As many of our readers know, Steve and I are planning our futures to get us out of our daily work grind and into a life of more freedom and joy. My mantra, “I want to live the life I want.” Not the life I’ve fallen into, or that’s been chosen by others, or that society dictates.
Obviously this plan involves a process of becoming financially free and deciding what it is we want to do. For me the financially free part is easy. We have our budget and we’re sticking to it. Math and numbers follow the rules. I know that if we stick to budget we’ll meet our financial goals by the end of 2018, so I have no worries on that front.
What is hard for me is the deciding what I want to do part. Many days I truly do enjoy my job. I get to problem solve and do something that feels worthwhile. What I do not like is having my life scheduled for me. It’s easy for me to pick out the things I don’t enjoy or don’t like to do and that can be useful. But I think what is more useful and telling is what I love. What makes me Happy and brings me Joy. Those things are what I want to maximize in my life. But I need to know what they are first.
I’m talking Happy, not simply “happy”. What’s the difference? Eating a donut can make me happy. Endorphins, sugar yum! However, that donut does not make me Happy. Things that make me Happy are things that I value extremely high in my current life and would fight to keep. They are deeper and more meaningful than that delicious, buttery-sweet donut (though I could imagine that for some people a donut could make them Happy).
So after quite a bit of thinking here is my current list. It’s going to change and grow (just as I will change and grow) but that’s okay. Once I understand what makes me Happy, I can start maximizing those things in my current life. I don’t need to wait for 2019 (or even 2016!). I’m going to be as Happy as I can be, starting now.
~ Nose kisses from Patti, our poodle.
~ Penny, our boxer, climbing on me and smothering me with kisses and wiggles.
~ Penny acting cray-cray.
~ The greeting we get from our girls when we get home from anything, even if it’s only been 5 minutes.
~ Snuggling with my husband before falling asleep. Heart beats.
~ Cooking with Steve. Process. Experimentation.
~ Sharing our days, thoughts, ideas, futures. Meaningful conversation with my husband.
~ Steve calling me sexy or beautiful.
~ Being goofy and laughing with my husband. Saying things wrong.
~ Talking one and one with close friends. Connection.
~ Sitting back and enjoying interesting conversation flowing around me.
~ Seeing and being in the beauty of nature. Wonder.
~ Being active. The physical tired feeling my body gets after working out or a long hike.
~ Solving problems. Creative problem solving.
~ Reading fiction and feeling another character’s life. Different truths.
~ Reading non-fiction and feeling my own life. Learning about myself in the process.
~ Learning. About everything and anything that interests me.
~ Sharing. Everything I’ve learned. My joy. What’s helped and what hasn’t.
~ Knitting. The flow I can find in creating fabric with my hands.
~ Family. Spending time with family with no expectations, no deadlines.
~ Quiet. I crave quiet after times of stress. It rejuvenates me.
~ My first cup of tea in the morning. Reflection.
~ Giving. Seeing joy on others faces.
~ Waking up naturally to the sun and very excited pups.
~ Bird song.
~ Dancing to 80s music.
~ Lifting Weights. Being strong. And the pride I feel in my body.
~ Singing along to amazing music.
~ Watching and listening to live music by an artist who loves what they do. Especially if there is violin or fiddle involved. Swaying. Feeling.
~ Cinnamon and Sugar. Comfort. Memories.
~ Eating really really good food. Savoring the flavors. Enjoying the moment.
~ Night time bat swims. Giggles.
~ Being clutter-free physically, mentally, spiritually. Feeling peace.
What makes you Happy?
Steve is a 38-year-old early retiree who writes about the intersection of happiness and financial independence. Steve is a regular contributor to MarketWatch, CNBC, and The Ladders. He lives full-time in his 30′ Airstream Classic and travels the country with his wife Courtney and two rescued dogs.