It’s Friday – YAY! It’s been a tough week for me (see blogs from last Friday and Monday). I am feeling much better, but I still have a sliver of sadness running an undercurrent in my life and continue to work through it. But in light of what happened last weekend, I want to start this weekend out on the right foot.
My husband has been badgering me about what I want to do this weekend. All I know is I don’t want it to be a repeat of last weekend, so I want to plan some new things to do. I want to have a happy start to the weekend and a happy ending. Lucky for me, I planned something different a while back – I am taking my 12 year old niece to a painting class. Her birthday was a few weeks ago and she has been asking me to go for a few months now. Tomorrow I will pick her up and we will spend some quality time together. I am looking forward to introducing her into a world I so much enjoy. It should be interesting!
That got me thinking—what else could I do to bring happiness into the weekend? I found this list of 17 (a little long, but worth it). I have noted which ones I will be doing (or have done) to get happy this weekend. What will you do?
#1 — Be Grateful
(I just started writing 3 things I am grateful for each morning)
While most of us can riddle off a list of gripes we have with our lives, we often don’t claim what we’re grateful for. In fact, we take it as the status quo. But, if we were to look around at the current state of affairs with the world’s population, we would have much more to be grateful for.
When we’re grateful for the things we have rather than complaining about the things that we don’t, we move away from a state of lack and towards a state of abundance. Happiness is rooted in that state of abundance. And we have far more to be grateful for than we could possibly ever imagine.
If we stopped to think about it, there are, in fact, a number of things that we could be grateful for right now. We could be grateful for the fact that we’re 6 feet above ground in this very moment. We could be grateful for the fact that we can read and write, or use reason and logic.
We can also be grateful for our families, our homes, our communities, our friends, our schools, our jobs, and a number of other things. All it takes is a shift in focus. If those things were stricken from our lives, we would instantly long for them. Why shouldn’t we be grateful to have what we have today?
#2 — Be Present
(I am working on this one – I feel there is so much noise in my environment and I am guilty of multi-tasking)
Being present means living in the moment. It means appreciating everything happening in the here and now, no matter how bad or good it might be. Without having to worry about the past or fret over the future, being present is one of the most incredibly-simple ways to be happy right now.
All you need to do is live in this very moment — to train your mind to be highly acute and aware of what’s happening right now. It’s about feeling the air rushing in and out of your lungs, the blood pulsating through your heart, the wind as it whips nearby or the sound of birds singing.
There is so much happening at any given moment, and the beauty and miracle of life is unfolding all around us that we must stop to just appreciate it. When we do, we remove ourselves from fear and anxiety, decreasing our stress and worries.
This doesn’t mean you have to pretend like problems don’t exist. All of us have problems. In fact, problems are a sign of life. But it’s also a method for transcendence of our problems. It’s a way to rise above and move past them, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
#3 — Get Inspired
(Ironically, my homework from my life coach involves watching a TED Talk – score!)
One incredibly-simple way to be happy right now is to get inspired. Find something that inspires you, whether it’s a television show, a book, an article, or an online video, and take the time to engage yourself in it.
Find something that aligns with your hopes and your aspirations. Find other people who’ve been through tough times and have succeeded. Who are the people that inspire you most? Today, it’s easy to source inspirational material online.
Use TED Talks, YouTube, and other resources to find something that will help fill your heart with inspiration.
#4 — Be Generous
(Taking my niece painting qualifies)
Often, when we can shift the focus from us to other people by being generous in whatever way we can, we can find a sense of happiness. Most of us will do more for others than we will do for ourselves. The problem is, we usually just get so caught up or busy that we simply forget to help others.
Be generous. What can you do for someone else? Who needs your help right now? You don’t have to donate money if you don’t have it. Donate your time. Help someone figure something out or solve a problem. You’ll feel far more happier once you do.
#5 — Smile Like You Mean It
(I got this)
Studies have suggested that changes in physiology can have a significant change in our psychology. How you hold your head, erect your back, or genuinely smile can make you feel either depressed or happy.
So smile like you mean it. Also known as a Duchenne smile, a genuine smile held for at least 20 minutes can do marvelous things to your mind and your emotions. Remember, your physical motions will dictate your state of emotions, so be wary of how you carry yourself.
If you don’t want to feel unhappy or depressed, smile like a happy person would smile. This isn’t about faking it. This is about altering your physiology to hack your psychology.
#6 — Enjoy One Simple Pleasure
(I could count painting here. It has been a while since I have done it, so it will have a great impact)
What do you love? Chocolate cake? A riveting romance novel? Something else? Whatever it is, go out and enjoy it. It doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg — the simple pleasures in life usually don’t cost much.
Go ahead and indulge. This isn’t about overdoing something; this is about engaging your mind, body, and spirit in something that just makes you happy. Whatever it is, go ahead and do it. Your future-self might just thank you for it.
#7 — Plan an Experience
(I have President’s Day off, so maybe I will plan something for that day)
At the end of our lives, it’s not the things we acquired that we remember, but the experiences we had. If you want to be happy, why not plan an experience? It could be a dream trip a few years out, or even a hike next weekend.
The point? Plan something. The incredibly-simple act of planning an experience will give you something to look forward to. What makes you happy? Are you an adventure seeker? Are you a history buff? Do other people make you happy?
Whatever it is, plan something around the thing that makes you most happy. It doesn’t have to be something intricate, and it doesn’t have to be something you’ll do tomorrow. Just as long as it’s something you plan to do at some point, that’s all it takes.
#8 — Reconnect with an Old Friend
(I have been thinking of inviting an old friend to lunch – now I am inspired to do it)
It easy to lose touch with people over the years. When that happens, we’re left wondering how things are going for them. From jobs to relationships, children and beyond, we’re left scratching our heads remembering our old friendships.
But rather than just think about it, why not reconnect with an old friend? Look them up on social media or give them a call if you still have their number. Talk and reminisce about the good times you spent together. It will surely put a smile on your face.
#9 — Help Someone Else
(Again, painting with my niece may qualify – I have a feeling she will need help as I’m sure she will be nervous)
While problems might make us unhappy, one incredibly-simple way to find a small piece of happiness is to help someone else. It can be as simple as having a conversation or being there for someone in their time of need.
This isn’t just about charity. This is about your personal connection with people and finding ways that you can add some value to their lives without looking for something in return. This is the essence of loving “thy neighbor.”
#10 — Set a Meaningful Goal
(I did this with my life coach at the beginning of the year, and every time I speak with her or work on the homework it makes me happy)
Often, we set goals the wrong way. We set them in our minds, leaving them in the abstract. But, the only way to truly achieve something is to set the goal by not only writing it out, but also ensuring that it has a deep-enough meaning to you.
Meaningful goals are the foundation of happiness. We will do far more to achieve something that has deep-enough meaning to us than things that are superficial. When we’re chasing after the superficial, it’s easy to be in a constant state of unhappiness.
While success doesn’t define happiness, achieving meaningful things does. For example, we will do far more for our family, security, or freedom than we will do to achieve a money goal or drive an exotic car for example.
#11 — Watch a Comedy
(Not much of a movie watcher, but the Superbowl commercials can be pretty funny)
Happiness might be fleeting for most, but one simple and easy way to find happiness right now is to watch something funny. Watch a comedy or a funny sitcom. This isn’t just about a temporary escape from reality, studies have found that laughing can actually improve our mental and physical health.
While watching something funny won’t fix things overnight, it is one incredibly-simple way to be happy right now, even if it’s momentarily. But the best part about it is that not only can it give you temporary happiness, but it can also provide long-term relief and even potential improvements for what ails us.
#12 — Go for a Walk
(This is a slam dunk – weather permitting, I walk my dog most weekends. I have to admit being present in nature makes me very happy)
We have a lot going on all the time. So, just going for a walk can seem downright out of the question. Who has the time to stroll around in the rain or sun? But, not only is walking good for you physically, but it can also act as a mental and spiritual pick-me-up.
Even when we have a lot going on, going for a walk should become a priority, and it’s something incredibly simple that can be done in this very moment to be happy. It doesn’t mean you should forget about everything. It just means that by focusing on the beauty and miracle of life, we can step outside our own minds, even if only for a brief period.
#13 – Workout
(Got this too – Weekends are for yoga and I have at least 2 classes planned for this weekend. My week is spent doing cardio and lifting weights so yoga is a nice reprieve)
It’s been long extolled about how working out has numerous benefits for our physical health. But it also affects our mental and spiritual health. It gets the blood circulating physically, but it also stimulates the mind while releasing happy endorphins such as dopamine and serotonin.
Working out is seriously helpful if you want to cheer up right now. You don’t have to go overboard and run for two hours. All you have to do is break a sweat and put in a moderately-strenuous workout for 20 minutes. You’ll feel far more happier once it’s done.
#14 — Forgive Someone
(This one may be the hardest – I will have to think about it)
Mental clutter can weigh us down. And, animosity is one of the most detrimental forms of mental clutter. It takes far more energy to be angry and mean to someone than it does to love and forgive them. So forgive someone for something.
Whether you pick up the phone, tell them in person, or just write a letter to them that you’ll tuck away and never send, the act of forgiveness can set you free. It’s a simple and direct way to let go of those hurt feelings and instantly feel more happy in this very moment.
It’s not easy, I know. But, sometimes, we have to take the higher ground, no matter what the situation might be.
#15 — Write a Letter to Your 10-Year-Younger Self
(This could be seriously fun. While I might not get to it this weekend, I plan on doing it at some point)
One incredibly-simple way to be happy right now is to write your 10-year-younger self a letter. What would you want to tell your 10-year-younger self? What lessons did you learn? What pain did you suffer, but ultimately come out with a deeper understanding and appreciation for life and love?
As we age, we grow and we mature. We become better people over time through our experiences. This writing exercise is about expressing what you’ve learned over the past 10 years, and what advice you would give to your younger self.
#16 — Flip the Script on Your Complaints
(I have been doing this already. Whenever I find myself complaining I take a step back and get some learning from it. Is it a particular person? What is going on with them? Is there a different approach I could take? Etc.)
We all have complaints. There are plenty of things we could say are wrong with our lives. But, what happens when you flip the script on your complaints? What happens when you find the silver-lining in the “bad stuff” going on in your life?
This incredibly-simple way to be happy right now works by using reason and logic to convey the benefits of our problems. It doesn’t mean you’ll solve them overnight; it just means that we can always find a way to find the good, even in really bad situations.
#17 — Watch the Sunset
(Love this. I watch the sunrise and sunset if Cincinnati’s weather allows. I often take pictures too, many of which I have used for my blogs)
The beauty of life is all around us. From the birds soaring high above, to the seasons as they unfold, and, of course, to the sun as it sets in the west every single day without fail. Sometimes, those sunsets can be quite magical.
If you don’t live somewhere you can watch the sunset, opt for the sunrise. Wake up really early and just watch the vibrant explosion of colors in the morning sky. Or, find a sunset and sit in the sand somewhere, watching as the sun kisses the ocean as it sets for another day.
The miracle of life is all around us, and we can find happiness in the moments when we seek them out. Seek out the sunset, no matter how far you have to travel to catch it, and just revel in the moment, watching as the colors linger in the sky even after the sun has disappeared.