Happiness is very difficult to define and equally difficult to measure and quantify. Yet many people’s purpose in life is to be happy and they spend a lot of time and energy seeking it. Some have suggested that it is not happiness, but contentment and/or meaning in our lives that we should be pursuing. (A discussion of the the merits of this is left for another day.)
However, whether it is happiness or meaning that is your ultimate goal in life, the same question exists: What do you have to do to achieve the happiness or meaning (or both) that you seek?
Here’s a little exercise that you can do to help you begin to answer that question. Take a sheet of paper and draw a line (or fold) down the middle. Label one half “Happy” and label the other half “Unhappy.” Without “overthinking” this, list ten memories of when you were very happy and ten memories when you were very unhappy (you can adjust this exercise if your goal is contentment and/or meaning).
After you’ve written down your memories, you can begin to identify the conditions that caused you to experience happiness and those that resulted in unhappiness.