Happiness looks different for everyone.
If you can come to terms with that, you’re three steps ahead of most people on this planet. What makes you happy is not necessarily what brings others joy.
Your specific brand of euphoria? It’s unique to you.
Maia Haag spent a long time discovering and capturing the essence of what made her smile and brought true contentment to her life. It took a long time for her to not only find balance in her life, but to achieve what she would call “a life of real happiness”.
After risking it all by leaving her successful career in brand management at General Mills, she self-published My Very Own Name, with her husband and his graphic design firm. Now “I See Me!” is the largest publisher of personalized books and gifts in the US.
Check out her tips below for identifying what makes you happy, and how to bring more of that light into your life.
1. Notice the moments when you feel the most alive
Maia Haag: Take the time to notice exactly when you’re feeling fulfilled and try to work more of those moments into your life. Maybe you love to volunteer, to take art or yoga classes, or play in a sports league. I take tap dance classes for adults each week, and I always feel energized after each class.
Moms hesitate sometimes to take time for themselves, but your spouse and kids will find a way to survive while you’re gone for an hour or two. You’ll bring your happiness home to them. And you’ll demonstrate to your kids how important it is to pursue one’s passions.
2. Surround yourself with those who add to your happiness
Maia Haag: Identify who in your life makes you happier when you’re around them, and schedule regular time with them. Each night after dinner, I take a walk with one of my kids and our dog, and it’s a great way to catch up one-on-one with my kids. It’s also a relaxing end to the day. Our dog will paw my leg when it’s time for the walk, so it’s clearly become part of his routine as well.
My husband and I try to schedule dates at least twice a month to stay connected. To keep up with my friends, I go on dog walks with them on the weekends and I schedule lunches. If you don’t make it a priority to schedule time with the people who make you happy, it’s easy for time to slip away without seeing them.
3. Find what balance means to you
Maia Haag: Life/work balance means different things to different people. I’ve always liked the analogy of the three cups: one cup represents your work, one cup represents your family, and one cup represents yourself. Sometimes two of those cups might be full because you’ve filled them with your time, whereas the third cup has become almost empty. It’s a matter of recognizing when one of the cups is empty so that you can rebalance the cups.
For me, there are constant external demands for me to keep the work cup full, so I have to focus more on the other two cups. To ensure that I spend quality time with my family, it helps when I leave my laptop at work, even if just for an evening or two during the week. I love the feeling of freedom that I experience when I leave it on my desk at the end of the day, and it frees me mentally to focus 100% on my family during the evening.