Prioritising, not pursuing, happiness

I’m currently doing a Coursera course on ‘A Life of Happiness and Fulfillment‘ and have just completed the first week. One of the things I learnt was the advice to prioritise, but not pursue, happiness. At first I wasn’t sure about this concept but the more I thought about it the more it made a lot of sense to me and is something I’m going to be trying to put into practice.

It’s a common held desire to be more happy, but in pursuing this it can sometimes have the opposite effect. We focus so much and what we think we need to change to be happy that we start to see all the differences and the gap between where we are now and the elusive ‘happiness’ which can often make us feel unhappy. So actively pursuing happiness can often have the opposite effect.

However, the course talks about how we often prioritise other things above our happiness. Sometimes we prioritise value for money, or status, or any number of other external factors (many research studies have shown how we do this without really realising it). We think these choices will make us happy but at the core of it often we can make very simple decisions that will make us happier even sooner. Things like choosing the foods we enjoy rather than the ones that are good value (the ones we enjoy may be cheaper or may be more expensive but by shifting our focus to what makes us happy we may well be much better off in terms of our wellbeing).

We apparently make 1000s of decisions every day and often we don’t prioritise happiness in this decision making process.

I’m going to be trying to do that more from now on, starting with spending some time in the garden because being outside makes me happy 🙂 (I’m now sitting in my favourite chair at the bottom of the garden, as shown in the photo)

What makes you happy? How can you prioritise happiness in your day-to-day decision making?