find what makes you happy and do more of that

It’s funny – I think life has a way of making us forget what makes us happy and remember all too well what doesn’t. It’s easy to feel discouraged and down in the dumps and convince ourselves we’ve got to accept our current set of circumstances. But…what if we didn’t?

I shared how I’ve been feeling – for lack of a better word – bleh these past few days. I don’t know if it’s introvert burnout, anxiety, the ceaseless rain – a combination of all of these – or what, but it hasn’t been great. I’m left feeling unmotivated to do anything beyond sit on the couch and watch countless episodes of How I Met Your Mother.

While that show is hilarious (and it’s filling my heart to the brim with nostalgic joy), I don’t exactly want to look back on my life and see the wasted hours spent lethargic in my apartment, stuffing my face with Dove chocolates and not using my precious free time to my advantage.

Often I feel like I can’t be honest about my feelings – because what do I really have to complain about? I have a steady, easy, and convenient job that’s immensely flexible with my schedule as I pursue other passions. I live in a wonderful city filled with opportunity and have the income to travel and buy myself that pair of shoes and eat fancy dinners every once in a while. I have a supportive husband who makes me laugh and a dog that’s the sweetest thing on God’s green Earth. I recognize my blessings, and I am grateful for them. But the anxiety isn’t going away. The restlessness. The sadness. The self-doubt. The “what am I even doing with my life”. I have to remind myself that regardless of my “physical” circumstances, it doesn’t mean my feelings aren’t valid. Feelings aren’t negated because society might say so. It is not vain or absurd to work on your personal joy – it is after all, your life, and it doesn’t last forever.

There are a lot of “big picture” things I’ve been mulling over, difficult decisions I’m weighing. But as I’m not quite ready to make huge life-changing commitments, I’m turning my focus smaller. Life is, after all, both the little things and the big things (but it’s made up infinitely more of the little).

When I’m less than happy, when there are current situations I can’t immediately change, I like to actively find what makes me happy and do more of that. Because why is it so easy to recognize these things and disregard them anyway?

So even if I’m feeling lazy, if the weather isn’t perfect, if it might take me 50 minutes to drive somewhere, I have to remind myself that sometimes you have to make your happy. You have to set aside the time and make the plan and stick to it. Exercise when you don’t feel like it. Cook a wholesome meal when it will take longer. Get up early for that hike even when you want to hit the snooze button.

We know what makes us happy. So let’s stop ignoring that.

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Things that make me happy:

  • the sun on my skin – I can’t control the weather, but I can get outside when it makes an appearance.
  • fresh air – I might have to be in an office all day, but I can have my lunch break at the park or take a walk to get coffee.
  • nature – I haven’t been camping since last summer, but I can escape the city if I make those site reservations.
  • reading – Nothing makes me happier than escaping in a (good) book; I can put down the phone.
  • traveling – Monday through Friday is accounted for, but I can visit several weekend trip destinations.
  • also – wine + board games + dancing + deep tissue massages + writing + homemade bread + coffee shops + breakfast + candles + hot showers + the ocean + yoga + sweatshirts + potted plants + hikes + photo albums + live theatre + chocolate chip cookies + leisurely bike rides + photo booths.

rosephonewallpaper

I encourage you to also make a list. Come back to it when you’re feeling sad – or bored or restless or worried or scared. Grab an item off the list and actually do it.

Mental health is a serious subject. I understand that there aren’t always cures for depression and anxiety. I am not claiming to be an expert on the subject or nullify any mental health conditions. I’m merely sharing the things I personally can control and not suggesting they are the be-all, end-all solutions. In fact, I often have to ride the wave until it’s over.

P.S. I once shared Matthew McConaughey’s commencement speech, in which he talks about finding out who you are by pinpointing who you are not. In the same vein, I challenge you to find what makes you unhappy and work towards eliminating those things. Also, The Happiness Project and in my opinion, the happiness guru.

-wonderland sam

imdb.me/samanthalee

Posted by

actress/texan kickin' it in los angeles. always searching for my next pizza. cia agent in another life.

31 thoughts on “find what makes you happy and do more of that

  1. I totally relate- I have been in a funk the whole past week, and am working on just breathing through it. You are doing great!

  2. I love love love this. And can relate so insanely well. I tend to focus on big things to change, but I love how you worded it. Life is made up infinitely more of the little things. It’s good to turn focus on that too. 🙂

    And here’s to wishing the sun to come back to L.A.! Need that vitamin D!

    xoxo,

    Cortney

    A Whimsy Wonderland

  3. I *LOVE* this. This blogpost speaks so loudly to me. I have SO many blessings and truly, nothing to complain about. But I appreciate that you are validating our feelings, despite our blessings, because you’re right, our feelings are coming from somewhere and we have to figure out the why.

    I started a list in my Journal of things that make me happy too and I find that it helps! I also have a gratitude practice every morning which puts things in perspective.

    Thank you for sharing something so private, it’s exactly how I feel too!

    http://www.elleisforlove.com

    1. Thank you so much for reading and your kind words. Sometimes these things can feel difficult to talk about; we don’t want to appear ungrateful when there are so many others living way less fortunate lives. I think mental health is something a lot of people don’t understand, and I just want to reiterate how very real it is – no one should ever invalidate how we feel. Practicing gratitude has actually been proven to increase happiness, so I’m so glad you’ve incorporated that into your daily life! Excited to check out your blog – it seems so in alignment with my mission too. 🙂

  4. loved this post. I know exactly what you’re talking about. Last night I started reading “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck” and while I’m only 30 pages in, its already touching on some of these points. I would recommend picking it up when you can 🙂

    xo, Maddy
    http://cassidylou.com/

    1. Aw, thanks so much Elise! I know we often can’t control our emotions, but sometimes a positive attitude and focusing on the present moment helps. ❤

      By the way, you might like the blog https://hereforafew.com/ ! I know you work for Google…Amber also works in the "tech" industry – at Snapchat – and commutes to LA from San Francisco every week. Just wanted to connect you two! 🙂

  5. So true. I can totally relate to this. I think it’s just never stop – worrying, and questioning ourselves. I think it’s a part of growing up, and really when do actually ever really growing up? I feel like that’s a part of living – we keep on growing.
    And I agree with you. I believe in small things in everyday life that make us happy. Sometimes it’s so easy to be tangled in 2 bad months in the year, that we forget about the rest of 10 good months. your writing is a lovely reminder 🙂

    1. Thank you so much for your kind comment. I think the journey towards happiness is just that – a journey, something that will never quite end. I’ve been working on focusing on the present moment, and I find that helps tremendously. 🙂 Thanks for reading!

  6. I agree with this so much – making your happiness. It’s so funny because sometimes we really DON’T feel like it. Some days when I don’t have any meetings or anything, I used to sit in my sweatpants all day. But I realized when I wear comfy clothes, I’m so tempted to just get comfy and my productivity goes down. Plus I really feel better when I am a bit accessorized. 🙂

    I am reading a book that talks about making a list of things you like to do that you can do in 30 minutes and ones you can do in 10. That way when you have time you’re waiting or can’t think what to do, you don’t spend your time just puttering. Even if you only found 5 minutes a day to work on a hobby that’s 35 minutes a week, given it’s something that easy. But sometimes we really do have to schedule and plan. And reading the list of things you love to do, I was like “omg we have the same brain!” I hope I can get out and go camping this year!

    1. Valerie, I don’t know how I missed your comment, but thank you for your input! What is the book called? That sounds like a wonderful practice for incorporating more little pockets of happy into our days. 🙂

      Also – go plan your camping trip! 😉

  7. This is such an uplifting and motivational post. Thank you Sam! Your comment about focussing on the little things is really wise… after all, all the little things add up to create your life. Breaking down challenges into manageable goals feels less overwhelming too.

    http://www.thislifeisbelle.com

    p.s. Don’t beat yourself up over spending a few days binge watching TV!! Everything is ok from time to time, and sometimes a TV binge it’s just what the doctor ordered 🙂

    1. Thank you so much Annabelle (beautiful name by the way!). Everyone is living under different circumstances and fighting their own battles, and I’m hoping we can build a community that recognizes that and doesn’t invalidate people’s feelings or struggles – no matter what they “look like”. I’ve found that focusing on the now, on the small things I can control, helps me cope, even if just a little bit. And the sunshine and Vitamin D has been such a life saver for me this past week.
      And you’re right – it’s all about balance! I Netflix binged one weekend, then got outdoors and hung out with friends the next. 🙂

      1. Such a healthy attitude 🙂 Sometimes I think we undermine ourselves when we relegate worries or fears to “first world problems”… if everyone lived intentionally and tried their best to improve little things all the time, the world would be a better place ❤

      2. Yes, THANK YOU. I think the “first world problems” phrase negates people’s truth, which is sad. Everything on the surface may seem “fine”, but we don’t know the battles people are facing beneath it. Thank you so much for your kind comment. 🙂

  8. Great solution to escaping blue moods, Sam! It’s funny, when I read your post a few days ago, I thought “Well, yeah, but I can’t really identify right now”. But as the week progressed, that changed. So I wrote a little notion on the go…about this past week getting on my nerves and abstract solutions to turn my mood around this weekend.
    http://wp.me/p70PnE-19e

    Thank you for sincere and fun posts! 🙂 xx

    Selly
    http://www.enchantingnotions.com

    1. Aw, I’m sorry your week took a turn. Hope it’s looking up for you now! 🙂 We often can’t control how we feel, but we can make every effort to control our attitude! Thank you for reading!

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