I often ask this question to my clients and class participants: Describe some occasions from the recent past when you felt excited and fulfilled. The common responses I get are, “when I graduated college”, “got my dream job”, “had my last promotion”, “had my baby”….
Interesting to note, the “recent past” part gets ignored easily. Another observation, all those listed are mostly focused on achievements and not on the activity or the experience of doing something.
You can ask me why this is a problem. The problem is when we are only focusing on achievements, we need to wait (sometimes long) for those to happen again for us to be happy. How does this help for overall happiness?
In the last class, one participant, Tom (a corporate professional) told me that last time, he felt happy when he got his promotion in his performance review. When I asked how long it lasted, “one week” was his answer. He would need to wait at least one year (if not more) of long days of hard work to possibly have another of those “happy week.”
All of us deserve better, and all of us can have it when we pay attention to everyday happiness in little things. Finding the activities that we enjoy doing and make time for those is the key. It seems obvious but is often ignored.
Tom, who used to wait for the next recognition at work, nowadays found his happiness ritual in those after-work tennis matches he plays with his buddy. And that is only a part of it when he comes to work the next day he feels more energetic and more creative to address the next challenge at hand. When I see him, he looks much happier to me!