by Maria Schulz
I’ve been reading a lot of articles lately that tell me how to be happier, increase my productivity, and achieve nirvana. I haven’t gotten there yet, and I’m no yogi on the mountain, but here are some of the things I’ve learned so far.
#10: Don’t expect to find everything you need to be happy in the pages of your self-help books. Yeah, I’ll admit it: I’m a sucker for these kinds of books. I love the titles and I fall for the promises on the back every time. But here’s my advice: you know what you need to make you happy. Self-help books offer lots of great tips, but one of the first things you must do is: trust yourself.#9: Turn off the TV and go outside. There’s a great big world out there just waiting for you to participate in it. Go breathe some fresh air and meet some real people. Don’t expect the world to come to you. Go find it!
#8: Thank someone selfless that you know…and while you’re at it, thank someone selfless that serves the greater good. Kiss your mother/father. If you’re lucky enough to still have them, you should know to do this. Now get to it. In the same vein, thank a teacher, nurse, doctor, fireman, policeman (you get the idea) for their hard work and devotion.
#7: Let go of petty grudges. I’m not talking about the horrible, unforgivable stuff. I mean this kind of thing: So-and-so told everyone I was a loser in the 10th grade and I’ll never forgive her. Little Johnny called me fat when I was 12 and I’ll hate him forever. Pardon me, but so what? That was then. Chances are that So-and-So and Little Johnny don’t remember this transgression and if they do, they probably realize they were idiots. Besides, doesn’t carrying around all that petty baggage weigh you down? Let it go, and lose 30 pounds of psychic fat.
#6: Get a dog. You will experience love and devotion unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before. Or, if you’re not ready for that level of intimacy, get a cat. (NOTE TO ALL OUTRAGED READERS: THAT WAS A JOKE! Lighten up people. I like cats).#5: Find your passion. By this, I don’t mean rob a bank or have an affair. I mean get a hobby! Cook, paint, write, ski, bike ride, WHATEVER. Have fun doing something that makes you feel as gleeful as you did when you were 10 years old.
#4: Volunteer. Find a charity or cause that you feel strongly about and work for them. Raise money, help at events, and spread the word. National charities like the Multiple Sclerosis Society, St. Jude Children’s Hospital, The Alzheimer’s Association and charities like The Lexiebean Foundation (I volunteer for this pediatric cancer foundation that helps children with cancer and their families) make it super easy for you to participate. The MS Society even has a program that lets you raise money by swimming laps–in your own pool! You could help others and lose weight. Win/win. This is the kind of program that you can follow to find creative ways to help lots of worthy charities. It’s always good to put your focus outside of yourself. Too much navel-gazing is never a good thing.#3: Read a book. You know what? Read a thousand books! If you don’t like the first one, move on. Ask for suggestions. Everyone has a favorite book and will be happy to give you lots of options. Open your mind, explore different opinions, and do your research. Ignorance is not something to be celebrated. #2: Verify your sources. In this polarized world we live in, it’s easy to get sucked into an information bubble where we only read news that supports our narrow belief system. Don’t get caught in that trap. Talk to other people and get their opinions. You may never agree with them, but you will also never understand them if you don’t do this. Learn to respect other people’s views. You will probably learn that you have more ideals, hopes, and dreams in common than you have differences. #1: Be present. Don’t spend your precious time hoping to one day be happy. Make today someday. Find the thing that makes you happy and welcome it into your life as often as possible. Put down that phone, tablet, remote control (or whatever distraction you’re currently focused on) and really look into your spouse’s/child’s/parents’/family member’s/friend’s/pet’s eyes and appreciate them, warts and all. Live in this moment. You’ll be happy you did.
Recipe:Here’s one more tip: include foods that make you happy every day! Here’s a fun article that lists 10 foods that will help boost your mood–including dark chocolate, oysters, clams, apricots, and more.
So, Hungry Lifers: what’s your favorite “happy” food? What tip would you give someone looking for happiness? What’s your favorite book? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks, and have a great day.