5 Shortcuts to Feeling Happier.

Over the last few months, who hasn’t dreamed of finding a magic switch that reboots their happiness quotient?

Many of us are feeling ground down by the ongoing relentlessness of these pandemic days. Add to this the climate crises and political strife in many parts of the world, and it can become a recipe for feeling utterly miserable.

We all know it isn’t healthy to live in a perpetual state of misery. Now is the time to tap into a few shortcuts to bring us closer to feeling happy.

Create a happy spot for yourself–literally. Like most people, our home was set up for a life without Covid. We were two employed, busy, active, and engaged adults who spent many hours living our lives outside of the physical house. Then came March, and suddenly our home had to reinvent itself to handle two adults working from home 24/7. We started with our offices and quickly set them up to work as efficiently as possible. This was good, but I can’t say it made me happier—just more productive. 

So, I took a close look at where else I spent time. It wasn’t our lounge, dining room, etc.; it was a small front room that faces the street. It has big glass windows on three sides and faces south, so it is filled with sunshine. At the time, I had it set up with a round café-style table and two dining-room style chairs. I realized I loved being in that room. So, as months passed, I added an extra lamp, a small side-table, and then a love-seat. This is now my happy spot. 

Look around your home and see how you can repurpose space. The area doesn’t need to be big, but it must have elements you love. In my case, it is loads of light and a view of the outside world. Play around with furniture you already have, and set it up to suit your needs to become your little retreat.

Think positive thoughts about small things. Positive thinking is summed up as focusing on the good in any situation. We sometimes feel we need to have positive thoughts about huge life-altering things. These are dark days for everyone, but I still have my health/home/job, etc. One thing that I found gives me an extra boost is having positive thoughts about the small, everyday things. Each morning when I have my coffee, instead of wishing I was drinking it with friends in my favorite coffee shop, I think how pleasant it is to have my coffee with my little dog curled up next to me. It is such a small item in the scope of my day, but it perks me up. Try it with the little elements in your day.

Be nice to you! Studies show the habit of speaking badly to ourselves can lessen our happiness. I didn’t even realize it, but for years, when I did something incorrectly (spilled the ground coffee, accidentally deleted an email), I would often say aloud, Jane, you’re an idiot. Then one day, while at the Chiropractor, I did something that caused me to say that. She paused and asked me if I would ever say to anyone else. I was shocked, and reassured her I would never direct those words at others. Then, the light went on! We are all under such stress but take a moment. Listen to yourself and watch your thoughts about yourself. Are they dragging you down?

Move your body—preferably outdoors! The smallest movement gets the blood pumping and shakes off that lethargy that can swamp anyone. I prefer to walk my dog and do my workouts without music. I use the time to just be in the moment. I put all my focus into breathing well and being aware of what’s around me.  But for many people moving to music makes it more enjoyable. Find your favorite songs, maybe even listen to an inspiring podcast, but if it helps you get up, out, and moving, then it will bring you closer to feeling happy. And don’t use the weather as an excuse. I’ve heard it attributed to the Scots and the Norwegians, but there is a saying, There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. So, grab a coat, or slap on some sunscreen and head outdoors. And remember, moving your body does not have to mean exercising. You can get as much benefit from turning up the volume on your music and dancing in your driveway. I guarantee you’ll feel happier.

Be thankful—even for what did not happen. We all know the power of being thankful, and many people practice gratitude on a daily basis. I spend most of my days putting words on a page, so keeping a diary or journaling has no appeal to me. But, like others, I like to end my day by thinking of 3 things for which I am thankful. However, in recent months, I noticed that some of the things that made my list were not things that had happened but things that did not occur. I am thankful that my friend did not have to go to the hospital. However, you choose to frame it, be thankful—and then practice compassion for those who aren’t as fortunate.

None of us is guaranteed a life filled with happiness, but if we practice some simple shortcuts, we may be able to bring ourselves a little closer to feeling truly happy.

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