By Crystal Hubbell, LPCC-S
In many of my quests to embrace what life has to offer, I have learned how to do some awesome things that create a sense of happiness and contentment. Just a few things I love doing and have learned to do that bring me more happiness are; weekend cooking, crockpot cooking for a month, budgeting, organization hacks, Chicken keeping, vacation planning, budget parties and party planning. However, I get the most enjoyment and happiness from the following things; Gratitude journaling, giving my time or money and being mindful.
Gratitude journaling is not a recent invention, it has been around many years with many adaptations. A gratitude journal isn’t just a happy recording of a day like thanksgiving, it is a record of things you really appreciate in life and you appreciate them being in your life so much you write them down. It is a creative way to bring more positivity into your life instead of focusing on what is not good, or things that have not gone as planned.
For instance, when irritating things happen to us, sometimes that one event taints our whole day because we talk about it for hours. “Can you believe this, I took my car to the shop and the woman was so rude, she told me my warranty expired yesterday and they can’t replace the tire for free. She practically yelled at me. I am telling everyone how that company treated me.” This one comment will make the rest of the day seem horrible, awful and remove the potential of seeing anything good the rest of the day or even week.
The gratitude part that could be recorded would sound something like this. “ I got a nail in my tire and took to the shop to get fixed. The lady seemed like she was having a bad day, so I asked if she was feeling ok. She replied it was a hectic day and then informed me my warranty had expired. I told her that was ok and asked if there were any deals on tires and she talked about one deal that I could take advantage of. I thanked her and told her about some good restaurants in the area for a good lunch, so she could take a break. She was appreciative that I was so nice. I felt happy I could brighten her day. My tire was fixed in an hour and I got a 30% discount when she rang me out” In my journal, I write about how grateful I was that I could get my tire fixed and that I was able to get a discount, I write how thankful I was to be able to cheer someone up and say a little prayer for them to have better days. I shared in my journal how happy I was that I didn’t have an accident on the bad tire and hurt myself or someone else” Being thankful becomes so much more when we choose to view our circumstances from a positive point of view rather than focusing on the bad things that happen. I often feel so much better realizing the good things, rather than wallowing in the bad.
Here is a template; https://conquer.today/gratitude-journal-template/
GIVING TIME OR MONEY
I believe that when I give some of my money or time to a person in need, it brings me great happiness. I am still not sure why this is.
Patrick Svedin writes “In a 2008 study, subjects were asked to rate their happiness and given an envelope containing either $5 or $20. The participants were randomly assigned to either spend the money on themselves or on someone else by the end of the day. (Dunn, 2008)
“Those who spent the money on someone else reported happier moods than those who spent the money on themselves. A separate group was asked to predict outcomes of the experiment and most believed those who spent money on themselves would be happier. Not only were they wrong, they were significantly wrong. The research suggests “thinking about money may propel individuals toward using their financial resources to benefit themselves but spending money on others can provide a more effective route in increasing one’s own happiness.” Ed Diener, E. S. (1993)
So, are we confused about the idea that spending money on ourselves brings us more happiness? We do get that great rush of energy when why buy great new things, but it doesn’t last long.
“Studies have shown when an individual’s basic needs are met, the amount of income as it relates to our happiness is weak, Haltiwanger, J. (2014)”. In his 2008 book Gross National Happiness, best-selling author Arthur C. Brooks says research reveals if you were to increase your wealth with about $100,000, you would increase your happiness level by two percentage points.
“This suggests that other strategies (such as working on spiritual or family life, or volunteering for charity) might be more cost-effective than simply striving to get more money,” he writes. Brooks, A. (2008).
I know from my experience, when I give a little money or time to someone else or a charity or a friend in need, I feel amazing, whole, encouraged and happy that I was able to help. True wealth is not acquired through earthly possessions, but by leading a fulfilling life. (Haltiwanger, 2014)There is nothing more fulfilling than knowing you have made a palpable difference in the lives of other people.
Giving to others might take money out of your wallet, but it could mean the difference between life and death for some people. You never know how far a dollar might go. A tiny stone can create a massive ripple when thrown into water at the right moment.
Being Mindful is a relatively new activity in my life. Within the last 10 years, I have learned to understand what it means to be mindful. Learning the art of mindfulness keeps me from engaging in otherwise unhelpful activities that cause a significant amount of distress in my life. I have learned that being in the present moment, I relieve myself of the responsibility of being a worrier, and a negative influence on those around me.
Being mindful is all about this very moment in time. Not yesterday, not tomorrow, but this moment. I find when I am worried about finances, or something I said a while ago, I take a moment to reflect on this very second. Breathing slowly and taking in the appreciation of the moment. Gretchen Rubin states in her book; (The Happiness Project) “The days are long, but the years fly by” This is so true. When my kids were young, I remember dreading the daily grind, the bottles, diapers, fighting, screaming, late night feedings and sickness. Now my children are all adults, and I miss their cute baby faces and wish for a day to see them as little munchkins again. I embrace every moment now and I stop myself from thinking about all my regrets, lost moments and faded memories. I see them now, I enjoy this second now, as it will be gone too in a jiffy.
Being mindful brings peace to a long day, softness and understanding to frustration and knowing to the unknowing. When I take time to be mindful, taking away all my distractions, I get happier. It just happens. I enjoy life more, I am more content and appreciative.
There are great apps for your phone that can assist in mindful learning. Try some of these on the list: Breathe, Calm, Relaxing Music, The Mindfulness App, Mindfulness Coach, Pacifica, Happify
By John Kabat Zinn
Brooks, A. (2008). Gross National Happiness: Why Happiness Matters for America and How We Can Get More of It. Basic Books.
Dunn, E. A. (2008, March 21). Spending Monday on Others Promotes Happiness. Science, 1687-1688. Retrieved from Science.
Ed Diener, E. S. (1993). The Relationship Between Income and Subjective Well Being: Relative or Absolute? Social Indicators Research, 195-223.
Ed Diener, E. S. (n.d.). Their Relationship between income and subjective well-being: Relative or Absolute?
Haltiwanger, J. (2014, December 14). The Science of Generosity: Why Giving Makes You So Happy. Retrieved from Elite Daily: https://www.elitedaily.com/life/science-generosity-feels-good-give/890500
Rubin, G. (2009). The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning ... Harper Collins.