Do What Makes You Happy

Get Happy!

My sister (child#1, daughter #1) commented to me the other day that my blog was starting to sound like a self-help book. I took this as a compliment! I used to scorn self-help books, thinking they were just for people who, well needed help. Then I hit a point in my life where I needed help and I turned to the library and a whole shelf of books that offered help. I wanted a change in my life but I didn’t know what to change or how to change, or how I would handle change.

I lot of books offered the same type of advice that sounded a bit like this. Figure out what makes you happy and do more of that. Pretty basic, simple advice that certainly doesn’t sound like rocket science but it pretty powerful all the same. A lot of these books also say follow your passion but I didn’t know what I was passionate about. So I focused on what made me happy.

Figure out what makes you feel like the yellow face!
Figure out what makes you feel like the yellow face!

Over the years I am sure I wrote multiple lists recording what makes me happy. My most recent one on simple things that make me happy can be found HERE.

I have always loved being outdoors. I enjoy hiking, kayaking, biking and swimming in the lake. I also love to garden, rake leaves, mow the grass, and basically play in the dirt. I love the fresh air, the breeze, the smell of fresh cut grass. I love seeing progress and pretty instant results and I find this in yard work.

A few summers ago I was taking time off of work to help out my mom after surgery. During that time, I started helping my sister with her yard work. I raked, weeded, transplanted plants and did spring clean up chores. Last summer when I transitioned from working full-time to per-diem I started doing more work at her house and then her friends started asking me if I would help them out as well! It is funny that I wasn’t really looking to pick up a side job – it just kind of happened.

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I just finished working a 4 hour shift doing yard work. Do  you know how many times I looked at the time during this 4 hour period? Once. I looked at the time once when I took off my hoodie and tossed it in the car as I was too warm. When I work a 4 hour shift in my “real” job as an Occupational Therapist I would guess I look at the time every 10 minutes. NO – I am not exaggerating. It isn’t that I don’t enjoy my job. There are certain time pressures that require that I don’t lose track of time and something in my personality that typically keeps me focused on it.

When I work outdoors I am fully engaged in what I am doing. I care about doing a good job. I am not day dreaming, I am not thinking about anything other than what I am doing.  I am not wishing the day away.

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Today, I worked with a friend and we did 2 hours of raking and cleaning out flower beds. Then we sat outside, ate a snack and talked for 10 minutes as our break. Then we worked for another 2 hours and talked while we worked.  This afternoon I have another 2 hours of work planned helping someone clean up sticks from her yard so she can safely mow. Yesterday I spent 2.5 hours at the cottage doing spring clean up work and then 1 hour at my brother’s house raking.

All of those self-help books had it right! Doing more of what you love to do is a good way to increase happiness. I never thought raking leaves and helping people with spring clean up would make me happy, much less be a good way to make some extra cash but it has been for me.

People say they don’t have any time to do more of what makes them happy. I was lucky as I had already figured out how to not have to work a 40 hour week.  Time passes regardless of what you are doing and we all have the same 24 hours in a day.  I say find the time by doing less of what you don’t love. We all have things we do that essentially are just time wasters such as:

  • Watching television
  • Surfing the internet
  • Playing on Facebook, twitter
  • Recreational shopping
  • Sleeping the day away
  • Computer games such as Candy Crush and Bejeweled Blitz.
Find the time...
Find the time…

Unless these things make your list of things you truly love to do, stop doing them so you can free up time to do the things you truly love.

I can’t say I am passionate about raking leaves but it sure makes me happy, keeps me physically active and puts some extra money in the bank. Now if only I could figure out a way to get paid to sit in my little blue kayak in the middle of the lake!

Incidentally another thing that makes me happy is writing – hence this blog! Thanks for reading…

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