10 Little Ways to Make Your Life Happier Every Day!
It's the Little Things in Life....
...that bring the biggest joys! So often, we think big houses, big cars or big achievements are the answer to lasting happiness; but its really the little things in life that count! With all the stress and turmoil in the world today, its quite a challenge to find ways to keep us upbeat and motivated, much less STAY that way! We're so busy chasing our dreams, "keeping up with the Jones", and climbing the corporate ladder, that we totally miss the little things in life that can bring us instantaneous joy and pleasure! But don't be fooled - big joys really DO come in little packages. Here are 10 little things you can do that can change your life in BIG ways:
- Wake up with a grateful heart. Starting your day off with gratitude puts you in a thankful mood and helps you appreciate what you already have! I always thank God for each new day, as I shuffle sleepily to the kitchen to fix my first cup of coffee. Now, you might not FEEL grateful that you have to get up so early, or go to that detesting job you hate so much; but you have to "trick" your mind into feeling otherwise. By expressing gratitude - verbally and audibly - you're sending a message to your brain that you are welcoming blessings and thankfulness into your day. Much like welcoming the sunshine into your soul! And if you do this every day, you will start to appreciate the little things in your life that you once may have taken for granted! Gratitude really can change your attitude!
- Have at least 10 minutes of quiet time a day. Our worlds are so busy, and hectic, and NOISY! Alarm clocks clanging, T.V.'s blaring, kids yelling and phones ringing. And that's all before we leave to go to work in the morning! What we need is some "quiet time". Take at least 10 minutes out of each day to get still, close your eyes and just "hear nothing". Granted, it will take some time to turn off all the noise in your brain, but with daily practice, you'll not only start to enjoy this quiet freedom, you'll actually look forward to it! Call it meditation or prayer or whatever you like, but being still and quiet is the best way to calm frazzled nerves and gain new perspective in life. You'll be shocked and surprised at how much more at peace you'll be just by being quiet!
- Interact with nature. Technology is wonderful - it provides information, entertainment and social interaction. But long before that, people interacted with nature and achieved much the same results! When's the last time you "stopped to smell the roses", walked barefoot in the grass, or dug your hands in rich, black dirt? Nature has tremendous healing powers - if we'll only use its prescriptions! Get outside - take up gardening, or take a stroll around a city park. Listen to the melodious sounds of songbirds; rub your hands against an oak tree and feel the rough texture of its bark. Watch a squirrel scurry up a tree and try to follow his acrobatic journey from limb to limb. Or just take a blade of grass and try to make a whistling sound through it with your mouth! Study the intricate pattern of a sunflower blossom, or the symmetry of veins in an oak leaf. Nature does everything in balance and in harmony, so it makes sense our own lives will be more in balance as we get more in tune with nature!
- Interact with animals. Studies show that residents of nursing homes experience greater peace and happiness after visits with dogs, cats and other animals. Even exotic animals such as snakes and iguanas stimulate the senses and heighten awareness. Quite a change from the boring bingo game or parlor sing-a-long! Why? Because animals naturally want to interact with humans (well, MOST of them anyway!) Dogs, especially, give unconditional love and affection, which is an inborn need and desire of every human being on earth. Is it no wonder a dog is "man's best friend"? Just rubbing a dog or cat, or patting it on the head stimulates sensory nerves that may have been "numb" for years, thereby sending a signal to the brain to emit positive feelings of pleasure, happiness or contentment. If you don't have your own pet to interact with, visit a pet store and spend a few minutes just watching the ferrets roll and tumble with each other. Within minutes, you'll feel a lightness in your spirit and a sense of playfulness in your heart!
- Eat fresh fruit every day. This suggestion goes right along with interacting with nature, but in a tastier way! Fruit not only has significant health benefits, it can actually help elevate your mood! After all, did you ever see a sad chimpanzee eating a banana? Fresh fruit stimulates your taste buds and wakes up other senses such as sight, smell and touch. Experiment with exotic fruits like mangoes, kiwi, or pineapple. Extract the natural juices with your tongue and use your hands and fingers to dig deep into the sweet, fleshy meat of the fruit. (Gosh, this is starting to sound like a "juicy" romance novel! lol!) One added benefit of including fresh fruit in your diet everyday - it will decrease your desire for high fat cakes, donuts, pies and other fattening treats! And a healthier body ALWAYS means a healthier MIND!
- Sing a little song. Ever notice how children love to sing? Studies have shown that children learn faster and easier if their lessons are "sung" to them, or put in the form of a jingle or rhyming song. Singing comes naturally to kids - from nursery rhymes to cartoon theme songs, they just love to sing! But as we get older, we stop singing - and start whining! I try to make up silly little songs while I'm driving - often to childhood tunes like "Row Row Row Your Boat", or "Old McDonald". Just singing these silly little made up songs helps lighten my mood and if I look at myself in the mirror when I sing, I may even break into hysterical laughter! Not to mention the looks I get from other drivers at stoplights! lol! Or think about a bird - from the minute they are born, they start singing (or chirping), and this becomes their "song of life" right into adulthood. We would be wise to take a singing lesson or two from them!
- Hug someone. People are crying out daily for love and affection. Yet, we are so self-consumed with our own emotional needs, we miss the opportunity to reach out and meet someone else's needs with something as simple as a hug. I'm a firm believer in that you "reap what you sow", and if you never reach out to others, you probably won't have a lot of people reaching out to you. A hug is a simple way to show you care about others, and in turn, reap the same emotional benefit you give. Children are experts at hugging. When my stepson was about four years old, he hugged everyone he saw, everywhere we went. It got quite embarrassing at times, but not once did it fail to put a smile on someone's face - or his! Even at such a young age, he understood how important it was to reach out to others in order to have your own needs met. As a result, he is a well-loved and emotionally secure young man, and doesn't have a problem showing OR receiving hugs!
- Take a hot bath or shower. Bathing is not only cleansing to the body, but can be equally cleansing to the soul. I prefer long, hot bubble baths; but if I'm short of time, a long, hot shower can be just as soothing. There's just something about immersing your body in clean, warm (or hot) water that is relaxing and healing. Add a capful of lavendar oil and let the pleasant aroma ease your stiff joints and calm your stressed nerves. A hot bath is one of most effective and least inexpensive therapies for stress and anxiety in the world! Its no wonder Calgon made millions from their "take me away" ad campaigns. They took something as simple as a "hot bath", and made it a luxurious "mental vacation"!
- Watch something funny. Laughter is fast becoming a lost art. People have either forgotten how to laugh, or can't find anything to laugh about. The news is infiltrated with negative events - crime, war, poverty, bad politics and the deepening recession, just to name a few. We "feed" on all that negativity from the "early morning show", to the "late, late show", and then wonder why we don't laugh anymore. And while we need to be concerned about what's going on in the world, we also need to balance that with a good, hearty dose of good old fashioned laughter! I like to watch old sitcoms before I go to bed - like The Andy Griffith Show or I Dream of Jeannie; compliments of TV Land! I call it my "mindless TV" time, because it takes my mind OFF the serious, depressing stuff going on in the world, and helps me exercise my "laugh muscles", which like other body muscles, are way underused! Laughing is also cheap medicine. A good, two minutes of deep belly-laughter can alleviate anxiety and stress, and lower your blood pressure. It also sends happy endorphins pulsing throughout your nerves, which results in a better attitude and happier state of mind. Live, laugh, love!
- Love yourself. This is probably one of the hardest things for people to do. Myself included. We're often our own worst critics - berating ourselves for our past, present and even future sins. We hold ourselves up to others in comparison, and convince ourselves that we fall short in every way. We let others determine our self-worth based on how successful we are in what we do, where we live or what we drive. Or we carry childhood insecurities into our adulthood and try to mask our dysfunction with drugs, alcohol or intense therapy sessions. Loved and adored by others as children, we somehow grow up as insecure adults with deep levels of low self-esteem. The solution is simple - love yourself! Not with a conceited, "holier than thou" kind of love; but with a self-confident, "I am a worthy human being" kind of love! We teach our children that there is "some good" in everyone, but we fall so short of seeing the least bit of good in ourselves. There's absolutely NOTHING wrong with loving yourself! In fact, you can't effectively love others if you don't have a healthy self-love for yourself! Take a few minutes each day to look in the mirror and tell yourself how worthy you are as a person, a mother, father, husband, wife, son, daughter, employee, etc. Discover and appreciate the unique qualities that make YOU who YOU are, and then embrace them every day! Realize that you are a "one of a kind", and a rare gem in the treasure box of life. Its so important that you love yourself, for in doing so, you will also love your life more.
It really IS the little things in life that bring true and lasting happiness. The more you learn to see and appreciate them, the more peace, joy and love you'll find in your own life,and ironically, you'll find the "big things" you struggle most to achieve, are most often the source of your unhappiness.