2 Easy Steps to Being Happier
One of the main reasons our stories are boring is that we don’t understand how to find happiness.
Our nation started on the premise that we all have a right to pursue our own happiness, and with perviously unmatched levels of freedom and prosperity, it has never been easier.
Or is it?
It’s only easy if you are looking in the right places.
There are two easy steps that you can take to increase the likelihood that you will be happier.
This article by CNN.com discusses the difference between finding bliss in owning possessions and finding it in experiences.
There is a smart guy at San Francisco State University named Dr. Ryan Howell, who is a happiness expert. He understands that we as a society don’t get it, so he has spent his career proving to us what really gives us joy.
He sat down with people who were spending time and money to bring a little extra delight to their lives. These purchases could be grouped into two different categories, possessions or experiences.
Stuff you own versus stuff you do.
And guess what. He scientifically discovered that doing stuff matters more to you than owning stuff.
When we have experiences in our life not only is the initial level of happiness higher, but it also lasts much longer.
A less scientific way to prove this is to think about your own life. What were the happiest moments in the last year? Did any of these moments involve possessions or were they something you did with other people?
What about all of the stuff you bought in the last year? Do you still use half of it? Do you even know where half of it is?
The top reasons cited for this increased level of happiness were sharing the experience with other people and the feeling of being alive.
Scientifically certifiable or not, it makes sense to me that feeling fully alive makes life better.
Experiences involve people and relationships and cultures. We engage our senses fully when we interpret what we see and hear and taste and touch and smell. Our brains are stimulated and our souls are astonished with delight.
We were made to love people and give of ourselves for their good. And when we love others, we unearth a part of our souls that is buried deep by the love of ourselves.
Two Easy Steps
There are two take home messages. Stop buying stuff. The less you buy the more time and money you will have.
And then start doing stuff. Do stuff that matters. Do stuff that matters forever.
Remarkable experiences don’t just happen on accident. We can make them happen.
Here are 14 quick suggestions to help you experience more in your life.
- Turn off the TV. It’s a great place to start.
- Call an old friend you haven’t spoken to in years.
- Give unexpected gifts. The more outlandish and unexpected the better.
- Dance instead of just watching from the corner of a room.
- Take someone out to dinner and pick up the tab. Have incredible conversations. Laugh until it hurts.
- Travel to a place you have always wanted to but never had the chance.
- Run a half-marathon with 18,000 other people. This takes time and training, but worth it.
- Go on a mission trip. If you don’t know where to start try Adventures in Missions or Samaritan’s Purse.
- Ask your kids what they want to do this weekend and say yes no matter how absurd, impractical, or ridiculous.
- Help someone in need. Orphans. Widows. The homeless. Maybe your own family.
- Ask your neighbors over for ice cream.
- Conquer a fear. Skydiving. Snakes. Flying. Mexican food. Whatever.
- Throw a party in celebration of life and invite everyone you know. The more the better.
- Tell everyone who matters to you that you love them in a special way.
What is the most memorable experience of your life? Tell us your suggestion in the comments.