Can you see it? You live on a tropical island. You get up when you like and you do what you want. Some guy named Jeeves brings breakfast. From a reclined position on your balcony, all you can see is the ocean and your feet. Ah, the life of the young and retired.
We all dream of being happy someday. Until then, we are overworked, overstressed and under-happy. The dream doesn’t seem possible without a lottery win or a call from a wealthy uncle in poor health. But what fun is life if we aren’t happy about it?
The good news is, you can add happiness to your life now. Just a few serotonin-producing activities can reduce stress and make the wait for Utopia easier to bear. Here are five ridiculously easy things anyone can do every day to feel happy.
1. Speak daily affirmations.
Did you hear the bad news? If not, you haven’t been paying attention. The barrage of pessimism from the media and even your own friends has a way of pulling you down. How do you pull yourself back up? By proclaiming the positive. What do you believe about yourself that is affirming? Are you strong? Are you capable? Are you determined to win regardless of the obstacles? When you speak what you affirm out loud, it affects your emotions. It creates a feeling of confidence or, for lack of a better word, happiness. It sounds crazy and may feel silly at first, but the rush can become almost addictive. Write out your affirmations and begin your day with at least 20. These incessant and positive proclamations often annoy the negative people. When that happens, say them louder. More happiness.
As I’ve always said, “It is better to give than to receive.” Or maybe someone else said that. Giving is one of the most powerful happiness-creating actions of all time. But don’t go pass out hundred dollar bills until your bank account is dry. That does create happiness but not for you. Instead, offer microscopic acts of philanthropy. What do you have that you can give? Offering a word of encouragement to a friend, a helping hand where needed, a crazy eye-popping tip to the waitress or a surprise cup of coffee to a co-worker — all those things can create a delightful feeling of selflessness. In her World of Psychology article, “How Giving Makes Us Happy,” Theresa J. Borchard explains that it’s the personal experience of benevolence that generates the greatest bliss when giving fosters a social connection.
3. Accomplish something early.
Do you ever get to the end of the day and wonder what you actually achieved? To combat that gnawing uneasy feeling, plan the night before what you absolutely must complete the following day. What are you determined to get done even in the face of a natural disaster or a missed television show? Write that report, finish that article, walk that mile around the neighborhood. After your affirmations, put on your blinders, forget everyone else’s agenda and get it done. The rest of your day will be built on a feeling of accomplishment. And that’s pretty happy.
4. Take a dark chocolate break.
According to an article in Health magazine by Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, “6 Foods That Can Make You Happier,” dark chocolate triggers the walls in your blood vessels to relax, which lowers blood pressure and improves circulation. It also contains magnesium, a mineral shown to help alleviate fatigue and depression. And, as if that weren’t enough, dark chocolate enacts a sense of euphoria. Or maybe I just made all that up. Either way, it’s a great idea.
You’ve heard the saying, “Nobody likes a quitter.” That may be true in team sports but, as a daily happiness activity, quitting is vital. The truth is, there is no end to the tasks at hand. There comes a time when you have to walk away. Oh sure, if you don’t hold your feet to the fire and stay late, the earth will be pulled into a black hole and humanity will be lost, but, alas, the work is waiting for you the next morning. Quitting at a certain time each day gives your mind a place to stop. It also frees up space for the little things in life like talking to your spouse and introducing yourself to the kids.
One of the keys to a happier life is to be proactive about your own welfare because no one will do that for you. Take back control and do what is in the best interest of your mental well-being. By doing so, your days will be filled with many additional smiles, even if you never win the Powerball and all your relatives are healthy.
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