The holidays are a time for list making. We are all making our many lists and checking them twice. As I thought about the holidays and our expectations for them to be happy and jolly, I realized that the truth is many individuals find the holidays stressful and anything but happy. Perhaps it would be helpful if we added making a “Happy List” to our list making efforts in order to find more joy.

Take a minute and look at the definition and synonyms for the word happiness.

hap·pi·ness, noun
1. the quality or state of being happy.
2. good fortune; pleasure; contentment; joy.
Origin: 1520–30; happy + -ness

Synonyms: pleasure, joy, exhilaration, bliss, contentedness, delight, enjoyment, satisfaction. Happiness, bliss, contentment, felicity imply an active or passive state of pleasure or pleasurable satisfaction. Happiness results from the possession or attainment of what one considers good: the happiness of visiting one’s family. Bliss is unalloyed happiness or supreme delight: the bliss of perfect companionship. Contentment is a peaceful kind of happiness in which one rests without desires, even though every wish may not have been gratified: contentment in one’s surroundings. Felicity is a formal word for happiness of an especially fortunate or intense kind: to wish a young couple felicity in life.

When I looked at this definition and list of synonyms, I wondered how many of us really look at our own thoughts about happiness and what it truly means to us. In fact, I think most people are more concerned with making others happy, our families, bosses, friends etc. than we are with our own happiness. For many, their own happiness is secondary. While on the surface this appears to be selfless, this is not really a sound practice because I believe that we can help others and spread joy only when we are happy ourselves. I would like to suggest that you take time this holiday season and create a “Happy List” for yourself. Begin by asking yourself—Am I happy with myself and with my life? This is not a question that can be answered with a simple yes or no. To answer it fully it takes time and reflection. Once you begin to think about your level of happiness, create a list that will help you discover what makes you happy and changes you need to make in order to live a life that brings you greater joy.

It is important to find true happiness within your being for it impacts not just your day-to-day life, but your health as well. With that in mind, I hope that your list goes much deeper that those things that bring only temporary happiness. My greatest wish for you is that you find deep happiness and joy within you that sustains you through those times that challenge you.