Initiatives for Happiness

Happiness usually takes hard work and self-discipline. This may be especially true for you depending on such matters as your age, health, family situation, education, job, and financial condition. Regardless of the conditions of your life, it will be worth your while to think about all the possible activities in which you could engage to increase your pleasure and satisfaction in life. When you “brainstorm,” you write down all ideas that occur to you without stopping to be critical of the ideas you are generating. Please take some time and brainstorm all possible activities in which you could engage in each of the following FIVE categories.

  1. Enjoying the Beauty of Nature
  2. Physical and Recreational
  3. Curiosity and Wonder about the Natural World
  4. CULTURE: Art, Music, Movies, TV, History
  5. Social Relationships

Please study the following lists. They are not direct suggestions, but are to help stimulate your own creative efforts in brainstorming all possible initiatives for happiness in five categories.

1. Enjoying the Beauty of Nature

  • Go to a beach and watch a sunrise or sunset.
  • Lie out under a starry night sky.
  • Take a walk on a moonlit night after a snowfall.
  • Take a walk by a stream or pond.
  • Look at the shapes of bare trees against a winter sky.
  • Walk in the woods and listen for the sounds of small animals and birds.
  • During stormy weather find a place to watch waves crashing against a rocky shore.
  • Take a drive during the height of fall foliage.
  • Take some time to look at the shapes and colors of clouds.

2. Physical and Recreational

  • Take a brisk walk.
  • Do some stretching exercises.
  • Take a class in yoga, tai chi or meditation.
  • Go fishing.
  • Take a boat ride down a river.
  • Visit a state or municipal park.
  • Visit an amusement park.
  • Go to the zoo.
  • Work out at the gym.

3. Curiosity and Wonder about the Natural World

Think about the things that fascinated you when you were a child – before you became involved with adult concerns.

  • Read about stars, planets and the Universe
  • Read about volcanoes and earthquakes
  • Read about the evolution of humankind Read about rocks and minerals
  • Read about life in the sea
  • Read about the age of dinosaurs
  • Go to a museum of science or a museum of natural history

4. CULTURE: Art, Music, Movies , TV, History

  • Go to an art museum
  • Write to the chambers of commerce of every nearby town or city that may be of interest to you, and look through the materials for points of interest.
  • Visit an historic town or village Pick out a favorite movie actor or actress (e.g. Kevin Costner, Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman, Barbara Streisand, Richard Dreyfus, Sean Connery, Denzel Washington, Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp), and find a list of the movies they have made. Starting with their early movies, see one of their movies each week and follow the evolution of their career.
  • Pick out one weekly TV show that you find particularly enjoyable and make a point of seeing it every week.
  • Learn to cook some new foods.
  • Find out about local historical sites and visit them.

5. Social Relations

  • Make a list of your friends and relatives. Find out all their birthdays and anniversaries. Acquire a supply of cards and make a point of sending birthday and anniversary cards.
  • Invite some friends or relatives to join you for dinner or Sunday brunch.
  • Organize a potluck dinner.
  • Make a list of persons with whom you would like to be in closer touch. Once a week write a letter to one of those persons.
  • Ask a number of people if they are interested in visiting a particular place and plan a group trip.
  • Ask some friends if they would like to have a regular monthly or bi-weekly get-together for a movie, dinner, et cetera.

Michael R. Slavit, Psychologist, Ph.D., ABPP, is Board Certified in Cognitive Behavioral Psychology. This column is not intended to be a substitute for help from a qualified professional.

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