It’s healthy to find and create regular moments of happiness in everyday life, and as part of this it’s important to have a few good things to look forward to. We all need to know that something pleasant or exciting is on its way, and it helps to promote feelings of anticipation, motivation and general optimism.
Positive intentions are a great place to start, but we also need to commit to making enough time to do them, otherwise we risk less enjoyable work, chores or other obligations eating into our schedules and getting in the way of having some fun. So let’s carve out that fun time and ring fence it.
Today’s activity is to take practical steps towards doing more of the things you love by putting three things to look forward to into your diary. It might sound a little strange, but making an appointment with yourself in this way means you’re creating the room to be optimistic as the events approach, enjoy life in the moment while you’re doing your chosen activities, and form happy memories to look back on later.
The three things to put into your diary are:
- A simple, quick activity (perhaps an hour or so long) that you’re going to schedule in for tomorrow or the day after.
- A medium-sized leisure activity (lasting two hours or more) for this weekend or next weekend.
- A whole day of something special that you’re going to do next month.
This will give you plenty of scope to do all kinds of different activities, big and small. The only rule is that it each ‘appointment’ you make with yourself has to be something you’re going to look forward to. You might even like to think of it as taking yourself on a play date, if that idea appeals to you.
Make your list as unique as you are, and make it as simple or as quirky as you like. Pick whatever you like, whether it’s energising or relaxing, indulgent or improving, new or familiar, sociable or precious time spent alone.
Just a few quick ideas to help you get started:
- Make popcorn and watch your favourite TV show
- Meet an old friend for lunch of coffee, or cook them a meal
- Get tickets for a music or sports event
- Arrange to go to a talk or an evening class
- Take a day off work, have a lie in and have a complete duvet day
- Arrange to go to to a local family fun day or free council event
- Do a home spa and pamper yourself
- Take a day trip somewhere
- Make time to do sketching or crafts
- … or anything else you love
Once you’ve decided what you’re going to do, put each event into your diary or planner, or add it to your calendar. If it’s a digital calendar, you might like to add some alerts so you don’t forget, and maybe colour code it on the display so you know it’s something enjoyable to look forward to rather than a chore. If you prefer to use a printed planner or calendar, use colourful inks, doodles or stickers if you like, to catch the eye.
Filling your diary with things to look forward to doesn’t have to be expensive. Improvise with what you already have, and check local listings sites and magazines for free or subsidised things to do. There’s nearly always something for every taste on sites such as Meetup.com or Eventbrite, for example, and you could even set up your own event or group.
Invest in your future happiness
January is a time when many of us stay home watching the telly, but it’s also a time when you could be doing more of the things you love – it just takes a tiny bit of an effort.
Get into the habit of reclaiming your diary on a regular basis. Take a break from the endless to-do lists and the general daily grind that can so easily take over everything, and selectively fill your own schedule before the mundane stuff creeps in and fills it for you.
Further reading ideas:
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, Harper books, £5.62. Buy here.
Happiness by Design by Paul Dolan, Penguin, £6.49. Buy here.
Which three lovely things are you going to choose to add to your schedule this month?