Feeling Unhappy? This Powerful Happiness Exercise Works Like Magic
Are we living where our soul feels at home? This topic resonates with many of us.
Many of us have lived in a certain place for career or family reasons. Or perhaps we lived in a place we once loved but which no longer speaks to us.
Perhaps we now yearn to be near mountains or oceans or forests or farmland. What we crave is not only different for each of us – it can be different at different points along our life journey.
As I pondered this topic, a memory flooded back to me of an exercise I often included in a stress management class I taught for many years.
Since the process of exploring and completing this exercise often resulted in some powerful insights and “aha” moments for many in the room, I thought you might find it interesting – and fun – to do.a
It’s from a wonderful book called Wishcraft: How to Get What You Really Want written by career/lifestyle coach Barbara Sher whose books have sold millions of copies. I also recommend another one of her books, I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was. I’m sure it will speak to many of you.
For this exercise, give yourself some time – and a location – where you can sit undisturbed for 20-30 minutes with either a pen and paper or screen in front of you. Pick the thing that will make it easiest for you to write out your thoughts.
So Here’s the Exercise: “My Ideal Day”
The title of this exercise is “My Ideal Day.” Barbara suggests we write out, in present tense and in exquisite detail, a description of our ideal day.
This has nothing to do with vacation days either. It’s about daily life. So, describe the picture of your ideal every day – from the time you get up in the morning to the time you go to bed – that would exactly fit who you are – your wants, desires, temperament and personality.
Don’t limit yourself to what you think is possible. Unleash your imagination and describe this day as if you had absolutely no limitations of any kind: time, money or other resources and talents. Most of us may find this difficult, but please give yourself complete freedom to create this perfect day just for you.
What’s the first thing you’ll do when you get up? Where, how and what will you have for breakfast? Are you alone or with someone? What are you doing between breakfast and lunch?
This is your fantasy, for your eyes only, so curb in that tendency to censor yourself! Where are you for lunch and what do you have? And if it happens that you want to have breakfast in Paris and lunch in Morocco, that’s fine. Remember, you have unlimited power and resources!
As you think through the hours of your ideal/fantasy day, keep three helpful things in mind: Where are you? What are you doing? Who are you with?
Your Next Step
Hopefully, you eased into the process as you wrote out the elements of your day. Often, as I watched people work on this exercise in my class, I’d also see smiles on their faces. I hope this happened to you as well. Give yourself some time to fully relax and enjoy all the parts of your ideal day.
What’s Absolutely Essential for You?
Next, look over what you’ve written and highlight or underline those things which are absolutely essential to your happiness. Which aspects of your day are absolutely indispensable for your happiness as you move forward? Make note of the optional, but desirable, and last, identify the frills.
One woman who completed this exercise found – much to her surprise – that the first thing she’d wanted to do in the morning was to go horseback riding. As she told us about this, she had tears streaming down her cheeks.
She hadn’t ridden a horse since she was a young child and now realized how much she missed it. Even though her circumstances didn’t allow her to own a horse, she vowed to figure out a way to go riding on a regular basis.
Another student realized that no matter where she went during her ideal day –whether indoors or outdoors – she found herself surrounded by flowers. She realized what a difference it would make for her to have at least one flower on her desk each day.
Someone else realized that she’d been attracted to travel locations and activities where she enjoyed bright, joyful colors: an outdoor bazaar, a fabric store or a jewelry shop. But her house and clothing were primarily composed of dark or neutral colors. She decided to spend some time shopping for some bright throw pillows for her couch!
What’s Your Goal?
What’s the one thing from your ideal-day exercise that really seems indispensable to your happiness and well-being? It can be anything, big or small. What else is important to your happiness? Can you do some brainstorming and plan some steps to eventually get these things into your life?
If you’re not sure how you can do it, brainstorm with a friend. You may even want to get together with a group of friends to do this exercise and then brainstorm about things each of you can do to reach one of your ideal day goals.
Do you sometimes feel out of place in your place? Are you prepared to do something about it? How did you feel as you worked through this exercise? Did anything pop up that surprised you? Is there one thing you know you will do – as a result of this exercise – to bring more happiness into your life? Please share in the comments below.