An Exercise for Being Happier

by Rachel Miller

October 21, 2022

ABOVE : Retrieved from upsplash

It’s easy on days like a Friday to get excited for the weekend or to feel that on the weekend, we will be happier. But more often than not, we are left disappointed by things not going 100% according to our plans or what we imagined.

Here’s something you can practice now so that when those disappointments occur, they don’t affect your happiness.

Exercise:

As you go throughout your day, pay attention to when you internally groan or sigh about doing something you don’t feel like doing: your reluctance to get out of bed, not wanting to get off the couch, or wishing for it to be the weekend.

  • Be on the lookout for the smallest, most subtle sighs:
    • A sigh when you realize you left something in the other room and have to get up from the couch to get it.
    • A sigh when you have to go back to work after a break.
    • A sigh when you’re working, and you’re tired and want to go home.

  • When you notice these most subtle signs of discontent in yourself, pause for a moment and consider:
    • This thing is not the problem, but your thoughts about it.
    • You are only unhappy because you think that if things were different, you would be happier. You think that doing this thing is making you unhappy, but it’s your thoughts about it that are causing your unhappiness.
    • No matter where you are or what you are doing–watching a movie, socializing with friends, or getting work done–what you think about determines your happiness. If you are focused on later or how things could be better, you will not be happy. If you’re focused on what you’re doing, accepting things as they come, you will be happy.

  • Practice doing things without sighing or complaining:
    • When you find yourself sighing, remind yourself that you’ll be no more or less happy by what you’re doing.
    • Try to catch yourself before you sigh. See if you can accept and just do what needs to be done without thinking or having a feeling about it. See if, with practice, you can eliminate sighing completely!

  • Practice keeping your thoughts directly in whatever you are doing:
    • When your thoughts wander, remind yourself that you’ll be just as happy there as you are now, and the way to ensure your happiness later is to practice it now: being mentally present and engaged in what you are doing.
    • Every situation is an opportunity to practice happiness. And the more you practice, the easier it gets to train your thoughts to stay focused in the present. That’s the key: thoughts focused, engaged in the present = happiness.

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