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Happiness Jenga


How often does this happen to you as you walk down the hall? “Hey how are you?” “ Great thanks, how are you?” a few steps later your brain comes on-line and you think to yourself ”Hmm, am I great? Or am I am fine. We ask our friends and colleagues how we are doing several times a day only to get an automated reply. I believe if we are asking ourselves how we are doing we are giving ourselves the same automated reply and I wonder if these automations are serving us.


As a coach I have an appreciation for good questions. My two all-time favorite questions are; “What is this experience like for you?” or “What do you need?” I love them because the focus of these questions is on the person you are speaking to and I find they have to stop and check in or really think before they can answer them. By asking ourselves these thoughtful questions and giving ourselves permission to honestly answer them we increase our awareness. This self awareness is an important part of the solution. Let me explain Happiness Jenga.



I see life as a game of Jenga. Each of the 54 Jenga blocks is an essential component of a person's happiness. When ALL of the blocks are in place or mostly in place we are happy and thriving. In Happiness Jenga the blocks are unique to each individual and come in different sizes and categories. For example I have double blocks for connection, and time in nature and a single blocks for dark chocolate, exercise, work, tennis, and time by myself. True to the original game, as blocks get pulled out the tower becomes less stable. You may have noticed this in yourself or in others. It looks and feels like short patience, being reactive, tired, a feeling of hopelessness or depletion. When life gets going too fast and we stop paying attention to our happiness blocks we inadvertently pull out too many blocks and the tower crumbles. Just ask my family, or your own, it is usually messy when the blocks are out and blissful when they are in.



Covid has added a new twist to the Happiness Jenga game. As we wake up during a global pandemic I believe it is safe to say that a double block is out before our feet even hit the floor. This puts more pressure on us to keep the other blocks in place. So how do we keep our blocks in place?

First we need to identify what our personal blocks are.

Second we need to amp up our early detection system to look, see and feel when our blocks are pulled partially out and put them back into place when we notice them.

Third we need to prioritize our Jenga blocks when we can. If you have a 20 minute break in the day ask yourself how is your Happiness Jenga tower? What can you do now or make a plan to do soon to put a block back in place?

So the next time someone asks you how you are doing, use it as an opportunity to check in with Jenga tower. How am I REALLY doing? What do I need right now?


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