This article put me in the mood to read some fiction. It also also got me thinking about
the patterns that appear in my life when things are going well.
I've spent time thinking about my anti-patterns: what it looks like when things are going wrong. But other than "not like X" I haven't thought much about what the good stuff looks like.
In the same way that smiling can make you happy, I'm starting to find that doing the things I do when I feel best helps me to feel, well... better. That sounds obvious, but there is some subtlety: the activities that I assume "make me happy" aren't necessarily the things I do when I am happy.
For example, I love a good argument, or sometimes even a bad one. I'm also partial to ranting. But the happier I am, the less I do both. They are ways to release frustration and to exercise my mind - when I'm fulfilled I rarely need either. There's a lot of others activities in the same category, like: drinking a lot of coffee; keeping up with the tech scene; buying gadgets; and getting caught up in politics.
So what do I do when I'm happy?
I read or listen to books, mostly fiction. I learn about non-technology fields, like history and economics. I drink more tea than coffee, and more water than tea.
I spend a lot of time with my family and doing stuff around the house. I rarely get frustrated with the kids. I exercise and eat well, not because I'm trying to acheive something, but because it's fun and feels natural. I catch up with friends. I get a lot done at work.
I worry less about why things are they way they are. I don't sweat the details.
Making myself 'act happy' isn't easy. Like any change in behaviour, in the beginning it takes a lot of conscious effort. It does seem to be developing a momemtum of its own though and I'm surprised at how well its working.