Published on May 18th, 2020 | by Nancy F. Clark0
How To Become A Little Happier In Difficult Times
By Nancy F. Clark–
When you’re faced with an obstacle, even one as serious as we’re facing now, instead of thinking about how things could get worse, think of what positive steps you can take to increase your happiness level.
1) Positive Post-Its
I’ll be giving you 12 steps to help you feel happier and more positive. Reinforce these steps by posting reminders to take action. Place them where you’ll be sure to notice.
2) Do A Quick Switch
When a negative thought enters your head, don’t try to suppress it. That’s not good for your body. Instead, acknowledge the thought, peacefully send it on its way, and then switch to a positive thought.
3) Let Nature Calm You
If you’re in an office, go to a window where you can gaze at the clouds and sky. If possible, take time to walk outdoors observing nature.
4) A Special Break
Put an appointment on your calendar when you think you’ll need to take a break. Treat it seriously—because you need it. Plan to use this break to read something you’ll enjoy.
5) Love That Photo!
No matter where you are, look around. Can you find something positive to photograph? Someone in your office making a funny face? A cloud that looks like a dolphin? Your coffee and a snack? Then send a copy to a friend.
6) Emotional Well-Being Breathing
Decide you’ll take 3 minutes to sit quietly wherever you are and observe the moment. Mindfulness can quickly turn things around. Concentrate on your breath. Breathe in slowly for 3 seconds, hold it for 1 second, then exhale slowly for a count of 5. Visualize each exhale removing tension and stress from your body.
7) Find Something Funny
Laughing has been shown to reduce stress. Get those cortisol levels down. That’s the reason I keep a Gary Larson cartoon book near my desk. When we crack a smile—a genuine eye crinkle that researchers call a “Duchenne smile”—our cardiovascular system calms. Laughing takes it one step further partly because it forces us to exhale. Slowly exhaling lowers our heart rate and induces feelings of calm.
8) Cut That Stress Hormone Cortisol In Half
If you laughed at a cartoon, you’ve started on the right track. Dr. Loretta Breuning says cortisol has a half life of 20 minutes, which means your body eliminates it shortly as long as you don’t trigger more. Instead of looking for more things that will trigger your cortisol, distract yourself with something fun for 20 minutes. Half of your cortisol will be gone, and in 40 minutes you’ll have metabolized 75% of it. Try an activity that absorbs your brain in a pleasant way. Perhaps a hobby or music will be perfect for you.
9) Savoring Sense & Sensibility
Psychologist Fred Bryant is an expert on savoring. To increase your happiness he suggests you conduct a savoring adventure. It can be anything—even a walk or a meal. Then do 3 things:
- Beforehand, anticipate how wonderful it will be.
- During your savoring adventure, focus using all 5 senses.
- Afterward, look back on the event, express your emotions and share the experience with someone.
10) Start Random Acts Of Kindness
Professor Sonja Lyubomirsky of the University of California has extensively researched happiness. One thing she recommends is making a habit of doing small acts of kindness. I like the idea of giving it a focus, “If it’s Monday or Friday, I’ll look for special acts of kindness I can do.” This could be sending a nice message or small gift to someone. Often, others are inspired to do the same, and are paying it forward. Of course, don’t stop doing kind things on other days.
11) Take Csikszentmihalyi’s Advice
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi says flow is the secret to happiness. Do an activity that truly engages you. I call these “flow activities” which you find absorbing. You know you’re in flow when you lose track of time. It’s usually something that is a bit of a challenge, but not overwhelming.
12) Thank You!
Right now think of 5 things you’re grateful for. When I was researching positive psychology for my book, I discovered that if you write by hand, rather than type, it’s stored better in your brain. It stimulates a part of the brain called the Reticular Activating System, or the RAS. If you’re a high-achiever, you can write, type, and also voice-memo your gratitudes. Way to go high achievers!
See how many of these ideas you can squeeze into your day. Each time you add one, appreciate how your happiness level increases. Share these ideas with your friends who are feeling anxious.