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How to create a happiness plan

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Do you have a “happiness plan”?

A place to escape. A place that makes you feel alive. A place where you can reconnect with “your happy”. I do.

It’s 2021, we’re in the middle of a pandemic—you need to work at this. Don’t get to July 2021 and realise you’re still in a rut. No one is coming to save you—no one.

You need a plan for each week, to make sure you have some happiness sprinkled in. It could be self-care initiatives, an exercise program, a meditation plan or a social calendar—and a happiness plan sounds much better than a diary.

It’s true, having a plan is the most important thing you need to do in order to achieve maintainable happiness—the “sweet spot”. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail (thank you, Benjamin Franklin).

Write down your happiness plan, monitor it, adapt it and stick it somewhere notable. Here are some tips.

Set up your “happy program”

Think about how you want to feel throughout the program.

It’s good to have a short-term goal (one week), a medium-term goal (three months), and a long-term goal (one year).

Break each week up into segments (depending on your lifestyle and work/family commitments), and schedule when your happiness will happen (even if it’s just 15 minutes!).

Having a short-term plan allows you to focus on the present and not get too caught up in the “I’ll do it tomorrow” mindset. Sound familiar?

Monitor and measure your progress

Monitoring your happiness progress is essential to keep you on track. It doesn’t have to be a regular beep test.

Maybe you could record your sleep hygiene or have a regular block that you run or walk around and time yourself.

You could sign up for Park Run (it’s a free weekly community 5 km event), get a Fitbit or check the built-in health app on your iPhone and measure how many steps you do a day.

You could start or end your day with a gratitude journal. Ask ‘how did this week make me feel’?

I like to walk up Mount Painter, and at the top I think about “how do I feel right now?”.

It’s very subjective, but it’s simple and effective. Checking in at the same time each week allows me to evaluate how I am going.

Adapt your program

Having a gratitude journal can really help. You need to know where you are struggling and what is working for you.

The beauty of measuring your progress (or even non-progress), is it allows you to adapt the program according to how you are feeling. This is where a professional can help you—a counselor, psychologist, life coach, or allied health professional could help refer you. As Exercise Physiologists, we are constantly talking with our patients about “how they feel”—this keeps them motivated, inspired, invested and focussed.

Dee Brennan, from Thinkoutloud believes that “As a business owner and mum when it comes to my happiness levels I like to get bang for buck time-wise and results-wise.”

“I combine my gratitude practice with my slow morning coffee. My coffee is my little cup of happiness. It’s a simple act of giving to myself before others. I don’t check my phone until I have finished my coffee, it keeps me mindful instead of reactive.”

“As I wrap my hands around my coffee I bring to mind all the goodness in my life and just linger there. Gratitude brings me into the present and trains my brain to look for the positives throughout the day.”

A visible happiness program

Finally, print out your program—you’ll need four copies. That’s one for the fridge, one for your car, one for your work station and one for the bathroom.

Now, over to you—how are you going to sprinkle some happiness into this week?

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