Why are you putting off happiness?

It’s a rainy Tuesday night and I’ve convinced my friend that grocery shopping counts as a “friend date” . We’re poking through the aisles of Super Target.

I’m excited to grocery shop with this friend because she always brings the best food to parties. MAYBE SHE’LL BE THE ONE WHO FINALLY HELPS ME FIGURE OUT CHEESE FONDUE.

We turn down the tv dinner aisle. My friend — my Julia-Child-esque friend — shovels 654 Lean Cuisines into her cart. “It seems ridiculous make a real meal when it’s just me, you know?” she shrugs.

I nod but I don’t get it. Is she saying that she doesn’t deserve the same sort of lovely meals she makes and shares with her friends?

Later, on my drive home, I think of all the places I’ve heard something like this before.

I remember the friend who moved to a new city for a one-year academic program. She isn’t bothering to make friends because she “isn’t going to be around that long.”

Another friend signed a six-month lease while she house hunts. She’s usually very stylish and decor-conscious, but she’s living out of boxes. Her framed art is still on the floor because she’s “just going to move soon.”

We can all see the common denominator here, right? Putting off or avoiding happy-making, life-improving things because they’re an inconvenience? Friends, a bit of real talk:

There is no ‘perfect time’ to do things that make you happy or improve your life.

If we want to find them, there will always be excuses. We can always find a reason not to treat ourselves with the same consideration that we treat others. And honestly? SOMETIMES HAPPINESS IS A TOTAL HASSLE.

Making friends in a new city is vulnerable and weird (here’s how to make friends as an adult). Cooking An Actual Meal is a lot harder than heating up a Lean Cuisine. Making your living space lovely requires time and thought.

It’s so much easier to convince ourselves that we’re too busy or we don’t really care. It’s easier to convince ourselves that the inconvenient, happy-making thing won’t make much of a difference.

I’m here to tell you 
a) that’s rubbish 
b) it’s possible to make happiness easier 
c) you deserve to feel happy now, not some imaginary time in the future when the stars align

5 ways to stop putting off happiness + make it easier

1. Be honest with yourself

Sometimes happiness is a hassle. Sometimes we’re using inconvenience as an excuse to protect ourselves. Admitting what we want + what makes us happy is a little terrifying.

It is so much easier to tell ourselves that we’re too busy to date, take that trip, or get a pet. It is also terrifying to admit why we’re putting off these things. We’re afraid of romantic rejection. We’re not sure how to plan a multi-week, multi-country trip. We’ve never owned a dog before and they seem like a lot of work??

All those fears are legitimate! Dating, traveling, and pet ownership are all a little overwhelming! They’re also (usually) worth it.

It’s okay to be nervous or unsure. You can feel that way and still take action.

2. Define the world’s tiniest step you could take towards happiness

My usually-domestic-but-currently-Lean-Cuisine-eating friend could make one recipe each week. Or she could put her Lean Cuisine on a plate and placemat. My doesn’t-know-anyone-in-her-new-city buddy could friend a few people from her course on Facebook.

My friend who loves nice spaces but is living out of boxes could pick up some 3M Command hooks next time she’s at Target. Sometimes the things that make us happy are big, time-consuming endevors.

It’s hard to wrap our arms around them or know where to start. Don’t over-complicate it! Taking one tiny step is better than taking zero big steps!

3. Figure out how much time you spend faffing around on your phone

“What does phone use have to do with putting off happiness, Sarah? That’s quite the leap of reasoning.”

Reader, I hear you. But here’s the thing. Most of us are putting off happiness because we’re “too busy” and “those Saved By The Bell re-runs aren’t going to watch themselves.”

May I kindly suggest downloading the Moment app for your iphone or the Quality Time app for your Android? And then prepare to be horrified?

Both of these apps track phone use. I’m willing to bet a week’s worth of carbohydrates we’re all spending more than 30 minutes a day on our phones. I’m also willing to bet we could all spend those 30 minutes in ways that make us happier or bring us closer to the lives we want.

Related: ‘Better’ probably takes less time than you think

4. Actually schedule this ish into your calendar

Now that we’ve identified some tiny steps we can take towards our happiness, let’s put those happy-making things on our calendars. Deeply Type-A? Yes. Wildly effective? ALSO YES.

If reading Y.A. makes you happy, but you never seem to have the time, block off one evening each week. When someone tries to invite you to dinner, tell them you have a sexy date with your couch and Harry Potter.

If you know an organized closet would make you happy, block off a Saturday, invite a friend over, and make it happen.

We put haircuts, coffee dates, and oil changes in our calendars. Your happiness is at least as important as a haircut, right?

5. While you’re doing this hassle-y happy stuff, remind yourself that it makes you happy

I know I feel happier when I put on real clothes and work somewhere other than my sofa. I know hosting dinner parties fills me up and strengthens my friendships. It’s not easy to remember that when I’m clearing up the wreckage on Sunday morning.

So when I’m in the midst of doing my hassle-y happy making thing, I say to myself “It makes me happy to ______________” It makes me happy to work from new places. It makes me happy to get dressed before 10 am. It makes me happy to complete the Herculean effort of washing and styling my hair.

When we say this to ourselves, we’re strengthening neural pathways. We’re making it easier to do these things in the future. We’re making it easier to remember on those grumpy, overcast days that maybe we do have time to be happy. And maybe we know exactly what to do.

Do you ever find yourself putting off things you know will make you happy or improve your life? What makes you happy but is totally a hassle? Is there any way you can make it easier?

P.S. If you want to talk with tons of smart, supportive people about topics like this, join my free, private Facebook group Money & Happy! Click here to join us.