Monday, August 31, 2015

100 Things to Make You a Little Happier, Part 8

I originally thought I would pound out this ten part series in 20-30 days. A new post every few days right? But it turns out it was more difficult than I thought. Happiness is about so many different things, but to find things that apply to everyone has proved hard. But I have found ten more. Please share with others who are perhaps downtrodden or currently in a state of being bummed. And if you haven't had the chance, go read the first 7 segments, for we are nearing the end.

71. Quit saying "That's just the way I am."- This is a most tired excuse that people use when trying to rationalize their way of living. Maybe it's being lazy, or not understanding technology, or struggling with relationships or honesty. Maybe that's how you were. But how you currently are is a choice, and the past has no baring on the future unless you have decided that you cannot change.

72. Veer a bit from your daily habits- Some habits are good, but if you examine your days you will likely find that you do a lot of stuff out of sheer routine, and you will probably find that much of your habitual day is not conducive for change and betterment. So look at your day. Do you always sleep in? Do you always watch Netflix before bed? Do you always text people first thing in the morning? Maybe these aren't bad things, but try something new for a day. Abandon your mindless rituals for a day and see how you feel.

73. Try a full week without television (Okay maybe just a day to start with)- Maybe you are already too busy and intellectually elevated to watch TV on a regular basis. But for most people it is a regular part of each day. The fact that most people watch their TV these days on their phone, or on Netflix of Hulu does not change the fact that you are watching TV everyday. I myself love TV. I am usually ensnared in several vital TV series, and then I have my old standbys. But I am going to experiment on the benefits of a week without it. We will see if I last a full week, but I am confident I will read more, accomplish more, and probably sleep more. For me, these three things equate to greater happiness.

74. Refuse to be discouraged by your past- We all have storied pasts. Whether yours includes awful misdeeds or simply a long road of heartache, don't let it discourage you. Yesterdays have a way of haunting us. They tap us on the shoulder and remind us that we suck, or that we have made terrible mistakes. But nothing can alter the past. So smile at the notion of 20,000 tomorrows instead of frowning from misused yesterdays.

75. Don't rage text- Since people can text so fast without having to look the other person in the eye it is easy to thoughtlessly send hurtful texts that you will regret. Use the space that text provides to think of rational responses and altruistic solutions. Some people are good at biting their tongue in person, but via text message fiery darts are hurled quickly and mercilessly. So take a breath, don't worry about responding instantly. Maybe take 5. Maybe go get some groceries, and then respond with a cooler head.

76. Go for the occasional jog- At many and most times in my life I have found jogging to be an abhorrent use of my time. Who is chasing me? Who is timing me? What is the point? But I have at sundry times found that nothing clears the head better, or mixes around the endorphins better than a little yog around the neighborhood. I am not telling you to go buy expensive running shoes and snug shorts, but from time to time take in some fresh air and let your moving legs and swaying arms declutter your brain.

77. Be economic with your time- People are so stingy with their money and their material items, yet are often grossly liberal with how they spend their time. If you are at a party and aren't having fun, leave. If you are watching a movie that blows, turn it off or leave the theater. Our time is so very limited. Don't waste time because you are bored or worried about what others will think. The irreverent author Charles Bukowski said, "People are strange. They are constantly angered by trivial things, but on a major matter like totally wasting their lives, they hardly seem to notice."

78. Actually work on your bucket list- If you have made the first great step of creating a bucket list, good for you. But the sad reality is most people make this sort of list with little plans to cross anything off until they are retired and sipping flavorful drinks on powdery beaches. Don't wait until you are 76 and tired and have pancreatic cancer to do the things you want. Make goals and accomplish them as soon as you can. If they aren't that important, don't write them down at all.

79. Notice the happy people around you- Ugh, sometimes it is so bloody hard to be happy. But all you need do it look around you. Look at the fresh smiles unfurled on passing strangers. Appreciate loving comments and friendly reunions that you overhear. Sit back and realize that these people aren't any different from you. If they can be happy, so can you.

80. Don't frantically concern yourself with the next chapter of life- Oh it is far too easy to be bummed as a teenager because you aren't 18 yet. But oh how most adults would give several fingers to be 15 again. And the single, the single so desire to be married and in love they don't enjoy their freedom, their years of unmatched solitude. Stop waiting for your better job, your next vacation, or your next stage of life. The past will always seem woefully unattainable, and the future will seem like it can't arrive quick enough. Just enjoy your current stage. Work for the next, yes. But enjoy, and don't fret about being off your life's schedule.

As always, who knows if I am right. Who knows if any of these things will help you in any capacity. All I know is they have helped me. So if any one thing has resonated with you, let me know, and more importantly let others know by sharing this post.

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.