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Lifestyle

Five ways to set happiness goals| Benenden Health

We plan our finances and careers but do we ever think about what makes us truly happy? A lack of goals can lead to stagnation and a lack of fulfilment, so here are five ways to ensure your ongoing happiness is a priority.

1. Articulate your goals

What do you dream of? Maybe it’s an exotic holiday, writing a book or learning a new skill. “Stating our plans and desires to the world makes them far more likely to become achievable. Even better is writing them down,” says self-care coach Mel Noakes and author of The Little Book of Self Care (Ebury Press).

Be as specific as you can and make your goal something that genuinely excites you. “We all want to do things that mean something to us, that excite and stimulate us. The ‘why’ behind the goal is just as important as the goal itself, because this is what motivates us when we feel like veering off course,” says Mel.

2. Plan for happiness

Life can bring its ups and downs to us all. But listing the things that make us feel good and consciously making time for them will have an uplifting effect. Buy a diary or wall planner so you can plan for your happiness. Determine what small actions can you take each day, week or month that could support you feeling happy. What day-trips, treats and holidays can you plan? Try staggering these so you have points within the year to look forward to.

3. Find the right balance

Balance is crucial to ensure we feel a degree of contentment. As well as making time for fitness, family, health and work, it’s important to include things that are good for your soul, whether travel, meditation, art or a walk in the country. But sometimes we may be so busy that we neglect one aspect of our lives. Use a different colour pen for each element: green for fitness, pink for fun and orange for health, for instance. If your planner looks like a rainbow, you know you’re getting the balance right.

4. Look in the right place

“We might believe happiness will come when we’ve lost weight, got a promotion, earned a certain amount of money or found love,” says Mel. “We delay experiencing our current happiness as if it’s somehow not valid or as if it’s something that needs to be bestowed on us from outside.”

Happiness can be found now – cuddling the dog, meeting a friend, watching a comedy show or sitting in the sunshine. Attuning yourself to it will change how you feel. “When you pay attention to these moments of joy, the gaps in between become smaller and the amount of time you feel happy increases,” says Mel.

5. Focus on what you love

When we focus on something we start drawing all our attention to it, so our brain prioritises it. So instead of worrying about the news or an unhappy situation, turn your attention to something you love.

Says Mel: “When we do this, our brains make us aware of every possible instance in which a piece of information might help in the current situation, such as past memories and experiences, as well as new information to help us understand it better and make the right decisions. It’s better to focus on what you love about your life, work, family and friends, so that you feed yourself with positivity whenever you can.”