The other day I was doing some cleaning out – it’s a daily event over here. I ran across an old Real Simple magazine from January 2011. Of course, I had to peruse it before throwing it out. (That’s also why cleaning out takes so long over here.) I came across an article titled “happier new year!”. Of course, that got my attention. You may know that recently I have been completely engrossed with all those “Happy” articles that are floating out there. Lo and Behold, this one also came with a list! 9 Ways To Be Happier . . . and it was #9 that really caught my eye! I’ll put the whole list here for you here, and a nutshell of explanation. I think we all get caught up in different stuff at different times in our lives and often forget so many of the little, simple things that just make us feel happy.
1. Chill Out. Apparently, cold temperatures can improve your mood. Not good news if you live in the South this time of year. So, they say turn down the thermostat if you need a boost.
2. Remember Whence You Came. There is power in nostalgia. They say you should put photos and memorabilia around your home. “When you swap stories about the Bad Prom of 1989 or the Amazing Corss-Country Trip of 1971 with others, you view yourself in a more positive light.”
I do agree. So many photos of my family, friends, even animals can make me smile.
3. Don’t Dwell. Don’t mull over past failures. This can lead to depression and an inablility to come up with good solutions. So, do something to distract yourself instead of dwelling on something from the past. Pretty simple, but sometimes easier said than done.
4. Spread the Wealth. Studies show that giving money away makes us a whole lot happier than spending money on ourselves. I think we all know this is true – sometimes we just forget! The other day I paid for the fella behind me at a drive-thru window. (Yeah, what was I doing there anyway you ask!) I didn’t know him or anything about him. Afterwards, he passed me on the road and gave me a big wave. I saw he had a couple of U.S. Army stickers on his car. That made me really happy.
5. Eat a Snack Around 2 p.m. We all know we get grouchy when we get hungry. This will help regulate your mood and keep you from taking that afternoon nose dive.
6. Get a Move On. Exercise is my own personal mood booster. I am not alone in this. Research suggests that half hour of exercise produces a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor which can have an anti-depressent effect. Yoga can also have a boost to the brain and nervous system. I preach about getting up and moving all of the time, so won’t do more here.
7. Limit Your Options. Apparently, having too many options isn’t really good for us. It makes us feel paralyzed and undecided. I totally agree with this. I can get far too overwhelmed with too many things thrown at me. So, the best thing is to whittle down the options, pick one and move on.
8. Start Baking. Basically, this one is telling us to learn a new skill, whether it’s baking, knitting, or learning to hula. Finding something that occupies 100 percent of our attention makes us more motivated and focused. This promotes happiness.
And, here it comes, the number 9 that says it all for me. This one makes me truly happy . . . and it is so very simple . . . .
9. Make Your Bed. Don’t you agree? There’s nothing better than a made bed to make my day start off feeling productive and energized. And, nothing more depressing than to come home in the afternoon to open the door and find the bed all haphazard and messy. In fact, author Gretchen Rubin stated, “When I was researching my book on happiness, this was the number one most impactful change that people brought up over and over.” Folks are just happier when everyday tasks in their lives are completed. Amen.
That’s the end of the list, but get this. The very next day sitting in the pediatrician’s office I picked up a Reader’s Digest from November 2012. Flipping through I came across this article, “Happy Habit: Make Your Bed!” There it is again!! It’s not just me! This article also quoted the same quote from Rubin. Apparently, “The state of your bed is the state of your head.” This is just a little thing that can make you feel good. More awake. Less groggy. Ready to tackle the day. In many folks, this one little thing can lead to another little act that can help us be more effecient and our day go just a little smoother.
So, that’s a good list for the day. Check off the ones that you can, that make you feel happy. I will move #9 to the top of the list.
What about you? What would you put at the top of the list? Do you make your bed? Does an unmade bed bother you? Do you get back in without making it up?