Years ago, I read ‘The Happiness Project’. It sees Gretchen Rubin systematically explore and bring happiness into her life, with added commentary on how successful each step was. In the book she outlines three stages to happiness; anticipation, savouring the moment and reflecting on the happy memory. As the world gets busier, louder and hyperconnected, these steps still ring true. It’s more important than ever to curate your week, so each day has that anticipation, mindfulness and gratitude. Below I’m going to share a couple of ways to help you pragmatically achieve this.
1. Keep good people in your life
Staying in touch with friends is one of the top five regrets of those that are dying. “Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved.”
There are people you meet in your life that drain you (and teach you important lessons), and there are people you meet which lift you up. Our brains are programmed to pay more attention to ‘threats’ and so without thought we can get wrapped up in the people that make us feel threatened. Use Wunderlist to make sure you spend more time with those that you enjoy spending time with. The app is a cloud-based task management application (a To Do list). It’s free, and you can use it on whichever device you prefer. Apple, Android, or browser.
Set up a reoccurring reminder, either weekly or monthly, to get in touch with each person. It might sound superficial, but if you can think of even one person you haven’t spoken to in a while who lights you up, this will definitely help you maintain and build that relationship.
2. Create events to bring more anticipation into your life
Anticipation of positive events has been found to be a key element of well-being and on the opposite side, the absence of anticipation has also been linked to depression. You probably know this intuitively from your own experience. When you’re looking forward to an event – a holiday, a break, a party, a new job, you’re excited. You’re happier than when you don’t have anything to look forward to.
For years I’ve tried to find a way to be alerted to events I might want to attend; reasons to get out of the house and meet new people or try new things. A couple of websites like Meetup.com and Eventbrite have tried to answer this need and for the most part do a good but still not perfect job. Enter again Wunderlist.
At the beginning of the year I found the general meeting places around my area, or where ever I was willing to travel to. And much like the Social Calendar above, scheduled checking into these websites to find the latest events and activities. By spreading out the reminders, it means for only a couple of a minutes a day I’m planning future happiness and increasing my list of events to look forward to.
If you want to get started with this I can recommend; • FamiliesOnline • Facebook events • Eventbrite • Your local council website • Look for theatres and conference centres in your area • And for Sports, Let’s do this
And finally, there are places which you are always going to make you happy, or you’ve always wanted to go to. However, you aren’t always going to have the energy, or the right mindset to think of where you want to go in the moment. There will be days where it’s been a long week, a friend cancelled on you last minute, you’ve caught a cold or the kids are exceptionally fidgety. Make those times easier on yourself and create a list one weekend ahead of time. Days out, films, museums, cafes, parks, libraries – choosing what to do on any given day, no matter your mental state, is a lot less stressful when you’re looking at a list of all things you’ve previously planned.
3. Using Wunderlist to build Wonder-ful Days
“Happiness is the consequence of personal effort…You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness…” Elizabeth Gilbert.
Wunderlist was launched 5 years after these words were written, and whilst happiness does take some effort, and some planning – you will benefit from the seeds you sow by using the methods above.
You can use other apps to achieve the same outcome. A friend of mine uses Trello, or you can make the most of the brand specific Google Notes or Apple Reminders. I personally use Wunderlist and it’s seen me through several devices changes no matter want I’m using.
All that’s left to say is enjoy! Let me know what other apps you use to build anticipation or happiness in your life.