How some jelly beans made me at least 80% happy and I didn’t even eat them
Quick, pass your eyes over this next sentence while thinking of fun things to do this weekend. Sitting in your living room reading, making pancakes in your kitchen, watching Netflix.
What kind of things did you think about? Reading? Making pancakes? Netflix?
That which is in front of you is going to rule your attention and rule your thoughts. This is a dirty trick of your dumb brain, because you might actually get more enjoyment out of going for a bicycle ride, or going scuba diving, or calling your mom.
I realized I was really bad at doing thing things that I enjoyed doing. So, I got some jelly beans to help me.
I didn’t eat the jelly beans. I don’t even eat sugar. But, the jelly beans made me at least 80% happy anyway.
What I did was, I made four circles, and I arranged the jelly beans in the circles. It looked like this.
One circle was for “Daily,” another circle was for “Weekly,” the next circle was for “Monthly,” and the last circle was for “Yearly.”
Each jelly bean was a “prescription” for an activity that I knew would make me happier if I did it on a certain interval, but that I also knew I would be bad at remembering to do. Like this:
- Lemon Lime: ride my bicycle at least once a week.
- Jalapeño: go hiking at least twice a month.
- Ice Blue Mint: visit family at least three times a year.
Whenever the end of a day, a week, etc. was coming to an end, I’d check on my jelly beans. If a jelly bean was still in a circle, I knew I still needed to do that activity.
When you write “prescriptions” for yourself, the activities should have these qualities:
- Things you frequently forget how much you enjoy: Whenever I ride my bicycle, I think to myself “duh! I forgot how much I like this.”
- Things that takes a lot of effort: Going hiking, at the time, was a big project. I had to rent a ZipCar for $60, pick a place, and go. It would’ve been easier to watch Netflix.
- Things you aren’t cued to do by your immediate environment: Things that aren’t on your phone, and aren’t in your home or office are good candidates.
I don’t use the jelly beans anymore. But I’ve learned to have rituals that will make me at least 80% happy. I carved the pathways in my brain to think of doing these things more readily, and to better recognize when I need to do these things.
What prescriptions would you write for yourself?
Listen to Jason Fried talk about The Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-Free Living (3:55) on my podcast, Love Your Work. Or, subscribe on iTunes.