The Tree of Happiness

Everybody wants to be happy but many of us don’t know how to. Let me propose a very simple model to you.

You know where you come from, your past history and your background, that is, your origin. And you also have a vague idea of what you’d like to be and have, something that could be summarized by a single word: happiness.

To go from our roots and our origin, that is, the us now, to happiness, we have to grow and change. But how do we do something as complex as that? Let me illustrate it by means of this very easy diagram…

Our growth

Our growth (by Jessica J. Lockhart)

The ground where you stand and the roots that hold the tree below represent your background and your history: your past experiences, your family and friends, your life until today. You are the tree trunk, the main body of the tree. And there where the branches are born are located each of the decisions you make in life. Whenever you decide something, the sprout of a new branch grows. Each decision that you adopt grows toward a goal or objective. Once you define a goal, you follow certain steps to reach it. Each step undertaken makes the branch grow bigger. As soon as the goal is reached and the steps undertaken, the branch erupts in green, lush leaves. And because we all want to be HAPPY, the total sum of the goals reached represents happiness (whatever that means to each of us) in the shape of the green canopy surrounding the branches. 

Only some types of decisions

Only some types of decisions

The more decisions you make, the greater the number of goals to reach. The bigger the number of goals reached, the wider your happiness (your canopy) will be. The more spread your branches are, the greater the variety of sources of happiness you’ll have. If you only decide to pursue goals in certain  aspects of your life, that’s where your branches and leaves will grow. Be careful, your tree may end up looking crooked, something like this…

A healthy, happy person grows a wide, thick and shiny canopy supported by thousands of branches, some bigger, some smaller. As soon as you stop reaching goals, the tree stops growing.

In order to be happy in a balanced way, you have to select your goals by using your logic and common sense. You don’t want to be happy in just some aspects of your life but in general, don’t you agree? Then decide to set all kinds of goals in all spheres of life to make your tree grow balanced.

One example

One example

One way of doing that is by assigning a subject or theme to each branch and only pursuing a new branch in the same field once all the steps in that first one are taken and the goal reached. For example: imagine you want to be happier by feeling healthier. You might decide that the first goal to reach will be to lose weight. Define the goal: ‘I want to lose … pounds or kilos,” or ‘I want to be a size …” and include a deadline. ‘I want to lose … pounds or kilos by …,’ or ‘I want to be a size … by …’In order to do so, you’ll write each of the steps you’re going to undertake in each of the branches of your tree. Something like this… (remember that this is just an example. You are the one to choose the goal and the steps.)

You can also subdivide the branches into small twigs to define smaller steps to undertake. That makes things so much easier! The smaller the steps, the easier to follow. Let’s try to illustrate it with another drawing….

Small, easy steps

Small, easy steps

Is your tree like this?

Is your tree like this?

Once you take each mini-step or twig, it will sprout some leaves. By the time you complete all the steps in one branch, it will be covered in green. And when all the branches or steps are taken and the goal reached, that part of the tree will look lush, healthy, green and alive. Time to move to the next goal.

How do we choose our goals? How can we make sure that our tree of happiness is balanced? That will be the subject analyzed in my next post.

Now think about your tree of happiness and how healthy or unhealthy it is. Is it balanced? Are you setting goals for yourself or did you stop a while ago? Do you have a thick, vividly green canopy or are the big holes and empty spaces in it? Analyze your tree and your reality and see what you find out.

Enjoy life, J.