By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.
So how do you know when you are happy?
What things say for you “today I am doing well; today my recovery is on track?” It is most often not the big things, the jobs or relationships. It is easy to feel happy when something great, new, and novel happens. People, most of the time, get happy when something good happens. Not being able to take joy or pleasure out of something that used to make you happy is a sure sign of depression setting in.
Not being able to feel pleasure, professional counselors call that anhedonia is one of the things we look for in diagnosing depression. Happiness is about more than just not being clinically depressed. How do you tell if you are really happy deep down? If someone were visiting with you how would they know today was one of those happy days?
In interviews, I ask clients “What makes you happy.” They tell me not about big things, but mostly about little things, everyday things, that results in them feeling happy. Those things also reflect happiness. Most times it is those little things that are making them happy.
When someone is functioning well, when life is worth living, they take better care of themselves. One way we as outsiders looking in can tell if someone is happy is to look at how they care for themselves. We call these self-care habits “activities of daily life.” Someone who is able to do their “activities of daily life” is headed in a good direction. They are having a good day.
Someone who is unable to do those same activities, we worry about them.
So did you make your bed today? People who get up and make the bed may have a large head start on happiness compared to those who don’t. You need to decide for yourself if making your bed says “happy day” to you. But many people find that on the days they are able to make their bed, this says to them today will be a good day.
It goes farther than making the bed is a barometer for happiness. People tell me that when they get into a habit of doing things to care for themselves it becomes easier to keep up that habit.
Do you feel better or worse on days that you brush your teeth, fix your hair and put on your good clothes? Doing self-care even on days you don’t feel like it can improve your mood.
One client told me he and his partner used to go for walks every morning. He could judge the quality of their relationship by how often they walked. During periods of conflict, they just did not feel like going for the daily walk. If one of them was depressed they did not feel like a morning walk that day. The result was that their communication got worse, the depression increased and the happiness disappeared.
Once we discovered this connection between the morning walk and the feeling of happiness with the relationship, they made a commitment to walk together every morning whether they felt like it or not. They found that more walk time resulted in more and better communication and that created more happiness on both people’s part.
There is an old twelve step expression “fake it till you make it.” That expression is not about being dishonest or showing a false face to others. It is telling us that when we go through the actions of a happy person we become happy. The opposite can happen also. Isolate, avoid others and you become lonely and sad.
So what daily rituals tell you that you are on the right track? Will you commit to yourself to take better care of yourself? Try it for a week and tell us how your commitment to self-care affected your mood and your success.
Are you happy enough to make your bed today?
Staying connected with David Joel Miller
Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!
My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.
Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.
Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.
As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.
Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.
Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.
Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.
Planned Accidents The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.
Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.
What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?
Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.
For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller
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