The fourth “HOW” for making the most of the 12 happiness increasing activities listed in “The How of Happiness” by Sonja Lyubomirsky, is:
Motivation, Effort, and Commitment
Those are the terms she uses, but I think I would modify them a little: Persistence, Passion, and Programming.
Mostly I like the alliteration, but there are some differences and if we look at all of these, you’ll get a sense for what you need to do.
In general, what we are both talking about here is that fact that, like anything else, embarking on a happiness boosting practice is essentially a new behaviour and as such will not be an immediate habit, nor will it always be easy. So don’t give up as soon as it becomes a little more “work” than you would like.
My website is all about the benefits of joy and laughter so, you already know WHY building a happiness practice is a good thing, but more than that you need to have your own reasons for doing this, something that speaks deeply to you, so you will stick with this through thick and thin so that you can realize all of those benefits.
So here is a little about what Sonja and I mean by our terminology above:
Having a deep and meaningful, personal reason to do this, something that will help you get through the rough times.
This is WORK not PLAY, though as I have discovered the barriers between work and play are artificial and all in our heads, so this WORK can feel like PLAY if you want it to. The essential factor here though is that you are going to need to put some effort behind your desire to be happier.
You need to be dedicated to this “practice” of happiness in your life. Make the time for it and push away the excuses like: I’m too busy, or too tired, etc. Commitment also means not giving up when you fail. If you backslide or things don’t go your way, recommitting to keep doing this and getting to a place of greater happiness.
Related to Motivation, to me this is the burning desire and NEED for something, in this case, a new life of joy, laughter, lasting happiness, and all of the benefits that brings. When you have a LASTING passion (and they are rare, for so many of us passions burn hot then die quickly) then you can do anything, as long as it is heading you in the direction of that passion. The trouble with passion is, as I said, our passions can be fickle and transient. This is a good way to start, but rarely will get you all the way to the finish. For that you need Persistence and Programming.
This is connected to Commitment. To me persistence means never giving up, no matter what. So once you have made your commitment, persist and keep slogging through it even on the days when it’s not easy. There is no greater power in the world than persistence.
Passion and Motivation can slide, Effort is hard and we may not always feel like doing it, Commitment can fade in the face of great barriers. Persistence is king, but how do we make ourselves so persistent? We program it into our lives. We set aside some time to make a habit, and we do it for at least 90 days straight, until we have convinced our subconscious mind that this is a new behaviour that we want to do regularly, and from there, the power of our own mind takes over and MAKES us do it because our internal programming has been altered.
So, in summary, you need to be dedicated to these activities, which ever you choose and keep with them no matter what, and the way I suggest to do that is to make it a habit in your life.
Until the next time – keep laughing, and building your commitment to laughing.