Today is the first day of summer, and I find myself feeling a deep sense of happiness as the calendar stretches out before me filled with sunshine, fireflies, and lazy days with family. What are some of the things that make you happy? For me, it’s a pretty big list: in addition to the beginning of a new season, I love spending time with loved ones, holidays, vacations, social events, and the list goes on and on. When you can pinpoint some of the things that make you happy, can you think on a deeper level as to what about it is making you happy? What is it in those experiences that create joy? When we can reflect what needs are being met within these experiences we can take this information and try to integrate it into daily living rather than just waiting to experience it on a situational or seasonal basis.

Lets take the beginning of a new season as an example. Summer brings out a lot of opportunities to engage in things we usually do not have time for. There is something special about this season where we start to prioritize our time to do more things that we enjoy—especially if there is a significant schedule change that happens for families with children. Lets say you are a family with children and going to the pool brings you joy. Now the question is why? After further reflection you’ve come to find out it’s a favorite past time you enjoy doing with your family because it mixes up the routine. Mixing up the routine turns out to be invaluable to us because it gives the children something to do while also taking the opportunity to relax in the middle of the day when we may not get the opportunity to do so. Sow how do we take the concept of “mixing up the routine” and applying it to daily living? Perhaps this can be achieved through intentional scheduling of self care days or taking one weekend of the month and dedicating it to “family fun”.

Another example of how we let experiences shape our sense of happiness is how we feel in a brand new relationship. It is very prominent in the beginning that there are feelings of admiration, affection, and we feel a great sense of connection to our partner (for one reason or another). Naturally, when we have all of these positive emotions, we want to spend even more time with that person because they bring out unique qualities within us and they make our days even brighter. To this example I say: HOW are they are making your days brighter? What about them is bringing out these positive qualities that you did not already possess at your core? Chances are you had these qualities all along, but it took a different lens or experience to let you see it.

In both examples, self reflection is key to decipher what needs are being met through the experience. This type of thinking will help to sustain a unique sense of happiness on a daily basis. In order to shift to this type of mentality, it will be important to prioritize self-discovery with emphasis on growth. This journey of self-discovery doesn’t only have to happen when there is a major life transition or experience. Although lets be honest, it usually takes a life altering experience or event to help us shift our focus more inwardly.

Happy in the moment or long term, only YOU can define what brings you joy and what to do to bring it to the next level. Think of it like this: When hiking up a mountain and you hit that first plateau; it’s going to have a really nice view. However, if you stop there, you might not discover that there are even nicer views if you keep climbing. Just like other emotions, take the opportunity to learn why you are having that feeling of happiness and what higher purpose its serving for you and your journey.

Diana Nesko, MS, LGMFT provides couple, family, and individual therapy in our downtown Bethesda, MD office. Call or email today to set up your first appointment or a complimentary telephone consultation with Diana!