3 tips for a happier you THAT DON'T INVOLVE A GRATITUDE JOURNAL!
I’m a sucker for quick fixes and trust me; I’ve tried them all! I’m actually a huge fan of journaling and have seen its power manifest every time I’ve made a commitment to doing it, but the real problem is that I never commit for more than a few days. I could write an entire novel on the reasons I have commitment issues to literally everything, but I’ll save that for another time. Today, in this moment, I’m feeling really grateful and want to take full advantage of the emotion. Also, I really want everyone to know the joy I’m experiencing right now, so let’s get rolling!
Ok I know this one seems obvious, but I think it’s so obvious that it tends to be the one most people skip. It’s almost like we’ve grown so accustomed to expressing ourselves through texting, posting on social media and everywhere else that we’ve forgotten the power of a simple smile. Not only can smiling turn your day around, it can do wonders for those around you too.
We naturally smile when we are happy and that smile has the power to cheer up those around us, so is it possible that forcing a smile has the power to cheer up the person forcing it? The simple answer is yes. Also, the more complex answer is yes. THE ANSWER IS YES, so start smiling!
One study, done by a pair of professors at Georgetown Medical School, actually involved them injecting 74 volunteers who suffer from depression with Botox. The injections were done between their eyebrows, to literally prevent them from frowning! A handful of those patients were injected with a placebo, having no actual affect on their ability to frown, but when the study was complete, a whopping 52% of those injected with the real Botox showed a significant reduction in their depression. Of the placebo group, only 15 percent of the participants showed an improvement in their mood. Those forced to smile got happier!
I’m not telling you to go get injections in your face, because we’ve all seen how that can turn out (NOT NAMING NAMES), but what I am saying is that there is real power in your smile, so why not start using it? Smiling is contagious, so not only will you be doing yourself a favor, you’ll be improving the lives of those you come in contact with throughout the day. Basically, the world needs you to start smiling more! If the whole needle to the face thing doesn’t sound appealing to you, try self-deprecation. Tell yourself that all the things you are upset about in your life are actually great and smile while you do it. You’ll feel and look like a crazy person at first, but once you get over the initial shock of being happy about all the doom and gloom in your life, you’ll actually start viewing it all differently and the smiling will open you up to a new way forward, one you couldn’t see with your furrowed brow and the bad stuff will slowly but surely fade into that background.
2. GET MOVING
If you can get outside…DO IT! Nature has a way of reminding us of the magic in our daily lives and inspiring us to tap into our adventurous inner child. I remember spending entire days wandering my neighborhood as a kid, exploring every backyard, parking lot and wooded area within walking distance of my mom’s voice. We had to stay where we could hear her yell for us, but she had a pretty healthy set of lungs, so our exploratory zone was quite large.
As adults, we often forget about that curious side of our personalities that pushed us to explore and create and imagine. Luckily, that part of us never dies, but we do need to actively tap into it and heading outdoors is a great first step.
If you can’t get outside, try finding a way to get moving in your home or in a gym or wherever you can stretch your legs and increase that heart rate. More often than not, all you really need to do when you’re feeling stuck or stagnant is to physically get moving. Doing so will release mental blocks and allow you to see your current situation through a fresh set of eyes, which is never a bad thing and also a great opportunity to say thank you for the ability to move…not everyone is so lucky.
3. TALK TO A STRANGER
I know how lonely life can be, but I also know how important it is to connect with others. I’ve never felt “popular” or like people have been interested in getting to know me. From the outside, I might seem super confident and like the type of guy who has lots of friends, but that’s just not the case. I’ve always felt way more comfortable connecting with a complete stranger than putting myself out there in an attempt to befriend someone who hasn’t necessarily tried to be my friend.
Luckily, some pretty spectacular gifts can be found in conversations with those we know nothing about, because there is no expectation placed on either party. The only requirement is that each of you listen and that each of you share something. We spend countless hours reading articles and watching news stories about people’s personal stories, so why not collect that information from the people we actually come in contact with in our daily lives?
I believe firmly that our lives are like a giant puzzle and it’s our purpose in life to collect as many puzzle pieces as possible in order to complete our individual puzzle. Those pieces come to us in the form of experiences and conversations and first loves and heartbreaks, but each helps paint a picture of a full, vibrant life. We aren’t born with the pieces we need. Instead, we must collect them over a lifetime from the people and places that are holding them for safekeeping.
The true beauty is that this grand puzzle piece exchange is just that…an exchange, meaning that it goes both ways. So, if you’re like me and tend to put others first but have a hard time finding motivation to do good for yourself, consider how deeply the world needs the pieces you’re gripping tightly in your soul, keeping from those seeking to complete their puzzle. People around the globe need gifts that only YOU can give them and will never live the life they were created to live, if you’re not willing to put yourself out there and meet someone new.
So today, I challenge you to try at least one of these simple approaches to bringing out the happiest you that you can muster. You’re allowed to try all three, but no pressure, unless you want to be REALLY happy! Regardless of whether you just start smiling more or go for an extended walk or strike up a conversation with a stranger, I promise you’ll feel a little warmer inside and your puzzle will look a little more complete at the end of the day. After all, strangers are really nothing more than friends waiting to be discovered. Just to be safe though, if you decide to go on a walk with a stranger, do it in public, bring your phone and let someone know where you’ll be…because, well, common sense.
Also, I’m happier at this very moment than I was when I starting writing this blog, but just realized that this post is basically an entry into a gratitude journal…DAMMIT! Oh well, I really enjoy writing and my puzzle is a little more complete than it was an hour ago, which makes me HAPPY.