Welcome to my second post in the series on happiness and how to feel happy.
In part 1, I tasked you with writing a happiness CV or resume to get you to take stock of everything you are on your best day. Now that’s done and filed away, let’s look at some other ideas to help you feel happier in yourself.
Remember, I like to take a light-hearted approach in any advice I give but that doesn’t mean that I don’t value your happiness. Positive and encouraging with a couple of jokes thrown in is just my natural way of saying, hey, it’s ok to not be ok and it’s ok to ask for help. Maybe I can get you moving in the right direction and get a smile from you along the way.
So let’s crack on with some happiness-boosting ideas.
1. Finish an unfinished project
There’s nothing more satisfying than finishing a job, checking it off that list and getting closure. Unfinished projects can hang around like bad smells reminding us that we got bored or lazy or that weren’t quite good enough. Here’s a list of things that might be lurking in your home that you could make time to do today:
- Unpack the boxes in the spare bedroom from the last time you moved house.
- Finally finish reading that book that you started three years ago and have since seen the film of.
- Put that suitcase back up the loft: you successfully unpacked it in 2015 and can get it down again when you need it next.
- Sew the button back onto your cardigan. Finish knitting the cardigan.
- Take the wall of Amazon cardboard boxes leftover from the Christmas buying frenzy that are currently in occupation of your garage to the recycling centre.
- Actually clean out the cupboard under the sink. No, actually do it.
- Find that favourite photo of your graduation/wedding, frame it and hang it on the wall.
- Return the library books.
- Take that pile of things that live on the stairs, find them somewhere to belong or throw them away.
Did that feel good?
2. Plan a day-out/holiday
A great way to give our noggins something good to focus on is by having something to look forward to. It doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy and you can do it on your own, with friends or with family. Here are some ideas on what you could do:
- Visit a museum
- Try a yoga or other holistic retreat
- Arrange a riverside walk with your family
- Take a short break in a city you’ve never visited before
- Plan a long weekend in a tent in a forest and go ‘off grid’
- Do something completely different that you’ve never done before.
3. Have a good clear-out
Sort out your wardrobe and ditch anything that doesn’t fit you or suit you. Be strict with yourself. Its ok to ask for help – sometimes having a friend there can offer impartial advice and help you stick to your goals. They may even take some of your unwanted clothes off your hands!
If you have sentimental clothes that no longer fit like a wedding dress or a souvenir t-shirt from a holiday or festival, that’s great! Keep it – it is part of your memories – but it’s no longer part of your wardrobe. Find somewhere else to store it else you’re just reminding yourself of how you’re body is different now every time you open the wardrobe door.
What you do with your unwanted clothes is up to you but what you chose to do with them can be as rewarding as de-stashing in the first place: charity shops, hold a swishing party, refugees women’s refuges, recycling, have a sale, cash-for-clothes, homeless charities.
Apparently the things we own should either be beautiful or practical (or both) and this will help keep clutter to a minimum. Frankly, this is lost on me: a have a fabric hoard sweeping out of my ‘craft room’ like Genghis Khan and his Mongol empire. Every piece of that fabric is beautiful and practical. I just have too much of it. Something for me to work on there.
Clear surfaces help give the impression of space
- Start slow; work on one room or area at a time.
- Remove duplicates; do you really need five pairs of headphones or
- Put things into a box or storage but don’t throw out – yet. If you haven’t missed them within a couple of months, you don’t need them so then get rid of them.
- Ditch things that are out of date; old phone chargers, newspapers and magazines, cosmetics and toiletries.
The way to your happiness could be by making someone else happy. Most people like the idea of volunteering but perhaps are intimidated by the thought of having to commit to something long-term. Volunteering very definitely doesn’t mean having to dedicate all of you spare time to a cause or charity. Look for events that are one-offs:
- Green gyms exist to help reinvigorate (or just maintain) public green spaces whilst giving their volunteers fresh air and exercise. Just turn up, do some gardening and go home. Done.
- Do a sponsored walk/ride/run. Raising funds is as important of giving your time to a good cause.
- Help out at a day centre for old folks. Duties include helping to settle the day guests, serve some food and drinks and then just chat and listen (mostly listen).
- Donate to your local food bank
5. Eat one more portion of fruit or veg than you did yesterday
Yup, just that. Eat one extra healthy item of food today than you ate yesterday. And feel damn good about yourself for doing so.
6. Organise a reunion with old friends or colleagues
Not a high-school union. I find those to be smile-but-then-slag-off bitch fests in which even if everyone truly is super friendly and pleased to see you, you still come away judging yourself against other people’s achievements. I’m talking about people you connected with and enjoyed spending time with – people who made you happy.
These are people who were once (and still are though you haven’t seen them in years) important parts of our lives: colleagues who you sat next to at work and spent eight hours of your day with; the people who you shared digs with (and weren’t totally disgusted by) at university; an old sports team; friends who you don’t see because you both have families now and just don’t have the time to socialise like you once did.
Be the one to reach out and say, hey, let’s meet up! You never know, they could be in a bad place at the moment and really need a friend like you to say hi.
I have a long overdue reunion with work friends I need to organise. I need to be the one to (finally) get to wriggle on and get it done.
7. Reduce or eliminate social media from your daily life
Social media is the worst offender for procrastination in existence. At best it’s a way to kill a few hours and at worst it’s a never-ending-beauty-magazine-newsfeed. Especially Instagram. Unless you make and sell confectionery and need the visual punch to help push your wares, ditch Instagram today. Or unfollow all celebrities and anyone obsessed with themselves and selfies and only follow funny cat accounts.
I recently unfollowed about 90% of the political groups and pages I was subscribed to in Facebook. I get more stuff done, I see more of what my friends are doing and I spend less time and energy getting riled up and righteous over issues I have limited control over. Result – I am more happy.
So give yourself a time limit or just ditch them from your personal life altogether.
And if you’re reading this post after finding it on Pinterest – remember, Pinterest is a search engine so just keep on pinning.
I hope you find these ideas useful. Sometimes increasing your happiness is about eliminating unnecessary stress. These can be little things like reducing a back load of washing or cancelling a gym membership that you don’t use. If you can identify a quick win that will give a little sense of satisfaction or pride – do it!
But if all else fails – just dance.