How to experience more happiness each day

How to experience more happiness each day, even in a biased patriarchal world.

One night my then 9 yr old came to the dinner table with a task for homework.

He had been asked to start a conversation about life mottos and to find out if anyone in his family had one.   Yes, in grade 4 he was being asked to consider how he wanted to live life and what his guiding motto might be, a big ask for someone who was just hoping he’d get the next lego edition for Christmas.  

This notion of a life motto made for an interesting conversation nonetheless.  While I pondered my answer, wanting to hone and craft it so it would be impactful, my eldest said quite matter of factly, 

“Eat your veggies first.”

I looked at him and asked him to expand a little further.

He said that he had worked out that his favourite part of the meal was the meat, and that to be able to really enjoy it, he would eat his least favourite part quickly and first, then he could savour (my word not his) the rest of the yumminess.

Then he joined the dots for us.

He said “It’s the same with my school work, I just get it done so there is more time for play.”

Boom, right there.  He, at 11, had worked out for him what was enjoyable and worth diving into and savouring and what just needed to be achieved so he could do that.

He had discovered an access path to happiness and joy that eludes many adults.  He worked out what he loved, what he didn’t love quite as much and how to get to the loved stuff more often.

This zest or passion for life is about intentionally leaning into the bits that feel awesome.  It’s not gender determined or bound by age, it’s a way of being.  

What I love about this is that it keeps us looking for the moments that light us up in our day.  It means we have to be present or else those ooportunities can pass us by.

There is also an amount of internal belief that “things work out well for me,”  that helps this type of experience. It’s easier to be passionate and zestful when we live in optimism and hope.  The half full cup is a great launching place to begin each day.

If we tend to sit with a half empty cup and perceive that life is tough and hard and something to be struggled with then the notion of leaning into things that light you up and make you feel amazing can be a stretch.  Considering you could potentially do this many times an hour could blow your mind, but it’s possible.

It requires us to

  1. be open to the possibility, 
  2. being present to notice the opportunities 
  3. know what lights us up.

Let’s flesh these out a bit.

Being Open To The Possibility

Our brain is keen to see us alive at the end of the day.  We have inbuilt systems that help us sense danger so our natural tendency is towards the negative.  It’s what’s kept us alive all these years, made us wary and cautious. We tend to believe if something is too good to be true, then it usually isn’t, and that disaster could happen at any minute so we need to be prepared.

It’s tricky to override this pre-programming, but it’s possible to turn down the caution meter a touch, so we can be open to the awesomeness that is out there.

If you find you tend to be swayed by the negative, and life at times seems to have the cup half empty then here is a great question to ask yourself when you notice that type of thinking,

“Is this thought helpful or useful right now”?

This question can help bring us back to what we are wanting to create.  It can help us be open to the possibility of enjoying life and experiencing more of the “meat” moments, as my son’s motto would have you do.

Being Present to Notice the Opportunities

To know what are “veggies” and what is the “meat” takes the ability to be present, for this type of living is not about going through the motions, it’s about being intentional with your energy and time.

(Quick note, I expect vegos and vegans to swap in their own food stuffs here, but this did come from an 11 year old boy.)

So how do we become present so we can take notice, especially when life has been constructed in a way to keep us in the realm of busy?  With women doing vastly greater amounts of home and children duties than their male counterparts, all of us needing a wife just to take care of the life admin and still be kick arse in our business or all encompassing job, how do we become present?

I hear you.

The simplest thing is to remember to breathe.  Begin there.

Presence is a learnt and practiced skill.

It begins with breathing and just taking in where you are and who is around you and what is about to catch on fire…only joking.

There is cool stuff on offer when we can see it, and breathing is the first step to it.

Know What Lights You Up

This is other than a glass of red, your slippers and a good netflix series.  I’m being flippant, these things are great but so often we use them as a distraction rather than a joy finder.

If we go back to the 11 year olds analogy, I wonder if you know your “meat”?
What’s your yumminess?

The thing you will happily scoff down your veggies for…the thing that makes your day or lights you up?

If you are reading this thinking, “this is my problem, because I just don’t know” – it’s ok. You are in the vast majority.  Not everyone knows what lights them up and it changes over time.  Sometimes the things that used to rock our world no longer have the same edge we once loved.  And that’s ok too.

Why not spend some time exploring and being open to what might show up?  Knowing your meat and veggies can lead you to a happier life.

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