Cheer up. Look on the bright side. Count your blessings. In many different ways we are often told to change our outlook on things to improve our mood. This is good advice. We all need to check our attitudes now and then, or see things from a more positive perspective. However, this approach does have its limitations. If you are in prison, your loved one is dying of cancer or your house is on fire, then positive thinking will only help you so far.
If you are grieving a death, or suffering from chronic depression or mental illness, you should seek appropriate medical or psychological treatment. However, the rest of us who are just having a tough time with life can be happier today with one quick trick and a few other ideas.
Identify Nine Beautiful Things
Before you go to bed tonight take a moment to collect your thoughts about the day. What good things happened? Write down three positive things you observed in other people. This could be a compliment given to a co-worker, a person treating another to lunch, or watching a stranger assist an elderly or disabled person accomplish a task.
Write down three beautiful things you observed in nature. Did you see the sunrise? How about any unusual cloud formations? Did a deer cross your path? Perhaps you saw birds or heard them singing.
Write down three more things you saw in your daily activities that made you happy. Did you see a clown drive by on his way to a party? Sometimes vanity license plates offer a chuckle when you figure them out. Watching a high school track team pass by when you are at a red light can make you feel young again.
Reflect on these things and you will learn to appreciate the simple beauty in life. Don’t be discouraged if you have days when it’s hard to come up with these things, especially the first time. You may have days where the weather is awful, people are especially rude or incompetent, and congested traffic yields no positive distractions.
You will not only force yourself to appreciate things that may have gone unnoticed before, but you will also find yourself looking for these things throughout your day. This will bring you previously unrealized joy and will make your evenings reflecting upon them peaceful and content.
Try to stick to this every night for at least a week. You may have days where you skip it, even unintentionally. Most likely, you will look forward to this time each night. Your mood will improve throughout the day, and your attitude will get a needed boost.
You will be more observant and more appreciative of others and the beauty that surrounds you. Look for the little things. Those are usually the best things, those things that give you a spark in your day and put a smile on your face.
Other Habits for Happiness
In addition to identifying nine beautiful things each day, analyze your habits and daily routine and see if you can make some positive changes to bolster your newfound happiness.
Choose Happy Company
Remember, misery loves company. We sometimes can’t help who we have to work with or deal with. We all know a Debbie Downer in our daily lives. As much as you possibly can, choose to be with positive, happy, kind people.
Thankfully, happiness is contagious! Their spirit will spark yours. The drudgery of the day will always be more manageable with positive people on your side.
Remember to be happy yourself. Don’t be the one who brings down the happy ship. Avoid nagging, nitpicking and openly worrying about things. Approach your goals and the barriers to them with a smile and the resolve to succeed. Encourage others to do the same.
Work in Increments
Inch by inch, life’s a cinch. Yard by yard, life is hard. Being overworked and overwhelmed can thwart the happy tricks and tarnish a positive attitude. When our free time means vacuuming the house or doing laundry, it is easy to get discouraged, depressed and disinterested. Sometimes you just can’t do it all.
Identify the one or two big things that are bothering you and try to break them into smaller tasks. Accomplishing those things first will make you happier, and you will be more willing to let some of the other things go. That’s not failure. That’s prioritizing.
After being recognized for some altruistic action, people often say something to the extent that they, not the person who was helped, got the better end of the deal. Sometimes this is said in mock humility, but more often than not they mean it. Helping others in need makes us feel good. It should be done for the right reasons, but there is certainly something in it for us.
When we help others we receive pleasure. Seeing others happy because of our actions makes our brains produce the happy chemical dopamine. Pick up a stranger’s lunch tab and you’ll feel it. Surprise someone at a toll booth by paying their way. Watch a homeless person eat the hot soup you just gave him, and you will warm with joy.
You can’t be a superhero, but be the good guy to as many people as you can. Make sure you are taking care of yourself, too.
Laugh Out Loud
Laughter is the best medicine: We’ve all heard that a million times. It’s hard to put into words, but we all know how good it feels when we are laughing uncontrollably, especially with others. The tears roll down our faces as we shake with each outburst of laughter.
There is a rush of good feelings that surge through us when we laugh. Sometimes you can’t stop laughing, or you stop and all it takes is one look from your friend to start up again. The feeling lasts long after the laughter ends. Find things that cause this reaction. Maybe you like news bloopers on YouTube, or old comedy sketches that never get dull. Tell stories of some of the embarrassing things that have happened to you that in hindsight are quite funny now. Rent a funny movie if you think you might cause a disturbance laughing in the theater.
Identify the beautiful things in life and learn to appreciate them more fully. You will find yourself seeking and enjoying the happy things. Be sure to share your tips with others, and spread the joy.