Happiness isn’t so hard after all

“Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.”
Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

A few years ago, I believed that living a truly happy life might be impossible. I thought that the things I wanted were impractical and unattainable. Then one day, a therapist (therapy is the best, everyone should do it) asked me to write out a perfect day. Not one where I lived in a castle in Ireland and sustained myself on cake and coffee, but a real day in the city I live in – What would my home look like? Where would I be at 10am? At 7pm?

I was shocked to find that my perfect day was nothing grand or elusive or strange. I wanted to wake up with my daughters and make a healthy breakfast. Do yoga and meditate. Go to work doing some kind of consulting or writing – someplace I could be creative. I imagined myself stopping by a local handmade store to drop off linocut prints before  going home to a cozy, minimalist place in the city. Maybe we all take a walk around the neighborhood before having dinner. Once the girls are in bed, I could read or watch some cheezy sci-fi show and snuggle with Michael. This scenario brings me the most profound sense of peace.

Once I recognized that my ideal day was attainable, I made an action list. What steps would I take toward changing my daily life? It was a long list, but many items have been crossed off in the last year:

  1. Pursue a writing career
  2. Start a blog
  3. Commit to living more minimally
  4. Find a new apartment
  5. Start paying off debt

In the process of working toward the life I imagine, I’ve learned that opportunities for change come in many forms – sometimes as new jobs or apartments, sometimes it’s something not working out the way you’d hoped and you’re forced to let go and open yourself up to the world.

And because I love making lists, I wanted to revisit my vision of an ideal day/life and what I can do to pursue happiness.

What would make me happy?

  1. Taking a trip once a month
  2. Paying off debt
  3. Writing everyday
  4. Eating healthy
  5. Visiting friends/family often
  6. Having a simple home
  7. Buying less
  8. Wasting less

It feels so incredible that I am already incorporating several items on my list in my life, like paying down debt and seeing my friends more often. I would absolutely love to know what is on your list! What changes to your daily life would make you happy?

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