I’ve been thinking a lot about happiness lately. With everything that’s going on in the world, I feel a little guilty being my normally positive and happy self. In fact, last week I found myself slipping into a pattern of anxiety and worry. The interesting thing is that my being worried and anxious didn’t change anything- it only made me sad. A spirit of positivity isn’t something to suppress when bad things happen. Misery helps no one, but positivity does. My wise mother would often encourage me to, “yank yourself together” -meaning get my emotions under control. She knew that cultivating and maintaining a positive outlook is a great way to break the cycle of sadness and worry.
Of course, sometimes it’s easier said than done. Staying positive takes energy and work and I always need to circle back to the realization that it’s up to me make my self happy. A good night’s sleep, regular exercise and a good diet are necessary, but when that fails- what else? I checked in with some experts and here are some thoughts.
Mood boosting strategies:
- Front-load your day. This tip from psycholigist Mary Pipher combines a touch of planning with a slight shift in your mind-set. Think about asking yourself, “What do I want to insert into this day to make it good?” Rather than creating a chore list first thing in the morning, create a fun list. The trick is seizing the time to implement what you want to do. For me, it has to be early in the day and if I can steal a half hour to read or walk my dog the rest of my day will be good. Getting things done is important, but is so much more effective when done with a good attitude and a positive purpose.
- See the morning light. Gretchen Rubin author of The Happiness Project, says that the morning itself can play a critical role in setting us up. We all fall short of our expectations sometimes, but when we wake up and start the day with positive things the rest of the day will benefit from the first hour of our morning. Specifically, she recommends making a goal of getting out in the early a.m. sun. This sure works for me.
- Exercise. I have learned that it doesn’t have to be a lot- maybe only fifteen minutes. The difference between no exercise and a little exercise is gigantic. Movement releases endorphins and a quick walk will always boost your mood.
- Organize just one drawer. Clutter brings sadness and weighs you down. One thing I learned during the Covid quarantine is that if I just cleaned one space I felt so much better and more in control of my world. Limiting clutter gives you freedom and gives you more space for new items.
- Call a friend or write a note to someone you haven’t seen. We are social animals and we need our peeps. Don’t wait for someone to call you- call them. Nothing is more satisfying than hearing a friend’s voice. Give yourself a time frame- don’t procrastinate. Reach out to a family member you haven’t seen in a month or a day, show them you care and that they bring happiness into your life. Tell someone you love them. Remember, happiness is key!
- Deep breathe. Take some time out and quiet your anxiety by breathing ten deep breaths. I find that if I hold my breath for a count of five, it helps me feel better. Release what has been holding you back, start fresh.
- Plan your meals. If I know what I am going to eat at the end of the day I am much happier. Also, I know that if I plan my week’s meals I have less stress and have something to look forward to.
- Write a daily wish. Before you go to bed write a prayer or a wish. Expressing gratitude to the universe will fill you with comforting thoughts and make your day more purposeful.
- Smile. Your smile is contagious.