Happiness Basics: Invest in yourself

Sharon came to the Happiness Basics following success in other Edmonton Southside Primary Care Network programs. She had just been to an exercise workshop, and was looking into more classes, when Happiness Basics was mentioned.

Happiness Basics was new at the time, as a program to teach individuals what happy people do differently, and she thought she would give it a try.

“I was curious, but I didn’t know what to expect.”

In one of the first classes, everyone was given a chocolate mint, in an activity that encourages participants to be more mindful. The group was instructed to take the time to savour the treat, instead of simply popping it in their mouth.

“I’ve never eaten a mint so slow and it made me realize that, though I wasn’t aware of it, I took many things that made me happy for granted. Taking a moment to write down what made me happy slowed me down enough to notice those things and to spend time on them.”

She found that happiness is like a bank account, where you want to keep a positive balance, and continue investing in order to build it up to a healthy level. With happiness, you need to spend time doing those things that make you happy, in order to build up that account.  “I had to figure out what those things were and invest in them more often. They are as important as eating and sleeping when it comes to living.”

During a class, Sharon recognized that friends and family were an important part of her life that brought her joy, and that they are something that she wanted to invest more of her time in. Immediately after the class she stopped by her friend’s house, who had young children, for a quick visit. Though she only spent 45 minutes chatting, she found it served to brighten her afternoon.

“It felt like my happiness meter had just been raised, and my bank replenished.”

Sharon explains that negatives can build just as easily as positives. Life has setbacks but if you are able to build up your happiness bank account, negative withdrawals don’t seem so troublesome. You can use that built up love and belonging to help you bounce back from whatever the situation is.

“You can make someone’s day by being happy. It’s catchy and helps to build your environment in a positive way.”

Happiness doesn’t just benefit the individual, happiness also benefits those around you. As Sharon mentioned, “Sometimes it’s the little things. Every now and then someone will smile back at me when I didn’t even realize I was smiling.”

Sharon still uses many of the exercises and techniques that they are given, since leaving the workshop. Her favourites are: savouring the moment, that was used in the first session, and the five senses meditation to help her stay present and enjoy the moment.

“It was more than I expected it could be and helped put my priorities back in perspective. I have a binder of the materials that I was given throughout the course, and the exercises that we did. It’s been a year now, and every now and then I pull it out to look through it as a refresher.”

Looking back on what she learned, her advice is :

“Look at what feeds your soul. Once you identify it, book it into your calendar. It’s important to recognize those things, give them value and schedule them into your life.”