I’m a big advocate of the idea that little things make a big difference. People spend their lives trying to find the perfect mate, raise the perfect family, and get the perfect job in an effort to achieve happiness. But what I’m discovering is that happiness isn’t something that you can achieve so much as it is something you must create. The difference between people who are happy and those that aren’t has almost nothing to do with circumstances. It’s about attitude.
Here are five little things you can do today, starting right now, that will make you feel happier and breathe easier:
Love yourself. This is the catalyst for happiness, connection, and productivity. Tell yourself at least three reasons you are worthwhile, and work hard to banish doubt and feelings of inadequacy. Believe in yourself. If you’re having a hard time, post a status update on your social media account asking your friends to leave one thing they really appreciate about you in the comments. Train yourself to think positively and practice openness.
Smile at strangers. Social media, commercial airlines, the internet, and television have made the world more connected than it has ever been. Yet people have never been so disconnected. Every day we’re surrounded by hundreds of human beings with personalities, struggles, families, and dreams, but we all feel lonely. Reconnect with humanity. Smile at the strangers you see today. You’ll be surprised how good it feels to be smiled at when they return the favor. You’ll also have the satisfaction of knowing you helped them feel less disconnected.
Tell someone how much you care. Call a friend or send them an email, just to tell them you were thinking about them. Honestly tell them why you appreciate them. You don’t have to gush, just say something nice. You will have really done a kind deed for someone else, and you will feel reconnected and open.
Set an attainable goal and accomplish it now. Accomplishing something is a great feeling. Unfortunately, we tend to dream too big. Reaching a quarterly goal or getting a promotion or losing 20 pounds only happens once in a while, and a bigger accomplishment does not produce proportionate happiness. Set a more simple goal that you can accomplish more quickly. Clean the kitchen until it sparkles. Go for a 30 minute walk. Plan a surprise night out for your spouse and make the arrangements. Anything that would make you feel better about yourself but that you think isn’t worth the effort. This week, I learned to do a pull up.
Slow down and be grateful. Are the birds singing outside right now? Is the sun shining? Is your child doing something extra cute or sweet? Is your spouse happy about something? Can you hear someone laughing nearby? Stop what you’re doing and enjoy it. The world is a busy place that’s constantly on the move, but it will still be there in five minutes. Find a reason to be grateful. If you’re in a place where that’s difficult, take a pen and paper and write something down that you’re grateful for. Repeat until you feel better.
Of course, if all else fails, you can always just take a day to recharge.