Key to the mental health and wellbeing of the first world is the issue of personal happiness. We are often asked or ask ourselves: what makes me happy?
For some people, the answer is easy: love, or friends and family, good health, money or success, playing a sport, spotting trains or having non-steam-filled fun.
For other people, the answer isn’t easy. If you ask them what they are passionate about, or what gets them springing out of bed in the morning, they don’t know. They wish they did have that inspiring job or all-consuming hobby. Not having either can make people feel lost or depressed.
A recent poll in the UK found only 13 per cent of people love their jobs. No wonder the pubs are packed on Friday.
But, to find their passion, I would take a wise therapist’s advice and suggest changing the question from “what makes you happy?” to “what do you value?”
In other words: what really matters to you?
Focus on the fundamental aspects of what makes you you. You may be tidy, creative, sociable, spiritual or sporty, or like nature, clothes, honesty, magic, learning Mandarin or laughing at gnomes. There are thousands of words and qualities. Make a list of them.
Don’t be concerned about how vague these things seem: wit, style and sunshine might sound like a tampon advert, but qualities and natural elements are all integral parts of our psyche. Without having a framework of values, we wouldn’t get out of bed at all, let alone spring out of it. Unless it was a prison bunk.
After making this list, extrapolate events or pastimes from it. If you wrote “wit” then find a comedy club or enroll on a comedy course. If you wrote “style” then explore areas of fashion or interior design, and if you wrote “sunshine” then book a foreign holiday or hit the park with a book and a bottle of P20. Whatever you like. They are your words and you can interpret them however you wish.
The point is to write down what’s important to you and to frame the words into events. If one of these doesn’t inspire you, try another. Maybe take a friend along. Eventually, something or someone you meet will give you that light bulb moment. And, you never know, out of a passing interest a new career might blossom that makes work a fulfilling vocation rather than a bill-paying chore.
You often hear the advice “think outside the box.” Scrap that. I suggest you open the box marked “me, me, glorious me,” take out a well-honed habit and make it into a happy new hobby. I value plans, so that works for me.