Something that I’ve long found that consistently increases satisfaction in life is to have something waiting for you every day that you’ve been looking forward to. I have a few ways of doing this.
The first is merely to focus on the pleasure in some of life’s smaller, frequent tasks: seek contentment in folding laundry while you watch an old movie, listen to a certain radio show during a regular commute, watch for changes in moon phases or sunrise times during that commute, or have a favorite snack you indulge in each night, for example.
The second is closely related, and something that I also do to be more effective at work: put lots of routines in place. Set a schedule for working out on Saturday mornings, browsing your favorite blogs or web sites two or three nights a week, grilling burgers in the backyard while the kids run around every Wednesday evening, or getting up just a few minutes earlier to pray or do a puzzle or enjoy a bigger breakfast. Putting these things into your daily routines will also help take the edge off of those less savory events in life that aren’t always negotiable: work, confrontations, obligatory activities, etc.
Finally, let some standard financial advice help out your general happiness in life: diversify. Don’t put all of the eggs you look forward to in one basket. Some things you look forward to might be getting to see certain people, or eating favorite dishes, or enjoying a hobby, or even passing that one billboard on the way to work that makes you laugh. But just don’t limit yourself to only one kind of pleasure or routine. The more, the merrier! And should one somehow fail, you’ll have plenty to fall back on.
The best thing about filling your life with so many different things that you love so that you’ll always have plenty of them to look forward to, is that we all already probably have tons and just don’t fully recognize it. Start with an inventory of how you spend your time each week, and you may be surprised.
Here are a couple of the things I regularly look forward to each day:
Sunday: Meeting at church with some of the smartest, funniest, kindest people I know, for work that significantly improves life for others. Also, seeing my beautiful family in their best clothes. Not to mention flipping through the cartoons in the newspaper that night.
Monday: Easy crosswords in the newspaper. Having my entire family together for a few hours in the evening. Checking new sites to catch up on all the great news and reading from over the weekend. 24.
Tuesday: Seeing some of my favorite students and hearing their reactions to what I’d assigned over the weekend. Hanging around with the Boy Scouts at church. Collapsing into bed at the end of the day to trade stories with my wife and read a chapter of a book together before sweetheart prayers.
Wednesday: Taking my pick of leftovers to work for lunch (or breakfast!). Joking around with my son during a weekly drive (last week we listened to “Weird Al” the whole time).
Thursday: Spending extra time in the afternoon with the little kids.
Friday: Splurging for some hot chocolate on the way to work. Pizza and movie night.
Saturday: Car Talkon NPR. Sports on TV. Free samples at Cosco.