Sometimes I feel a need to change up my tone and offer something simple, bright, and valuable. Today I want to make a simple call of action to all of my readers, male and female, to spend some energy today on making themselves happier. In the end, that is the most important thing we can do for ourselves.
1. Change a Habit
If for no other reason, then to prove to yourself that you can. Pick something small, like what pocket you keep your keys in, how you take your coffee, or your driving route to work. Don’t bother with a hard habit like smoking just now.
Just do that one thing today and keep doing it for the next month: it will become automatic. In the process you will learn just how much power you can wield over yourself. If you can change something simple with such little effort, what could you change if you made with a serious application of energy?
Prove your own power to yourself
2. Drop Some Negative Energy
Negativity in our lives piles up. We seem to have a special battery somewhere inside us for all the rottenness that life can throw our way. The fuller the charge, the more painful systems turn on in our body. For me, the more negativity I accrue, the more physical pain I am in. It starts with a stiff neck, then I start grinding my teeth in my sleep, then insomnia, grouchiness, clumsiness, and finally migraines.
You might recognize some of these symptoms yourself, or you may notice a few other common ones, like getting stuck on painful memories, having uncomfortable thoughts that won’t go away, negative self-talk, horrible pictures of the future, feeling depressed, pinpoint headaches, nightmares, high stress, sensitivity to noise, loneliness, or floating anger. The worse the charge, the more nasty, painful patterns… let’s call them Misery Systems… get activated.
The trick about this is that you don’t need to carry this charge around with you. There are tons of ways to drain that battery other than letting it activate Misery Systems. I want to challenge you to try just one or two today:
- Create some art.
- Have great sex.
- Spend time with friends.
- Take the self-talk challenge.
- Play a sport.
- Cook a healthy meal from scratch.
- Take a walk in nature.
Even if you are feeling absolutely miserable and don’t feel like doing any of these things, do one anyway. Misery Systems are designed to keep you in a state of negative charge. Once you start doing one of these, even as a simple act of willpower the negative charge begins to fade, the Misery Systems shut down, and you begin to get into the rhythm; eventually you come to enjoy what you are doing regardless of how you felt when you started.
3. Pick One Point of Gratitude
Choose one thing that you feel grateful about. I doesn’t have to be big or special. Even if it was just a favourite song being on the radio when your alarm came on, a fun bit of flirting with your S.O., or great weather. Take a moment to address the Universe, God, yourself, No One in Particular, or even a friend and tell them how much you you appreciate this thing.
Gratitude isn’t just a simple polite practice, it is part of the same wiring in your brain that makes you a social being. Gratitude makes us feel a part of something, it strengthens our bonds with others, it helps us work better in a team, and learn to be both better leaders and followers.
It is a feeling that cleanses our body and mind: it wipes out negative thoughts, defensiveness, emotional vigilance, loneliness, and anger. It floods our bodies with pain-killing endorphins and our brain with pleasurable dopamine and oxytocin. It will undo knots, improve your digestion, and clear your senses.
4. Clarify One Goal
Stop and consider one thing you would like to accomplish in the next year or two. Spend some time considering it, ask yourself the following questions:
- Does this goal feel real and attainable to me?
- What am I doing to make myself hungry for success in this goal?
- How can I make this goal more desirable and exciting?
- What will it look like when it is done?
- Is my family on board with me on this goal? Have I asked them for support?
- Do I have a plan to achieve this goal?
- How far along am I on reaching my goal?
- What will I do to celebrate my accomplishment?
- Who will I share it with?
Thinking about our long-term goals can give us strength. It also gives us a chance to daydream, and reminds us why we do the things we do every day. I don’t recommend living in the future, but sometimes visiting it with an open mind and a plan in place can help charge us up to keep achieving in the present.
I would do this with both undefined goals and ones you have already developed: revisiting your already defined goals in this way can give you an extra boost of enthusiasm to carry through your day.
5. Plan an Experience
Experiences are the most rewarding investment we can make in our lives. Whether they are adventures, dates, cultural events, vacations, or holiday gatherings, a good experience will reward you for months, if not years after you’ve had it.
As long as you do not fall into the trap of perfectionism, planning an experience can actually have as much of a positive effect on your health and mood as the experience itself. Whether you are planning the next family vacation or the perfect date, planning ahead can be an incredibly satisfactory experience. A good rule of thumb is to plan a date a few days in advance, a holiday experience a month or so in advance, and a vacation five or six months in advance.
Start planning an experience – any experience today, and see how having that moment to look forward to can keep your mood uplifted for days.
Sometimes, simple self-maintenance can make all the difference in the world. It is easy to forget to do these things for ourselves, however; we can get drawn in by all the worries and stresses of the world, and don’t find the time for them unless we are challenged to do so.