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Amira McLaughlin

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Why are we happier when we have something to do?

Photo by mentatdgt on Pexels.com

We are hard wired for taking action and getting stuff done. It only makes sense, doesn’t it? Our survival as a society depends on the actions of lots of different people, and it has been this way from the beginning of time. Not only do we survive but we thrive when we each do our part and things run more smoothly. It only makes sense then that we have an internal mechanism hard wired into our brain that rewards us for getting things done. 

I’m sure you’ve seen this in action in your own life. You feel proud, accomplished, and happy when you wrap up a big work project, or finish reorganizing your closet. I sure feel pretty good when I can actually see the shelves in my closet and not just my jeans sprawled across the top looking as if it’s levitating. This feeling is what drives us to get things done on a regular basis. It’s motivation to get to work and take action. 

On the other hand, when we don’t have anything meaningful to do and we don’t feel like we’re contributing, we get depressed. People who don’t have a fulfilling job, or feel like the work they do is useless, are much more likely to feel down, tired, sad, and depressed. 

The best way to turn that around is to find something, anything we can do to make us feel productive. If we feel like we’re contributing to others, having a positive impact on their lives, all the better. Give it a try. The next time you feel down, force yourself to do one little productive thing. Go clean the bathroom, organize your book shelf, or do a load of laundry. Then use the accomplishment from that to motivate yourself to get something else done. Keep building on it, and before you know it you’ll notice your mood changing for the better .

For the long run, make it a goal to work at a job, or build a business that helps fuel this feeling of contributing and giving back. Wouldn’t it be great if the hours you spent earning a living each week, also contributed to your overall happiness and a feeling of fulfillment? What can you do this week or this month to work towards this goal? That’s where you want to start and in the meantime, keep volunteering, keep taking action, and do things that make you feel happy and accomplished. 

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