101 Ways to Find Happiness

You’ve probably noticed that every self-help book and personal development blog as a “101 ways to” (fill in the blank) list. So I figured I’d come up with one on finding happiness…

Action x 101

I know, you thought you were getting an easy list to read right? Why not, I like them as well. They’re quick, easy to scan and read, make you think for a minute… but then what?

Alright, you got me, if you really want a list, stick around and read this article and I’ll give you a list at the bottom.

Regardless of the number of things on my list, most people would look it over then move onto the next list or big thing. The thing about books, blogs, and especially lists, is that simply reading them does not accomplish squat!

It’s actually putting those things into action that creates real change.

People like lists because they’re easily scanned and usually bulleted. I’ll admit that I too like lists, but rarely do they have any lasting effect on my way of life, let alone happiness.

Of course there’s nothing wrong with making a list of things you believe will make you happy, but until we put it into action, it’s just a list on paper.

You may be thinking, “but Jared, what about the gratitude list you believe so much in?” I’d say, “good question.. but a gratitude list is the result of taking action.”

Writing down an inventory of things you’re grateful for is an action that helps put your life and situation in a different perspective. I suppose I should start calling it a gratitude inventory, but list just sounds better… hmm, maybe I will change that from now on.

Decisions and lists are hypothetical, they exist on paper and in our minds.

Actions facilitate movement through space and time and affect the universe around us. Actions enable feedback from our environment and nurtures learning through experiences with others..

Three frogs are sitting on a log. One decides to jump. How many are left? … Three, he only made a decision to jump yet took no action.

If you really want to create a list of things that will make you happy, make it a short list; breaking it down into actionable sub-lists and processes which you can act on.

I can honestly say that for me, every great awakening or enlightening experience has come about from action taken. Certainly ideas and revelations can manifest themselves during times of meditation or deep thought, but even those exist because of or as a result of some type of action.

Taking ideas and turning them into actions influences things around us with whom we interact, thus altering our course and future.

For example let’s look at inner-peace:

Most would agree that happiness involves inner-peace (at least I hope you do because I’m telling you from experience its vital!) But just knowing we need inner-peace, or making a list of things that might bring us peace, will not satisfy our soul.

Inner-peace is the by-product of right living, and right living can be different for everyone. Even so, we all have an inner compass that suggests the way we’re living may not be the most healthy, spiritual, or emotionally sound. I lived that way for years but had no idea what was wrong.

I knew there must be something more but had no idea how to find it. It’s like wearing a pair of shoes a half size too small; they may look good but you’re always just a little uncomfortable. So why do we put those same pair of shoes on again and again, knowing by the end of the day we’re going to be in pain?

If nothing changes, then nothing changes!

Let’s say I don’t know how to swim and I’m taking a nice drive down a coastal highway. “Wow, what a view” I think as I’m looking out over the ocean.

I also know that if I were to stop the car, get out, and jump into that beautiful ocean I would drown. Pretty simple right?

But what if I really want to learn how to swim? I’m not going to magically learn how and be able to jump into the ocean, something has to happen first. The first thing that needs to happen is I have to stop driving the car.

Some action or thing in my life (driving the car) has to stop or change completely for the possibility to even exist that I’ll learn how to swim.

No matter how much I pray, meditate, write lists (things I would not suggest while driving) etc., nothing will ever change until I stop driving.

The key is just do something different no matter how uncomfortable it is! If you’re not willing to take action and create the possibility for real change, then accept your circumstances and quit whining and feeling sorry for yourself.

I know it’s hard and that sounds harsh, but the biggest revelation in my life was the moment I took responsibility for my miserable life. It sucked because I was pretty lazy and knew that if I was responsible for being miserable, I was also responsible for doing something about it.

I’ve always liked this example by Derek Siver’s post that Ideas are just a multiplier of execution:

To me, ideas are worth nothing unless executed. They are just a multiplier. Execution is worth millions.

Explanation:
AWFUL IDEA = -1
WEAK IDEA = 1
SO-SO IDEA = 5
GOOD IDEA = 10
GREAT IDEA = 15
BRILLIANT IDEA = 20|
NO EXECUTION = $1
WEAK EXECUTION = $1000
SO-SO EXECUTION = $10,000
GOOD EXECUTION = $100,000
GREAT EXECUTION = $1,000,000
BRILLIANT EXECUTION = $10,000,000

To make a business, you need to multiply the two.

The most brilliant idea, with no execution, is worth $20.

The most brilliant idea takes great execution to be worth $20,000,000.

Fortunately for us, brilliant execution is not required to find happiness. Just do something!!

Remember we talked about creating a short list? Here’s mine:

  • Be Kind to Self
    • Actions: Demonstrate self-respect by eating better, exercising, and enough sleep. Do something kind for a stranger (anonymously!)
  • Be Content With What I Have and Want Less
    • Actions: Meditate, prayer. Look for opportunities to be of service to others. Go through closet and get rid of any clothes I haven’t worn in a year and donate to shelter. Demonstrate gratitude for people and things in my life by cleaning out garage, wash car, and making it a point to remind those in my life how much they mean to me.

What’s on your short list?

OK, I know I promised 101 ways to find happiness… this list took me awhile to create and some of the items may sound a little dorky, so bare with me.

  1. Go for a walk
  2. Take a bike ride
  3. Pray
  4. Meditate
  5. Buy a friend lunch
  6. Call a friend on the phone
  7. Make a new friend
  8. Introduce yourself to 3 new people today
  9. Make your bed
  10. Plant a tree
  11. Plant some flowers
  12. Pick some flowers
  13. Walk barefoot in the grass
  14. Watch the sunset
  15. Watch the sunrise
  16. Listen to the birds
  17. Buy a bird book and spend 15 minutes each morning identifying birds out your window
  18. Climb a tree (be careful)
  19. Read a book
  20. Buy a new book
  21. See a funny movie
  22. Make a happy journal to keep track of the things that make you happy and you’re grateful for (I use a moleskin)
  23. Take a moment and remember something or someone that made you laugh
  24. Start a happy journal of things that make you laugh
  25. Fly a kite
  26. Go to the zoo
  27. Bake a cake
  28. Buy a cake and take it to someone who recently had a birthday
  29. Tell a loved one how much they mean to you
  30. Be honest
  31. Go walking barefoot in the rain
  32. Convince someone else to dance in the rain with you
  33. Go fishing
  34. Take a nap
  35. Sing
  36. Learn how to play an instrument
  37. Write a gratitude list
  38. Bag up anything in your closet you haven’t worn in a year and take it to charity
  39. Rake your neighbor’s leaves while they’re gone
  40. Send a $10 bill to someone in need (anonymously!)
  41. Volunteer at your local soup kitchen or homeless shelter
  42. Sponsor a hungry child through organizations like Children’s International (my wife and I recently did this and it’s very rewarding)
  43. Pick up trash in a nearby park or neighborhood
  44. Go see a movie
  45. Take dance lessons
  46. Give dance lessons
  47. Write a song
  48. Re-write funny lyrics to your favorite song (just try it!)
  49. Be crazy (in a safe and fun way)
  50. Make candles
  51. Learn how to paint
  52. Hug a stranger
  53. Pet your dog
  54. Pet your cat
  55. Give your dog a bath
  56. Email an old friend
  57. Smile at a stranger
  58. Hold the door open for someone
  59. Assist an elderly person
  60. Play your favorite music
  61. Check your couch cushions for loose change
  62. Walk your dog
  63. Get a puppy
  64. Get a kitten
  65. Make a child laugh
  66. Make a friend laugh
  67. Make funny faces in the mirror
  68. Climb a tree
  69. Give a dollar to a homeless person
  70. Take notice when you get good service and let them know you appreciate it (or tell their manager)
  71. Have a water balloon fight
  72. Catch an ice cream truck
  73. Pack a picnic lunch
  74. Lay in a hammock
  75. Run through a sprinkler
  76. Go to the circus
  77. Attend a sporting event
  78. Take a Yoga class
  79. Plant some flowers
  80. Make your bed
  81. Pick some flowers
  82. Plant a garden with friends
  83. Buy your best friend a gift for no reason
  84. Send flowers to your mother
  85. Send a card to yourself listing the things which you’re grateful for
  86. Have a food fight
  87. Rent your favorite movie and make popcorn smothered with butter
  88. Whistle
  89. Work up a sweat exercising
  90. Do some Christmas shopping regardless of what time of year it is
  91. Give yourself a Cool-Aid mustache
  92. Smile regardless how you feel
  93. Tickle a child
  94. Ask yourself, “How Important is it really?”
  95. Turn over control of something that stresses you out
  96. Focus on this moment, right now!
  97. Pay attention to your breathing, and be grateful for it
  98. Call your parents (trust me, I lost my father suddenly this year and you might not get another chance)
  99. Go to bed early
  100. Wake up late
  101. Make a choice to be happy

That’s it. That’s my 101 Ways to Find Happiness. Thanks to my wife for #’s 53-61.

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