Have you ever stopped and taken stock of this question – ‘what does happiness mean to me?’ or how about ‘when will I know when I am consistently happy’?

The reality is that we are often so busy each day and every weekend, and so focused on what we ‘have to do’ that we may not be considering how we are spending our time. Are we spending it how we really want to be spending, or not.

Have you ever said to yourself, ‘I’d love to, but I’m just so busy – I just don’t have the time’!

Well, the truth of the matter is that time is time! It’s not times fault that something isn’t happening, it’s our own. Or more precisely, are we really clear on how are we using our time?

Are we really thinking about what helps us feel happier more often, and are we making good decisions to make this shift happen?

Our happiness base line

Did you know that all of us have our own unique happiness base line? Something that we can come back to again and again, and help grow throughout our life. It is easy to connect with our baseline, as it is sitting there in the recesses of our minds all the time. All we have to do is think back to what life was like when we were a child.

Specifically, to look at our childhood through the lens of happiness, fun and connection. Think back to when you were young, what were the predominant things you spent your time doing? For most of us it was school (learning), school holidays (breaks), time with friends and class mates each day (connections), playing creative games (imagination) and having fun and laughter through many activities (pleasurable pastimes).

Yes, there were times when we felt anxious and worried, or sad, upset and disappointed as life and childhood has a way of letting us feel these things too, but for now if you only focus the lens on happiness, you can discover your weekly baseline.

Different strokes

Your happiness base line is your happiness base line, and it is not for anyone else to judge what this is for you. Each of us get pleasure in different ways and as a child you might have gotten a lot of pleasure from reading or being active and playing sports; being curious and researching or experimenting. Some of us loved being in a big group of friends while others preferred the close intimacy of a small group. Think back to when you first discovered music and how different songs and bands spoke to you, as did the discovery of fashion and colours, shoes, and doing your hair in a certain way.

Think about the times each day that led to smiling, laughing and feeling nice.

It is here that your % base line will show itself, usually between the ages of 5-8, as it is really through going to school that our days become most structured.

Bring it up to date

Now once you have a picture of the things you loved to do or think about, and you have a % in mind of how often you did this each day and week, have a think about how you spend your time now. Has your base line dropped in % or grown?

This is not about judging this change, it is more of a guesstimate and a realisation or the recognition of this change.

“Happiness is a state of mind, it’s just according to the way you look at things” – Walt Disney

If you see that there has been a considerable change, maybe it is time to invest some of your time back into connecting with your base line again. If you have competed this exercise, you will once again see the things that gave you pleasure when you were young and from this list you can begin to commit to doing some of these things again.

The Good News

Now for the really good news. If you book in some of these pleasurable pastimes, your baseline will get energised and invigorated again. Not only that, as you are more experienced now, you will have access to more options than what was available to you when you were small. As an adult you are more in control of your time and revenue than as a kid, so you can invest more time and commitment to again reap the benefits. It’s not all about spending money though, as you will see from your childhood most of the things you did for fun were free, and still are. Imagination and laughing doesn’t cost a penny!

The other great news is that spending time just thinking about things that make you feel happy actually brings energy to your base line too. So, just sitting there smiling and thinking about the fun, friends and good times will bring happiness. Make sure not to wander into feeling sad about these past experiences, you weren’t feeling sad about them then. Just enjoy the feelings that you once had and remember that still today many of these same experiences might be open to you still.

Everyday there are two sources of happiness. Some come from outside of us through activities and being with other people, and some from inside of us in how we think about being part of our happy life experiences such as being alive, appreciating the past and the present, recognising our uniqueness and our unique contributions.

Combining these two sources in a committed and regular way, as well as being open to discovering new and exciting ways to experience life, grows our happiness baseline and both protects and enlivens our life, our daily experiences.

Jason Brennan is a Certified Transactional Analyst, holds a BA in Psychoanalysis, a certificate in Philosophical studies and is an honorary lifetime member of the UCD Psychological Society.

An accredited psychotherapist, coach and author with over 28years’ experience in the mental health and development field, he has helped many people and teams grow and develop in themselves, in the work they do and in the relationships they have.

He has brought together his experiences in his first book, co-written with well-known personality and mental health advocate Brent Pope.

The book is called “WIN:Proven Strategies for Success in Sports, Life and Mental Health”.Jason has been on the board of many government and corporate coaching panels.