What Makes Me Happy?
I decided to do a Year in Pixels for 2018 (basically a daily mood tracker), and just finished up January:
It’s a bit hard to figure out the dates, because I had deliberately not put months/days to keep it cleaner. I may add them later though; it’s getting annoying to count them out to double check the date.
I also did one for Jack:
There was a weekend that we were in Tahoe (the large green chunk in my tracker), and when I asked Jack for his mood to fill his in, it seemed a bit like he was just saying he was happy because he felt like he had to since he spent the weekend on a trip with me (something that he denies). It made me think about the days I was marking as happy, and I realized that I didn’t necessarily actually feel happy. I was doing things that I wanted to do, on a trip having fun, and it felt like I should feel happy, so I had marked those as happy. But I realized I didn’t really feel that much happier than a normal day – to be honest, all of those happy days were probably really neutral days.
So in reality, my month was pretty much just chugging along and being pretty meh the whole time.
After we got back from Tahoe, I tried to think of things that actually made me feel happy, and this is what I had come up with at the time:
- Cat snuggles
- Skiing amongst trees
- Going to Penguins games
- Sleeping in
Cat snuggles, sleeping in, and snuggles are pretty passive and more about just relaxing – I think it would probably be more appropriate to say that I am content in those cases, rather than happy.
Skiing amongst trees was something I only remembered because we had just gone skiing; it made me think of one time years ago in Idaho when I was skiing somewhere further away from the more popular runs, and for some reason I was by myself. This was many many years ago, probably middle school, and the Lord of the Rings movies were very new. It was just me skiing in an area where the path was narrower and there were more dense trees around, and in my head I just heard Lord of the Rings music. I had a sense of wonderment, and felt very calm and connected, just surrounded by nature.
Going to Penguins games is something I can definitely say makes me very happy. It’s really exciting to be at the game watching everything happen. It’s a lot of fun to be around everyone else cheering or booing along with you, with no obligation to actually talk to any of them. Even though I have to be around large crowds of people, the excitement and happiness outweighs the feelings of being overwhelmed and exhausted, and the lack of actual interaction with strangers is relieving to me.
I figure I should probably try to do more things that make me happy, after this very blah January retrospective, so I asked Jack what makes him happy and what he thinks makes me happy.
For Jack, he is happy playing games, especially with friends. He is also happy when he drinks and plays games with friends, or drinks and talks about thought-provoking topics with friends. Personally, hanging out with friends is fun for me, but I think it’s overall more neutral than happy because being around people, paying attention to so many conversations and reactions and anticipating if people need something (especially when we’re hosting) or watching out for when people are done with things so I can clean and get them out of the way (when hosting) makes me exhausted, and I need recovery time afterward to just stay in and not do anything.
The only new thing we could come up with that makes me happy was eating good food. However this is not very practical to do often, as all the instances of good food where I was very happy were expensive fancy places.
In writing this and reading back through it, I think I’ve found the disconnect between when I have fun and when I’m happy. Having fun for me is something that is very in-the-moment, but there are consequences to the fun, especially since being around people drains me. So I can have a lot of fun but not end up being overall happy, because I’m exhausted and I need recharge time. The cases where I’m happy are situations where I have fun but don’t get as drained, or where I get recharged (as it seems like being surrounded by nature may do, or just lazing around at home doing nothing).
So perhaps I should not be measuring purely just how happy I am? It would be a very boring life if I was happy but not also having a lot of fun. Maybe I should start splitting my tracker to track both mood and level of fun, and keep mood more honest to how I’m feeling overall, but also track when I had moments of fun.
I don’t really have a specific plan to make February more happy, but being aware of fun vs happiness will hopefully help me find ways to increase happiness.
So I guess the answer to what makes me happy is that I don’t know, but I’ll make sure to have fun finding out! (Wow that was so cheesy)