I used to be very Tigger-like. I'd get a new idea in my head and it would be the answer to all my ills and BOING! off I'd bounce – until I realized that I really didn't like the idea at all. So, I'd get a new idea into my head and declare to the whole world: “This is what makes me happy!” until I'd figure out that no, that wasn't it either.
Like many people I would apply a trial and error method to finding happiness. I never took the time to figure out what would make happy and I ended up wasting a lot of time and energy as well as delaying happiness.
For those who don't know Tigger, in Chapter Two of the House at Pooh Corner, he arrives in the Hundred Acre Woods. He's a bouncy fellow, declaring loudly that when it comes to food he likes everything, that is until he starts tasting things and realizes that in actual fact, he likes very few things. Fortunately he figures it out before lunch time.
Many times, trial and error is a perfectly good method – it allows for a wide variety of experiences, and if you learn from each trial, the errors will get fewer and fewer until you've found what really makes you happy.
But what if you never do? What if you spend your whole life going from the last error to the next trial? Wouldn't it be better to harness the energy and enthusiasm in a way that brings happiness to your life sooner?
Here are nine steps you can take to do just that:
- Stop bouncing about. Many people dash around (literally and figuratively) because they don't want to face what they'd see if they were to slow down. If you're bouncing from one action, thought or emotion to the next, you can't really know what's going on inside and what you really want.
- Extract happinesses from your past. Now that you've calm the bounce, look back at all the things you've done in your life, professionally and personally. Look for the things that made you the most happy. Make note of them.
- Find a pattern. When you look at the list, do you notice any similarities? Sometimes a pattern is obvious, but sometimes, it's subtle. Really examine your past happinesses and try to find common themes that run through them.
- Get advice from others. Yes, many people will tell you what would make them happy or what they think would make you happy based on potentially unreal expectations. At the same time, however, the people closest to you might notice things about yourself that you've kept hidden. They're not inside your head, so they might be able to suggest some ways of finding happiness that you've never thought about. This is why coaching is such a growing industry.
- Brainstorm some wild ideas. Now that you have a calm foundation, it's time to let the bounce free. Get a white board, a large piece of paper – anything that's not a normal sized paper or computer screen – and brainstorm. Come up with wild ideas that you'd never ever do, but would thrill you to follow through on.
- Make a list. Go back through your three types of ideas-gathering (mining the past, advice, and brainstorming) and make a single list of all the possible ways that you could find happiness. This might seem like drudgery; it's the least bouncy part of the process, especially if an idea from one of the sessions has your feet itchy to start bouncing off in pursuit. But resist the bounce. This step is very important if you're going to avoid another series of fruitless trials and errors.
- Mentally try out each idea. Don't get too detailed with picturing pursuing each idea as you don't want to fall in love with every possibility, but imagine yourself during the process of achieving the dream and in succeeding. Especially take note of the emotions each idea provokes.
- Pick the one that scares you the most. Seriously. Know that thing that makes you shiver? That thing that makes you want to run away and be as scared as Piglet with a woozle? That's your happiness. It scares you because it challenges you to succeed and to make big changes in your life and change is always a scary thing.
- Turn on the bounce and off you go! Now's the time to set your energy loose. You have a good idea of what will make you happy and you've found it without wasting any energy or time. And instead of running away from the fear, embrace it and let it power your bounces so that you go higher, farther and faster towards your dream.
Alex Fayle is a former procrastinator who uses his visionary ability to uncover hidden patterns and help people break the procrastination obstacle so they can finally find freedom and start living the life they desire.