Happiness is often thought of and talked about as if it’s an end goal, something that we’re pursuing and hoping to find or eventually achieve. Once we have it, the hope is it’ll remain for good. Of course, life experience tells us otherwise. Happiness comes and goes and the things that create it at one point in our life won’t necessarily generate the same feelings at another point.
Therefore, it’s more realistic to think about happiness less as an end point and more as a by-product of action. Changing the way we use our time and re-thinking our overall approach to life will help us appreciate what we have and enhance our experience of longer lasting happiness.
The two pathways we briefly looked at earlier (hedonia and eudaimonia) suggest types of actions that contribute to our happiness/well-being – not a route to reach an end destination! Hedonia is explored a little further below.
Hedonia: has roots in the Ancient Greek words for ‘delight’ and ‘pleasure’
Just a quick recap, hedonia involves actions and experiences that generate feelings of pleasure, enjoyment and personal satisfaction in us. It’s what we gain from taking care of our immediate ‘needs’ and ‘wants’ while minimising our experiences of pain and dissatisfaction. Acts/experiences which contribute to our hedonic well-being are different for everyone; I gave some examples – but I’m sure you came up with lots of your own!
Pleasure and enjoyment have a huge part to play in our well-being, yet it can take a back bench for many of us when work and family commitments take over. Below are three simple ideas for building more opportunities for hedonic well-being in your life.
Creating a playlist is easy. It involves simply writing a list of five to ten things (big or small) you really enjoy doing. These could be things that you already occasionally do or, alternatively, activities that you rarely feel you have time for. As long as they bring a smile to your face and generate pleasure they can be added. For the next fortnight, commit to making time for one or two of these things in your life and reassess how you feel after the fortnight has passed. If it’s been a success, choose other activities from your list and start to incorporate them into your life.
This is as simple as it sounds. If you’re busy at work and home with the demands of life, it’s likely time to yourself is pushed to the back of your priorities. Not today! Make plans in your schedule for you. Block out some time (whether it’s half an hour or a whole evening) once or twice a week when you know you can do something for yourself and have uninterrupted headspace. This time is yours – don’t let something from your general ‘to do’ list creep in!
3: HAVE AN ADVENTURE
Explore a new area in your city/country that you haven’t been to before and see where it takes you. Cafes, an exhibition, a hike in the forest, the beach… get some friends to join you and make a day of it. Combining new experiences and time with friends is a guaranteed way to bring a smile to your face.
Making time for activities that give us pleasure and enjoyment is key to enhancing our well-being. Not only are we relaxed and in a better mood, our relationships with others can be strengthened. In addition to this, when our minds are stimulated and recharged, we’re often more creative and able to problem solve more effectively. There are few down sides to having fun!
If you’ve any tips for alternative activities that you know work well for you and you’re happy to share them, please do.
Thanks for reading!