Welp, from the pandemic to politics, these are some crazy times we’re living in. Just about every day brings something new — and not always in a good way.
The truth is, if you want to ensure that every day has some happiness, laughter, and joy in it, you’re gonna have to bring your own.
Now, don’t get me wrong! I don’t expect to smile and giggle from dawn to dusk – there’s every reason to be sad, angry, fearful, and anxious (and I am quite often, for sure) – but it’s gonna be awhile before our world settles down, so we can’t keep on white-knuckling our way through the day. It’s way too hard on us.
My body, mind, heart, and spirit need frequent breaks from the stress, the chaos, and the crazy, and maybe it’s the same for you.
So, here’s something I dreamed up that can make the coming days a bit better for us…
A Dozen Doorways to Happiness
There are things that make you happy, yes? Things that always bring feelings of delight, joy, or ease?
Things like songs, books, memories, movies, foods, hobbies, people, pictures, blahblahblah…? Of course there are!
Well, we’re going to write those things down … today.
The list doesn’t need to be fancy or lengthy or color-coded or categorized, and you won’t need special paper or fine penmanship … the process ain’t that deep.
This is a simple thing to do, and yet there’s a delicious complexity to the result…
Your list of happy things will have people, places, things, sounds, sights, and experiences – and a dozen is plenty enough. They might be an odd mix, but they’ll certainly have one thing in common » they all make you feel better.
And feeling better is one step closer to feeling good.
The complex bit is that your list will look as unique as your fingerprint, but at the heart of it, it will be just like mine and everyone else’s because we’re all aiming for the same thing…
We all want to feel good or better, though each of us has a unique road to get us there … and that’s what this is all about.
Yup, you’re gonna make a map to your happy place 🙂
Ready to get started?
Click here to jump to the instructions
Not sure? Read on…
Why Make a Happy Map?
See if this sounds familiar…
When I’m stressed out, fed up, or feeling down is when I most need to watch that funny movie, read that clever quote, or sing that silly song, and yet, that’s also when I’m least likely to do any of those.
When my brain is wrapped in anxiety, weighed down by worry, or oh-so totally tired, I can barely remember what day it is, let alone conjure up a list of things that will make me feel better.
And I mean feel truly better, yes? Not a glancing blow at better, but a solid hit to the heart that tickles my brain and seeps into my bones … the kind of feeling better that lingers and lazes around and lasts.
Alcohol, drugs, and (my personal favorite) carbs … they can make us feel better, but they carry consequences and that feeling fades fast. Their relief is real but not true.
And we want to feel real good not fake good, right? We want the butter kind of better, not the margarine.
The thing is, I know what true happiness feels like, and I know where to find it, but when I’m having a “no-good, very bad day,” I completely forget the way to my happy place.
Once I realized that, I made a list that reminds me of what I need, AND I keep that list where I can easily find it when I most need it. And it works, when I remember to work it 😉
If you recognize that problem, then this might be a good solution for you, too.
Ready to roll?
Click here to jump to the instructions
Into it but tempted to put it off? Read on, my fellow I’ll-do-it-later-er!
Why Make a Happy Map Today?
I live in Montana, where winters are long, dark, cold, and dead, even on a good year – and this could end up a good year, but COVID will make sure it has a crappy start.
Now, in the years since I moved out here, I’ve learned that a long line of cold, dark months is something to prepare for, not dread or pout or whine about.
And ya prepare for something before it happens, yes? Doing it during is problematic, and doing it afterwards … well, later is too late.
So, before these days get any darker (literally or figuratively) take 15 minutes today – right now, if you can – to jot down a list of a dozen or more things that make you feel happy.
If you’re the serious and solemn sort, you can call this “a personal log of practical actions proven to inspire positive emotion.”
But the rest of us are going to call it a Happy Map. 🙂
How to Make Your Happy Map
Here’s the step-by-step…
1. Get something to write with and something to write on.
A tangible, paper-based list is likely better for this because then you can put it somewhere that’s easy to spot.
Whatever’s handy will do for writing on: Post-It, notepad, cocktail napkin, back of an envelope. And for writing with: pen, pencil, lipstick, a quill pen dipped in the blood of your enemies… 😉
2. Chill for 15 seconds.
Don’t blow off this step! It’s woo-woo, but it can clear your head and reboot your brain.
Take 3 or 4 slow, deep breaths to settle your heart and mind, then search your memory for what being happy feels like and bring it into your body, like this—
Drop your shoulders … relax your eyes, mouth, and jaw … wiggle your fingers and toes … recall that feeling of happiness … smile a little bit … breathe … maybe smile a bit more … breathe … feel the warmth and ease of being happy … another deep breath … exhale … inhale that feeling and let it flow into your chest, your arms and fingers … your belly and hips … your legs and toes…
Okay, now that you’re more mellow, let’s get to it…
3. At the top of the page, write “My Happy Map” and today’s date.
Don’t blow off this step, either, and here’s why…
Your sad, angry, anxious, or depressed future-self might not recognize this list for what it is if you don’t label it, and knowing the date you wrote this may come in handy down the line (it often does for me).
4. Now list, in no particular order, things that make you happy.
If the word “happy” doesn’t work for you, I get it. I can be a cynical and serious sort myself…
Skip over “happy” and consider what makes you grin or even smile; what eases the tension in your chest and shoulder; what makes you giggle, chuckle, laugh out loud; what leaves you breathing easier.
Here are 9 quick questions to get you started:
1. What MUSIC makes you happy?
Not just single tracks but albums and artists, too. Especially the tunes that bring your body into it … the ones that get you to sing along, tap your foot, snap your fingers, or fling an all-out booty-shake.
For me, that’s old-school Motown, classic rock, and 80s pop!
2. Which BOOKS make you happy?
These can be fiction or nonfiction, from religious text to comic books. It may the whole book that delights you, or just the ending, or perhaps it’s a book that you can can you pick up, open to any page, and find joy.
You might have already flagged the pages where happiness lives or, if you’re an audiobook lover like me, you’ve bookmarked all the best bits.
I love romance novels, mysteries, and thrillers where issues get resolved through intelligence, fate, and luck — so satisfying!
3. Which SHOWS make you happy?
Think wide and wee on this one, because they may be television shows, a web series, or even favorite YouTube channels. It could be specific episodes, a favorite season, or an entire series.
For me, it’s crafting, painting, DIY, and cleaning videos on YouTube.
4. Which MOVIES make you happy?
Think of the ones that make you smile and laugh, and the ones that chill you out and calm you down, too. My gramma loves the Hallmark Channel, which we’ve dubbed “The Happily Ever After” channel.
I enjoy those, though it’s LOTR, Skyfall, and Marvel’s Avengers that soothe my soul.
5. Which IMAGES make you happy?
Worth a thousand words, the right image can change your outlook in an instant. This could be a photo in your wallet, or art that’s hanging on your walls, or a meme that always cracks you up.
I love what I find when I search Unsplash for laughter or smile or hug or flowers or coffee or hands.
6. Which HOBBIES make you happy?
Sports, crafts, art, needlework, retail therapy – anything you do that isn’t paying work AND feels fun, puts you in a good mood, and leaves you in a better place.
For me, that’s every bit of knitting and baking. Tidying and cleaning my space can feel good, too.
7. Which PEOPLE make you happy?
These may be people you know or only know of; they may be alive or not, real or imagined. It might be their face that makes you smile, or their words, or their touch, or just their presence. Or just their existence.
8. Which MEMORIES make you happy?
Whether it lasted a minute, a month, or a millisecond, what are the memories that bring you closer to happiness? What remembered milestones make you feel really and truly good?
Okay, one more question…
9. Which FOODS make you happy?
This one can be hazardous, but it’s worth mentioning because food carries emotion as well as creating it.
My heart-y foods are Cream of Wheat, because my mom made it for me when I was little, and my Gramma’s homemade chicken soup. PB&J works wonders, too. So do cheese grits.
Okay, that’s the last question! And now that you have your list, here’s a critical step…
5. Put your Happy Map where you can easily find it.
Be sure to keep it handy and/or visible because, as I said earlier: when you most need this list, you may forget you even made the thing, let alone where you actually put it. 🙂
Some prominent places: The fridge, your bathroom mirror, the bulletin board in your office
Some private places: Your planner, your wallet, tucked into a bedside book, that zipper pocket in your purse
And that’s it! A simple task, yet a big deal if it helps you cope in troubled times. And if you’re game, here’s a bit more…
Making the Most of Your Happy Map
Before you go…
- If you weren’t in a place to make your list just now, remember to do it before you go to sleep tonight.
- If you did just create your Happy Map, read it through before you go to sleep tonight and again when you wake up tomorrow morning. I can’t guarantee it will bring you good dreams or improve your day, but it’s worth a try, right?
And as the weeks and months click by, glance at your Happy Map often — maybe even every day — and add more happy things to it as they come to mind. In my experience, now that you’ve gone looking for things that make you happy, they’ll come to find you.
And, of course, whenever you’re feeling bad or just want to feel better, pull out your Happy Map and follow its turn-by-turn directions, yeh?
Step into what you’ve listed there, whether that’s playing a song or singing it, calling or texting a special person, going for a walk, reading your favorite book, watching a funny or calming video … whatever works for you.
Use your map to find your way to your happy place,
because we need you to feel better.
And avoid those fake feel-goods, yeh? Keep it real. Skip the margarine types and aim for the buttery kind of better 😉 #teambutter
Get the Happy Map Makers Kit
The Happy Map Makers Kit is a 12-page PDF download that includes these printables and extras at a Pay-What-You-Want price:
- Step-by-step instructions (same as above)
- A printable full-page Happy Map to pin up
- A printable pocket-sized Happy Map — a full sheet that you’ll fold in a clever way
- Helpful links to instructions and video tutorials for folding the pocket-sized version
- Blank printable Happy Maps so you can personalize the categories
- (Optional) A sprinkling of emails with more tips and ideas for making and using your Happy Map
My Just-One-Email Guarantee
If you send me your email address, after you confirm it, I’ll reply with JUST ONE EMAIL that has links to download the kit, pay what you want, and sign up for more tips and ideas.
Your email address won’t automatically be added to any other mailing lists, and I won’t send you more emails about the kit, either … because you literally didn’t sign up for that. :-)
Send me an email, and I’ll reply as soon as I can.