What do you do that really makes you happy?
I don’t mean the things that you feel you SHOULD do or that you think you OUGHT to be doing – or the things you do for other people – I mean the things that are just for you.
If you want to get more joy out of your life it’s really important to know what activities you truly love doing and then to prioritise them.
But why do I need to find out what makes my heart sing (and wouldn’t I just KNOW it anyway)?
Well, doing more of what you love makes you happier – simple as that! Like when you were a child and you could get so completely involved in something that you created a kind of bubble of joy around yourself. Remember that feeling? It’s what Mihály Csíkszentmihályi refers to as being in flow – when someone is “fully immersed in a feeling of energised focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity.”
Plus it’s fun and you’ll rediscover things about yourself you’ve probably forgotten as you reconnect with the creative, crazy and joyful part of yourself.
And you might think that what you love is obvious but in my experience it often isn’t, because that part of us can get lost along the way as we travel through life – as work and other responsibilities take over. By midlife we can find we’ve gone a long way from the things we used to do or that fascinated us when we were younger.
You may know perfectly well the things you enjoy doing but maybe you’re not making the time for them, maybe you’ve put them aside as something you should’ve grown out of or perhaps you’re worried that people around you are just going to think it’s too WEIRD!
Look at the whole colouring book thing.
A few years ago we would probably have been too embarrassed (or thought it was childish) to spend hours with our felt-pens and crayons, but NOW we’ve been given permission to sit down and do some colouring because it can be a way of practising mindfulness – it’s about relaxation and meditation – as well as getting in touch with our creativity.
Don’t assume that finding what you love will mean you can make money doing it.
I bet when you were growing up you got the feeling that work wasn’t supposed to be fun and you probably learnt to associate the fun things you enjoyed doing with, well, messing about – they weren’t to be taken seriously as a career option.
The fabulous Marianne Cantwell from Free Range Humans said recently “We have been conditioned to think that the only things that have value have to feel hard, that means we often think our strengths can’t be that valuable in practice.”
Maybe what you love doing will become the key to finding a new career or starting a business that will bring you much greater fulfillment, but that’s not what this post is about for me:
Finding what you love means (no surprises here eh?) you can start DOING what you love! And it doesn’t matter if that’s in your day job or at the weekends because the important thing is getting in touch with the joyful things in your life.
So what can you do to find your thing (or things)?
Here are some ways to tap in to what’s in your heart:
- What did you like doing when you were a child? Imagine what your 10 year old self would be amazed to discover you DON’T do anymore (those things that thrilled you and that you thought would always be so important). Life may have got in the way and you might almost have forgotten … but tap in to those childhood passions
- Pay attention to the things you dismiss. Don’t say ‘I can’t think of anything’ because I bet you can but you’re either too embarrassed to say OR you don’t think it’s possible. And for the purpose of this exercise the world’s your oyster. Nothing’s impossible
- Think fun. It doesn’t matter how silly it seems – doing what you love should make you smile and make you HAPPY. Gretchen Rubin, who’s written about her personal happiness project, talks here about how hard it was to find out what she liked to do just for fun;
- Think more than one. The world nowadays seems to be full of multi-potentialists or multi-talented people building careers and interests in diverse fields. If you know the work of writer Barbara Sher then you’ll know she came up with a description for the magpie-minded amongst us; the ones who have lots of things they’re really into and want to know more about – maybe you’re a scanner like me!
Now all you have to do is make the time to spend on these precious pursuits – and if you need some help to carve out more time to do the things that you really love and enjoy doing, look out for my upcoming post “How to get more hours out of every day – 3 really small changes that can give you time to do more of what you love”
Is there one thing you used to love doing that you’d like to start doing again? Do let me know in the comments!