WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY & BRINGS A SMILE TO YOUR FACE? HERE ARE 12 THINGS YOU CAN DO TODAY TO MAKE YOU (AND THOSE AROUND YOU) HAPPY.
There are so many things that make us happy - unexpected things such as someone opening the door for you, or when the person in front of you pays for your Starbucks. Of course there are the expected things that add happiness to our lives as well - a warm welcome when you arrive at a friend's home, a great sermon from your pastor, or your child running to your arms when you pick her up from school.
Regardless of what we are going through, there are things that we can do, right now, to make us happy. And, most of those things will bring happiness to others as well.
We have an incredible amount of control over our own happiness. It's time we own it.
Here are 12 of my favorite things that are (pretty much) guaranteed to make you - and those around you - happy!
1.) BEING OUTSIDE. Yes, I know it's the first week of summer and it's so HOT that airplanes in Phoenix are being grounded (yikes) - BUT, being outside always makes me happy and I'm positive it can do the same for you. There is something soothing about a walk around the neighborhood, breathing in fresh air, hearing birds chirping, and taking in all the beauty that surrounds you. Just being outside for 30 minutes or more will invite peace and happiness into your life. I encourage you to go for a morning or evening walk (when the weather is nice), to have one meal a day outdoors, try stargazing, or just read a few chapters of your favorite book outside.
2.) PRACTICE GRATITUDE. When we are stressed, sad, or overwhelmed we often overlook the blessings we have. Take a moment to reflect on things you have and the people that you are thankful for. It can be simple such as being thankful for a hot shower. Reflect on 5-10 things that you have, that you've experienced, or that you are thankful for. You can take this to the next step by sharing 3-5 good things that happened each day with your family over dinner each night. It a great moment to spend time with your spouse and to hear about what blessings touched them today. Even better - include your children and encourage them to take notice of blessings and beauty in the world.
3.) SPEND TIME WITH FAMILY & FRIENDS. Even for introverts (like me), social time is highly valuable. It's important to forge supportive relationships and bond with others. Schedule a dinner party, lunch date, a hike or camping trip, a game night in your home, or girl's night out with friends or family. Join a bible study or networking group. Being around positive energy, laughter, and love will always make your day better and that's such an important part of life! Surrounding yourself with loving, supportive, God-fearing friends is priceless.
4.) FACE THE THINGS YOU'VE BEEN AVOIDING. (Stay with me here.... I realize it doesn't sound like something that will bring you happiness...) Sometimes life gets the best of us. When we don't stay on top of everything we can easily feel overworked, unappreciated, and overwhelmed. Take a moment to sit down, prioritize what needs to get done, and start knocking things out that have been weighting on you. This can be so empowering and uplifting!
(My 2-car garage was getting so cluttered that I could barely fit my small car inside! I spent the morning having a garage sale, and all afternoon with my sister sorting, organizing, donating, and tossing everything else. The next morning, which was Father's Day, my husband woke up to a clean, organized, and swept garage! I was putting off this chore for months and it was getting worse and worse and causing me so much stress and anxiety. Now that I handled what I was avoiding I have a huge sense of happiness and accomplishment.)
5.) EXERCISE! We all know that exercising releases endorphins that make you happy, keeps you healthy, and reduces stress levels - but do we exercise enough? Try something new - go on a bike ride, sign up for a new aerobics class at the gym, jog (or power-walk) around the park or your neighborhood, try a rock-climbing or cross-fit gym - there are so many fun ways to exercise (and so many locations have great Groupon deals, discounts for "ladies night", or free classes for first-timers!). And, now with meetup.com there are plenty of opportunities to try new things, make friends, and build your tribe!
6.) LAUGH. It's not always easy to get in a good laugh when we're having a bad day, but there are tons of youtube videos that will definitely bring you to tears laughing (have you searched for trying to bathe a cat, people falling, funniest moments......) Better yet - grab a friend and catch a comedy at the theater, or just sit back and relive those old stories of "Remember that one time???" Laughing is so uplifting and truly does your soul good.
7.) TALK TO GOD. You know you're never alone. Whether you talk to God, journal, or spend time reading the bible - it's important to take time deepening your relationship with God. These moments always bring me peace, closeness, and happiness. "Happy are the people whose God is the Lord" Psalm 144.15.
8.) EAT HEALTHIER FOODS. By eating better you're not only taking care of yourself, but you will also feel more vibrant and energetic. Keep healthy snacks in the car (granola or your favorite nuts) and be sure to add fresh fruits and veggies with each meal. TIP: Prepare fruits and veggies in tupperware for easy access. Take some for the road and have some ready when you get home. It's easier to grab that bag of chips when walk in the door hungry, but having a tupperware filled with fresh fruit and veggies makes it easy to enjoy a healthy alternative. Try strawberries and blueberries, celery/green peppers/carrots/cucumber with hummus, grapes, apples, or your favorite melon. Prep them on the weekend and prepare enough for multiple options throughout the week!
9.) PUT AWAY YOUR PHONE! This friends is HUGE! Don't base your happiness on someone else's highlight reel on social media. And, don't let social media get you sucked into a negative hole either. It's too much, we are on our phones too much... Enjoy the world and those around you - status updates and text messages can wait. Try putting your cell aside for a few hours a day, and during all meal times, and especially with friends and family. It will really make the difference in your life.
10.) MAKE SOMEBODY'S DAY. This is the most rewarding way to feel better and add happiness to your life. Be kind to others and serve others. This can be a compliment you give to a friend - or a stranger, it can be volunteering at church or in your community, or it can be much more intentional such as a letter/note to your spouse or a good deed for someone (whether they are in need or not). When is the last time you made dinner for a friend in the hospital, sent a hand-written note to someone you appreciate, or volunteered your time to help someone in need? There are so many ways to make somebody's day - you may even do doing something that doesn't get linked back to you, so it's just for you (such as picking up the dinner tab for a single parent across the restaurant or leaving change at the vending machine for the next person).
11.) FLIP THROUGH PERSONAL PHOTOGRAPHS. Looking through old photographs can really boost your mood. They remind us of people, places, and activities that we love. It can be an album of a trip you took, childhood photos, or even an old box of photos you forgot all about. Flipping through old photographs always fills my heart as it brings back warm memories, laughs, and love.
12.) SPEND MONEY ON EXPERIENCES, NOT THINGS. I truly believe spending money on life experiences make me happier than spending money on material things. Experiences become part of who we are - the places we've visited, the things we have done, and the things we have seen. Rather than getting caught up on the newest gadgets, the trendiest clothes, or other spurges that define our status - experience life. Have you been to a different country, ridden in a hot air balloon, signed up for a Tough Mudder, gone on a mission trip, or done something that's on your bucket list?
Let's be intentional when it comes to our day, to our lives, and how we treat others. Let's practice self love, respect ourselves and others, and truly live. Let's spread beauty and happiness and have a positive impact on others.
What are some things you do to cheer yourself up? Post your comment below - I'd love to read your thoughts!