Happiness can be a rare thing to come across in this society of stress and sadness. It can be hard to take a minute to yourself to center yourself, find yourself and just let it all go for a little bit in amongst our busy lives and responsibilities. That’s why I present to you a monthly Happiness Guide consisting of 5 challenges that may help you rediscover that joy in life that you so deserve to feel.
1. Take an in-home holiday for 2 hours to 2 days. Taking a break off work is not always feasible for all of us due to limits with time, money and responsibilities. Another way of getting all the refreshment that comes from a holiday is to clear your schedule for an hour, a day or a weekend – whatever you can do. Send the kids to a friends house or away with the husband, push any meetings or girls nights out to next week and allow yourself YOU time. This can mean buying a bottle of red, your favorite cheese and fashion mag and watching your favorite chick flick. It could mean taking a long bath, having an at-home facial, ordering take-out – Whatever! Just LET yourself have that time as though it were a work meeting or other important event that you would feel obligated to attend. Meditate, regenerate and regroup. You and your loved ones will be thankful.
2. Make and add 5 things to your Happy List. I have only recently started doing this but what started as a list of only 10 things has grown into quite a lengthy document. A Happy List is a list (duh) of all the things in this world that bring you joy, contentment and happiness away from a TV, smart phone or the internet. This can include hobbies that you love, hobbies that you miss doing, exercise, playing with your kids, writing, baking, rainy days, smelling flowers, getting manicures – Whether it be an activity, an object, a season, it doesn’t matter because anything that you like belongs on this list. When you feel down or like something’s missing, refer to this list and think of all the things in life that you know bring you joy. If you feel like it, perform some of the activities on it, go buy a bunch of roses (if you like them). Keep this list in a private place and add to it when you realize something brings you happiness.
3. Music Wind-Down for 15 Minutes. For just 15 minutes somewhere in the month, I challenge you to put on some headphones, put your feet up on the couch and just zone out to some good music (Note: Not the radio). Don’t do anything else during this time, just smile, tune out, breathe and listen.
4. 5 Minutes of Meditation for 3 times a week. I will always stand by the idea that people who meditate are happier people. Letting go for that time in such a fast paced world can be hard to get used to but it reconnects us with what’s important. Give yourself that 5 minutes, even if it means running to hide in the bathroom so you aren’t disturbed! In those 5 minutes, breathe in through your nose for 4 counts and out your nose for 4 counts making sure to inhale with your diaphragm (i.e. your stomach should be moving in and out). Bring attention to your breath and the counts and keep as disconnected and unattentive to your thoughts as you can.
5. Have a private chuckling session. Now, this one can be a little embarrassing at first but bear with me. Whenever you are alone, force yourself to laugh like a crazy person and let it all go. It is going to feel very weird but you’ll get used to it. Why should you do this? Well, if you’re not one to really let go and express yourself on a day to day basis then there’s a lot of welled up laughter in there waiting to be set free. One you practice doing this on your own, I guarantee you that you will start laughing genuinely far more. Laughter boosts endorphins and all your other happy hormones plus it tightens your stomach muscles. What’s not to like about that?
So, there lay your challenges. Should you want to attempt one or all of them, then that’s great and let us know how you get on. Happiness is the best gift to bring to someone but sometimes you need to bring it to yourself first to give you the energy to pay it forward.
A happy March to all of you!