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Happiness is an achievable goal

Nurturing

Take note of the things and people that make you feel happy

Mental Health
Jannah Walshe

I recently came across a happiness app in the app store on my mobile phone. I’ve yet to download it as I still haven’t decided if another app is something I want or need in my life. But it certainly got me thinking about the concept of happiness. What is it? How is it achieved? When we feel it, is it lasting?
When people are asked what their goals in life are, happiness is nearly always on the list and very often it’s top of this list. But I wonder, how often do we stop and think about what happiness really means for us. There may be some commonalities between everyone but there will be some things that make me happy and not you and vice versa. So what are those things? And do you know what makes you happy? We often wait for someone or something to answer this question for us. But I challenge you today to try and answer it for yourself.  Why? Because when you really know what makes you happy you can do more of it and hopefully reap many benefits.
On some level, most of us believe we will be happier when we are thinner than we are now; we earn more money; we live in a bigger, prettier, better-located house; we have more friends; we’re in a committed romantic relationship. But what about when all of those things are in place and you still feel unhappy? This is very common and then there is a struggle to find what is still not right.
Some will try to cover up their unhappiness through the many distractions that are available to us. Others will come up with the next thing they need in their life to bring them happiness. This type of happiness is very elusive because it is always based on the next big thing that needs to happen. And finally there will be others who will sit back and evaluate their life and try to figure out what it is that really makes them happy. And then implement more of that. Just to note here that many times when people tell me about what makes them happy they are usually the simpler things in life such as, spending time with friends or family, or spending time alone, eating a good meal, getting out in nature, having a laugh with someone else, and many many more. The reality is that some or all of those things on the list above may help you to feel happy but let’s try to add to that list.

Make a list
The first step is to start to take note of those things that you are doing or the people you are with when you feel genuine happiness. It can be surprising what comes up. Try to be as detailed as possible and even include things that seem silly or too small to include. If you can make a list that will be easier to remember and access as opposed to just thinking about it. Find a notebook to jot things down, open a file on your computer for this or use a note taking app on your phone. Keep adding to it as you find things that make you feel happy.
If you are finding it hard to come up with things, think back to the past or when you were a child and try to remember what types of things made you feel happy then. Or alternatively, try new things now and see how you feel as you do them.
When you move away from the idea that happiness is inside of you, you start turning to other people and things to make you happy. But the more true you are to yourself, the happier you’ll be. So make sure anything that is included on your list is a true reflection of who you are and what makes you happy.
Finally happiness is flexible. It comes and it goes. That is normal and expected. It is impossible to be happy all of the time. However we can incorporate things into our lives that increase our levels of happiness. It takes practice, determination and constant personal reminders but if you look at your list every day and make sure to do at least one thing from it, that’s an excellent place to begin.

Jannah Walshe is a counsellor and psychotherapist based in Castlebar and Westport. A fully accredited member of The Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, she can be contacted via www.jannahwalshe.ie, or at info@jannahwalshe.ie or 085 1372528.

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