What's a happy list, you ask? It's a list of things, people, activities-anything really-that make you happy. A happy list can be created on a scrap of paper or in a beautifully bound journal. It can be a list of five things or five hundred. How you create your list-and what you add to it-will be uniquely you, but the benefits you will gain from having a happy list are universal.
You see, we live in a society driven by want. We're supposed to want to have the newest fashions, to live in the nicest house, to have a loving relationship, to be surrounded by fun and friends. Advertising and media encourage us to keep wanting, to be forever unsatisfied by what we have now. But if we focus on the future, on what we want to have, we miss out on enjoying what we already have. The constant state of desire many of us experience only leads to unhappiness; it only perpetuates a feeling of never having enough.
In response to the constant wanting, years ago I decided to create a happy list. I started writing down all the things that make me happy. Every so often I sit down with my list and write down new things-and every time I do, I reap the rewards of having a happy list, which include:
1. A happy list makes you grateful. The more you document all the things that bring you happiness, the more grateful you'll feel for all you have in your life. Instead of dwelling on what you don't have (as so many of us do!), you'll be focusing on what you do have. The more you think about what you have, the more thankful you'll become.
2. A happy list gives you a boost of joy. Every time you pause and write down a few things that make you happy, you'll feel a burst of happiness. This little boost of joy can make a big difference if you're having a bad day. Just taking a few moments to think about what's good in life can transform your mood and uplift your spirit.
3. A happy list puts things in perspective. Too often we forget how lucky we are. We focus on all that's going wrong and rarely on what's going right. When you write down items on your happy list, you'll be reminded of how good things are-even when things seem pretty bad. A happy list has the ability to shift your perception in a positive direction.
4. A happy list inspires and motivates you. Just contemplating the things you love-the things that make you happy-can inspire you. It can also motivate you. When you're feeling down, make some notes on your happy list. Focusing on things that make you happy will bring your mood up-and an uplifted mood will open your mind up to all kinds of inspiration and motivation.
5. A happy list keeps you in the now. In this crazy world, it can be hard to stay present. Spending time writing down the things making you happy can bring you back to the moment by urging you to contemplate what is bringing you joy right now. If you're struggling to stay present, get out your happy list and start looking around you. You'll find lots to be happy about-and your mind will be focused on the now.
Creating a list of things that make you happy might sound silly (or even childish!), but the benefits I've received from taking the time to jot down the things I love far outweigh the nagging voice in my mind that tells me I'm wasting my time. In a society driven by the need to have-and be-more, it's refreshing to pause and realize that I really do have enough. I really am enough. A happy list is a reminder of all that's good in my life-and every time I pause, pen in hand, and note the things that are bringing me happiness, I feel more positive, more present, and more me.
Dani DiPirro launched PositivelyPresent.com in 2009 when she decided to turn her life around and start focusing on the positive while living in the present moment. Her personal development site touches lives around the world. Dani recently published her first book, Stay Positive: Daily Reminders from Positively Present. Learn more at StayPositive365.com.