If you don't enjoy it, you won't change

My 6-week Happiness in Action course wraps up next week.

The final assignment will be for each of us to create a short list of activities that we are excited to do every day for the next two weeks. Things that are life-giving. Things that speak to our current values, needs and priorities. Things we're excited to try, or start doing again. Things that feel good just to think about.

The goal is to start turning these activities into habits, so we will eventually experience more moments of happiness without even consciously trying.

"Make sure it feels good" is not the mantra I've had for self-improvement for most of my life. Rather, it was more like, "listen to the experts and do what they say." But at this point I'm convinced that in any attempt to create new habits, it is essential that those habits are inherently enjoyable. Otherwise, why would we ever go through the hard work of changing?

There's another level to this, too, which is that it's important that the way we think about ourselves in relationship to these new habits also feels good. What am I telling myself about myself as I try doing these new things?

Am I trying to change in order to make up for mistakes or flaws, in hopes that I'll get it "right" this time and finally be acceptable to myself? Or am I trying to change because I love myself and want to do things that will make my life work better?

Am I instituting a set of rules and structures because I don't think I can be trusted to make good choices on my own and feel like I need some kind of external authority to tell me what to do? Or is the structure there to help me practice and get better at doing things that are important to me, because I want to set myself up for success as quickly and efficiently as possible?

The actions I commit to might be exactly the same in both cases, but depending on the perspective I take, the experience will feel entirely different. And how it feels is what will ultimately dictate whether I'm willing to commit to the new habits or not.

What do you think? Does this ring true for you, too? Do you have your own stories of behavior change to share? When have you been successful, and when haven't you? Do you have habits that you're actively trying to add or modify right now? I'd love to hear your experiences.

And if you want a copy of the activity worksheet that I'll be sharing with my class, you can download it here.