Sunday, August 16, 2015

100 Things to Make You a Little Happier, Part 7

I'm not sure how I haven't blogged in 11 days. It feels like 3, maybe 4 days since the last segment was posted. But I guess in working and writing every day time is lost a bit. As the summer wanes I can't help but to feel a little bummed, a little rudderless. But the days are long and gorgeous, and the beauty of the fall is upon us. Once again, here are ten things that I think can contribute to your overall happiness. Give one a try, or more if you are feeling imbued with that late August ambition. As always, let me know what sparked a change in you, and share with a person who needs it.

61. Send clever and interesting texts- In an age where letters and even casual e-mails are becoming more and more obsolete, text messages have become our mode of communication between loved ones, friends, and love interests. Now everyone loves to receive a funny, well-thought out text, a text that makes you smile in public and forget that the rest of the world around you is not on pause. So if you want to get a great text, try sending one.

62. Enjoy the way the earth expresses itself- Though it is sometimes cumbersome, take time to appreciate the rain, take time to hear the thunder and witness the lightning. Feel the sun and be thankful for the beauty of the snow. No one wants to hear about how hot it is or how cold you are. Just appreciate and enjoy the water that makes things bloom and the heat that keeps other things alive.

63. Try again- This sounds like the easiest thing in the world, maybe the most obvious. But we don't do it. We ask someone out, get shot down, and never try again. We apply for a job, don't get an interview and never try again. Find what you want, search for what you missed and try again. You might fail again. But you'll never know if you don't ever try again.

64. Be a "reacher outter"- We all have people we wished we kept in better contact with. Sometimes life happens and you lose touch, or an old fight lingers in the unspoken words and the great distance. But who cares? Be the bigger person and pick up your phone. Maybe the ball is in their court. But that is but a prideful observation. Kindness and humanity is not predicated on the precise laws of taking turns. Reach out to those you miss and those you still care about, even if they should be the ones to do so.

65. Declutter your life- Maybe this means you need to delete about 3,000 e-mails. Or maybe under your bed needs some attending to. Or maybe it's more your mind; the messy corridors and dusty alleyways of your stressed out brain. Either way it is hard to progress, and hard to find inspiration when there is so much other clutter to deal with. Clean up.

66. Study yourself- Michel de Montaigne once said, "I study myself more than any other subject. That is my physics. That is my metaphysics." It is hard to improve on your life and be happier if you don't know yourself all that well. Evaluate yourself. Learn about your weaknesses, learn about the way your mind works, study your limitations and breaking points. It is the only true way to progress.

67. Improve someone else's situation- Your life might seem doleful and without direction at times, or maybe most of the time. But that doesn't mean all the focus should be on your sad situation. Look at those in your path, look at those who need a little extra help. If you can make someone else's load lighter, yours will certainly be lessened as well.

68. Be uncharacteristically confident- Just try it. Have the mindset that you can do magnificent and outlandish things. Don't think of the potential failure or the probability of rejection. Spread your plumage and know that you are awesome. Don't worry what any schmuck out there thinks. Be confident with your body, with your mind, and with yourself.

69. Try something new at restaurants- Stop ordering the same safe plate everywhere you go. How can you find a new favorite dish if you get the same assortment of food every time? Trying new things is important and it is crazy how trying new things in such a trivial place as a diner or bistro can help you try new scary things in any situation in your life.

70. Don't send nudies- Come on. You know who you are. Stop. Remember pleasure and happiness are not the same things.

Okay, another list. If you liked some things, don't horde them for yourself. Share them with a co-worker or someone who is having a blue week.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

100 Things to Make You a Little Happier, Part 6

In my haste to finish my next book my blogging has taken a backseat at times. But I return. Happiness must be had, and it must be accounted for. Once again I will admit I am no doctor of felicity, but I know some things have worked for me. And I hope one or two of them can work for you in hours of unrest.

51. Read poetry every once and a while- You don't have to be deeply sentimental or own jaunty hats to read poetry. I myself prefer prose, but sometimes poetry can reveal things that novels and online articles cannot. If you think you don't like poetry ask yourself, do you enjoy music?

52. Be prolific- You only have one life to accomplish things, so with this limited parcel of time, why not be prolific? If you are a painter, paint every waking day. If you are a mother, work tirelessly to let your legacy of goodness carry on through your kids. You can be prolific in wherever your talents or passions fall. If you are a cobbler, a writer, a saxophonist, or a dancer cobble, write, sax, and dance your life away. Don't let distractions and laziness stop you from doing what makes you happy.

53. Sit in a hot tub with people you care about- There is something about sitting in hot water that makes people open up and share. It's like group therapy. So whether you love how you look in swimwear or not, get in a jacuzzi or visit some hot springs with people that make you smile.

54. Give people a chance- Just like books, people's insides can greatly surprise you. The hard part is getting past the exterior that can be a misleading indicator or character and compassion. Some people when you first meet them just suck. They are rude and unintelligent. They are harsh and inappropriate. But give them a chance. Just because certain people wear their flaws on their sleeve does not make them any worse than you are.

55. Be frighteningly blunt with people- This doesn't mean be hurtful. This means be open and honest with people. If someone offends you, don't scrunch your face and brew for days with angry feelings. Open your mouth and tell someone they are out of line. If you like someone, tell them. People love to hear that. Some people aren't ready for brutal honesty. But it is better than tip toeing around things your whole life. This will leave your toes very sore and disfigured.

56. Discover new music- We all have our timeless favorites that will never get old. But sometimes it is healthy and exciting to branch out and listen to bands we have never heard of. We should listen to music from various decades, from myriad genres, and from obscure locations. There is something romantic and charged about finding a new artist that we love. So scour Spotify, search through Pandora, and try new stuff.

57. Chill out in traffic- I never understood why people get so angry behind the wheel. Everyone thinks they are superb drivers, and that everyone else on the asphalt is unskilled and moronic. But we all read texts at red lights and forget to hit the gas right when it turns green. We all drive like idiots when we are late and think speeding will make up for leaving the house 20 minutes late. The truth is most of the time an idiot in front of you will not effect your time of arrival that dramatically. So chill out. Be calm, and let others merge.

58. Relax about politics already- If you happen to be an informed individual, one privately educated on the nuances of politics, kudos. We are all proud of you and your elevated state of mind and understanding of things. Just don't rant off things you heard on a talk radio or television show assuming you now are the master of state doctrine and that all others are blessed to hear your opinions. Remember the words of Thomas Jefferson, "We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists."

59. Find time to do things that make you happy- Of course most adults that have not been endowed with an enormous inheritance have to work to provide for ourselves. So much of our lives are spent working to keep the lights on, raising children, and sleeping. But don't let a busy life stop you from making time for the little things that bring you joy. If you love acro-yoga, if you yearn for softball nights under the lights, or if you just want to do watercolor paintings, then find time. Cross-stitch, jog, read, bungee fun things. Make time.

60. Learn everyday- Part of depression and sadness comes from a life that feels stagnant, an existence of complacency. The best way to combat these feelings is to continually learn. Read, read, read. And when you are done reading, listen to podcasts. Surf Wikipedia before bed, ask people about their occupations that you never really understood. You don't have to get a PHD or read every news article on your Twitter feed, just make sure every day that you live you are learning.

Again it seems my little suggestions into the foray of happiness may appear like advice from a tired old man at the supper table. But if it works, and happiness is found, then that is a win for us all. Please share with someone that could use a reminder on how to be happier. And comment on the ones that have worked for you.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

100 Things to Make You a Little Happier, Part 5

We are half way through. In this and the previous four posts I have mentioned 50 things that if nothing else should contribute to your happiness a little bit. Again, this is not an obvious solution to an easy problem, nor is it a comprehensive list. Happiness can be found in road trips, Oreos, long talks, and in self-help. It can be found in the cold hours of the night, and in the fresh minutes of victory. Happiness is ubiquitous, but it is also a choice. Once again, here are some things that help me feel happier and more fulfilled as a human person.

41. Write down your ideas- People complain about forgetting their ideas, or having other people "steal" their ideas. No one stole your idea. They just had a similar idea, but acted on it. Your day is full of moments that will remind and inspire you, so pick up a pen and jot them down before these moments leave you forever like a betrayed lover. And forget not the fine words of William Thackery who said, "There are thousands of thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up the pen and writes."

42. Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?-I think people are so obsessed with being right, with winning an argument, with holding the gauntlet of "I told you so" glory, that they forget how useless it is to be right if being right severed a relationship, or put a wedge between you and someone you care deeply for. Everyone would rather be correct, but realize that being right all the time will only ostracize those around you.

43. Reconnect sometimes- Some things will always remain in the past; old friendships, childhood homes, the place you had your first kiss. But sometimes ignoring the past only disrupts your future from effectively progressing. Seeing old friends, visiting avenues of yesterday can be a nostalgiac and highly cathartic thing. So, reach out to people you used to talk to every day. Visit cities that once brought you great joy, and watch a movie that reminds you of your Grandfather and his life-wielding laugh.

44. Move quickly, but stop rushing- Life is insanely busy, and this is good. It is good to have a lot on our plates with little time for idleness. A wise man in a suit once told me, "Be so busy that you don't have time to be tempted." But in all this hustle and quest for efficiency I worry about missing the big picture. I don't want to be in such a hurry to go to work that I don't notice the snow freshly painted on the mountains as I walk to my car. I don't want to be so rushed in jumping from one appointment to another that I leave a conversation that was approaching greatness. Be swift in the good race of life, but take your time, notice and appreciate.

45.  Wear skinny jeans- It's 2015.

46. Rid your life of envy- This seems like an obvious piece of advice if you want to be happy. But far too many of us waste negative energy on envying that of another, in hopelessly wishing we were more like someone else. Who cares if someone is in better shape than you, or if their car works every time they start it. Life is about you, and the people you touch. How can you be happy if you are constantly comparing yourself to other people, and fretting that you aren't measuring up?

47. Be kind to people making minimum wage- Most of us at some point in our lives have had a job that pays us almost nothing and is incredibly unpleasant. Yet, when out in the public, engaging with fast food workers, and novice employees we seem to be completely bereft of patience and compassion. Take an extra minute and ask the grumpy worker at Taco Bell how their day has been. Compliment the K-Mart worker on their trendy keds. Be kind. It is so easy.

48. Find a favorite author- Find an author that makes you understand life better, one that makes you want to drive across the country to see the house they grew up in. In doing so, read everything that they have ever published. Not only is it fun, but it is a much more productive obsession than a lot of things. And if you are reading more, that is great. Everyone should read more. I recently read that the average American worker reads less than one book per year, while the average American CEO reads 60 books a year. Think about it.

49. Surround yourself with winners- If you want to win, you have to be around people that have unrealistic dreams, people that have the loftiest goals on the planet. You will not be interested in mediocrity if you are surrounded by people that are dominating their craft and winning nonstop. If you need to get new friends, do it. There is no dearth of people on this earth that are magnificent champions. Find them.

50. Realize that people trump geography- I love cool places as much if not more than the next person. I want to be where history echoes off the walls, and art from centuries past smacks me in the face. I want to go do cool stuff all the time. But far too often I hear people complaining that where they are or what they are doing isn't fun enough, or isn't that epic. To me it seems insulting to those people they are with. Worry less about what you are doing, but who you are with. I would rather be in Reno, Nevada with my best friends, then the beaches of Bali with a negative complaining sucker of fun. Do epic things, but remember, people trump geography.

Once again, be a lamb and share this with someone who might struggle to be happy. Happy can be hard. So if you are lucky enough to feel it, and feel it often, share it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

100 Things to Make You a Little Happier, Part 4

As I continue this foray of discovery into the world of happiness I find myself lost at moments. What really makes happiness endure? How can some people be so happy with so little effort? And how can others struggle their whole lives for a few moments of bliss? As the band Our Lady Peace said, "Happiness is not a fish you can catch." But maybe it isn't about holding the fish in your hand, maybe it is about the beautiful swim in the endless blue.

This list continues. Please comment on what makes you happy. Maybe nothing on the list really works for you, if so, what does?

31. Practice mindfulness- No matter your religious persuasion, you should take a page from the Buddhists every once and a while. Mindfulness is an important principle of observing and awareness of the things around you. It sounds overly zen and rather obvious. But I would look into it.

32. Meet odd people- Odd people are a special bunch. Their oddities range from silly hats to cult-like personalities. But spending time with people that you deem to be odd can be of great value. They bring to the table things that never cross your mind, and they remind you of the weirdness that you hide inside.

33. Take epic selfies- If you have to take selfies, (and you probably do) take them in awesome places, doing epic things. If your activities are going to be so overrun by the presence of your cellphones, you might as well seek to do cooler things that get you more likes. I am thinking less mirror selfies, and more selfies on elephants, more selfies with people you love exploring places that scare and excite you. In fact, get a selfie stick while you are at it.

34. Be more vulnerable- People are attracted to vulnerability. Let go of the ugly past and the things that have hurt you. Maybe write them down, and look not again upon their nasty memory. You deserve to be happy, and being vulnerable, and open to life and love is part of that. Being hurt sucks, but missing out on something because your doors are sealed shut is even worse.

35. Judge people less- Good luck in living a life without ever judging another person. Unfortunately it is kind of a knee-jerk reaction we have sometimes to meeting someone or hearing about another's way of life. Though we might be right in our hurtful assumptions, what good does it do? All it does is unfairly elevate ourselves, inflating our heads in the process. And an inflated melon is not the way to felicity. Take a few steps back and realize that you have no right to judge, and probably very little knowledge of what journey people are actually on.

36. Accept compliments- A good friend of mine taught me this one. Our culture has spread this false idea that compliments should be lightly refuted upon receiving. Instead of saying thank you, or reciprocating with an equally genuine retort, we often shake our heads and insist that "It was no big deal" or that "It's not that impressive." Sure humility seems to be the culprit, but insecurity is also a perpetrator. Realize that sometimes it takes great courage for someone to tell you something great about yourself. Don't negate their act of kindness with needless self-deprecation. That is no way to perpetuate happiness.

37. Screw orthodoxy- Many people are unhappy because a great portion of the world is telling them to live in a very certain way. You must do what you feel is true and wonderful, and it must be in your own way. Screw the notion that things must be done in a precise way. Break the box, destroy the mold, and be you.

38. Meditate in some form- No matter your religious loyalties or beliefs, find time to meditate. It doesn't have to be sitting down on a mat with Enya playing in the background and incense burning throughout the room. It can just be a brief walk through the woods, or a moment of solemn prayer. It could be with others or all by yourself and your favorite Spotify playlist. Just remember a cluttered mind is not a happy mind.

39. Try things that you used to make fun of- Maybe it's Tinder. Maybe it's Crossfit. Or perhaps it is snow-shoeing. Whatever it is, give it a try once. You might meet some splendid people, and you might even enjoy it. If nothing else, you will homologate your original beliefs, and you won't think twice about it again.

40. Don't think or speak in absolutes- This goes a bit hand in hand with #39. If we think or speak in such absolute and definitive tones we are really limiting ourselves. People change, and the world changes. Be open to new ideas and new ways of approaching life. If you must be firm and absolute in a few things that is okay. Be absolute in your faith, in your love, and in your drive. But don't build a dam where water should run free.

As per usual, please let me know which ones you liked, and what it is that brings you happiness. Stay tuned for the fifth segment in a few days. Cheers.