Sydney Gideon, LSW

Hello again! As previously discussed in part 1 of this blog post, each of our definitions of happiness are different, valid, and important to pursue. We frequently hear people say, “I’ll be happy when…”. But what if we could be happy now? How do we find happiness in our daily lives in order to create a more positive environment for ourselves and those around us? Well, we began discussing ways to cultivate happiness in the previous post and will continue to discuss concrete ways to establish a lifetime of happiness, in the here and now.

4. Schedule Relaxation Time

It may sound silly to pencil in relaxation time in our day-to-day, however, we schedule our meetings, dinners, and other commitments so scheduling in relaxation time is a commitment we’re making to ourselves. Scheduled time to relax doesn’t have to mean implementing many activities you enjoy. This can lead to rushing from place to place, activity to activity, making this down time feel less enjoyable and more like checking things off of a to do list. Instead, adding in small amounts of down time throughout the day, or larger chunks that allow for spontaneity, is a great way to ensure your free time is not only consistent, but relaxing instead of stressful.

5. Utilize Vacation Days

While scheduling in relaxation time is helpful, it doesn’t replace taking longer periods of time off to rest and clear our minds. This time to reset is vital to avoiding burnout and showing up as your best self. “After taking time off, most employees report feeling more energetic-and they are also more engaged, creative, and productive at work than those who don’t take vacations, research shows.” Clearly, taking time for vacations isn’t only beneficial for your mental health and happiness, it’s also crucial for your work performance and success. In order to obtain the best results, taking short breaks more frequently, versus longer breaks less frequently, has shown to be most effective. These breaks do not include checking work email, making phone calls, or strictly checking things off your personal to do list. “When we’re burned out, we produce bad work and get demoralized. We all need time off to recharge, but we’re not taking enough of it.”

6. Fully Enjoy Your Free Time

If you’ve listened and followed through on the previous steps/advice given, you likely now have some free time penciled into your schedule whether in the form of breaks or vacations. However, it’s not enough to simply seek out more leisure time, we also have to make the effort to consciously enjoy and appreciate it. When making a decision of what to do or how to spend your time, make the commitment to look for the positives, joy and appreciation throughout. “Thinking about the economic value of our leisure time can undermine our enjoyment of it, especially when it’s not living up to some perfect ideal in our minds.” Whether it’s a week-long vacation or hiring a housekeeper, that time is yours and in order to enjoy it we have to disconnect the experience from the cost. Money is great but it doesn’t adequately measure value. Only you are able to create and appreciate value in these moments.

I hope part 1 and part 2 of this blog post have shown and illustrated how we can find happiness in our lives today, instead of waiting to get to the moment we address when stating, “I’ll just be happy when…”.

If you or someone you know is struggling to implement strategies to foster overall happiness, it may be useful to connect with one of our Chicago counselors. Visit symmetrycounseling.com or call 312-578-9990 to make an appointment with one of our skilled therapists today!