The Secret to Extreme Happiness

Recently I wrote about the idea of spending 15 minutes a day doing something creative that has no chance of being profitable (see here). Since I wrote about that, I’ve seen two things online that gave me an idea for such an activity. One of the blog entries was about one man’s “wow” experiences–moments that left him awestruck. The other was actually a TED talk in which the speaker mentioned a list of the happiest moments of his like.

So this past Friday when I came home from work, I decided to sit down and list my happiest, most gratifying, most joyful, most awestruck experiences over the course of my 28.5-year life. This took longer than 15 minutes, but I’m really glad I did it.

All in all, I came up with 84 different things that have made me truly happy or gratified or joyful or awestruck. I’ve had many, many more experiences that fit into those categories, but I was looking for the extremes, the outliers, the purest of the pure.

I compiled all of this data into a spreadsheet that I’m not going to share with you. You see, a key component of this exercise was that I didn’t do it to write about on this blog or share with other people. I did it for myself. If I had thought about sharing it with other people, I think I may have included things that other people expected me to include or omitted things that might offend other people (for example, there are experiences on the list that happened with other girlfriends, things that my current girlfriend probably doesn’t want to hear. She’s on the list too, though!)

What I do plan on sharing, however, are the patterns and revelations I found by looking at the data. The four categories that I classified these experiences were as follows:

  1. When (infant, elementary school, middle school, high school, college, post-college)
  2. Where (home, school, work, nature, beach, sports field, Japan, etc.)
  3. Other People (yes or no–were other people pertinent to this experience being what it was)
  4. Category (friends, game, entertainment, food, family, women, ego, creative, accomplishment, little pleasures, sports, and connection)

I wanted to share this with you today in case you wanted to create a similar list or spreadsheet before I divulge tomorrow what I learned about happiness. Perhaps I just learned something about my happiness, but I have a feeling some of these results will shed some interesting light onto your happiness too. Stay tuned.

0 thoughts on “The Secret to Extreme Happiness”

  1. Let us know what the TED talks are that you particularly enjoy. I’ve watched a lot and they are all good, but some stand out more than others.

    This sounds similar to the Examination of Conscience but instead of it being done every day it’s every 28.5 years. If you’re looking for a more consistent and short religious activity, check this out.

    • I like the tie-in to something spiritual and religious. There aren’t many spiritual or religious experiences on my list. I definitely experience happiness–often a unique happiness–at church or while praying/meditating, but there aren’t many extreme highs there. I like the idea of doing this–or at least acknowledging extreme happiness–more often. By starting this list, I think I’ll be more mentally prepared to add to it in the future.


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