Let’s imagine a super luxurious spa day. Picture it: cucumber water. Fluffy robes. Enya.
Now, imagine exiting the spa and driving directly to a tax appointment, to be followed by dinner with your passive aggressive cousin.
But CLEARLY you wouldn’t do that, right? No sane human would ‘undo’ six hours of happiness and self-care like that, would they?
My dudes, we all do this ish all the time. We check email while we’re on vacation. We make mental to-do lists while friends tell hilarious stories. We start doing the dishes in the middle of the party we looked forward to hosting <- real thing I do because I’m Super Fun.
This is so, so self-defeating and joy-sabotaging. In the pie chart of our lives, joy is a pretty small slice.
Much of our lives consist of boring, responsible, logistical things. The shining moments of joy – a great conversation, a long-awaited holiday, amazing food – are the minority. And yet! So many of us crowd those few happy moments with stuffed schedules and mental to-do lists.Give the happy-making things in your life some breathing room. Click To Tweet
In fact, studies show that a significant amount of happiness comes from anticipating something we enjoy and a significant amount comes from recalling it. We’re literally sucking joy out of our lives by cramming our schedules and minds so full.
We deserve better than that. Our lives and minds and relationships deserve better than that. And it’s not hard to do better!
5 ways to stop crowding out your happiness
1. Keep your schedule open before and after something that’s happy-making
If it’s possible, don’t cram things in before and after your happiness-inducing stuff. It’s hard to get excited about your dance class if you’re heading there right after work and then taking a conference call immediately afterward. It’s hard to get into Vacation Mode if you’re working on spreadsheets at the airport.
Give your happiness some space to breathe, dude. Even if it’s just thirty minutes to calm down and transition out of Work Mode, your happiness deserves your attention and time.
2. Really, actually pay attention to your happy-making experiences
As someone blessed with a Type A personality and constant mental chatter, I have to make an active decision to get out of my head and into my life. My two favorite (somewhat woo-woo) ways to do this:
- In a moment of joy, I say to myself “Be happy in this moment. This moment is your life.” Yes, I know it’s cheesier than a pile of cheddar BUT IT WORKS.
- I walk myself through my senses. “I’m smell coffee, fresh brownies, the perfume of the woman sitting next to me. I hear the local country radio station and the chit chat of the coffee shop staff. I feel the hard oak seat of this repurposed church pew.I taste the bag of black jelly beans I impulse purchased at the cash register. I see overcast skies, an ice cream parlor, teenagers running through the drizzle, tucked inside their hoodies.”
3. Spend some time ‘researching’ your happy-making thing
Even if you’re not really a ‘planner’ and you’re pretty sure you know everything about your happy-making thing, give yourself over to a bit of just-for-fun ‘research.’
Check out out your travel destination on TripAdvisor, Atlas Obscura, and Roadtrippers. Search related hashtags on Instagram. Read a novel or watch a movie related to the band you’re seeing, the city you’re visiting, or the mountain range you’re hiking.
Later this month, Kenny and I are spending a long weekend in Decorah, Iowa and I’m stretching out that happiness by reading The Bridges Of Madison County and The Thunderbolt Kid. When we devote more brain space to our happy-making thing we can squeeze more happiness out of it.
4. Find a way to share/recall things that recently made you happy
On the way back from your trip, work on a list of 100 memories together. When you’re catching up with friends, share the highlights of your happy-making endeavors. Take photos or videos of the concert/party/game night/vacation. Grab a business card from the amazing cafe and put it on the fridge.
You get the idea! Create a breadcrumb trail of memories and mementos that lead you back to happy things.
5. Notice the specific way you’re crowding out your happiness
My vices are a) planning a future trip while currently on a trip b) cleaning up the party while my friends are still there.
Maybe you’re someone who checks email while you’re on vacation. Maybe you over schedule yourself or picks fights during situations that should be relaxing. We all have different ways of crowding out happiness, but if we notice what we’re doing, we can change our behavior.
You can remove email from your phone. You can tell your partner “I really want to relax this weekend. If I start to talk about work, will you change the subject?”
Give your happiness the attention it deserves. Stop crowding it out of your mind and calendar. Click To Tweet
But I want to hear from you! Do you have any happiness-crowding habits? How do you extend your happiness?
P.S. 10 ways to keep that vacation feeling in your everyday life + How to figure out what makes you happy so you can add more of it to your daily life
P.P.S. Did you know I have a (free) private Facebook group dedicated solely to the topics of money and happiness? And the stuff we talk about has helped members change jobs, save thousands of dollars, and fight less with their partners? Join us!