This is part two of a three part series, divided to not overwhelm, and to allow anyone a chance at trying each and every strategy. In part one of the Ultimate Quick Guide to Increased Happiness, I discuss the benefits of keeping a Happy Journal. If you haven’t read it go do that now. I recommend a standardized list of things you look for and track each day. If you consistently look for things that make you happy, your brain will start to see them where you might not have before. Tracking what makes you happy also helps highlight just how much you enjoy them, and helps you make decisions. After doing this a while, I quickly realized that one of my favorite things is playing basketball with my kids. It may sound obvious but believe me, these things get lost in the busyness of life. Now, I’ll almost drop anything to play some ball.
The suggestions laid out in this Ultimate Quick Guide to Increased Happiness do take a conscious effort, but they get easier with practice.
In your Happy Journal, I suggest the following two headings:
Things that made me happy (3), or that I feel grateful about, and my successes:
People I helped, Acts of Kindness, &/or Gifts given:
If you maintain a digital Happy Journal, you can copy and paste it over and over. If not, just write it at the top of the page and refer to it. This has to be as simple as possible so we don’t avoid doing it daily.
We should all strive to be as consistently happy as possible. When we are happy we are more productive, have a better quality of life, are healthier, and we make life better for those around us. I know the strategies in this three part series will help. Each one might not fit with you but try them all. Find what works best for you. Review this list over and over as a reminder and pass it on. Here are my recommendations in part 2.
Make someone laugh
Laughing is one of the best ways to bump up your happiness and the happiness of someone you meet. If you can make someone laugh, you may be turning their day around, as well as yours.
Give something away
This can be in time, material items, or money. Studies have shown that when we give something away, we feel better, not only at the time but anytime we look back and remember doing it. This can be volunteering our time, or giving what we can to a charity or someone in need. Of course, there are many other reasons to give of yourself other than to make yourself feel good, but it is a bonus. Make a note in your journal, of what you gave away that day.
Get some sunshine
This may go against popular convention for the past decade or two, but we know exposure to sunlight, effects our levels of three very important chemicals in the body: Serotonin, Melatonin, and Vitamin D. There is a biological mechanism by which we feel better when we get some sun. Don’t take this as my support for tanning beds or sun bathing…that’s not what I’m saying. Some safe sun exposure has been shown to be healthy and make us happy. M. Nathaniel Mead wrote a good article in Environmental Health Perspectives, outlining the health benefits. You can read it here. As a word of caution, there are many variables and much disagreement on how much sun is safe, so I’ll leave that up to you to research and decide upon.
Nurture your relationships
We are happier when we have a significant other in our lives. Be sure to protect your relationships. Show some love. Some gratitude. Do something special for them. I love the saying, “The grass is always greener…where you water and take care of it.” This also goes for other relationships we have, whether it be our family or friends, keep in touch. A short email, or phone call can go along way.
Focus energy & spending on experiences – Conscious Spending
Studies have shown that when we do something, we tend to be happier than when we purchase material items. This can be a dinner out, a show or concert, or a trip. It doesn’t need to cost a lot. I doesn’t need to cost anything. It really doesn’t matter as long as it’s something you enjoy and will look forward to. To get even more benefit from it, plan ahead. If we book it in the future, we enjoy the thought of it coming up, we enjoy doing it, and we enjoy looking back at it, with fond memories…all of which increase our sense of well-being and happiness. I’m not suggesting you go on a big trip instead of covering your basic needs, saving, or working toward something you really want. This is more about conscious spending.
Exercise and Eat well
In many cases, we feel better when we are active. Fifteen minutes of mindful exercise…walking, biking, running, yoga, gardening…can be very helpful in making us feel better. This evening I was becoming more and more agitated with the constant interruptions of being in a house with three kids, four cats and a dog. During one of my interruptions, I came back to find a cat had eaten the chicken off my dinner plate. While I tried to salvage the un-munched portion, my twelve year old son asked if I’d play some basketball. Thirty minutes of laughing and joking with each other totally changed the direction of my evening. My ego took a beating, as he cleaned my clock, but my mood was much better for it.
Equally important is the food we eat. Cooking and eating healthy meals together with family (even with the cat), whenever you can, is a great way to bond while getting the benefits of quality healthy food. Healthy eating is a very complicated subject that I’ll leave you to explore further.
One of the fastest ways to instantly feel better is to feel some music. Put on something with a beat and really feel it. Don’t just listen to it, but feel it. Move your body to the beat. A hand, a foot, nod your head, shake, move…it doesn’t matter what or how you move but move something…feel it. This works. Go try it now.
Part three will be coming next week.
How have you found any of the suggestions so far? Leave your results or any recommendations in the comments. Do you think any of this really matters?
Wishing you well,
You can find more articles on writing, happiness, and other areas of thought stimulation on the Silas Payton Blog.
If you’re interested in spreading the love by purchasing my thrillers, they are available on Amazon.
Image by Gatto Mimmo on Flickr. Not one of my cats, but I envision mine looking this happy after eating my chicken.