AKA: Things to do every day to reclaim your sanity, boost your mood and actually be happy with life… and just maybe yourself, too.
The moment I stepped outside my apartment building into the first 60 degree day all winter, the tears struck me. A rush of gratitude rushed over me as I breathed in the winter-free air, gazing up at the clear blue sky and into the beckoning, shining sun. It was in that moment that I knew that I really require sunshine and warmth in my life–physically–as much as possible.
Lately, with my own case of the winter blues in full swing but a strong awareness that they are there, the topic of happiness has been a big one. And this last week, it became abundantly clear what I require every day if not every other day or so. At first, I was just trying to do a couple of them each day, and it did feel better. But then, as happiness became a more common topic of discussion in the experiences around me… Some things started falling into place. Specifically, seven things that are required for me to feel sane, happy and content with everything around me.
I like to call them the 7 S’s of Sanity, or the 7 S’s of Happiness… Take your pick at what you like, and make whatever adjustments you feel necessary. And here they are!
Sunshine. The gratitude that struck me was so strong this week about the sun being out, that I feel like this has to be first due to the season I’m currently stuck in. It doesn’t necessarily have to be sunny, but getting outside to where the sunshine can be. To allow the atmosphere around earth to hit my face, uninhibited by buildings and walls. I need to look at the sky, and it needs to look back at me. Fresh air is a tonic for most everything, and sunshine is the best kind of icing for it.
Sweat. This is another biggie… Sweating, or moving in a way that my whole body is engaged. To let my mind and emotions run their course as I pound whatever exercise or movement I choose to do. Moving is healthy and therapeutic on so many levels, and practically a necessity as a human being. You know, the boost of endorphins to keep you happy?
“Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.
Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands…. They just don’t.”
– Elle, Legally Blonde
Sleep. This one is monumental for me right now, since it feels like my body and energy field is processing so much. I have one of those bodies that if it doesn’t get 8 hours of sleep, it struggles the next day. I envy people who can get by on 4-6 hours of sleep; I’m not one of them. I have to make my sleep a priority if I want to be a functioning adult, let alone a happy one. Plus, I like dreams and recalling them the next morning for my dream diary to dissect the messages my subconscious may have for me. And if I don’t get the full 8 hours, then I will do whatever I can to take a nap. Sometimes I even nap at 8 or 9 at night, then stay up a little later if I know I don’t have to be somewhere early in the morning.
Spend time with Someone (soul connection). I had to put this in there somewhere… Meeting with, chatting with, or connecting with another human being is also essential. Relationship building, spending time with someone other than myself–even if it’s just a phone call, a long text exchange or, better yet, if I actually get to meet up with someone. Hugs to be had! While I pride myself on being good by on my own, relationships are the icing of life. We are here to be interactive creatures. We thrive on community–so it’s important to connect with others. At first, I called this S “soul connection,” because that’s what I wanted it to stand for. Not just a shallow conversation, but a chance to actually talk to someone about something more than just idle chit chat. That’s the time that matters most with people, to understand more about who they are, and for me to try and be vulnerable enough to let them see me too.
Smile! This one is so simple–but it’s so easy to do. At least three of my starred profiles on Facebook to appear at the top of my feed are my favorite comics and funny video makers, just because having that boost can make a day a little brighter. I love finding the silliness in a situation, talking with a funny friend (like making faces with my grandpa over FaceTime). Smiling even if it’s at nothing triggers something in our brains and muscles, that naturally enhances our mood. Always find a chance to smile. Cheers to always smiling.
Spiritual study. This can look however you want it. To me, it looks like carving time out of my day to meditate, saying a prayer or stopping to say thank you for something minuscule, noting my gratitudes, doing a quick daily reading for myself with my tarot or oracle cards, watching a video or listening to a podcast from Bashar, Teal Swan and other inspirational thought leaders, reading something that brings me more awareness of my experience in this life… To others, this may look like church or religious services. It can be whatever you want it to be, as everyone has their own beliefs. Respect.
And, finally… Service. It’s the best to find a way that I can help someone make their day better. This can be as small as opening a door for someone, helping a mom with her baby carriage down the subway stairs, taking a friend a care kit when they are sick, writing a letter to my sponsored child in the Dominican Republic… To the things like volunteering in your community, to whatever organization that resonates with you. For a while I read to first graders, and had a ten-year-old pen pal, and I wouldn’t change that time for anything. For some, especially in this current environment, this could be protesting, marching for a change, and making sure to reach out to delegates who can make a better difference in this world if they listen to the words of those they represent. There are so many ways to be of service of your fellow man, and guess what? It feels dang good to give back however you can. It’s not all about you.
Now, I told you it was seven… but I have eight S’s… That’s only because this eighth S may only apply to some people depending on their comfortability with their own abilities. It’s a bonus S. ;)
Sing! Singing actually is proven to help improve your health and mood. It’s hard for me to go a day without singing in general, as I sing just walking down the street. But, actually taking a minute to sing a song that means a lot to me, or expresses an emotion I’m currently feeling, is a great way for me to raise my mood.
At the end of it all, only you are responsible for your happiness. No one else can give it to you. It’s something you must discover for yourself. It’s within you, it’s just a matter of finding it, letting it out and cultivating it as much as possible (through things that I’ve listed here or something else that tickles your toes). While happiness is a choice, but it’s also a blessing. Once you choose happiness, it will choose you back.