My book The Happiness Project came out almost ten years ago—wow, that’s hard to believe.
One of the most important things I learned as part of doing that project, and an idea that I put into practice in my own life all the time, is that I can influence my happiness. Yes of course, sometimes terrible circumstances make it impossible for me to be happy, but it’s almost always possible to be happier, and often with just a few small steps, I can give myself a big boost.
I try to recognize the fact that I’m feeling blue (oddly, this is often easier said than done) and take action to lift my spirits.
Here are 30 things I do to make myself happier when I need an immediate boost:
- Do ten jumping jacks.
- Go outside and look at the sky.
- Pet my dog Barnaby. Then…
- Text a photo of Barnaby to my family.
- Re-read a few chapters of a children’s or YA book in a series I love: Graceling, Harry Potter, Narnia, Melendy Quartet, etc.
- Enjoy a beautiful smell.
- Do a small good deed for someone else.
- Clear some clutter (I can always find some).
- Look for a beautiful color in my surroundings.
- Call my sister Elizabeth.
- Take a minute to be grateful for some basic aspect of my life: elevators, space heaters, Wikipedia.
- Send a family update (to learn more about “update,” listen to episode 2 of the Happier podcast).
- Clean off my desk.
- Copy some quotations into my giant trove of quotations.
- Look at my TimeHop app.
- Make sure I’m not cold, hot, thirsty, hungry, need to go to the bathroom, or experiencing mild discomfort: in other words, treat myself like a toddler.
- Re-copy my to-do list, so it’s fresh and clean.
- Go to the library.
- Watch an episode of The Office (American version).
- Make the positive argument.
- Randomly read a few pages of Virginia Woolf’s A Writer’s Diary.
- Make myself a cup of coffee.
- Make a plan for some future fun: plan an outing, make a date with a friend, add a book to my library list.
- Re-read Winston Churchill’s eulogy for Neville Chamberlain.
- Tackle some small, nagging task that’s been weighing on my mind.
- Move with more energy, put a smile on my face. When I act happier, I’ll feel happier.
- Plan to go to bed early. I always feel better in the morning.
- Hug a member of my family (whoever’s available).
- Allow myself to do some quick research on a subject that has been fascinating me, but is unrelated to my work.
- Listen to Nina Simone sing “Feeling Good.”
It’s great to have a long menu of choices to consult. Of course, everyone’s list is a bit different. My husband’s list would include “Do a crossword puzzle,” for instance.
What’s on your list?