Want to be happier? Forget about the new car, the big house, the dream vacation, or that huge raise. Focus on the simple path to happiness by making small, incremental changes to improve your life.
Ben Franklin once said,
It was this philosophy that led him to call for street sweeping the streets of London each day before shops and businesses opened. This way, people would enjoy the simple pleasure every day of breathing in fresh air while walking down the street without getting dust in their eyes.
In Franklin’s mind, simple pleasures like this repeated over and over again do more for our well-being than sporadic big moments.
The Happiness Scale
Ok, I’m totally making up this happiness scale thing, but stick with me and hear me out.
Think of all the things in this world that make you happy. Consider the big things as well as the minor little details. Imagine each of those happiness triggers as having a happiness value from 1-100. 1 would be the things that just barely do anything positive for you where 100 is the happiest moment you could ever imagine in your life.
Buying a brand new car might be a 66. Going on a Hawaiian vacation might be an 87.
But don’t forget all the little things. Going for a walk might be a 5, hearing a favorite song might be a 2, seeing your dog go crazy when you walk in the front door might be a 4, cuddling with your child as you read him a story might be a 7.
Obviously, the big happiness triggers have some large numbers attached to them, but how often do they happen? Buying your dream house might be a 95, but how many times can you buy one?
Now, go back to the simple, boring happiness triggers. How much easier is it to start accumulating some 4s, 6s, and 9s?
We need to start shifting our perceptions of happiness. It doesn’t come from those rare moments of total elation. Happy people do not get to that point because of the occasional 50+ happiness triggers that they have. They’re happy because of all the little moments that add up over time. They’re accumulating 3s, 5s, and 8s over and over again all day long instead of trying to reach for an 83, but only getting it once a year (if that).
Boring Happiness Triggers
So let’s take a look at some of the simple, boring ways we can all be happier. By the way, one of the best things about this? Most of these are either totally free or very inexpensive. Especially, compared to some of the big happiness triggers such as a new car, big vacation, or second home.
Develop a morning routine that you love. For me, I created the 3-2-1 Morning Routine and I couldn’t be happier with it. I feel productive, energized, and I have a clear mind to start the day. No matter what you decide on, a morning routine is an easy way to trigger more happiness.
Studies have shown that even a small amount of exercise can make us happier. It could be light intensity or a full-blown HIIT workout or barbells or cardio. Either way, it will have the same positive effect on you.
Getting outside is another simple path to happiness. We’ve all heard about the benefits of Vitamin D, but even on the days when it’s not sunny, it still feels great to breathe in that fresh air. Consider this challenge that I created and completed in 2019. Or maybe you want to start your own. If you do, let me know so I can join!
Clear Your Clutter
You guys all know how much I love minimalism. It has had a profound impact on my life and I feel like I’m continually learning more and more about myself from it. Clear your clutter and organize your space. This doesn’t have to be a whole house remodel, especially all at once. Simply focus on one thing. Empty out the junk drawer or set up a dedicated area for your stuff as you enter your house or apartment. Gretchen Rubin has an excellent book on this topic titled Outer Order, Inner Calm. She is also the author of one of my favorite books, The Happiness Project.
Take Some Me Time
Give yourself permission to treat yourself. This doesn’t have to be expensive, it doesn’t even have to cost a penny. Me time could be a day at the spa or it could be an hour with a good book. It could be going shopping or it could be a quiet drive without the kids in the backseat.
Personally, I haven’t gotten into meditation. I have tried it a few times, but I haven’t stuck with it long enough to really notice the benefits yet. Maybe someday. I have, though, read 10% Happier by Dan Harris. It’s a pretty fascinating look into the benefits of meditation, especially since he was a bit of a skeptic to start.
What’s your simple path to happiness? What boring happiness triggers could you accumulate each day to make yourself happier? Take a moment right now to think of a few easy 2s, 4s, or 5s. Then, implement them into your life more often.
Remember the acronym KISS?
It rings true with happiness as well. Just focus on racking up as many of those 1-10 pointers on the happiness scale instead of constantly waiting for a 73 to fall in your lap. Don’t wait around for big things to happen. Instead, make the little things happen. Create those incremental changes to improve your life. The simple path to happiness lies in slight changes to our everyday lives.
Do you agree?
3 thoughts on “Keep it Boring – Why the Simple Path to Happiness Works”
Good post Dave! The most simple things in life bring the most value. Ever had a look at “The science of wellbeing” by Yale University? Highly recommended! Just finished the course and the minimalist way of thinking and living covers a big part in increasing our collective wellbeing 🙂
No, I’ll have to check that out. Sounds like a great course!
Meditation is such an underrated concept. When you just let thoughts come and go, you can make better decisions throughout the day and week. The mental strength I think is one of the biggest differentiators between me and somebody else who doesn’t meditate and it keeps me very happy.
The simplest things bring us the most joy!