Loralyn Mears, PhD
MOTIVATION MONDAY: MEASURING HAPPINESS
This article was originally published on July 22, 2019 at https://gritdaily.com/motivation-monday-happiness/
Monday Motivation here we come! This is for those of you who slog through your Monday mornings. If you lament the end of the weekend and dread returning to the office, you may need our Motivation Monday quick tips. Grit Daily offers an avenue to connect with others like you. We’re here to help get your work week off to a good start. Pump your fists – it’s time for Motivation Monday!
Being happy isn’t always easy. Moreover, it’s not always possible. Sometimes, we can’t find a way to be happy because our current circumstances are overwhelming. For example, job loss, financial stress, divorce or the end of a meaningful relationship, a poor health diagnosis or the death of a loved one. But, at least some of the time, we unknowingly put up barriers that block our ability to perceive happiness.
The movie, Inside Out, had a number of poignant scenes with the blue character, Sadness. I know that I was reduced to tears a few times watching it. Her quote, “Crying helps me slow down and obsess over the weight of life’s problems,” is particularly moving. It’s good to release your emotions and find an outlet to channel them, but crying all the time isn’t healthy. Or productive.
And this is motivation Monday! If you want to change, you’re going to have to take steps to enable it. The first step towards that goal is measuring your happiness – not your sadness.
GET YOUR HAPPY ON FOR MOTIVATION MONDAY
As Americans, we definitely have issues – or, at least in some cases, perceive to have them – because we are wholly dependent on pharmaceuticals to get our happy on. Each day, one out of six of us takes an antidepressant. Prozac, which garnered FDA approval back in 1987, is still the most prescribed in its class, joined now by other SSRIs like Zoloft, Paxil, and Lexapro. Apparently, we haven’t always been unhappy. Usage of antidepressants has increased by 64% since we entered the current century.
Like everything in life, there is some good and some bad with respect to antidepressants. For some people, they are truly life-saving and impede harmful thoughts and reduce the risk of suicide. On the flip side, they are mood-altering by design but can have negative effects on sexual health and relationships. Particularly if combined with alcohol which is a general no-no.
HAPPINESS BY THE NUMBERS
But this is a motivation Monday column so we’re going to find a way to get our happy on! Even when things aren’t the way we hoped they would be. The key thing to remember is that everything is temporary. Things can change in an instant.
Create a new mantra for yourself. Perhaps something like, “I am going to find something to be happy about each and every day.” It can be the smallest thing, it still counts. I remember a particularly dark period in my life after my divorce: even though I was so happy to be free, I was crippled financially, out of work and paying him alimony month after month.
One morning, when I was doing my routine walk, I noticed a rainbow prism in a dewdrop on a flower. The vision is still with me today. Literally, the cloudy shower curtain that had been blanketing my perspective for a while lifted. I saw things in color! Gone were the shades of gray monochromatic dullness that had soured everything I saw and did.
TIPS TO MEASURE YOUR HAPPINESS
I know some people who compare their lives to others who are truly struggling. For example, refugees who are taking life-altering risks in search of safe haven. And then there are the starving children, home and abroad. Or the homeless people in tent after tent that we have grown numb to seeing. We can’t turn a blind eye to people in need, but comparing ourselves downward – or upward to celebrities, supermodels or all-star athletes – isn’t the right thing to do.
Motivation Monday means taking stock of your own life and measuring what is important to you. And to you alone. You’re not living anyone else’s life but your own.
#1 – let me count the ways
This sounds simple but it’s actually challenging in practice, particularly if you’re going through a phase in your life where there is an overwhelming reason for grief. What brought you one moment, however fleeting, of happiness today? Perhaps someone smiled or you saw a flower that invited you to take another look. No matter how small or seemingly insignificant it was, chalk it up as a stroke of happiness. Keep a daily tally of your happiness events and, over time, you will see a pattern that tends to increase day by day.
#2 – make it your last thought of the day
Since you’re already tallying up happiness events, think about that before you sleep. Hold on to whatever was your favorite or best part of the day. Relive it. Embrace that warm, happy feeling and carry it with you into your dreams. And into the next morning where you will awake with renewed hope.
#3 – don’t measure your happiness against anyone else’s
Your tally and what you hold dear to your heart as an expression of happiness is personal. Keep it yourself. It’s about you and nobody else.
WHO MOTIVATES YOU?
Motivation Monday always finds someone or something to celebrate. We’ve talked about things that bring us joy but the secret is clearly out on this happiness thing. Apparently, 2.1 million other people have already latched onto this source of happiness. It’s a Facebook group, called Happiness Heroes. Plus they also have an Instagram page.
Through a combination of inspirational quotes to engagement notices to silly videos of dogs finding their moments of happiness in a sprinkler, the pages are grounded in real experiences. Not some unattainable fantasy lifestyle. These are everyday people – and their pets – who found something that sparked happiness in their day. And they’ve chosen to share it with the rest of us.