A good friend of mine recently posed a question to me about that ever so elusive thing called: happiness.
This could go so many ways…
What is happiness? Where do I get/find happiness? Can I buy it, bottle it, inhale it? (no comment…)
I’ve thought about it a lot: I did a little digging around in my own brain and threw in a little “community research”.
What I found is that most people agree that happiness isn’t something that can be bought, though sipping mimosas on a yacht couldn’t really hurt, but rather happiness is a frame of mind…. And it takes a little effort.
I stumbled across a Podcast about a month ago called “Happier with Gretchen Rubin” and I was immediately intrigued by its synopsis and started listening in to learn all the secrets to; well, happiness.
I decided I would implement some of the suggested advice on the podcast and between that and my most recent transition of thinking (after reading things like Should We Really Kill All the Marriage Counselors?), I have compiled a short list of easy enough things to incorporate into your day that just might lead you down the road to finding that elusive little treasure at the end of the rainbow; the “pot of gold” also known as Happiness.
- Warm Hellos
Suggested on “Happier”, Gretchen explained that giving a joyous greeting to those you interact with creates an environment of happiness and puts you in a better mood.
I have started making sure that I give Gray and Zach a big kiss and a cheerful “Good Morning!” greeting every morning. For those that know me well…you know this isn’t easy because…well…
I also have strived to come into work with a smile and a warm hello at work. Even though that might mean plastering a grin (not a cringe-those I think it might still look like a cringe anyway)on my face and being happy to be there, or at least faking it until I make it!
- Saying No
This spans from reading book after book that tells me I need to STOP overcommitting. Stop “Helping” so much that I am hurting myself and possibly hurting others because I become resentful (AKA UNHAPPY)of them because I am feeling resentful of the full plate of crap before ME…that I TOOK ON MYSELF. Step away from the plate and put down the fork my friend. Let someone else help themselves to the buffet.
- Time to Treat Yourself
Since you are going to stop overcommitting you are suddenly able to take some time to do something FOR YOU. Like I suggest in my post about Killing Marriage Counselors, make your list, pick your choices and DO THEM. A couple a day to keep unhappiness bugs away.
- Saying Yes
Pretty much the opposite of number 2. If someone offers to help you, instead of saying “that’s ok, I’ve got it” (don’t act like you don’t know what I am talking about…). I want you to say, “Thank you, that helps me so much!” Release it and smile.
- Release Expectations
I know I am not alone when I say, “ain’t that the truth!” How many times do you let your own image of what you think something should be ruin what a beautiful thing it actually is? Have you ever prayed and then not received what you asked for? …Only to realize later you HAD received it, only not necessarily in the package you anticipated? Or have you gotten yourself worked up over planning the perfect party (at least in your mind), only to have everything not go as you planned at all; ruining the party? Or you think ruining it, only to be praised later for such an awesome event (which you then downplay any positive feedback you receive because you felt it wasn’t up to par, don’t act like you don’t….)?
Take things, embrace things and work with things as they are. Don’t let your expectations of how something SHOULD be in your mind ruin what COULD be if you will allow it to be. The more you will open your mind, you find that things usually turn out just fine and the stress just truly isn’t worth it!
- Take a Technology Time Out
I learned this while on my girls’ trip to Mexico. I wrote a whole post about it! Prying my phone, tablet and laptop out of my cold dead fingers isn’t always an easy thing to do but I believe it is necessary. Facebook, constant interaction, text messaging, face timing, Instagram, Twitter- do we really need all these distractions every day, 24/7? I think a lot of us will argue, YES! But I find the more I pay attention to those TIME SINKS the more unhappy I become and the more time I waste. I could be putting that time towards tip 2!
I challenge you to take some time every day away from those things and I challenge you to even try taking an entire day where you just turn them all off…and LEAVE them OFF, ALL DAY.
- 1 Minute, 1 Sentence Journal
This suggestion from the Happier Podcast intrigued me because I have been on myself lately about keeping a journal. I keep telling myself I will…then I don’t. I start one…and then I quit.
Enter in the 1 sentence, and my own addition, the 1 minute journal. Every night before bed write a sentence about your day. According to Happier, research shows that you will remember and write about the more positive things in your day.
One sentence. Here is an example of mine from last Saturday:
Ended the day on a much more positive note than how it started; great time at the aquarium with Gray, he is getting so big!
Since I am keeping my journal digitally on my phone through a journal app I attached a picture to the entry as well.
- Let it Go
(don’t act like the theme song from Frozen didn’t just start playing on repeat in your head)
Got anything you are harboring? Guilt, a grudge, anger, hurt, un-forgiveness?
Who are you truly hurting with that; Most likely only yourself? One of the many things I learned from reading the book, “Should We Really Kill all the Marriage Counselors” is that I can’t be grateful and resentful at the same time and I think that applies to all of the previously mentioned feelings.
It is time to LET IT GO.
Not for others but for yourself.
It is a waste of energy and a waste of time.
Who wants to walk around with all that baggage? Not me!
…And in the new saying we all love so much, truly, “Ain’t no one got time for that!”
- Learn to Be Content
Grass is always greener on the other side, right? …Until you realize that grass has to be mowed too. You can run yourself into the ground trying to keep up with The Jones’s or be as awesome as you THINK he or she is at X or Y. We ALL have someone that is more –ER than us. Ya know, Pretti-ER, strong-ER, wis-ER, Rich-ER, skinny-ER, strong-ER. We believe if we can just be like them then we will be happi-ER. Or we think if we can just get that new car then we will be happi-ER; and it might work for a while-but then we get back in an unhappy funk.
Growing yourself to learning to be content in your own skin and circumstance takes a lot of effort but I find the more I embrace the beautiful thing I TRULY am, the happi-ER I become. …and I didn’t have to become anyone else or acquire anything else to reach it. It was a brain train thing, not a “buy it now” quick-fix or achievement reached feat and I am thankful that isn’t the case. Otherwise I would probably have a mountain of debt!
- Move it, Move it
You know I can’t let you go without a plug for moving your body! Studies have proven over and over again that being active (hear me, I didn’t say SKINNY), I repeat, being ACTIVE releases feel good endorphins in your brain; which in turn leads to a better attitude (for practicing that attitude of gratitude we talked about earlier) and overall better well-being.
You don’t necessarily have to invest in a gym membership or commit to 5am fitness classes (unless you just want to; **Shameless plug alert** then come see me at http://www.therackgym.com)- just not about the 5am part, sorry.
Simply taking a walk outside, with a friend or with your dog (they don’t tell your secrets..) can do wonders to elevate your mood and your heart rate simultaneously. I know my multi-tasking momma’s can appreciate that!
So there you go! My top 10 tips for hacking into a happier life.
What is your definition of happiness?
Define it, write it out and reach for that, life is too short for anything else!
In Happier Health,