Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of meeting Vincent. Aside from his name, I know nothing more than the fact that with five simple words he made my day and inspired this column.
It was Monday, and as I walked out of the office, I saw Vincent and his friend sitting in the hallway. I smiled and said hello, as we often do in passing with others. In that next moment, I was caught a bit off guard. As I was about to walk by, Vincent asked me, “What’s made you happy today?” Not expecting a question in need of a thoughtful response, I paused, then spit out the first thing that came to mind – my family.
It was a genuine response, but it wasn’t enough for Vincent. He followed up by asking me what specifically happened with my family today that made me happy. Good question. I suppose starting the day with sweet little hugs and kisses from my sleepy-eyed loves (kids and husband, alike) made me happy. Yet this moment could have very easily come and gone without much thought. Happiness was actualized during those three minutes of reflection, and that’s what made those five simple words so powerful.
You may not be fortunate enough to cross paths with Vincent today, this week or ever. But don’t let that stop you from taking a moment to reflect on what makes you happy. Dig deep and look at specifics, just as Vincent asked of me. The pursuit of happiness may be a part of our constitutional rights, but it won’t be handed out. In other words, play an active role in pursuing things that make you happy.
I get it – commitments and responsibilities often land the pursuit of happiness low on the totem pole. Fortunately, it only takes a small investment of time and energy to enjoy the lasting impact of happiness. In his book, “The Pursuit of Happiness,” David Myers offers these suggestions to help you in the search:
Wealth is like health. Its absence breeds misery but having it doesn’t ensure happiness. How do you define success?Take control of your time. Break large goals into small daily goals, leave white space on your calendar and get comfortable saying, “No.”Smile, even when you don’t feel happy. It influences how others respond to you and your state of being.In work and life – challenge yourself just a bit beyond what you consider doable. If you’re frustrated and ready to quit, you challenged yourself too much.Get your heart rate up with aerobic activity. Do this with the previous tip in mind.Sleep. It counters stress – don’t underestimate the value of this tool for life balance.Decide who and what deserves your attention. You can give 25% to everything or 100% to what matters. Reflect on what made you happy today (gratitude). Such as a pair of socks that don’t quit, opposable digits, being on the top of the food chain or family ... the list can go on and on.Focus on what is in your control. Most things aren’t, so why fret about them?As your time management skills improve, perhaps you (and your loved ones) will find happiness engaged in the challenge of learning.
Our mission here at Extension is to provide you that opportunity. Stay abreast of what’s available in 2020, visit www.laplataextension.org or find us on Facebook.
Nicole Clark is the family and consumer science agent for the La Plata County Extension Office. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 382-6461.Nicole Clark