How was your day? Did something good happen that made you feel happy? Or were there a series of dramas that left a sour taste in your mouth? On average, the answer to the question is almost always just: “it was fine”.
For most people, the typical day tends to be a working day. We wake up, fix breakfast (hopefully), go to work, do the same work we have done for years, come back home, try to relax as we brace for the next day, then go to sleep. People tend to feel worn out and tired after a hard day of work and are just looking forward to the next weekend or the next vacation.
But this means that we are looking forward to only (at most) 10-20% of our lives. The other 80% of our days, we are surviving instead of living. Isn’t this such a waste? We only have a limited amount of time on this Earth, with even fewer years where we are young and full of vitality. Yet we spend the majority of it looking forward to just a small portion of it.
This presents a few problems. For one, we set high expectations for our days off, which can result in disappointment if things don’t go as planned. Sometimes, we feel so exhausted from our work days that we waste our precious free time binging TV shows or scrolling through social media. In essence, because we split our lives into “miserable working days” and “hopefully enjoyable resting days”, we become very inefficient when it comes to living happy lives.
One solution is to find a way to make your typical days more enjoyable. You have to try to find a routine that you wouldn’t get tired of. This might mean finding a job that continues to challenge you in different ways, finding a passion that keeps you interested and motivated to improve yourself, or finding a life partner who you never get sick of talking to and spending time with. These are all achievable, but nonetheless difficult because of the limitations set by reality. Then again, they are well worth trying for.
The other option is changing the way you reflect on your life. A major barrier to happiness is that our brains always focus on only new or negative things. That is why when we look back on our day, it feels featureless and mundane because it will either be routine, or a bad situation overshadows the whole day. To fight this, we have to consciously remind ourselves of the few good moments.
Think of one thing you did well today.
Think of something you were grateful for today.
Think of something that made you smile today, no matter how briefly.
These are all simple questions that will remind you that a typical day is really not that bad if you change your perspective.
Happiness is not a climax that you reach from stimulating yourself with new experiences and excitement. It is a state of mind, a perspective, a way of life. If you seek sustainable happiness, find a way to make each day – no matter how routine it is – more enjoyable, whether by changing something in your life or changing the way you view your life.
(Image source: Puuung http://www.grafolio.com/puuung1)