Pushing Happiness to the Top of the List

I’m not really one to do a book review. If we’re being totally honest, I didn’t read a single book in all of 2016. But I’ve made the commitment to read more books in the coming year and that starts with 52 Lists for Happiness. I came across this book recently and was immediately drawn in upon reading the foreword in which author Moorea Seal speaks so beautifully about pushing happiness to the top of the list.

More of a journal than a book, it guides you to complete one list per week for 52 weeks. With four sections (reflect, acknowledge, invest, transform), the prompts for each week teach you how to experience “practicing happiness to achieve joy and fulfillment.” And although it follows a very simple structure, I imagine it will take me on a pretty intense and introspective journey throughout the year.

Right off the bat, this got me:

“For most of my life, I have prioritized so many things over the pursuit of my own happiness… I am someone who believes deeply in investing in the people around me: friends, family, and even strangers. I set enormous goals for myself in my work and fill up my days with lists of tasks for home and the office. But it occurred to me that even when I succeed in the most difficult goals, even when I feel like I’ve made my community so proud, my own happiness is still not reaching its full potential. I realized that for most of my life, I have pushed happiness to the very bottom of my list of life goals. I have viewed happiness as a possible result of achieving something else, rather than allowing happiness to be the main goal.

Think about that for a minute.

“It is so easy to forget sometimes that, just like becoming great at playing piano, just like achieving goals in work and tidying up your home, living a happy life takes intention and practice… It’s through practicing your own individual pursuit of happiness that you achieve joy and fulfillment in all areas of your life… the root of joy is already inside of you.”

The thing that really resonated with me is the concept of choosing happiness instead of it being a result of an action, success or experience. I mean, it’s pretty spot on when you think about it. Something happy happens, and in turn it makes you happy. Right? But what if we put happiness at the top of the list instead of those actions, successes or experiences resulting in our happiness? It doesn’t mean we push those things aside and forget about gaining happiness from them — we still place them as a priority in our lives — but we put happiness at the top of the list as an achievable action within itself.

I can’t yet speak to the weekly prompts as I’m choosing not to flip forward in the book, but week one was pretty powerful: list what makes you happy right now.

Two blank pages to list any and everything that currently makes me happy. It was an incredible exercise that made me really think about things in my life big and small. From a hot cup of coffee (that doesn’t have to be reheated 3 times) to watching my son smile, laugh, learn and grow, week one took me on a journey to really reflect on the elements of my current life that bring me joy.

Fast forward a few days to when I sat in on Meggie’s “Make Resolutions Worth a Sh*t” webinar. Guys, to say this girl has her sh*t together would be the biggest understatement of the century. She’s so organized in life that she’s made a career out of it, literally. I left the webinar thinking a lot about how her four pillars (relationships, spirituality, work and finance, hobbies and heart happy activities) work in tandem with this personal goal of happiness.

Obviously the people and experiences that fall under those pillars contribute to our happiness. The friendships and relationships we so carefully nurture and love dearly. The spirituality in our hearts and souls that brings us comfort, understanding and strength when we need it most. The work and finance that allow us to live and breathe and eat the food on our dinner tables. The hobbies and heart happy activities that provide fun, different and happy elements of entertainment to our lives. But in day to day life, we often lose sight of the things that fall beneath those pillars in one way or another, focusing more on our daily to-do lists instead of organizing and prioritizing the things that matter most. For example, I worry about the laundry or the dirty dishes in the sink, this chore and that, and forget that organizing and prioritizing my life in a structured, fulfilling way that provides room to both “be and breathe” (more on that later) will allow me to actually achieve happiness without it being a direct result of someone or something else.

Rather, I need to stop worrying about the little stuff that clouds my day and start choosing goals that push happiness to the top. Like more date nights with my husband, working out more during the week, worrying less about the tidiness of our home, etc.

Read: If I actually do this, I have the ability to push happiness toward the top of the list.

I have the ability to make happiness THE priority… an actual, achievable goal.

Mind. Blown.

Phew. If you’re still with me and reading this, thanks for getting through this insanely long post! I know it was a doozie — but I just had too many happy thoughts to share. I can’t wait to watch my 52 Lists for Happiness unfold throughout 2017 and will most certainly be sharing more of the journey with all of you here. In the meantime, tell me, how do you push happiness to the top of your list?

  • Jessica I

    Thanks for the inspiration for the day!

  • Thank you for sharing! What a wonderful reminder to not worry about things that may seem like an “emergency” (laundry, dishes, etc) and spend more time with those around you.

    Cheers, J

    • It’s so easy to do but if you start to recognize that it’s all just fluff, I think that gets you one step closer to putting happiness first.

  • Jazzmine Woodard

    “Living a happy life takes intention and practice” so true but so easy to forget. Thanks for sharing!

  • Sheila Echols-Smesny

    Thanks for sharing- when you break it down it IS simple. I’m learning how to say “no” this year, to put myself and my needs before trying to please everyone else. Hopefully I won’t be so exhausted all the time! Have a great day, Laurie!

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