What Five Things Make You Most Happy (and Why Aren't You Doing Them?)
The other day my friend asked me to list the top 5 things that make me happy. I've been pondering this question for a couple of days now. When do I feel happiest, and what am I doing when I feel it?
Even more important than the actual list though, was the realization that I'm spending so little time doing these things in retirement. Even though I've eliminated the biggest excuse for not doing what makes me happiest, that is having a job, I'm not actually spending the majority of my time doing the top 5, or even the top 10 on my list.
I had no idea when I retired that I would actually have to make time to do things I enjoyed the most. It's kind of like a job, you have to schedule these things in. You don't just naturally gravitate toward the happy-making things. First you clean the house, then work on the overgrown yard, get some exercise, maybe even do some things you do enjoy, reading blogs or the newspaper, but not necessarily the things that are on your Top 5 List.
I recently read Ram's thoughts at An Experiment in Retirement, as he came to the realization that he needed some sort of structure in his day. He feels less content when drifting from one thing to the next without any real structure. I think he's on to something.
I don't really lack structure to my days, but last week I decided to schedule something from the Top 5 Happy Things List every single day, allowing the aimless drifting time to fill in around the edges. Well, guess what, I was really happy doing the things that I'm really happy doing.
I'm not sure why it isn't a natural evolution in retirement, that you would automatically drift toward those things that make you the happiest, but I do know it's worth the time to think about this question and make adjustments to your lifestyle to be sure to spend time doing what you really are happiest doing.
And not a bad exercise for those that are not retired yet either.