The frustration of not being able to access everyday happiness is natural and understandable.
You work hard to build a life that reflects your values and goals. You do your best to be positive and you’re not necessarily encumbered by classic misfortune (which is gasoline on the fire of your constant ‘screen-saver’ guilt).
Still, you’re just not really that happy.
Part of this ‘blah’ feeling is good emotional feedback that there might be a few more things you can do to boost your ability to feel engaged with your everyday life.
And here’s some good news, you can go ahead and save yourself the effort to muster a ton of motivation, you won’t need it for these small but impactful changes.
Because you already naturally want to do them all, you just don’t know it yet.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (really appreciating the copy/paste feature right now) calls this “finding flow.”
In his book, aptly titled, Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement in Everyday Life, Csikszentmihalyi says that leading a fulfilled life means simply doing more of the activities that make you lose track of time. He uses mounds of research to make the point that these ostensibly small activities provide the same psychological benefits as meditating.
He also notes that watching TV barely ever makes this list:
“Flow is generally reported when a person is doing his or her favorite activity – gardening, listening to music, bowling, cooking a good meal. It also occurs when driving, when talking to friends and surprisingly often at work. Very rarely do people report flow in passive leisure activities, such as watching television or relaxing.”
Could doing more of what makes you lose track of time be they key to happiness?
There’s only one way to find out! (That means try it.)
Now, if you continue to feel that ‘blah’ feeling no matter what you do, you might be in the midst of a depression.
Depression looks different for everyone and has different ‘flavors.’
Some people can be really energetic and still be depressed, others stay in bed all day, others can be just as functional and put together on the outside as they’ve always been, there’s even something called ‘smiling depression’..the list goes on. If you’re feeling stuck and can’t un-stick yourself, connect to support here or here or here.
If you feel embarrassed or shameful to do so, please remember — the healthiest people are the ones that connect to support.
Katherine Schafler is an NYC-based psychotherapist, writer and speaker. For more of her work, join her newsletter community, read her blog, or follow her on Instagram.