Saturday, August 2, 2014

Little Things That Make You Happy

There are lots of little things in life that can give you that little boost, that little smile in the middle of a stressed-out day, that quick burst of happiness in an otherwise lousy day. Some of them you just stumble across unexpectedly, like a rainbow or the smell of a really good cup of coffee, but a lot of them you can choose to create yourself. Here are a few of my favorite ways to give myself an emotional pick-me-up when I’m having a bad day.
  • Play with a small child – Sit down and color with your own kid, play peek-a-boo with the wee one in front of you in the checkout line, stick your tongue out at the kids in the back seat of that car stuck next to you in traffic.
  • Wear a favorite piece of clothing – Bonus points if it’s something secret that no one else knows about: sexy or silly underpants under your boring khaki uniform pants, a T-shirt with a funny or obnoxious saying carefully hidden under your shirt and tie, socks with goofy animal pictures tucked inside your boots.
  • Eat something directly out of the container – Peanut butter, ice cream, hummus, frosting. Grab a spoon and go for it. You’ll feel even better if you put the rest back and don’t tell anyone.
  • Take a dance break – Channel-surf until you find an upbeat song from your high school days, crank it up, and move with the music. Do it in your living room, in the car, even in your office if you have understanding coworkers. Even better if you grab some random object to use as a microphone and lip sync. If you’re in your car, don’t even bother with lip syncing – just belt it out! You’ll give the people in the next car a little pick-me-up, too.
  • Doodle – It doesn’t matter if you’re artistic or not. If you (like me) can’t draw anything recognizable, make shapes and squiggles. Use pens, pencils, highlighters, crayons, markers, chalk, whatever’s handy. Draw on a napkin, a post-it note, your desk calendar, the back of an envelope. It’s amazing how cathartic merely making marks on paper (or any other convenient surface) can be.
  • Hide in the bathroom – No, really. Think about it: Where does 99.9% of your stress come from? Other people, right? And where can you almost always hide from other people? In the bathroom! At work, you can hide from your demanding boss and your annoying co-workers; at home you can hide from your demanding AND annoying children; in a crowded store you can even escape the throngs of other shoppers there. Lock yourself in a stall, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths (this is best done in a particularly clean bathroom), and mentally escape from the world for a few minutes. If anyone asks you where you’ve been, be sure to grimace a little as you groan out, “Bathroom.” I promise, they won’t press for details.
  • Read your favorite kids’ book – We all have one or two favorite books from our childhoods that make us happy. Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel? Hop on Pop? Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day? The Giving Tree? Charlotte’s Web? Where the Wild Things Are? I bet you have a copy tucked away on a bookshelf somewhere. Break it out, sprawl on the couch or the floor or some other convenient surface and go back to your childhood, when everything that ever went wrong in your life could be fixed with a kiss from Mom.

Now, GO! Make yourself happy. Here’s a little something to get you started.

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