Five things likely to make you happier in the short term
Here is my list of things to give you a short-term "hit" of happiness. Of course, these things won't solve your long-term problems, but they are useful tricks to giving yourself some relief when it all seems too much.
Each is virtually guaranteed to give you some satisfaction, but they won't work unless you try them. Sometimes, misery and depression can all become a bit too comfortable. Taking action, however minor, can appear like too much effort. It's so much easier just to hang around the house feeling bad, than doing something about it. At least with your misery, you know what to expect - and even better - it doesn't take any effort. Right?
So before you read my list, make a promise to yourself that you will do one of the below right now. The lazy, miserable part of your mind will almost certainly dismiss them as useless. It will try to suck your energy and glue you to the chair, bed or couch. No matter how much your internal pessimist tries to talk you out of it, pick one of the below and go and do it the very second you finish reading.
If you choose not to, it's time to admit to yourself that you prefer being miserable to being happy, and that is the root cause of your sadness.
Here's the list...
1. Go out for a walk
If there's one thing that's virtually guaranteed to make you feel better, it's going for a walk. Walking is one of the most therapeutic things any person can do. The fact that so few of us do it anymore is probably a big factor for the growth of professional therapy.
I'm not talking about power walking, or a jogging, or even purposeful marching. What I'm talking about is an aimless wander somewhere. Walking for its own sake. Do so for at least half an hour. You'll be amazed how much better it will make you feel.
Preferably, choose somewhere picturesque, such as a park or a beach or up to a hill with a view. Everyone has somewhere nice like that not more than a short drive away. But if you can't make it somewhere picturesque for whatever reason, just go for a walk nearby, even if that means through a suburb or an industrial area.
In fact, promise yourself that you'll take up walking as a regular habit. Spend at least an hour and a half a week doing it. If you can, replace short car journeys with walking. Take a little longer to get where you're going and put it down to health time - both mental and physical.
2. Do something fun that you haven't done in a long time
We all have regular activities that are supposed to be fun. The problem is that sometimes we overdo them. They become so integrated into our routine, that their ability to thrill us shrinks.
Nothing excites quite like something new. So go out and do something fun that you haven't done for a while, or even something that you haven't ever done before. It could be bowling, going to the cinema, playing mini-golf, having a swim in the ocean, going kayaking, learning to sail, having a barbecue or going for a picnic. The most important thing is that it's something that gets you out of the house and that it's fun, not work or self-improvement. Look on the web, in the newspaper, or a book of local activities if you can't come up with something.
Make a day of it. Take a friend if you can, but if not just go on your own.
3. Do something creative
We are creative beings. Among humanity's first achievements were artistic - painting in caves, telling stories, making music, preparing nice food. It is something so deep inside us that it forms part of our souls. There are so many creative things you can do, that it seems silly listing suggestions for you, but I'm going to anyway. Here are some creative acts you can undertake right now:
- Draw a picture.
- Create a story, if you've got children, tell it to them.
- Paint something.
- Do some woodwork.
- Knit something.
- Make some music.
- Write a poem.
- Make some pottery.
- Sculpt something with clay.
- Cook something delicious from a book of recipes.
If you're still short of something to do, go down to your local art and craft store and look for something, they have hundreds of options. Stock up on some of the tools and get going!
Don't worry if you're not good at what your doing, and don't get hung up on trying to do it perfectly. Enjoy yourself with it. If you find you're no good at it, laugh and amuse yourself with how hopeless you are at that activity. If you're drawing, and find your skills are lacking, try to draw the silliest picture you possibly can.
4. Complete some minor chore that you've been avoiding
Now I'm not going to pretend that you're going to enjoy the chore - you're probably not - chores are chores after all. But a chore completed can really help to put your mind at rest.
Tidying and cleaning a dirty room is no fun. But, the feeling of satisfaction and achievement that comes with looking at the result can really lift your spirit.
5. Get in contact with an old friend or acquaintance you haven't seen for a while
You've got their number or email address and you know you really should have contacted them by now. So do it already!
You may feel a little uncomfortable about it - perhaps you've been neglecting their friendship. But what the heck, just give them a call. Ask them out for a drink, invite them over for coffee, arrange to go to a movie with them. You can have a great time with old friends. The warmth of a friendship rekindled is a wonderful thing.
So there they are, my list of five things to give yourself a happiness hit right now. You promised me at the beginning you'd do one of them, so please don't disappoint.
Don't spend too long agonising over your decision for which either. I'm not asking you to buy a new car or anything requiring serious consideration like that. Pick the first one that pops to mind right now and do it.
The alternative is to sit there and remain miserable.
Go on - get going.
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