Happiness Habits – Day 7: The Connection Between Doing Stuff And Happiness

Your brain expects to take action and get stuff done, in between appropriate periods of rest. It only makes sense, doesn’t it? A society depends on the actions of lots of different people. We each do our part and everything runs smoothly. It only makes sense then that we have an internal mechanism hardwired into our brain that rewards us for getting things done.

I’m sure you’ve seen this in action in your own life. You feel proud, accomplished, and happy when you wrap up a big work project, or finish reorganizing your closet, or even just finishing a book. You know, that feeling of “OK, that’s done! Next!” It’s a great feeling and it’s what drives us to get things done on a regular basis. It’s motivation to get to work and take action.

On the other hand, when we don’t have anything meaningful to do and we don’t feel like we’re contributing, we get depressed. People who don’t have a fulfilling job or feel like the work they do is useless are much more likely to feel down, tired, sad, and depressed.

Simple Equation: Productive = Happy
The best way to turn that around is to find something, anything you can do to make you feel productive. If we feel like we’re contributing to others, having a positive impact on their lives, all the better. Give it a try. The next time you feel down, force yourself to do one little productive thing. Go clean the sink in the bathroom, organize a bookshelf, or do a load of laundry. It’s going to look strange to others, but throwing a couple of fist pumps after you do the laundry can really lift your mood. Then use that feeling of accomplishment to motivate yourself to get something else done. Keep building on it, and before you know it you’ll notice your mood changing for the better.

If you want to supercharge this experience, go out and do something productive that helps others. Go work at a soup kitchen for a couple of hours, or help out at your local animal shelter. Offer to babysit for a friend with little kids who hasn’t gotten out all week. Do something that benefits someone else and you’ll feel even better than before.

You’ve Got the Rest of Your Life – Do Something Good!
For the long run, make it a goal to work at a job, or build a business that helps fuel this feeling of contributing and giving back. Wouldn’t it be great if the hours you spent earning a living each week, also contributed to your overall happiness and a feeling of fulfillment? What can you do this week to work towards this goal? What about next week? That’s where you want to start and in the meantime, keep volunteering, keep taking action, and do things that make you feel happy and accomplished.

Fun resource
[From time to time, I’ll point you to something that I think would be useful during this Happiness Habit Challenge. Sometimes it’ll be a book, sometimes it’ll be another website or blog post, sometimes it’s my own offering. If I get any benefit from it (rarely), I’ll let you know.]
I recently found this little gem of productivity and self-reward passed on to me from another coach. I’ve been using it for about a month, in my own way (I use a Google doc), and it really helped me stay on track setting up this challenge! Here’s the link to the complete description with a great explanation.

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