Want to Be Happier? Ask Yourself This One Question

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All relationship are about give and take, yin and yang, push and pull. As women, we're capable of spending countless hours analyzing our relationships, scrutinizing details and replaying scenarios over in our mind. But do you think about the relationship you have with yourself in the same way? Have you ever sat down to write a list of non-negotiables that you want out of your relationship with you?

Maintaining one's sanity in life seems to have something to do with striking a balance between short-term and long-term wants. You want to eat doughnuts for breakfast every day this week (just me?), but your long-term self probably chimes in at some point and swaps in granola because you want to feel healthy and happy. You want to spend your entire paycheck on plaid ponchos and Sephora products (just me again?) but your long-term self interferes because you want to save for a house. So what can your wise, long-term self ask of you each and every day that will up your overall happiness for the future? What do you need from yourself every day?

None of us want to become so self-obsessed that we only think of our own wants and needs, but without caring for ourselves, we can't care for anyone else. This may sound overly simplistic or even self-indulgent, but I promise you that a daily check-in with yourself can only benefit those around you and the world at large. With so much pain and violence around the globe, we need to start cultivating peace and happiness within our own hearts and minds so we can be positive agents of change and better serve others.

I started to think of my own non-negotiables on a run last week when I realized I need exercise to be happy. It was one of the first truly cold days of the year, and I was hesitant to bundle up and head outdoors. But once I did I was so happy that I listened to my body and gave it what it needed. I could care less about the size of my waistline, but I do care about my mental health. Going for a nice, long run most days provides me with a peace of mind and clarity I can't get anywhere else.

As my feet pressed into the pavement and my lungs filled with crisp winter air, I started to make a mental list of simple things I need to be happy, whole and calm. I came up with the following five things and encourage you to make a list of your own. Ask yourself what you need from your own soul and then try to deliver. Relationships, after all, are about give and take, and the one you have with yourself is as worthy of investment as any other.

1) Long runs outside

There's something about being out in the fresh air that beats running in place on a treadmill any day. If I go too many days in a row without a nice, long run, I get moody and irritable. Now that the weather is colder, I have to force myself to get outside, but once I do I feel a million times better. The sun on my face, the sweat on my back...it all makes me feel too good not to do on a regular basis.

2) Coffee

I love coffee. I love feeling the cup in my hands and savoring every sip. And I love it right away in the morning. I've tried to give up caffeine numerous times, but to no avail. I decided not to dwell on the fact that I love a good cuppa joe and instead, embrace it. I finally bought a decent coffee maker and milk frother and keep full-fat creamers on hand so I can savor a delicious, luxurious cup every morning.

3) Time to do nothing

Some people like and need a full social calendar to feel happy. I have tried to be like this, but it always makes me more on-edge than anything else. I am someone that feels no shame in wanting to unwind in front of the TV or sit around and read a book. I love being around a few close friends, but I genuinely have no desire to be in a crowded room that often. After a certain age, I accepted the fact that I'm not someone who wants to be busy all the time. It helps me feel more centered and refreshed to come up for air now and then.

4) Fresh flowers

It sounds simple, but keeping fresh flowers in the house is something that brings me tons of joy for $10 or less. Sometimes it feels superfluous when I know I need to get out of the grocery store before I go broke, but trimming the stems, arranging the bouquet and placing them in a clean vase in my home makes me feel comforted and cheerful. Plus, having one more living thing around in the dead of winter seems like money well spent.

5) A good book

I don't feel right if I don't have a book on my nightstand. Scratch that -- if I don't have at least 3 books on my nightstand, waiting for me to devour every page. The feeling of getting lost in a story is a feeling unlike any other. When I haven't picked up a book in a few days my mind starts to get fidgety and I miss the characters I've become so attached to.

So what are your five non-negotiables? What do you need from you every day to be your happiest, best self? I encourage you to make a list and stick to it. They can be as simple as a morning cup of coffee or as abstract as time each day to self-reflect. Whatever they are, take time to give yourself what you need. If we all took the time to do what makes us happy and calm each day, we might just make the world a little calmer place in the process.

This post was originally published on scotchandthefox.com