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The emotionally sensitive usually have a particularly strong reaction to painful emotions. When you struggle with intense sadness or anger for long periods of time, have difficulty controlling your words and action, and these emotions are easily triggered, that is not a walk in the park. On top of the pain involved in having such intense emotions, there is also self-consciousness or perhaps shame about being so reactive. Sometimes you become afraid of your emotions. You also may be on guard or watching for whatever might upset you. You might learn to pay a lot of attention to what upsets you.

Sometimes you may be so alert to upsetting events and annoyances that you completely disregard the pleasant experiences you have. Gratitudes are easy to overlook when you are stressed or busy, yet paying attention to them helps increase our happiness. So what can you pay attention to today? Maybe some of the suggestions below will help.

Beauty.  Maybe there are lovely flowers planted in someone’s yard. Or perhaps there is a large tree with branches that drape out giving shade to the street. Maybe you see beauty in fruit or stones or in the way you have decorated your home. Notice that beauty and take it in. Let yourself appreciate it.

The Basics of Life. Did you sleep well last night?  Life is much easier when you are rested so sleeping soundly is a positive. Having enough to eat and cool water to drink are positives we often take for granted.  If you drink and eat mindfully you will notice the complex flavors of even simple foods and how much pleasure can come from taste without overdoing the amount you eat.

Treasures. Most people have special possessions that are dear to them for emotional reasons. Perhaps you have a shawl that belonged to your grandmother or a trophy from when you won a sports event. Maybe you have a t-shirt from your favorite concert. If your treasured items are hidden consider putting them where you can enjoy them each day.

Photos.  Photos of trips you took or events you shared with friends can bring back fun memories. Savor those times by taking time to look at the photos and maybe share them with someone else.

Kindnesses: Go through your day in your head and think about any kindnesses that might have been offered to you or that you offered to others. Let yourself take in the warmth that was included in each kindness.

Values and Meaning: Notice if you acted in accordance with your values and/or engaged in activities that have meaning for you.

Friends and Family:  Maybe you enjoyed talking with a friend or a family member today. Knowing they care about you is a positive, particularly if you have friends and family who you can count on when you need them.

Laughter:  Laughing is good for you in so many ways. Be appreciative of anyone who made you laugh today.  The day is not over yet–find reasons to laugh, big all-out full force laughs.

Pets:  Play fetch with your dog, scratch your cat behind his ear or find other ways to interact with your pet. Pets can be funny and adorable and loving. Count your pet as one of your gratitudes and pleasant experiences of the day.

Small Gifts: Getting to work on time, chewing your favorite gum, stars in the sky, a good book, music, finishing a project, wearing your most comfortable jeans, watching a television show, dessert and playing an interesting game are just a few of the small gifts you may have enjoyed today.

This list may not fit you at all. Make your own list. If you aren’t sure what makes you happy or what you consider pleasant in your day, pay attention each day to what makes you smile and what you appreciate. Make notes. You may be surprised.  Sometimes what we think makes us happy may not be the most joyful part of our days.

Photo credit:  danorbit. via Compfight

 


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    Last reviewed: 30 Apr 2013

APA Reference
Hall, K. (2013). What Makes You Happy. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 1, 2014, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/emotionally-sensitive/2013/04/what-makes-you-happy/

 

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Karyn Hall, PhD is the author of the above books.
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