When I think about Delivering Happiness, the movement, and the concept of happiness in general, it always brings me back to the last two years of my undergrad experience. Those years, before my emergence into the grown-up world of full time work, household management, and budgeting, were the happiest I’ve ever experienced, and I can chalk that happiness up to a few specific people and a very simple way of life. It was during those heady days that I developed a very simple motto. “If, at the end of the day, life has been lived, it was a good day.” This became my mantra and my equation for personal happiness.
Over time, with the input of friends, that mantra became a list, our Reasons for Living, although, the capitals make it seem like something much more structured and formal than it was. There was no numbering system for our list, and I don’t think anyone ever bothered to write it down, but it grew and grew with the experiences of those two years. My first item on that list? A vanilla latte. That drink started out for me as nothing more than a particularly tasty way to consume enormous quantities of caffeine quickly, but over time it morphed into something more. It became a symbol of the simplicity we all need in our lives. Every latte (and there were a lot of them) became a touchstone, a reminder to stop and enjoy all of life, not just the exciting parts, because that’s the root of true happiness.
Most of the things on my Reasons list are like that vanilla latte. They force me to live my life in the present, and enjoy the quiet moments for what they are. As I grow further and further removed from those more carefree college days, I find myself thinking back to that list often. My days are filled with the responsibilities of adulthood and I need that list to remind myself to enjoy the peace of a quiet night at home, or the satisfaction of providing a good meal for family and friends, rather than rushing through it as one more task to check off the list.
Similarly, most of my vanilla lattes anymore are enjoyed after a morning dash through Starbucks. That first sip always brings me back to a place of quiet and peace, a happy place that lets me enjoy whatever song is playing on the radio and slow down from the harried rush out the door. It lets me take a moment before starting the workday to gather myself and refocus inward, keeping me from missing the experience of life in the drive to produce results and achieve goals.
Your challenge today is to start your own Reasons for Living list by finding that item that acts as your personal touchstone to happiness. I’d love to hear what some of those touchstones are in the comments, or on Twitter using the hashtag #ReasonsforLiving.