“You should follow the advice that you give in your blog posts. Maybe, you’ll feel better”- my mom said.
“I’m fine”- I snap back. “I don’t have time for this.”
As soon as I hang up the phone, I realize: “Happy people aren’t snappy.”
Think about it: have you ever met a truly, deeply happy person who snaps? Improbable.
So, if you encounter a snappy, judgmental person, have some empathy: this person is probably not happy at the moment.
Also, if you find yourself snapping back and judging, you know that you need to take a look at your own happiness.
Making yourself happier may sound like a daunting project, because often, people don’t know where to start and what exactly to aim for when it comes to happiness. I recently wrote about the “I should be happy” Syndrome, where people say that everything in their lives is so great that they should be happy. Yet, for some reason, they are not, and they are not sure what to do about it.
Aside from the discussion on genetic set-point for happiness, scientists don’t even agree on a universal definition of happiness. So where can a lay person, possibly tired, busy, and frustrated, begin?
You can dive into a gratitude journal or meditation, of course, but if you are rolling your eyes right now, the chances are that there’s more going on than a gratitude journal can fix.
Instead, start with a quick happiness assessment below, that will tell you how happy you are on the scale from 1 to 10. Within 30 seconds, you’ll know how happy you are right now.
Want to give it a try? Answer the following 10 “yes” or “no” questions, keeping track of the number of “yes”es:
1. Did I get enough sleep today?
2. Did I put nutritious food into my body today?
3. Do I feel generally healthy today?
4. Did I give/get a 20-second hug today?
5. Did I laugh out loud today?
6. Is there anything in my life today that I’m thankful for?
7. Did I do something meaningful today, something that made a difference?
8. Did I learn anything new today?
9. Do I have anything to look forward to?
10. Do I feel connected with anyone who matters to me?
Bonus Question: Did I enjoy doing something today in which I’m exceptionally good?
The number of your “yes”es indicate how happy you are today, on the scale of 1-10. It’s that simple.
It is not a scientific measure, but the questions are based on items that are linked to to happiness through research, and on basic ideas of well-being: mastery, purpose, gratitude, and connection.
If you are not convinced that the questions above are a fair measure of daily happiness, this is what a story of a person would sound like if he answers “no” to all the questions:
“I didn’t get enough sleep today. I ate junk. I feel like a truck rolled over me. I didn’t hug anyone today and I didn’t laugh. I’m not thankful for anything in my life, not even the morning coffee. I wasn’t any good at the stuff that I did all day at work today, and my work wouldn’t have made a difference anyway. I’m too tired to learn anything new. I feel lonely, and I have nothing to look forward to.”
This person is at a zero happiness for the day
Consider a different story:
“I got a good amount of sleep today, ate a decent breakfast and lunch. I feel healthy. I gave my kids a 20-second hug each this morning. I laughed out loud at a post my friend shared on facebook. I’m thankful that my commute was smooth, and I get paid for doing the work I’m good at. I helped a client fix a computer glitch; made him happy. I learned something curious about the future of college education today. I just talked to my wife, and I look forward to our movie night.”
This person is at 10 for the day, wouldn’t you say?
What is great about my quick assessment is that it tells you right away where you are in terms of happiness. Also, the assessment implies easy changes that you can make to your daily routine in order to increase your happiness level immediately:
1. Sleep. Take a nap or plan to go to bed early if you didn’t get enough sleep.
2. Nutrition. Pick up a pack of organic carrots and hummus for a snack at a grocery around the corner.
3. Overall health. Take vitamin C or Echinacea to boost your immune system, make 10,000 steps, hold a plank for a minute, get some fresh air.
4. Hugs. Offer a 20-second hug to someone who looks amenable to it.
5. Laughter. Ask a friend for a laugh-out-loud joke or story.
6. Gratitude. Think of one small thing that worked out for you today, and acknowledge it.
7. Purpose. Do a small kind thing for someone: sharpen someone’s pencil, hold the door, bring a coffee.
8. Learning. Google any topic that is interesting to you, and spend 5 minutes looking at new developments on the topic.
9. Hopeful future. Add something enjoyable to your calendar, small or large, that makes your heart smile when you think of it.
10. Connection. Write a nice e-mail or give a quick call to someone you care about. Even if you don’t send your email, it still counts if you write it.
Bonus: Mastery. Think of something that you’re good at, and just do it. It could be as small as making a perfect cup of tea.
The good thing is that while you’re contemplating the larger question of your overall happiness, you can easily do seemingly small things that will bring your overall happiness level up TODAY.
I’d love to hear about your happiness score today. Please, let me know if the assessment was helpful for you! And if you can think of one friend who could use a quick happiness assessment today, would you please forward this message to her? Thanks!