If you are trying to cultivate more happiness in your life and are the type of person who is motivated by small external rewards, a calendar, a pack of stickers, and a few moments to review each day, may help.
Buy a pack of small stickers and a wall-hanging monthly calendar. The stickers can be plain dots or shaped like something that brings you joy—I started off using tiny flower ones. Put the calendar in a place where you’ll see it every day.
Every day review whether you were happy or not, and put a sticker on the days that you were. You might measure a happy day as the good stuff outweighing the bad stuff, or you could base it on your attitude during the day regardless of the good and bad that happened. Sometimes I give the day a sticker if my negative attitude or negative circumstances resolved themselves into positive ones by the end of the day.
If there is no sticker on a particular day, or even on a streak of days, ask yourself what is making you unhappy and what part of that is under your control? Make a manageable change the next day, and see if that change helps increase your happiness. Repeat this process every day.
For the days with stickers, celebrate! Give yourself a pat on the back for finding enough good in your life, and especially when there is a streak of happy days visible on your calendar. For me, the little stickers are my way of telling myself “I’m proud of you” for succeeding in my search for wholeness. I love to see them accumulate, and when I see several stickerless days in a row, I know there’s something going on in my life that I need to address if I want it to stop sucking away my joy.
My happiness stickers are making a major difference in my life, and it’s only been a few months. I hope that they can do the same for you.
Addendum: the pursuit of our own happiness does not mean we skirt our responsibilities to our spouse, children, or other dependents. Except in cases of abuse, choose to remain committed and continue to pursue happiness within those commitments. And please, if there is any abuse within those relationships, seek help and find the strength to remove yourself and your dependents from any threat to your (and their) safety and well-being.