I love journaling, and as a natural consequence of that I love journal prompts. The other day, I opened one and it said to write about the last time I was truly happy. I was stumped because I couldn’t remember the last time I was.
As I backtracked through my brain, I found myself pulling up one incident after another where I was sad, depressed or otherwise agitated, but nothing that was happy. It turns out this is a common problem because our brains tend to remember negative experiences vividly due to the negativity bias and emotional impact they carry. So in an attempt to make myself happier on a daily basis, I started to build a few habits in my life.
For some reason, I find it hard to smile. Half of the time it’s because I’m so lost in thought that my face just goes to its default brooding state. The other half of the time, I’m too tired and don’t want to spend any more energy. So I have to actually make a conscious effort to smile more frequently. I smile at the barista who makes my coffee, trying to engage in a courteous conversation, and that always lifts my mood immediately.
2. Call a friend (or meet them face-to-face).
As an introvert, connecting with people doesn’t come naturally. This doesn’t mean that I don’t have friends. I have many good friends, but I tend to keep conversations on WhatsApp (as a writer, that’s my default mode of communication). However, I noticed that whenever I talk to someone, I am in a more cheerful mood. So nowadays I make the effort to call people and meet up with them over coffee. This has been quite interesting because since I started doing this, I’ve had a lot of interesting opportunities open up in my life that wouldn’t have otherwise happened if I kept relationships online or Whatsapp.
3. Do a good deed.
Doing a good deed always makes you happier even if you’re feeling down. The problem with humans is we underestimate how much value we can add to the lives of the people around us if we only dare to show up and ask, “How can I help?” The other day, my friend and I were driving and she was telling me that she was searching for a job, and through brainstorming, we came up with brilliant ideas on how to help her improve her job-hunting process. It made me happy to hear her say, “Thanks for that idea. I never really thought about that. I’ll definitely do that.”
4. Build your happiness box and revisit it occasionally.
Whether it’s a virtual photo album on Facebook or an actual physical shoe box with mementos from happy moments and trips, have one at hand so whenever you’re feeling down or in a “neutral” mode, you can go through your happiness box and relive those happy moments. I also like the idea of happy jar where you record all the moments that made you happy every year. Try these four ways to make yourself happier on a daily basis. Now if the journal prompt asks me to write about a time I was truly happy, I don’t know what to select from.
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Author: Amina H.
Author writes on productivity, personal development, and creativity.