Since I am spending 2015 on a year-long Happiness Project, I quite like the idea of spreading the love a bit, and sharing a few happiness tips…
1. Listen to music. Not just any music; something you really, really love. These days, I’m either working, or out, or S is here – so I can go weeks without listening to any more music than I would normally hear on the radio first thing in the morning. The other day, I put a CD on really loud and sang along… it felt amazing! Try it, see what happens. Extra happy points if you dance too!
2. Be aware of negative self talk. Are you really not capable of doing that? Or is that just what the voice in your head wants you to believe? Try to think of negative self talk like athlete’s foot. It turns up sometimes, and at first you don’t really notice what’s going on – but once you do, you sort it out and it goes away again.
3. Be grateful. I’ve spoken before about how thinking of things we are grateful for can train our brains to look for the positives in life, and in turn make us happier. It really works, and if you believe in The Secret and the law of attraction, gratitude is a big part of that too. What could be bad about thinking of all the great things in your life?
4. Meditate. You don’t need to be a yogi and contort yourself into all sorts of positions to meditate; you just have to sit still for a while, and concentrate on… whatever your mantra may be. When I meditate, I feel like someone has reached into the top of my head, pulled together all the crap, and scooped it out. Like candyfloss. It feels amazing, especially if you stick with it as a regular practice.
5. Put a pen in your mouth! I’m not even joking. It has been scientifically proven that if you put a pen in your mouth, so that your face is forced into a smiling position, it will start to affect your mood. It’s probably best not to go out of the house like this, but if you’re feeling a bit rubbish at home of a morning, why not give it a go? What do you have to lose?
6.Flip it. What is bothering you? If there’s a particular thing making you unhappy, try to look at it from a different viewpoint. This is easier with some things than others, but just like most of the things listed here, it’s something that comes easier with practise.
7. Take supplements. I am a massive fan of supplements, particularly fish oils. I take fish oils every day, and they go onto my shopping list above any food for me. Our brains are two-thirds fat, but with so much of this “low fat” nonsense going on for so long, many of us aren’t getting a lot of fat in our diets. I honestly believe that fish oil supplements had more effect on my coming out of my breakdown than anything else I took or did. As well as fish oils, I take a good quality vitamin supplement. Supplements can’t replace a healthy diet, but if you think about the way farming has changed over the years, and the ways our foods have been subtly changed to make them last longer, fit into a box better or whatever else, there’s a strong argument that all this fiddling about with it has lowered the nutrient content of a lot of food. Vitamin supplements plug the gaps.
8. Breathe! I know this sounds simple, but bear with me. So often when we get a bit stressed, our breath is the first thing to go. Suddenly we’re holding our breath, or breathing shallowly. That causes us to hunch our shoulders, clench our jaws. It is impossible to feel happy when you’re busy grinding your teeth or hyperventilating. Taking the time to stop and breathe for a few minutes can have the same sort of effect as meditation – but without the “hippy dippy” connotations. A couple of deep breaths before we start our day can help to give that good feeling you want when you’re about to go out into the world.
9. Fake it til you make it! Similar to the pen thing, often just plastering a smile onto your face and pretending you haven’t a care in the world can make a massive difference to your mood. Some of us are blessed with what I believe is officially called “resting bitch face” and people tend to think we’re miserable because of it. That can become something of a self fulfilling prophecy, without us consciously noticing it. Sometimes, just walking a couple of blocks with a fake smile on our face can make us feel like doing a real one!
10. Let go of the past. For me, I release things by writing them down. Once it’s written down, it’s like it leaves my head. This is easier for some things than for others. It took me three years to write anything at all about what went on during my pregnancy, but once I did, it left my head. It wasn’t exactly constantly on my mind for three years, but it kept popping up from time to time – especially in the run-up to S’s birthday. Now I’ve written it down, it doesn’t bother me.