Your happy to-do list.
Yesterday I was such a grump. I told my husband that my body felt like dog poo.
All week long my yoga practice had been ho-hum, my runs were inconsistent, and I was feeling just plain yucky.
This morning, however, I decided that it was high time to turn my mood around—so I took my tiny lady and her jogging stroller out for a run on my favorite trail.
The sunshine peeked through the trees, not quite sure if it was ready to be awake yet. (I can relate.)
The grass and foliage were lush and green thanks to all the rain we’ve had here in Ohio.
My body moved, and as it did the tightness drained, not only from my muscles, but from my mind and heart as well.
Aaaah, this is life.
Way too often I get caught up in the cerebral part of being human and forget to just move and breathe and be an animal—which led me to ponder those days that start out great (like today) and are wonderfully serene and happy throughout, right up until my head hits my pillow.
What is it about these days that make them so fantastic and joyful?
So I came up with this list of things to do if you want to enjoy simply being alive.
1. Move your body. Do something that gives your body a little bit of exercise every single day. You don’t have to hit the gym or go to the yoga studio or even dedicate a full hour—just do something, anything really.
A few of my preferred mood-boosting body moves are: dancing in the kitchen with my daughter while making dinner, taking a short walk in nature and breaking out five minutes worth of yoga core moves in the middle of the day (talk about quick energy).
2. Drink water. I love water—obsessively and adoringly. I know that some people find water to be a boring drink, but your body needs it, so drink up anyway. (After all, dehydration can lead to a serious case of the crankies, you know.)
3. Laugh. Find small ways to add laughter into your day.
Whether you call a friend who always cracks you up or you watch a stupid SNL skit you love on youtube, it doesn’t matter.
Better still, lighten up in general, and notice the humor that exists in your every, ordinary day that you often completely ignore. (If you’re really at a loss then watch a child—they find delight in those little, tiny moments that we adults sadly stopped noticing years ago.)
4. Be authentic. There’s nothing more unhappy than being phony. Try as hard as you can to let down your guard and just be the real you regardless of your setting. Easier said than done, I know, but it’s well worth the effort because putting on different masks for different people is exhausting.
Consider being open to the possibility that you are wonderful exactly as you are.
5. Eat healthy food. Ugh, eating crappy, processed food is sure to make your entire system feel lousy.
Fill up everyday on fresh fruits and vegetables—and pay attention to how good it makes you feel.
6. Yet still allow treats. I absolutely believe in eating dark chocolate and drinking wine and hoppy beer—in moderation.
One of my favorite ways to complete a good day is to break out one of my teensy, pretty chocolate plates along with a couple squares of the good stuff.
7. Do your chores. I sincerely do not like housework. I don’t like doing the dishes. I have a severe disdain for laundry. And you know what? Too bad. I have to do it anyway—and I always feel better after I do.
8. Reach out and touch someone. People are made to be social creatures. We need affection and good ol’ fashioned touching. Spend time cuddling with someone special and I promise you’ll feel amazing afterwards.
9. Remember tomorrow. When I felt horrible yesterday, I knew that I would feel better today. Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself when you’re feeling down or things aren’t going exactly as you’d like is to remember that, thankfully, life is an ever moving ocean filled with changing tides.
10. Practice kindness. I’m telling you this from personal experience—being a jerk will not make you feel good. Rather, smile and extend your kindest you out into the world—because it’s entirely true that the love you take is equal to the love you make.
I think I’ll stop here for now—because the thing about happiness is that it’s not complex.
Happiness is noticing and then hanging onto those little things in life—hugs, sunshine on your skin, the after-effects of a great workout—that we too easily let slip past us.
“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” ~Dalai Lama.
Photo credit: ClickFlashPhotos /Nicki Varkevisser/Flickr.
This article was first published by elephant journal.