Lately, we’ve been playing around with the idea that we can “recycle happiness.” What we mean by that is that we can produce happy feelings in the present from memories in the past as well as “pay it forward” to recycle our happiness for others.
There are three ways (a non-exhaustive list) this can occur:
1. Use past moments to recall and create (current) happy emotions (e.g. gratitude)
2. Pay it forward
3. Find environmental conditions that produce happy emotions
Let’s go through each of them and find some strategies that will work for you.
Recycling Happiness #1
The strategy of practicing gratitude is the simplest way to “recycle happiness.” You simply dwell on something you’re grateful for (meaning you already know this thing brings you (insert emotion… e.g. joy)). When you experienced that emotion in the first place, it was practicing presence that allowed you to realize it made you happy. You are “recycling” that emotion for your current use. We can use this to make any current situation positive, simply by giving it context (you often hear, “it could always be worse as a glass-half-empty” or “I’m grateful I’m fortunate” as a glass half-full outlook).
Recycling Happiness #2
Pay it forward. If you’re happy, it’s contagious. Your smile is contagious. Whatever made you smile, pay it forward! By giving away a little bit of your joyous emotion to someone else, you are filling up their happiness cup. I think this builds goodwill for you own gratitude recall in the future; the fastest way to change your state is to do good for others.
Recycling Happiness #3
Recreate environmental conditions that produce happy emotions. This might be the beach, the mountains, your favorite treehouse, a clearing in the woods, your favorite spot by the fire, or your go-to walk. While travel might be currently difficult for you, environmental conditions also include the smells and sounds you experience; change the music, light a candle, and dance around.
As we enter a holiday season that will be unlike any other, recycle some of your happy happiness from the past. Funny enough, it produces happy feelings in the present (which is the whole point, isn’t it?). If you’re having a hard time, recycle your effort to help someone else. In the spirit of the season, try to embrace strategy #2 — pay it forward.