Happiness: A Daily Checklist

This is very much a work in progress…

What is a good day? What are the things I do that matter and make me happy? I’m doing an experiment in which I make a point to do a few simple things every day. To help myself remember, I made a simple printable wristband, which you can download below.

Your mileage may vary, but it’s working pretty well for me. If you try it for yourself, let me know how it works for you.

The Checklist

Do something fun

Do something you love doing. Something that brings you joy somehow. Something you look forward to.

  • Play a sport
  • Work on a passion project
  • Visit someone special
  • Play a game
  • Make music

Do something kind for someone else

Popular culture bombards us with the idea that acquiring things will make us happy. But research has shown that happiness from buying things for ourselves is fleeting at best. In reality, it’s much more satisfying to give someone else a gift. Or just do something nice for someone that is not you.

  • Help a stranger carry something
  • Donate to a charity
  • Give a friend a gift

Do something you’ve been avoiding

We all have things we struggle to get around to for one reason or another. Maybe it’s a boring task. Maybe it’s disagreeable in some way. Pick one of those things and do it.

  • Take out the overflowing trash can
  • Clean the fish tank
  • Make an overdue phone call

Challenge yourself

This one can take many forms. Originally I called it “Do something that scares you” but that is too specific. It doesn’t have to be scary or unsafe, but it is an opportunity to push yourself outside your comfort zone. It counts even if you fail as long as you try your best.

  • Talk about something you’re ashamed of
  • Speak in front of a group
  • Touch a creepy bug
  • Compete against someone better than you

Do one kind thing for yourself

Think self-care. This is less about rewarding yourself and more about recognizing what you need (and making it happen). Dag Aabye said “Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping” and this is a daily opportunity to practice that.

  • Accept help if you need it
  • Trim your toenails
  • Get a massage
  • Feed yourself something nourishing
  • Take a rest

Make one “investment in tomorrow”

It does not need to be tomorrow, literally. The idea is to think outside of immediate needs and set things in motion that require planning or preparation.

  • Get something ready
  • Plant a seed
  • Make a financial investment
  • Schedule an appointment with a doctor

The Wristband

I made a wristband to keep track of which things I have done throughout the day. I put on a new one every morning and I mark the things I’ve done with a pen or pencil.

Download the printable PDF

Pro tip: If you use a stapler to attach the wristband, it’s surprisingly hard to do this with one hand. It helps to fold the two ends back and forth against themselves so they stay in place while you position the stapler. Licking them works pretty well too.

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