When life is good, there are signs. No, I’m not referring to limping parking wardens or free canapés. Instead, I mean the signals that indicate that you are happy.
What are these signs in your case? Can you make a list of them?
- Perhaps you sleep better, with fewer anxious dreams?
- Do you laugh until you begin to snort?
- Does your boss become amusing, rather than tyrannical?
- Maybe you eat more recklessly, or dance more furiously?
- As with my friend Tim, sitting a few meters away from me, perhaps you whistle and hum unconsciously as you draw? In my case, when in a good mood, this is an endearing trait, rather than an irritating one.
Perhaps your friends, family or lovers can help you notice these a little more. Here are a smattering of mine:
- The Moleskine test – I write my ‘to-do’ lists in the front of my moleskine and draw, write and take notes in the back. I’ve noticed that when my molskine is full, sometimes the ‘to-do’ lists are longer than the notes and sometimes it’s the other way round, but there is always an amazing correlation between happy times and periods when the notes section is much longer than the ‘to-do’ section.
- When I lose track of time, it’s usually a good sign. Things that do that to me: A good book, playing the guitar or piano, a fascinating conversation.
- When I’m unhappy, I tend to feel tired – therefore, not feeling tired is normally a good sign.
- I write more often.
- I don’t start most of my emails with ‘sorry I’ve been a little frantic’, or ‘it’s been crazy these last few weeks’.
It’s good to catch yourself in these moments, or see these indicators. By noticing what makes you happy, you can initiate it, or savour the moment.
Can you correlate these indicators with your actions? Perhaps on holiday you do all of these things far more than usual, or if you’re fortunate, when you are at work. Perhaps some people ignite these traits in you?
It might seem that the signs follow the mood – but could it also be said that if we try to actively cultivate more of these signs, or signals then these influence the moods. That if we force the results, the associated mood improves. If I play the guitar for an hour, and fight the desire to jump up and do something else, I end up happier. If I write more notes in my moleskine, I usually end up more content. If Tim were to start humming when irritated, perhaps he would cheer up more quickly? When I write more often, I end up calmer and feel more at peace.
If we feel more rested and sleep well, life is often more enjoyable – so we should sometimes head to bed early, rather than always waiting for the later hours.
If we consciously laugh more regularly, we might begin to feel happier. If we force ourselves to be more forgiving and more patient, we can feel healthier. If we eat more recklessly or dance more furiously, perhaps the other pieces start to fall into place.
Perhaps sometimes you have to force these things when they don’t quite feel natural – yet even when you start fake-laughing, often real laughter is close behind.