If you follow any of my tips for happy on this blog, there might be some reruns here, but repetition is the mother of skill-building, right? Or something like that. The short version is that steps we can take for a pleasant, meaningful and engaged life will help our overall happiness levels. These ideas will probably not make you giddy, but they don't take long and will hopefully take you up a notch. I've also thrown in some don'ts, things I sometimes do which I think seem like a good idea but bring me down in the end.
1. DO Write down some things you appreciate. I differentiate appreciations from gratitudes, with the latter having a more tenuous connotation. I give you full permission to NOT get a special notebook and a special corner or nook in the house to do this in. Scrap paper and a crayon while sitting in the van in the school's car line will be fine. Some people say you should come up with new stuff to be thankful for every day. Noble endeavor, but I'm okay with reruns. Can you really run out of a significant level of appreciation for your health or your loved ones or even a delightful breeze that plays across your face through the car window while you stare at the back of another family's minivan? I've made a deal with a faraway friend -- it's the Appreciation Game. When in the need of a boost, on of us will declare a round of the Appreciation Game and we'll text each other back and forth. This game works the same way as journaling your appreciations -- it helps get your brain in a place to see the good things going on around you. And it's nice to connect with a friend who gets it.
2. DO Listen to the Bangles. Or James Taylor. I use Pandora on my phone and computer. If you don't know about Pandora, it's a free app (or you can pay a couple of bucks a month to listen advertisement-free) and you can create a radio station by putting in the name of just about any artist and Pandora will pick music for you that fits that selection. Hence, Bangles. It's hard to NOT feel happier when you Walk Like an Egyptian. James Taylor is also a good pick but in a more mellow sort of way. I love Pink! and she's in my playlist too, but her radio station tends to be a little angrier, so when I need to find happy I listen to vapid 80's music.
3. DO Go for a walk or dance around to the Bangles on Pandora. I love that my dog encourages me to go outside and get moving several times a day. Even in the midst of the snowiest and coldest winter of my entire life, I still go for a couple of walks a day. The fresh air is awesome. It's also pretty great to NOT put on all of those clothes and instead dance around to the Bangles on Pandora and if you can get away with it, sing along. Walking, dancing and singing serve to put you in the middle of your movie and keep you from being a spectator. If you go for a walk, look for things to take pictures of that make you happy. My phone is full of interesting pics from walks: Birds nests, clouds, sunrises and sunsets, naked Barbie and Ken, footprints in snow, or most rrecently, snow cone heads. Or Sno-cone heads. See below.
4. DON'T Start playing Dots (or Candy Crush or any other incredibly addictive game) on your portable electronic device. Nobody feels happier or more settled after an hour of that. Really. Put it down and put on the Bangles and dance around. Or read a book or magazine. Generate some new ideas or just do something that's a little more fun and engages your brain a bit.
5. DO Make soup or some crockpot thing. It's pretty fast to put together a good soup or stew NOW (easy gluten-free!) when you are motivated in order to eat it LATER when you might not be. Comfort food, good health benefits. Check out some of my soups and stews for ideas. There are a jillion ideas on line, or better yet, ask your Facebook friends for their favorites. You'll get a slew of responses and you'll connect with people.
6. DON'T Spend hours on Facebook though. Or other social media. Or email. After a quick check to see what people are up to and to offer your own observations, sign off for awhile so that people will actually have a chance to post some new stuff for you to look at.
7. DO Schedule a quick (or not so quick) chat with your favorite upbeat friend or relative. I have to admit I feel incredibly awkward on the phone and this is one that I don't go often enough. Instead of calling someone out of the blue, which often as not ends up in leaving a message, I have the most success when a faraway friend and I schedule a phone call. Then I don't have to feel like I'm interrupting anything. I've also had a really good time scheduling a Skype call when my friend and I were both in the kitchen baking. Then we mailed each other some of the baked goods.
8. DON'T Start trolling the interwebs for cute cat videos (unless you are using it as an enticement for your kids to spend time with you, which I've been known to do.) Like playing never-ending games on your phone, time gets away from you and you feel a little less happy in the end.
9. DO Be the hero. Let the harried person in the grocery line go before you. Help the shorter person reach the thing on the top shelf. Shovel your neighbor's snow-covered walk. Look for little ways to help others and have no expectations about how they will behave in return. Chances are they'll feel good. Guaranteed you'll feel good.
10. DO Clean or straighten up a thing or place. Put 5 minutes into organizing something that's been bugging you but that you haven't gotten around to doing. For me, it's putting clothes away. I stack stuff on my dresser and vanity and don't get around to putting it away. It weighs me down. It doesn't take too long to make a dent in the stacks, but I really have to make myself do it. I always feel better after I do. Cleaning out the car is the same way. For more depth on decluttering and restoring order in your home, checkout the FlyLady website.
There you have it. You can do all of this stuff. You'll feel better. Try it.