11 Strategies to Live Happier Every Day
Have you ever had a day where everything just feels a little “meh”? You know the type, it’s the “going through the motions, trying to make it to Friday” kind of day? It’s not depression or anything serious, just a not so awesome 24 hours. Chances are you’ve had at least one this week--me too sister! The thing is, you don’t have to wait until tomorrow to have a better day! You can make TODAY a happier day!!! Sure, Monday at 8am sure isn’t Friday at 5, but if you’re just kind of dragging through the day, try a couple of these simple strategies to make those blues go away and enjoy having a happier day!
1. Wave at someone in the car.
Ok. I don’t mean like when you were a kid and tried to get trucks to honk (although that’s still fun). I mean just giving someone a friendly wave when they let you in front of them on a merge lane or when you get to a stop sign at the same time and they let you go. Just give them a friendly wave and a smile. Call me old fashioned but what better way to enjoy the drive a little more. A week ago Adam and I were riding our bikes and got to the stop sign at the same time as a guy in a car. He waved us through and I waved back a thank you. He gave me huge thumbs up and smiled ear to ear. That tiny gesture made me smile the rest of the afternoon. So just give a wave and a smile. Whether or not the other person waves back, you’ll feel a little better.
2. Give someone a genuine compliment.
We were at Costco on a Sunday a while back (if you haven’t been to Costco on a Sunday it’s a total zoo--crowded, loud, stressful, carts everywhere…). It was also the first Sunday of the NFL’s season so people were even crazier than normal because the vast majority were scrambling to get home before the first kick off--GO BRONCOS!--The lady who was checking us out was looking like she’d already had a long day and she happened to be wearing a gold Steelers uniform. Granted, that was an interesting choice in the heart of Broncos Country on the first Sunday of the season but it wasn’t just a t-shirt, tt was an actual, old uniform from the 40’s or 50’s. I asked her, “Is that a real Steelers uniform?” Her eyes lit up and she got a huge smile on her face and she said, “Yeah! I found it in the back of my grandpa’s closet when we were cleaning out his trailer. Today is jersey day and it’s the only one I have. Everyone has given me hard time about it today.” I said, “I think it’s really cool. I’ve never seen a jersey that old or that real.” She smiled even bigger and said, “thanks!” It would have been SO easy to make some comment about how the Broncos are cooler than the Steelers or it would have been even easier to say nothing at all. But then I wouldn’t have gotten the honor of making someone else's day better and in the process, making my own brighter too. So the next time you notice someone who is looking particularly beautiful or did something sweet for a stranger, give them a compliment. You’ll have a better day and so will they!
3. Move your body.
I don’t mean you have to go run 10 miles or do a whole workout (although, those are great strategies to have a better day too!) I just mean MOVE! Get up from your desk, get out of your house and do 5 minutes of abs or walk around the block. Do a set of 10 pushups or stand up and run in place for a 60 seconds. I promise you’ll feel better after. Movement (at any level) helps reduce our stress hormones, increase endorphins (the happy hormones), re-energize us and helps us focus better. So, if you’re feeling like you’re in a slump, MOVE! Even just a minute or two can make a huge difference in your day.
No seriously! Stop right now and take one deep breath. Now take another. Now take a third. Smile (even just a little fake one counts). How are you feeling? Better? Case and point. :) Repeat often as many times as you want to.
5. Grab a healthy snack.
Do you remember those old power bar commercials that had the tagline “don’t bonk.” Or more recently the snickers commercials that say, “You’re not yourself when your hungry”? Friends, bonking and getting hangry are real things. Your body needs energy to function fully and when you’re hungry, all non essential functions start to shut down (like your ability to think clearly or be nice or stay happy). Personally, I can say that a large majority of my meltdowns, cry-fests or fights with Adam happen when I’m hungry and not thinking rationally. So grab a snack--probably not a snickers--but grab an apple or some carrots and hummus or a plant based shake. You’ll be amazed how much better you feel after just a 5-minute snack break! Trust me. Hangry isn’t cute! :)
6. Buy someone else's gas or groceries.
Feeling super down and need an ace card to get out of a funk, head to the grocery store, grab one or two things and hop in line behind someone who looks like they might need a little boost in their day too. This one definitely takes some courage and a strong dose of bravery, but it’s so worth it. Before they get their card out to pay say, “Hey. I’m sure you don’t need me to but I’d love to buy your groceries today just for fun.” I’ve never had someone say no! Usually this ends in a huge smile and sometimes tears (the happy kind). It’s the BEST feeling! It’s an easy one to do at the gas station too. :) If you’re worried about money, don’t pick the person with a cart that’s overflowing. Pick the older man who’s buying bananas and deli meat or the mom with three kids who is buying apples and some chicken. It’ll be the best $30 you’ve ever spent!
7. Go sit in the sunshine.
There are mountains of research that show the powerful effect that real sunlight has on our psyche. From vitamin D to seasonal affective disorder, real sunlight matters. On days you need a little boost, take your next business call outside and get some sun on your face. Even if it’s cold out, getting that bright light in your eyes changes your brain chemistry for the better with long lasting effects. Even just 3 minutes can increase your brain's’ release of Serotonin which is associated with boosting mood and helping a person feel calm and focused. Take a call outside, take your lunch outside, go for a short walk or at the very least, stand in a window that’s getting direct sunlight. Let it hit your face and your hands and you’ll feel happier pretty quickly.
8. Get yourself a little treat.
I’m not saying go buy a $100 pair of shoes or a new outfit or even a $5 Starbucks. But maybe on your after work grocery run throw a box of raspberries in the cart, grab a fun kombucha drink or fun chocolate bar that’s on sale. It doesn’t have to be big or flashy to make you smile.
9. Pick out a gift for someone else.
Retail therapy is a real thing, but shopping for someone else is and even more powerful mood booster. Not only do you get the thrill of buying something fun, but you also the the excitement of surprising someone you care about and the thrill of anticipating their reaction. Your enjoyment lasts longer. You don’t even have to know who you’re shopping for and then suddenly a pair of earrings pops out that will perfect for so-and-so. It’s just so fun! So grab $15, head to a fun little down-town store and wander around for a while.
10. Pull Weeds
This one might be reaching a little bit but let me explain. I’m not talking about that yard-work day that you’re dreading. I’m just talking about the sheer satisfaction of pulling up something obnoxious by its roots and getting rid of it. This one works especially well if you're needing a happy boost from a frustrating day. Pick an area of your lawn or garden that needs some love, set a timer for 10 minutes, grab a weed digger and go to town. OH it feels so good to get the whole long icky root out of the ground. When your timer goes off, stand back and assess. You can make a big difference in just 10 minutes both in your own heart and in your yard and it feels SO good!
11. Dance party!
Anywhere. Anytime. Any reason. Put on some great jams in your car or while you’re making dinner or cleaning the house (think the scene from Mrs. Doubtfire when Robin Williams is dancing all over the house with the vacuum)... Find some good beats and go crazy! Dance where nobody can see you, invite your kids in, grab your spouse by the hand and laugh! It might feel forced or awkward at first. That’s ok. It won’t by your 2nd or 3rd song in. Just keep going until you’re a laughing puddle on the floor.
In the words of one of my truest heros,
“If you’re unhappy, that’s on you!” -Rachel Hollis.
So, make a change and have a happier day!
Keep these strategies in your back pocket for those dragging tail kind of days and, over time, you’ll start to notice that your happy days far outweigh the bummer kind of days.
P.S. Bonus strategy
LAUGH!!! Just laugh! If it’s funny, if it’s not funny. Just laugh! Here are a couple funny things I laughed at today.