Why are you putting off happiness?

Are you putting off happiness? It's incredibly common! Click through for 5 happiness tips that will make it easier to do more of what you love?

It’s a rainy Tuesday night and I’ve successfully convinced my friend that grocery shopping counts as a “friend date” and we’re poking through the aisles of Super Target.

I’m weirdly excited to grocery shop with said friend because she always brings the best, most impressive dishes to parties. MAYBE SHE’LL BE THE ONE WHO FINALLY HELPS ME FIGURE OUT CHEESE FONDUE.

We turn down the tv dinner aisle and my friend – my loves-to-cook, Julia-Child-esque friend – shovels 654 Lean Cuisines into her cart. “It seems ridiculous make a real meal when it’s just me, you know?” she shrugs.

I nod but I don’t really get it. Is she saying that she doesn’t deserve the same sort of lovely meals she makes and shares with her friends?

Later, on my drive home, I think of all the places I’ve heard something like this before.

I think of the friend who moved to a new city for a one-year academic program. She isn’t bothering to make friends because she “isn’t going to be around that long.”

Another friend signed a six-month lease while she house hunts. She’s usually very stylish and decor-conscious, but she’s living out of boxes. Her framed art is still on the floor because she’s “just going to move soon.”

We can all see the common denominator here, right? Putting off or avoiding happy-making, life-improving things because they’re an inconvenience?

Friends, a bit of real talk:
There is no ‘perfect time’ to do things that make you happy or improve your life. Click To Tweet
If we want to find them, there will always be excuses for why we don’t need to treat ourselves with the same thought and consideration that we treat others. And honestly? SOMETIMES HAPPINESS IS A TOTAL HASSLE.

Making friends in a new city is vulnerable and weird (here’s how to make friends as an adult). Cooking An Actual Meal is a lot harder than heating up a Lean Cuisine. Making your living space lovely requires time and thought.

It’s so much easier to convince ourselves that we’re too busy or we don’t really care. It’s easier to convince ourselves that the inconvenient, happy-making thing won’t really make that much of a difference.

I’m here to tell you
a) that’s rubbish
b) it’s possible to make happiness easier
c) you deserve to feel happy now, not some imaginary time in the future when the stars align

5 ways to stop putting off happiness + make it easier

Be honest with yourself

Sometimes happiness is a hassle. Sometimes we’re using inconvenience as an excuse to protect ourselves.

Admitting what we want + what makes us happy is a little terrifying. It is so much easier to tell ourselves that we’re too busy to date, take that trip, or get a pet.

It is also terrifiyng to admit why we’re putting off these things. We’re afraid of romantic rejection. We’re not sure how to plan a multi-week, multi-country trip. We’ve never owned a dog before and they seem like a lot of work??

All those fears are totally legitimate! Dating, traveling, and pet ownership are all a little overwhelming! They’re also (usually) worth it.

It’s okay to be nervous or unsure. You can feel that way and still take action.

Define the world’s tiniest step you could take towards happiness

My usually-domestic-but-currently-Lean-Cuisine-eating friend could make one recipe each week or just put her Lean Cuisine on a plate and placemat.

My doesn’t-know-anyone-in-her-new-city buddy could friend a few people from her course on Facebook.

My friend who loves nice spaces but is living out of boxes could just pick up some 3M Command hooks next time she’s at Target.

Sometimes the things that make us happy are big, time-consuming endevors. It’s hard to wrap our arms around them or know where to start. Don’t overcomplicate it! Taking one tiny step is better than taking zero big steps!

Figure out how much time you spend faffing around on your phone

“What does phone use have to do with putting off happiness, Sarah? That’s quite the leap of reasoning.”

Reader, I hear you. But here’s the thing: most of us are putting off happiness because we’re “too busy” and “we don’t have time” and “those Saved By The Bell re-runs aren’t going to watch themselves.”

May I kindly suggest downloading the Moment app for your iphone or the Quality Time app for your android? And then prepare to be horrified?

Both of these apps track phone use and I’m willing to bet a week’s worth of carbohydrates we’re all spending more than 30 minutes a day on our phones.

I’m also willing to bet we could all spend those 30 minutes in ways that make us happier or bring us closer to the lives we want.

Related: ‘Better’ probably takes less time than you think

Actually schedule this ish into your calendar

Now that we’ve identified some tiny steps we can take towards our happiness and rescued some time from our phones, let’s put those happy-making things on our calendars.

Deeply Type-A? Yes. Wildly effective? ALSO YES.

If reading Y.A. makes you happy, but you never seem to have the time, block off one evening each week. When someone tries to invite you to dinner, tell them you have a sexy date with your couch and Harry Potter.

If you know an organized closet would make you happy, block off a Saturday, invite a friend over, and make it happen.

We put haircuts, coffee dates, and oil changes in our calendars. Your happiness is at least as important as a haircut, right?

While you’re doing this hassle-y happy stuff, remind yourself that it makes you happy

I know I feel happier when I put on real clothes and work somewhere other than my sofa. I know hosting dinner parties fills me up and strengthens my friendships. It’s not easy to remember that when I’m clearing up the wreckage on Sunday morning.

So when I’m in the midst of doing my hassle-y happy making thing, I quite literally say to myself “It makes me happy to  ______________”

It makes me happy to work from new places.
It makes me happy to get dressed before 10 am.
It makes me happy to complete the Herculean effort of washing and styling my hair.


When we say this to ourselves, we’re strengthening neural pathways, making it easier to do these things in the future. We’re making it easier to remember on those grumpy, overcast days that maybe we do have time to be happy. And maybe we know exactly what to do.

Do you ever find yourself putting off things you know will make you happy or improve your life? What makes you happy but is totally a hassle? Is there any way you can make it easier?

P.S. If you want to talk with tons of smart, supportive people about topics like this, join my free, private Facebook group Money & Happy! Click here to join us.

Photos by Nathan Anderson and Thomas Kelley on Unsplash

16 Comments

Sarah Von Bargen

Yes! I constantly remind myself (and my students) “You don’t have to ‘earn’ or ‘save’ happiness. You deserve to experience it every day.” <3

Reply
Charlotte McGhee

Me: I’m feeling stressed.
My gut: What would lessen your stress?
Me: Working out.
My gut: Great! Let’s do that.
Me: I think I’ll binge watch Poldark and eat leftover Halloween candy instead.

This is putting off happiness! I know this relates to your changing bad habits post as well- they all tie up together, don’t they? Why do we need to learn something 5 million times?

Reply
Sarah Von Bargen

Most of us (myself VERY much included) have to encounter an idea about 15 times before it sticks! Maybe this is your 15th time! 😉

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Samantha Lee

Yes and yes and yes. (Also totally didn’t mean to just be relevant with your blog name haha). Making your happy TAKES EFFORT. I try to constantly remind myself of that whenever I feel like something is too hard or too much work – especially exercise (like the reader above).

Reply
Elizabeth

This is so good! Just what I needed to be reminded of! It’s so often easiest to see the hard, time-consuming portion of happiness-making. But it’s worth it…always! Thank you!

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Heidi

Taking tiny steps has saved me. For example, to create a gym habit, I started DRIVING PAST THE GYM on my way home from work. Not going inside, just making it sliiightly easier to go inside. Eventually, this led to me working out more often. 🙂

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Kamina

Oh my gosh yes! I went through a phase where I would just go park my car in the gym parking lot and sit there for a minute and then leave. Now I’m back into working out most days 🙂

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Kamina

For the past few weeks I’ve been hideously overbooked with work. I’ve also been hating the fact that my eyebrows are out of control and my nails are a mess, but keep telling myself I ‘don’t have time’ to invest in my beauty routine and that I’ll get a pedicure as soon as I get to Bali in a couple of weeks. So I’m walking around feeling like crap and telling myself I’ll save feeling better for when I go on holidays! Tonight I’m painting my nails an offensive shade of red in between doing pomodoros on the book I’m writing. I feel happier already.

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Sophie

I moved to the States from Scotland 2 years ago, and find myself here for at least another year – yet I am still denying myself from buying any of the plants/ books/ kitchen implements I love, since I know I’ll eventually be moving back across the pond. In the mean time, my apartment is bare – maybe a succulent or two couldn’t hurt! Needed this!

Reply

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