How to Find Happiness and Feel Good
1. Get up.
Okay, so I may not follow some of these mandates myself, but this is really more of a do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do sort of situation. Happiness does not just come to people and stay there. To be happy, you have to work at both finding and keeping it. So get out of bed or that all-to-comfy chair and go do something. You’re not going to make anybody happy, especially not yourself, by moping around. I know that this is easier said (okay, okay written!) than done. Trust me, I know. Sometimes you feel so sad, empty or wiped out that you can’t even bring yourself to get out of bed. You’re content to just waste an entire day moping and feeling sorry for yourself, wondering why you’re unhappy. Know what I say? Stop wondering why you’re unhappy. Go get up and look for what makes you happy.
2. Spend time with the right people.
If you are constantly hanging out with pessimistic people, it will inevitably rub off on you. I'm not saying that you shouldn't spend time with these friends, because they need to be around people. Just make certain that you also have people in your life who are optimists. Try to be around people, maybe friends or people at work, who have a positive outlook, a sunny disposition. Then some of their positive attitude will rub off on you and hopefully you'll be able to transfer a bit of it to those perpetually blue friends of yours.
3. Dress up.
It’s not just for 5-year-old girls and there doesn’t have to be a big party or gala event for you to do this. Who doesn’t feel better when they’re wearing a great outfit, impeccable makeup and sparkling jewelry? You can go to a local beauty academy and have your hair, makeup, and nails done for a fraction of the cost at a salon, and you'll be helping the students who'll be working with you. To all you guys out there, feel free to join in if that’s what floats your boat. ;)
Do something nice for someone else. It is an instant mood-lifter, and this way you won't be the only one benefiting. Being generous is not only about the material things, you know. Be generous with your time, your praises, your talents. Give and don’t expect anything back although I’m sure you’d be getting lots of hugs in return. If you see someone begging, give them a gift card. If you see someone struggling with their shopping bags, offer to help. If you don't see any opportunities, create one. Go find some volunteer work to do or a cause to support and then go out and do it. You can find great causes at the Hugs Heal Myspace or find the right volunteer work for you at VolunteerMatch.
5. Get organized.
Again, do as I say; not as I do. A cluttered space means a cluttered mind. Cleaning and organizing can be a pain while you're doing it, but you'll certainly feel better afterward. You’ll feel good that you’re going to want to keep things as organized and neat as possible.
6. Surround yourself by nature.
Let me ask you this, how long has it been since you played outside in the rain or saw a butterfly? If you have a gorgeous garden just outside your door, go outside and enjoy it. If not, head to a park, lake, or beach and relax. Oh, and make sure you bring a good book with you. No horror or angst, ok? That really would defeat the purpose.
7. Avoid The "Sometime" Cycle
Call someone you haven’t talked to in a long time. Whether it’s an old classmate, a distant cousin, or your mom, it’s a great feeling to get back in touch with someone you’ve been missing. Once you've gotten in touch with them, set up a time to meet. Whatever you do don't say the words "We should have lunch sometime". All that will lead to is a phone call a year later, at which time you'll wind up saying the same thing and starting vicious "Sometime" cycle again. Say something more along the lines of "Are you free for lunch on Friday?" That way you have a set day to meet and you can make sure that it will actually happen.
Yes, exercising is tough, believe me, I know. But like all the other examples that have been mentioned so far, all it takes is a step. You have to want it for yourself. You want to do it because you want to feel good. There have been tons of studies showing that when exercising, the human body produces chemicals that have a dramatically positive mood-altering effect. So get off your butt and onto a treadmill. If you decide to go outside for exercise, make sure you make eye contact with the people you pass by and give them a smile. If you're feeling particularly daring, you could even throw in a peppy little "hello" or "beautiful day". Odds are, they'll smile back and wish you the same.
9. Search for Puppies
You're already on your computer reading this, so you're halfway there. Now, instead of instinctively typing "Google" into your browser, go to Givoogle. It is the same search engine as Google, but every thousand ad impressions earns money that goes to the American Cancer Society. Go to the Image Search and type in "puppies". Or kittens. Or baby harp seals. If you feel like you're in more of a video mood and you want to see something cute and fluffy moving around, go to YouTube and do a search. I highly recommend visiting The Cutest Little Guy on Youtube. Then just let the oohs and awwws fall where they may. But of course, searching for puppies can also be done by visiting a pet shop. I personally prefer this option because I get to hold and give the cute puppies some hugs. Who knows, you might end up getting one for yourself?
10. Go out.
Call up your best friends and go out for a night (or day) on the town. See a movie, go to a street faire, go bowling, ice skating, clubbing; anything you would enjoy doing together. Better yet, find a great cause and do some volunteer work together. For more information on volunteer work, please see point #4. The important thing here is that you are surrounding yourself with people that that makes you feel good, loved and appreciated.
11. Take silly pictures!
While you’re out with your friends, bring a camera and take some of the most ridiculous photos you can come up with. Make sure you get someone else to take some pictures with all of you in them. This has the added bonus of some stranger being able to go home and tell his wife all about the crazy girls he’d met who had him take photos of them dancing in a conga line while trying to balance pineapples on their heads. Be creative. The possibilities are endless and you’re sure to get a bunch of laughs doing it. Aren’t you feeling happy already?
12. Just Do It.
Do “that thing” you’ve been meaning to do. You keep on saying that next weekend you’ll put those photos from the vacation in Catalina into a cute little scrapbook. Well guess what? You’ve been saying that for the past three years. Do it, already!
13. Look at baby pictures.
Most people get embarrassed when other people look at pictures of them when they were cute little cubby-wubbies, but that shouldn’t stop you from looking at your own. Awwwwww, look how squishy you were!
Some people who are unhappy either stop trying to eat or are trying to eat their sorrows away. Don’t do either of these. Food, if you let it, will really make you feel lighter, happier, better. Go visit your favourite restaurant. Enjoy the aroma of a good soup and then savour the flavours of what the place has to offer. Dessert? Why not! Eat slowly and enjoy every bite and don’t be afraid to love it. I assure you, happiness is just a bite away.
15. Express yourself.
Sing. Dance. Paint. Write. Any of these activities can bring out the inner child or inner artist in you. Don’t sweat it if you have two left feet, just go for it.
See the world. Traveling is an excellent opportunity to bring you out of your shell and your comfort zone. It’s a good way to learn something about others while also learning things about yourself. Surrounding yourself with another culture can really open your mind to other ways of thinking and can help you expand your horizons.
Sometimes with all the activities going on around you, it’s easy to become swept away in it and then you forget to save a little “me” time. Set a few minutes where you can be comfortable and then just breathe. In and out. Calmly empty your mind and enter a sense of nirvana. Or you can just hum. Do what would best get you to quiet your thoughts.
18. Learn something new.
Never cooked a single thing ever? Why not learn how to cook? Learn how to tap dance. Learn how to paint. Learn how to drive. Take a class, watch a tutorial, ask a friend to teach you something they enjoy. There are lots of things out there that you can learn to do. Don’t limit yourself.
19. Stop yourself.
Realize that what ever is making you feel depressed probably isn't worth the effort it's taking for you to feel this way. Once you've accepted that, you can let go and get happy. Check out Richard Carlson's book “Don't Sweat the Small Stuff... and it's All Small Stuff”.
I also recommend reading “Power of Less: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential...in Business and in Life” for those of us who need to learn how to do less while getting more done. You’ve done your time being sad and that’s a good thing too. But don’t forget that happiness is just around the corner; it’s there and all you have to do is be open and let it into your life.
Remember that time when your sister borrowed your favorite sweater without permission and spilt coffee all over it? And then ripped it trying to get the coffee out of it? And then didn't tell you about it for a month, making you think feel absolutely furious with yourself because you thought you'd lost it? Remember how you reacted when you found out? It's time to let it go. Once you do, you'll feel better, she'll feel better, and you'll feel closer to each other than you have in a long time. I know, I know, easier written than done, but it’s a fact. Forgiving someone for something whether it is trivial or important takes a lot of guts because you have to mean it, but it can and should be done.
There are far more ways to be a happier person than I could possibly list here. The key is figuring out what works for you and committing to actually doing it. No more feeling sorry for yourself. Become a happier person and stay that way.