important part of moving forward, is the ability to live in the present. If you’re constantly thinking about your past failures, you’ll become discouraged, and you won’t be able to move forward, or make any progress.

Grounding Yourself

You also need to stop frequently throughout the day, and ground yourself. You need to place yourself in the present, and listen to your senses. In order to do this, you can use the 4, 3, 2, 1 method. This method works by forcing you to use your senses. It forces you to stay in the present. You want to find 4 things that you can see, 3 things that you can touch, 2 things that you can hear, and 1 thing that you can smell.

Step 1: Sit some place where you can relax, and focus.

Step 2: Find 4 things that you can see. You want to find them one at a time, and focus on each item for about 30 seconds. What is it? What does it look like? What color is it? Describe any textures, etc…

Step 3: Find 3 things that you can touch, without moving from your current location, then, physically touch each of them, one at a time. Touch them for 20 seconds each. What is it? What does it feel like? What textures does it have? Etc…

Step 4: Find 2 things that you can hear. For this step, don’t pick the obvious. Ignore things like people talking, or moving around. Ignore animals, or birds singing. Close your eyes, and try to pick out a sound that isn’t obvious. When you hear it, describe it to yourself. What is it? Where is it coming from? What does it sound like? Etc… Sit and listen to the sound for a while, and focus on it, until you feel grounded within your environment.

Step 5: Find something that you can smell. This will more than likely be the hardest step. You’ll notice that each step gets slightly harder. Again, don’t pick something obvious. If you’re sitting in a restaurant, don’t use pizza, or any food, that they are cooking. Focus on the environment, and find a smell that doesn’t stand out. This might take some time. Once you have a smell, identify it, and try to figure out where it’s coming from. Try to focus on the smell.

The point of these activities, is to help yourself stay in the present. Sometimes we get so caught up in our day, and in our life, that we are just running on autopilot. It’s important that you stop and ground yourself in your environment. This will not only help you stay focused, and meet your short-term goals, but it can also help alleviate stress and anxiety.

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