Happiness means different things to different people. For one person, this might mean a deep romantic connection with one’s spouse. For someone else, happiness might mean close friends on whom one can rely. Or a meaningful job. Or sufficient funds and time to travel the world. Or vibrant health. Or ample time alone to recharge. Or contributing to one’s community. Or good weather.
The key is to figure out what’s most important to you. Not to your parents, brother, sister, peer group, or best friend.
Some of us may look too often to others to determine what we should want. Or we’ve had people in our lives who have been all too willing to offer their opinion on what we should vie for. If so, we may have become confused (or never know in the first place) about what makes us happy and fulfilled.
Or we can become quite clear on what we don’t want, while remaining uncertain on what we do want and on who we are. This can lead to depression, apathy, and anxiety, not to mention poor career, relationship, and lifestyle choices.
Beginning the life-long adventure of knowing ourselves on a deep and honest level can feel daunting, but it can be the most important step we’ll ever take – and the most rewarding path we can continue down.
We are likely to find that our level of contentment is more closely connected with our responses to situations, than to the situations themselves. As such, knowing how we view ourselves, other people, and the world will pay greater dividends than a resolute quest to obtain a certain external prize.
The better we know our true selves, the better our relationships will be. Also, we’ll make better use of our time, energy, and resources, because we’ll have a clearer sense on where to focus our time and energy, and to what we can say “no, thank you”.
It can be helpful to put aside an hour or two on a regular basis, perhaps weekly, to get alone with your thoughts and ponder some of the following questions.
- What would my ideal day look like?
- Who would I be with?
- Where would I be?
- What would I be doing?
- What’s the one thing I can’t live without?
- What can I let go of emotionally or physically to simplify my life?
- How and where in my life can I slow down?
- What makes me feel truly alive?
- When was the last time I felt like this?
- What aspects of me would I like to keep as they are?
- What would I like to change about myself?
- How do I usually deal with challenges?
- How can I look at difficulties in a more positive light?
- How do I tend to react to making mistakes?
- How do I typically handle conflict?
- How do I generally respond to difficult feelings?
- Do I focus more on solutions or problems?
- How can I shift to a more solution-focused approach?
- What’s draining my energy?
- What do I need to stand up for, give up, say no to, or let go of?
- Do I push myself too hard?
- Do I challenge myself enough?
- Do I learn something new every day?
- If so, what was that today?
- Who in my life do I value most?
- How do I show them that I value them?
- How can I show them from this point on?
- What’s one motto I can live by, which my future self will thank me for?
- What can I do this month in alignment with that motto?
- What can I do this week in alignment with that motto?
- What can I do today in alignment with that motto?
Write down your musings in a journal. This can provide a record for reviewing your feelings down the line, which can be illuminating. You may find that some of your answers will change over time.
Remember that there are no wrong answers. What counts is your intention to explore your personal truths. These may be buried deep down inside, so don’t worry if you initially draw a blank when trying to answer these questions. You can just sit with a question for a designated amount of time and write only one word or phrase. Or even draw. The important thing is that you show up for yourself and give your soul a place to be heard.