On happiness, chargers & drainers - grab your notebook 📒
The other day I read a quote from author Eve Rodsky “Happiness is sustained attention to something you love.”
Happiness is a tricky topic. I once heard a psychologist explain that happiness is a feeling that can come and go 100 times a day, so how can we define a feeling that is so fleeting, so elusive?
From all the many definitions for happiness I heard over the years, I must say this quote is the most helpful definition I came across. For me, it’s also one of the most resonant.
My happiest times are indeed those in which I bring sustained attention to something I love. Doing something creative. Writing. Learning something new that I’m curious about. A mindful walk in nature. A certain way of gathering with people.
What I love so much about this definition is that it doesn’t tell us to seek overall happiness. It guides us to find pockets of happiness within our days. It tells us that if we want to be happier today, we need to carve out time and focus to give sustained attention to something we love. And becoming aware of what we love is a prerequisite.
So, to make that practical, here’s a fun exercise I like doing with clients called chargers & drainers:
Grab a pen + paper and make a list of your drainers and chargers, following these categories:
People – people that drain your energy (aka energy vampires) Vs. people that nourish your soul and inspire you
Activities – activities that fill you and light you up Vs. activities that drain you out and bore you
Places/Situations – places that give you the feeling that you’re in the right place, that give you energy and comfort Vs. places that leave you feeling tired, empty and uninspired
This exercise is designed to help you discover and identify the core things in your life that drain you and the ones that light you up. They can also provide you with a lot of insight about your spark, your brilliance, and give you clues about what your heart is longing for.
You will discover the group of people in your life that make you happy and joyful when they’re around. You may discover that being by the beach charges you and fills you up, while being in an urban environment tires you (or the other way around!). You may find that after moving your body you feel really light and energetic. Or maybe you’ll find that reading a book really lifts your spirit.
Whatever you may find, the idea is to do more of what nourishes you and less of what drains you! And you want to lead our lives from there.
Do you remember what you love? There have been times in my life when I couldn’t. It’s okay to be in one of those times. Start journaling, start bravely exploring experimenting, and answers will come.
Once you see clearly where you’re falling short and what you want to do more of, and you’re willing to make changes, you can create an action plan. This is a set of specific, intentional, manageable steps to get you feeling more inspired, creative, lit up, happy.
Can you carve out a window of time and space to give sustained attention to something you love? If it’s hard, maybe just once or twice a week to start.
What conversations do you need to have with loved ones to change things around to open up that time? Or what might you need to delegate, simplify, or drop off the to-do list for now?
What distractions or time-suckers keep you from giving sustained attention to something you love? (I’m looking at you social media!) What boundaries do you need to put in place around that? Today, may we all give sustained attention to something we love. Big love,