When we think of happiness, we often think too big. We dream of fame, riches, and an easy life.
But most of us will never be rich and famous. If we hang our happiness on these big things, we’ll become disillusioned and depressed.
Instead, we should be focusing on the little things we can do to grow in joy.
Here are a few activities to start practicing right now to become happier.
1. Learn to live in the present
We live under a tyranny of distractions — especially about the future and the past. Maybe you’re at work, but anxious to see how many likes your latest social media post has gotten. Maybe you’re worried about your future finances or even the collapse of civilization!
Train yourself to be more attentive to what’s happening in the present. That’s where you’ll find God. There is no past or future with God. Only the present. On the other hand, the devil loves to get you to worry about the future and resent the past.
Here’s an exercise to help you focus on the here and now. Close your eyes. Notice the sounds and smells around you. Open your eyes and focus on what’s there — whether it’s a flower gently shifting in the wind or a bird flitting from bush to bush.
The more you practice this, you’ll be surprised just how inexhaustibly rich and beautiful the present moment is!
2. When spending time with someone, act like they’re the only one around
It’s easy to take the people in our lives for granted. Often, we’re blind to their importance until they’re no longer around. Then, we notice a big hole in our hearts.
If you have a special person in your life, make the most of that relationship. Give them your full attention when you’re with them. Put away that phone and talk to them face to face.
As an extension of this, learn to appreciate people you don’t know well or are merely passing on the street. Remember these words of C.S. Lewis: “There are no ordinary people … It is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit.”
3. Don’t confuse appetizers with the main course
In other words, don’t confuse the transitory joy we experience in this life with the ultimate fulfillment we’ll only find in heaven. God wants us to enjoy good things, whether that be our morning coffee, romantic love, drinking whisky on the porch with good friends, or whatever else He has blessed us with.
But these finite goods are only signposts pointing to the fulfillment of all desire we’ll experience in heaven. Don’t ask these things to give what they don’t have. Otherwise, they’ll disappoint you.
These three activities, when practiced daily, can greatly increase your happiness. They’ll also help you endure the more painful times by opening your eyes to the goodness and beauty of God revealed in the ordinary people and things around you.