Is Happiness just something you choose to have or not have?
Contrary to popular belief, happiness is not simply a choice. Rather, happiness is a wellness practice, like exercise or eating well. Engaging in activities designed to increase your happiness levels takes intention and small blocks of time. I call these activities “happiness tools” that you can learn and keep in your toolbox to pull out when you need them. But take heart… feeling happier doesn’t have to be complicated or take huge chunks of time!
Exercise your happiness muscle with these Happiness Tools!
1. Bookmark Happiness
To bookmark happiness, take a moment as you’re enjoying something to notice that you’re enjoying it. Take it in. Savor it. It helps you enjoy the moment more as it’s happening, and it helps you return to the feeling you had in that moment – just as a bookmark helps you find your place in a book.
2. Go Outside
You might go outside and look up at the sky or the trees. Give yourself a minute of deep breathing as you do it. Or sit outside and read a book, have a cup of tea, or just be for a bit. Research shows that going outside has both mental and physical health benefits including improving one’s mood and lowering stress, heart rate, and blood pressure.
3. Keep a Ta Da! List
When we cross items off our to do list, it negates the accomplishment rather than celebrating it. While crossing things off can help us feel less overwhelmed with all we have to do, it doesn’t give us a way of tracking what we’ve done. Create a Ta Da! list where you can write things down as you complete them, so you can celebrate all that you have accomplished. Looking back at all you’ve done in a day or a week helps you celebrate what you’ve done and see a record of how you’ve been spending your time.
4. Create a Playlist of Happy Songs
For a go-to mood booster and anxiety reducer, make a playlist at least 25 minutes long filled with upbeat, happy songs. For a bonus happiness boost, sing or dance along. Spotify is a super easy app to use for making playlists.
5. Write Process Pages
Sit down with a notebook and write down what’s stressing you out. The process of writing by hand will help take what’s spinning around in your head and straighten it out. It also gets things onto paper so you don’t have to carry them around in your head. You can use process pages as a morning practice to start out your day. Or during the day, if you notice yourself getting anxious or stressed out, take 10 – 15 minutes to write and process what’s going on:
- What is it you’re worried about?
- Is it true?
- What could you do?
- What can you let go?
6. Exercise for 10 Minutes
Walk around the block, do a yoga video, or pull out your happy song playlist and dance along. Researchers at the University of Michigan found that as few as ten minutes of physical activity per week can make a “significant difference” in a person’s mood.
7. Create a Compliments Folder
Anytime you get a positive message—a thank you, email, text, evaluation, or letter— collect it in a compliments folder so you have a a go-to place to be reminded of your awesomeness when you need a happiness boost. You might have a paper folder or box for printed cards, evaluations, notes, or other compliments you receive in a physical form. Or scan them and save on your computer, and also include screen shots of nice things people say about you or to you on social media, by email, or anywhere else.
Just as with any tool, you can pull out each of these as needed. You may decide to keep a Ta Da! list sheet next to you at your desk, schedule time outside or for exercise, or notice when you need a break and put on your happy playlist or write some process pages. The quickest and easiest of all of these is to remember to stop and bookmark happiness as you feel it. Take it in. You might even say to yourself, “I feel happy right now because…” and then revisit all those happy feelings that you bookmarked whenever you need a boost.
About Sonya Fehér
Sonya Fehér is a professional organizer and happiness coach in Austin, Texas. She founded spaceWise Organizing in 2010 where she specializes in working with women, families, creatives, and small business owners. Her focus, whether on physical or emotional decluttering, is helping people to keep what serves them and let go of the rest. In October 2020, she’s offering two workshops via Zoom on “Home Organizing for Families” and “Stress & Anxiety Management,” and “Organized Meal Planning” through her Calm Space, Calm Mind lunchtime workshop series. Registration is open now. Sonya is the author of Space for Gratitude: The 6-Minute Journal for Increased Happiness, Gratitude, & Self-Understanding and facilitates the group Women Learning How to Be Happy(er) on Facebook.
A Note from Rachel Zierzow
It makes me so HAPPY to include this post by Sonya Fehér. Sonya and I share a love for cooking and creating balance in our lives through healthy eating and living. We met at a plant-based cooking class I was teaching last year and we soon found out how much we had in common. I hope you’ll take a look at the links in her bio, including her free Facebook page for women seeking happiness (great place for daily inspiration!), her fall workshops, and her amazing home organizing business, spaceWise organizing.