How to Do What Makes You Happy—Because Yes, It Really Is Possible
Leigh Weingus •
If you've ever voiced to a friend, family member, or anyone you trust that you want to live a happier life, you've probably heard this phrase: "Just do what makes you happy!"
Sure, it's a great sentiment, but it can feel tough to put into practice. You may be able to conjure up a collection of happy moments in your life, for example, but not totally know what it means to live a life in which you're always doing what makes you happy.
But figuring this out is simpler than you might think. Here's your guide to doing what makes you happy.
Why the Phase 'Do What Makes You Happy' Is So Helpful
The concept of "living a happy life" can feel a little bit ... vague, at best. But when we look at the phrase "do what makes you happy," it's a lot more actionable. In other words, the formula is a simple one: If you do what makes you happy, you'll be able to live a happier life.
"Do what makes you happy" can apply to your career, your relationships, your hobbies, and what you do in your downtime. Doing what makes you happy requires a long, hard look at which areas of your life are currently making you happy, which ones are getting you down, and which ones are making you feel nothing at all.
How to Do What Makes You Happy
Now you know what the phrase means, and why it's so helpful. So how can you actually do what makes you happy? Here's your step-by-step guide.
1. Examine your happiness level surrounding work
Work takes up a lot of our time. Most of us work 40 hours a week, minimum! So if we're not happy at work, it's going to be hard to be happy in our day-to-day lives. So, take a long hard look at how happy you are at your job. Here are some important aspects of work to evaluate:
- Work-life balance
- Your relationship with your colleagues
- The actual nature of your work, or how you spend your time
- Your compensation
Most of us aren't 100% happy at work all the time. But if we're working long hours, have a terrible commute, and absolutely hate what we do, well ... that's a problem. Taking a long, hard look at these four things can help you figure out if you need to change jobs—or even careers entirely.
If you stay home with your kids, ask yourself how happy you are in your day-to-day life. If you feel happy and satisfied, great! If you don't, it may be time to consider going back to work, even if it's part-time, or volunteering.
2. Take back your free time
If you spend your precious free hours scrolling, watching Netflix, or doing anything else that makes you feel a little "blah," work on restructuring your time.
Put down our phone, delete those addictive apps, turn off the TV, and ask yourself if there are an hobbies you've been meaning to try, friends or family members you've been meaning to catch up with, or even dishes that need to be done. If you're spending your free time in a way that makes you happy, you happiness levels will increase.
3. Make sure you have healthy habits
It's hard to act in a way that makes you happy when you feel sluggish and drained all the time.
This can happen if you're not getting enough sleep or exercise, or if you're eating too much sugar and not enough healthy food and not setting aside enough time for self-care. You can think of these healthy habits as the foundation for a happier life, and the sooner you put them into practice, the better.
4. Notice what your relationships are giving to you—or taking from you
Are your relationships bringing you joy? Or are they draining you? Looking at what our relationships are giving or taking from us doesn't always feel natural, but it's an important exercise in doing what makes you happy.
If you find certain relationships are draining you, what types of boundaries can you set? Is it worth it (or even possible) to end the relationship altogether? For the relationships that do make you happy, how can you talk to those people more often or spend more time with them?
General Happiness Guidelines to Abide By
Thanks to decades of research on happiness, there are a handful of facts that we know about it. So if you're working on living a happier life and spending more time doing what makes you happy, here are some things to keep in mind as you embark on your journey:
- Meaningful relationships are the most consistent predictor of a happy life
- Having control over your time can make you happier
- People who exercise tend to be happier
- People who get a good night's sleep are happier
- Consistently practice gratitude makes us happier
- People who meditate tend to experience fewer feelings of anxiety and depression
While doing what makes you happy can feel daunting at first, with a few insights into yourself and tweaks to your routine, you can make it happen.
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