Ten Ways to Discover
The Happiness Factor

by Mershon Niesner

In the past, I have written briefly about the pursuit of happiness and about how, according to recent research, the joy factor is not increased through more and more money or possessions. So where does it come? What experiences, thoughts and relationships help you reach a momentary (happiness, like sadness or anger, never lasts forever) state of joy or happiness? Here are some of mine.

1. Set goals and complete them. There is something very satisfying and joy-producing in crossing something off a list. I believe we are programmed towards accomplishment. We're frustrated with procrastination, indecision, lost dreams. You may be very "busy" but unless you have a tool to measure progress (goals) you won't appreciate the satisfaction and joy of completion.

2. Dance, sing, listen to music. It's difficult to hold on to a frown when enveloped by a rollicking Irish jig or a symphony orchestra. My husband and I are taking dance lessons. What's not to like about moving together, learning together, being in one another's arms? Happiness might have been a warm puppy to Charles Schultz but to me is it being in the arms of my warm husband.

3.Make something. The click, click of knitting needles, the hum of a sewing machine, the pounding of a nail. Not only the act of creating a product but the pride of producing something tangible always brings joy to my life.

4. Grow something. Not unlike creating a product, growing a tree, a garden, or an African violet, brings ongoing satisfaction and joy. My client, Linda The Gardener, virtually beams (I can hear it over the phone) when she talks about her wonderful gardens.

5. Give freely. When you give your time, your talents, and/or your money, you'll give yourself a shot of happiness. There is something powerful about giving freely (not out of guilt or duress).

6. Get physical. Move your body. Talk a walk, go for a run, have great sex, row a boat, paint your bathroom. We all know there is strong scientific evidence that significant physical movement activates endorphins that make us feel happy. What are you waiting for?

7. Add color. Feeling low? Take off that black skirt and sweater and put on something colorful. I just painted my office red and it calls me in. I love it! Have you observed the ladies of the Red Hat Society? They are dressed in purple and wear red hats (in public!). Boy, are they ever a happy bunch!

8. Take a friend to lunch. Friendship is one of our greatest gifts. Spending time with girlfriends nearly always makes a us more joyful. Call an old friend you haven't spoken to in a long time, set a date for lunch with someone who makes you laugh, visit a friend who is homebound.

9. Learn to be alone. Spending time alone, regrouping, being silent can have a surprising happiness quotient attached. Learn to find joy in your own company. My friend Mildred, age 98, was asked by her friend who is 101 if she was ever lonely or bored (they both live alone). "Oh, no," she replied. "I'm never lonely and the time seems to fly by. Before I know it, it's time to eat again." "Me too," replied her friend. I told them both that they are my role models for aging successfully.

10. Stretch your mind. As much as I sometimes resist learning something new, I always come away feeling renewed and fulfilled when I stretch my mind and take in a new idea, skill, or information. My husband finds joy in crossword puzzles, my friend Tom can't wait to retire to take some college courses, and I was happy when my daughter taught me how to add lines to a table on the computer.

It's a good thing the title of this article is "10 things" because otherwise I would go on and on. There is practically no limit to the happiness possibilities if you look for them, appreciate them, and acknowledge how you're feeling when you're involved. Make your own list of happiness factors and then make sure they are a part of your life!

© 2004 by Mershon Neisner

2912 Note: I have lost touch with Mershon, but am reluctant to remove this lovely  article from my site. If you know her, please tell her to contact me. In the past, Mershon had a coaching website with a background as a speaker, workshop leader, teleclass leader, and author.

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