OK, we all have "stuff" in our lives that we think keeps us from being happy. But because that stuff is never going to fully disappear, we need to find a way to move past it and find bliss, even when we're down. I've thought about this a lot, and when I remember to act on what I've learned, I use these 6 practices. Try them out for yourself!
1. I keep a copy of 14,000 Ways to Be Happy in the bathroom.
You can also keep it on your nightstand or coffee table. When I pick a random page, I always find phrases that evoke pleasant memories, such as "the trails at the Grand Canyon", "a bouquet of lilacs", "my daughter's lasagna", and thousands more. Either bask in those memories for a few moments, or pick a new one that appeals and put it on your "To Enjoy" list.
2. Google "how to be happy".
Sounds simple? It works! Read the relevant articles when you need a lift, and keep reading until you find an idea that appeals to you, makes you grin or gives you a feeling of hope. If you feel strange about trying an afformation — a question like "How did it get so easy to feel happy every day?" — go to www.afformation.com and read other questions until you find one or more that feel natural or believable. Say it out loud every hour or two, on a stretch break, as you're making a healthy snack or adding an entry to your gratitude Journal.
3. Write down the childhood things that made you happy and recreate them now.
a) Swimming? Go to the Y with a friend and pretend you're a kid or just an adult who doesn't need an excuse to swim or sit in the hot tub.
b) Picnics? Call a friend or two just to enjoy a shared picnic. Get out your picnic basket, bring Jell-o, soda, candy bars, as well as healthy sandwiches or whatever snacks put a smile on your face. Go to a favorite park or beach, or pull out your local map and check out a new place. Bring along your bat and ball, Frisbee or hula hoop... or whatever adds to your idea of a fun picnic.
c) Ball games? Even if you know no one in the local high school or sports teams, feel free to go and join the cheers and boos of fellow sports fans. It's also a good way to maintain your friendship with parents or grandparents who go to see their kids and grandkids play.
d) Hamburgers? Ice cream? If you have happy memories of those treats, whether four days or 40 years ago, put that outing on your "To Enjoy" list. Anticipation often adds to the pleasure, so put it on the calendar for 2 to 4 weeks away.
e) Movies? Ask your buddies to tell you the good movies they've seen or want to see. Read the review to be sure you'd enjoy it, then line up the day and the friends to see it with. What makes it even better? Popcorn? Go for it! Remember to add to that list of happy memories every time one comes up in your thoughts. Keep the paper on your fridge or mirror or by the computer or the TV.
4. Remind yourself of all the things that are going well. For example:
a) You're eating three or more times a day and...
b) You're not gaining weight.
c) You're going on walks or to the gym 3 to 6 times a week.
d) You're not smoking or you're going down from week to week from a pack a day to 10, 8, 6, 4 a day.
e) You have plenty of clothes that you like and that fit you well.
f) Even if you can't afford everything you'd like (I'm guessing 98 percent of us can't!), your clothes and grocery shopping trips are pleasant, rather than depressing.
g) You sleep seven or eight hours per night or feel rested most of the time when you wake. You take naps when you want to.
h) You have family and friends who love you. Even one brother or one friend who cares about you is something to feel good about.
i) You can take care of yourself. Consider how many people can't.
5. Do things that make you feel good...
even if others don't understand what you get out of it. For instance, every fall, I love picking up beautiful leaves. I bring dozens home, spray them with a craft store spray, and flatten them in a thick book for a couple days. Then I iron them between wax paper or put them in a big bowl, where they'll keep their color for months! I don't need to justify to anyone why I take the time to bend over dozens of times to pick up leaves.
What's your joy? Painting? Quilting? Collecting frogs? Coaching sports teams? Making new recipes? Golf? No matter what your favorite things — if you need inspiration, Google "favorite things", — make time for and truly enjoy them.
Sometimes when I feel overextended, I leave my home office and lie in bed for 10 to 30 minutes just to leave the distractions of my desk and computer, or for a nap. And when I've gotten to serenity, I do my favorite self empathy practice. I've connected with what I needed, and I say "I love it when I'm feeling rattled and I lie down to get back to tranquility." Or "I feel delighted when I gather and spray leaves and enjoy their bright colors for months." Or "I feel peaceful when I've been overextended and have taken a walk or had a healthy snack".
6. Subscribe to Abraham-hicks.com.
Or www the work.com, or a daily or weekly newsletter you like. Do an Internet search for "daily inspirations" or "daily words to live by" or the like and take 2 or more minutes each day to read and ponder what you read. I love this Abraham Hicks quote: "You just cannot burn the candle at both ends and then expect yourself to have a cheerful attitude. So, the rule of thumb has to be: I'm going to be very, very happy, and then do everything I have time to do after that".
If you'd like to explore further how to be happy in any part of your life, contact me for a complimentary 30-minute coaching call. firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-938-8385
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