I’ve seen this quote floating around social media lately, and not for the first time (apologies to the original provider of this quote, because I can’t for the life of me find an official attribution on the Interweb).
So simple, so straightforward, so sensible.
Here’s my question: what if most of the things in your life make you happy (let’s say a 75 to 25 percent ratio), but there’s still that 25 percent. What do you do about that 25 percent? How much of your life can consistently, realistically be sunshine and rainbows?
For reference, I made a list pertaining to my life and I encourage you to do the same. Hilarity will ensue, probably because my life is a joke (and I mean that in the best possible way, with only a little self-deprecation implied).
Note: I learned that it’s way easier to create this list by thinking of each item as an activity that you enjoy, rather than simple “things” (since my first attempt at this list devolved into items like “Dogs… Cats… Any four-legged mammal… Birds… All animals”).
Things That Make Me Happy
- Spending time outdoors | There’s something so invigorating about walking around outside, whether it’s on a forest trail or on a loud city block.
- Being in close proximity to animals | I mean any and all animals.
- Engaging in solitary sport activities | Countless times throughout my life, I’ve learned that team sports are decidedly NOT my thing; but I’ll run, climb or kayak all day long.
- Gardening | Particularly edible crops, because there’s nothing like harvesting food that you were personally responsible for nurturing.
- Writing about my life and my feeeeelings | As a rule, I generally don’t express my innermost thoughts to others, whether due to an inability to voice them or a fear that I’ll be judged. But if I can write them down, there’s my outlet.
- Taking pictures of anything and everything | Photography has always been an accidental hobby of mine, probably because it comes so naturally to me to capture moments or visually-pleasing images that bring me joy.
- Experiencing food | Look, food is one of my favorite things. Cooking it, admiring it, serving it, eating it; I’m not picky. To me, food is an experience in every sense of the word.
- Traveling to new places and exploring | Nothing to explain here, aside from the fact that doing so makes me feel like a badass, whether I’m exploring city streets or a jungle.
- Feeling the wind through my hair | This weird, vague love of mine manifests itself in a love of running, thrill seeking, driving with the windows down, and constantly getting lost watching birds soar through the sky.
- Losing myself in movies, music or books | These things all transport me to magical places in my head and I love it.
- Singing at the top of my lungs | Happiness to me is singing along to every word of my favorite song with absolutely no regard to voice quality or judgmental looks about my ridiculous dance moves.
- Having a good, low-key time with my favorite people | Self-explanatory.
To be honest, while writing this list, I felt that most of them are all within reach for me on a semi-regular basis. Still, they’re definitely not things I find myself doing every day…
Things I Do Every Day
- Wake up late and tired | See the bottom of this list.
- Navigate back roads and other drivers from my car | Okay, I love driving and I love my car. But some days, driving everywhere feels truly soul-sucking. On the other hand, I do listen to music and feel the wind in my hair while doing this.
- Sit on my ass and gaze at a computer screen | I can’t say it’s exactly fulfilling.
- Cook whatever I have the energy to cook | Food is one of my favorite things, but most of the time I feel drained and overwhelmed when it comes time to make meals. Still, when the meal is done, I’m filled with an undeniable sense of satisfaction.
- Spend the evening “relaxing” on the couch | By “relaxing,” I sincerely mean wasting time. I won’t lie. It just feels nice to not do anything and let my brain float on empty brain waves while I watch TV. But sometimes I’ll watch something meaningful and deep, which is the only time this activity doesn’t feel like a waste.
- Stay up late for no reason | See the top of this list.
To be fair, I do live a blessed life and enjoy some of the activities on the “Things that Make Me Happy” list — just not on a daily basis.
How do you “adjust accordingly”?
Again, I ask myself if it’s a bad thing that the lists don’t mirror each other. Should I “adjust accordingly” and try to make it so that the activities in the first list make it into my second list? Or is it kosher to experience them maybe once or twice a week?
Here’s another thought: Won’t doing things that make you happy every single day eventually make them kind of dull? Doesn’t part of the happiness you find in those activities come from the fact that you don’t get to do them often?
Maybe the aforementioned 75-25 percent ratio is actually the way to go. Which is plenty good enough for me; right now, I’m looking at a 25-75 percent ratio of things that make me happy in my everyday life.
Time to adjust accordingly.