This morning while I was eating breakfast with my kids, I found myself watching them contentedly eating, chatting, living in the moment, pleased with what they had in front of them. It was beautiful to watch them just appreciate... being. I began thinking that one of the great tragedies of the adult psyche is that it's so difficult to appreciate what we have when we're wanting more.
Have you ever known those people who said things like, "If I could just find someone to love, I could finally settle down and be happy," or "If I could just make more money, then I would be happy," or "If I could just lose fifty pounds, I could be happy..." Or anything else where the possibility of being happy can only happen when another event occurs first?
I call this way of thinking "holding your happiness hostage by future events that may or may not happen," and it's a really dangerous trap to get into.
It's okay, necessary in fact, to want more. But the way to really find happiness is to appreciate, love, and be grateful for what you have while you're motivated and striving for more. Is it possible to be happy with what you have while still wanting more? I think so. The trick is not to let yourself believe that you'll be happy when... Be happy now. Be grateful now.
Don't allow your happiness to be held hostage by future events that may or may not happen.
Here are a few tips to integrate some happy into your life right now:
1. Practice kindness in every aspect of your life. This is a conscious decision to actively make kindness a deliberate action. While you're driving, wave someone through who is waiting to get out of a parking lot into the road. Give your leftovers to someone who's hungry.
2. Chase negative energy with positive energy. If someone does something mean, like cuts you off while you're driving, rather than send anger back at them, send out a little message of compassion for them, like: "I hope your day gets better and that it makes you a happier, better person." Then visualize that person just becoming kinder and acting more humane. Imagine what would happen in the world if everyone treated each other with compassion? It starts with you. Compassion meditation actually makes you a happier person. Here's how to start.
3. Do simple things to make yourself feel nurtured. File and clean your nails — maybe even get a manicure or pedicure. Take a nap, clean your sheets and make your bed, shower, wash and condition your hair, shave, and let yourself relax.
3. Face your finances and deal with your debt. Look at how much you owe and how much you have. Make a plan to pay off your debt. It'll make you feel better.
4. Take a long, quiet walk in nature. Being in nature is good for your mind, body and spirit.
5. Sit down and drink a hot cup of tea.
6. Rent a funny movie and laugh a lot.
7. Smile at 10 random people. They'll most likely smile back at you. You will instantly feel bright and joyous and full of love when you infuse good into the world and it returns to you.
8. If you don't feel like smiling, force it. The activation of the muscles used to create a smile actually decrease stress and increases feelings of well-being.
9. Express gratitude. Though wanting more is a way to motivate you to move forward in your life, you'll find that you're content and happier when you sit down, count your blessing and feel thankful for what you currently have. Sit down and create a gratitude list. You can also call your mom, dad, aunt, former teacher, butcher, whoever! Tell them that you're grateful for their presence in your life.
10. Try self-hypnosis to bring joy into your world. This works because your world is created by the thoughts you think.
11. Spend time with your pet or volunteer at a local shelter. Being around animals and caring for them make humans happier.
12. Pray to whatever deity you believe in, even if it's your own higher self.
13. Jump up and down for 60 seconds. Your endorphins will release and you'll feel good!
14. Put music on and dance like crazy. Even if you think you can't dance, just dance. My toddler loves to shake his head back and forth to any rhythm and it makes him deliriously happy.
15. Talk to the dead. Just get into a quiet mood and begin talking either out loud or in your head to someone you miss. Having conversations in your head with people who have passed away can be incredibly healing.
16. Compliment someone. Tell someone how beautiful they are, or what a good job they're doing, or how much you appreciate them. It'll bring joy to their world and make you happy too.
17. Call someone you haven't spoken to in a long time.
18. Drink a glass of water. Mild dehydration can cause a bad mood and pessimism.
19. Stretch your legs, roll your ankles, your wrists, roll your neck, get your body into a comfortable position. Stretching makes you happy!
20. Play in the dirt! Gardening can make you feel happy. Mycobacterium, which occurs naturally in soil, has the same effect on your brain as anti-depressant medications.
21. Look at old pictures — for a bonus happiness boost, share them with someone you love.
22. Try to do a push up. If you cannot, try again the next day. Within a week, you'll be able to do a pushup. Do this everyday, and by the end of a month, you'll be doing 5 push ups a day. After a year, you'll be doing 50 pushups a day. You'll feel super accomplished, not to mention strong.
23. Sing a song out loud.
24. Have only 20 seconds? Choose one of these hilarious youtube videos.
25. Hug someone. Human touch makes us calm, relaxed and peaceful.
26. Take a bath with epson salts. Magnesium relaxes your muscles and helps you have a sense of peacefulness making you happier.
27. Send wishes for the people around you to be happy, kind and compassionate.
28. Let go of people that make you unhappy. You can choose to let go with compassion of friends who feel toxic. It's okay to do that.
29. Read The Alchemist. I read this book right after my Mom died and it changed my mood immeasurably. It's an amazing mood lifting book.
31. Take a nap. Being well rested is the best way to improve your mood. Get your sleep in order. This will help your mind feel calmer and more steady.
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