Make Your happiness: The A to T

Make Your happiness: The A to T

How would you define happiness?

Unsurprisingly, the answers differ, person to person. Some would say family, others would say travel, other might say helping others, or enjoying free time to themselves. The big challenge with happiness is not just that there is no ‘one size fits all’ type but that making our own happiness isn’t always the smooth and easy path we expect it to be.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy or ACT defines happiness as a ‘rich, full and meaningful life’. This is usually worked towards by ‘taking action on the things that truly matter deep in our hearts, moving in directions that we consider valuable and worthy and clarifying what we stand for in life and acting accordingly’.

If we look that ACT definition, then what becomes clear is that it would be helpful to reframe how we treat happiness; shifting from seeing it as an outcome to viewing it as a process or journey. Therefore, clarifying what we stand for in life i.e. what we value and therefore symbolise and how that makes our life meaningful can help us avoid chasing the evermoving goalposts of ‘outcome-based’ happiness.

If that resonated with you, maybe try this over the next two weeks. Pick five values from the list below and set an intention to live by them each day, even if it brings about uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. At the end of the two weeks reflect on whether you have been living a ‘rich, full and meaningful’ life and if that has been helpful in achieving happiness.

      1. Acceptance: to be open to and accepting of myself, others, life etc.
      2. Adventure: to be adventurous; to actively seek, create, or explore novel or stimulating experiences
      3. Assertiveness: to respectfully stand up for my rights and request what I want
      4. Authenticity: to be authentic, genuine, real; to be true to myself
      5. Beauty: to appreciate, create, nurture or cultivate beauty in myself, others, the environment etc.
      6. Caring: to be caring towards myself, others, the environment etc.
      7. Challenge: to keep challenging myself to grow, learn, improve
      8. Compassion: to act with kindness towards those who are suffering
      9. Connection: to engage fully in whatever I am doing, and be fully present with others
      10. Contribution: to contribute, help, assist, or make a positive difference to myself or others
      11. Conformity: to be respectful and obedient of rules and obligations
      12. Cooperation: to be cooperative and collaborative with others
      13. Courage: to be courageous or brave; to persist in the face of fear, threat, or difficulty
      14. Creativity: to be creative or innovative
      15. Curiosity: to be curious, open-minded and interested; to explore and discover
      16. Encouragement: to encourage and reward behaviour that I value in myself or others
      17. Equality: to treat others as equal to myself, and vice-versa
      18. Excitement: to seek, create and engage in activities that are exciting, stimulating or thrilling
      19. Fairness: to be fair to myself or others
      20. Fitness: to maintain or improve my fitness; to look after my physical and mental health and wellbeing
      21. Flexibility: to adjust and adapt readily to changing circumstances
      22. Freedom: to live freely; to choose how I live and behave, or help others do likewise
      23. Friendliness: to be friendly, companionable, or agreeable towards others
      24. Forgiveness: to be forgiving towards myself or others
      25. Fun: to be fun-loving; to seek, create, and engage in fun-filled activities
      26. Generosity: to be generous, sharing and giving, to myself or others
      27. Gratitude: to be grateful for and appreciative of the positive aspects of myself, others and life
      28. Honesty: to be honest, truthful, and sincere with myself and others
      29. Humour: to see and appreciate the humorous side of life
      30. Humility: to be humble or modest; to let my achievements speak for themselves
      31. Industry: to be industrious, hard-working, dedicated
      32. Independence: to be self-supportive, and choose my own way of doing things
      33. Intimacy: to open up, reveal, and share myself — emotionally or physically – in my close personal relationships
      34. Justice: to uphold justice and fairness
      35. Kindness: to be kind, compassionate, considerate, nurturing or caring towards myself or others
      36. Love: to act lovingly or affectionately towards myself or others
      37. Mindfulness: to be conscious of, open to, and curious about my here-and-now experience
      38. Order: to be orderly and organized
      39. Open-mindedness: to think things through, see things from other’s points of view, and weigh evidence fairly.
      40. Patience: to wait calmly for what I want
      41. Persistence: to continue resolutely, despite problems or difficulties.
      42. Pleasure: to create and give pleasure to myself or others
      43. Power: to strongly influence or wield authority over others, e.g. taking charge, leading, organizing
      44. Reciprocity: to build relationships in which there is a fair balance of giving and taking
      45. Respect: to be respectful towards myself or others; to be polite, considerate and show positive regard
      46. Responsibility: to be responsible and accountable for my actions
      47. Romance: to be romantic; to display and express love or strong affection
      48. Safety: to secure, protect, or ensure safety of myself or others
      49. Self-awareness: to be aware of my own thoughts, feelings and actions
      50. Self-care: to look after my health and wellbeing, and get my needs met
      51. Self-development: to keep growing, advancing or improving in knowledge, skills, character, or life experience.
      52. Self-control: to act in accordance with my own ideals
      53. Sensuality: to create, explore and enjoy experiences that stimulate the five senses
      54. Sexuality: to explore or express my sexuality
      55. Spirituality: to connect with things bigger than myself
      56. Skillfulness: to continually practice and improve my skills, and apply myself fully when using them
      57. Supportiveness: to be supportive, helpful, encouraging, and available to myself or others
      58. Trust: to be trustworthy; to be loyal, faithful, sincere, and reliable



Harris, R. (2011). The happiness trap: Stop struggling, start living. ReadHowYouWant. com.

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