November 19, 2019

Book notes from Paths to Happiness – 50 ways to add joy to your life every day

What’s happiness to you? How do you define happiness?

The definition that I like is one I heard from a podcast somewhere but I can’t recall who it was from (if you know, please let me know in the comments) and it is really about having consecutive good days. For example, if you got fired from work one day, then got a flat tire the next day and then your boyfriend broke up with you the next day, you would say that you’ve had a pretty bad day (or even week). Yet, in another scenario, say you got a raise at work, you won the lottery and then your boyfriend proposed to you after. Then you would say that you’ve had a pretty good day (or even week). Happiness then is about having consecutive good days — the implication of which is that it can be completely in your control to make it a good or a bad day.

Edward Hoffman, the author of Paths to Happiness, identified 50 different ways to add joy to your life every day and here are the things that I took away from his book that I’ll slowly incorporate into my life in different ways:

Cooking

One of my favourite things to do is to browse through cookbooks of different cuisines and to get ideas and inspiration on some things to cook. Every recipe is a project in itself — there’s the ingredients that you need, the different techniques you may have to learn to cook specific things and of course, the tasting at the end.

Curiousity

More of a mindset than an activity but one that can be incorporated into a lot of activities. Part of being curious is to have a wide number of interests in many different things and then seeing what attracts your attention. Some of the many interests I have include: design, health, exercise, badminton, tea, books, personal development and much more — a good way to explore something is to figure out what the edges are of that thing you are interested in. For tea, what is the most expensive tea you can get? Most beneficial? Cheapest? Easiest to make at home?

Paint night

Isn’t it fun to just sit in front of a canvas and to have someone teach you how to paint something that you thought at first was impossible? And to have beer or wine and to eat food at the same time? For me, it was about exploring different parts of my brain — in this case, the creative side, into figuring out how to copy another artist’s template and then adding my own version or adjustments to the painting. Try it out and even if you don’t like it after, you can say that you at least tried it.

Journaling

I recently wrote about the benefits of journaling first thing in the morning (see my post from earlier this week). Writing, in Edward’s words, “helps us focus and organize the experience”. It’s a great way to learn from mistakes too — the act of writing about a mistake can be more effective than talking about it because it requires us to put our thoughts into some sort of pattern, which then helps us to distance ourselves from the mistake.

Forgiveness

Is there someone in your life that you haven’t forgiven? Or are still mad at? Take a moment to write them an e-mail, send them a text or give them a call and forgive them. And even if you can’t do that, you can even create a draft e-mail but never send it — the very act of writing this out in a draft e-mail gives you similar benefits to actually forgiving them (even if you can’t bring yourself to do it in real life).

Gratitude

As part of the journaling (you are journaling right?), I like to express the things that I am grateful for every day. Sometimes they are big things such as my health or my family and other things it can be small such as my tea strainer or my mouse.

Learn a foreign language

My favourite app to do this is called Drops — you spend about 5 minutes every day learning new vocabulary in the language you want to learn and the interface makes it incredibly easy to use — just swipe the right words or phrases and match it up with the pictures.

Mentoring

Are you well into your career? Have a skill or specific expertise that you are an acknowledged expert in? Take it upon yourself to teach or mentor others that may be starting out. You will learn something new about yourself and maybe you will learn something new that you can incorporate into your line of work.


What about you? What kind of things do you do to make yourself happy? Let me know!


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