Friday, February 27, 2009

Push Your Way Past a Bad Mood.

The Grumpiest Cat Alive by jonnykeelty

We’ve all been there, those times when nothing is going right and troubles and misery keep adding up day after day. Bills are piling up, work is a chore, your daily schedule is overflowing and your dog just died. These are the times when a bad mood begins to progress into depression if you don’t take action.

So what do you do? The regular routines don’t work. You find your gardening dull, TV a bore, reading is an effort and everyday activities seem to take more work than their worth.

Now is the time to push yourself. You have to get moving even when you don’t feel like it. Sitting around thinking about your difficulties only focuses your mind on the problem, not the solution. In order to get out of this funk and start enjoying life again, you have to take action.

The good news is you don’t have to actually tackle your problem right now. You don’t have to finish every to-do item, or complete all your tasks at work, or pay off your entire credit card debt. Instead you need to do something productive, that you can control and that makes you feel happier and more energetic.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Exercise.Don’t feel like exercising?Do it anyway.Even moving around for 10-15 minutes will get your heart pumping and send those all-important endorphins to your brain.Take a walk, dance, kick the soccer ball around or hit a punching bag.Just get moving.
  • Talk it out.Tell a friend or coworker that you’re not feeling yourself lately.Talk about books, movies, or TV shows you have in common.Just communicating, even if it’s about nothing at all will help you feel more connected to people and ease your loneliness.
  • Do something nice.For some reason when you share a smile they tend to multiply.Bring in donuts for the office, or buy a funny card for a friend.Compliment someone’s outfit, help out with a problem, or post a joke on the bulletin board.Doing good feels good and will boost your happiness by at least one level.
  • Speak positively.Sometimes we feel bad because our talk is negative.We talk about our problems, our dislikes, our annoyances and irritations.These constant reminders of our difficulties only serve to reinforce them.Instead switch to talk about something good.A friend’s new baby, a movie you want to see, the warm weather this week, or a funny thing your child did.Build yourself a foundation of good thoughts to help you see that life is generally good.
  • Music.No idea why it works, but music is like wine for the soul.Match the music to your mood, hard rock to pump up your fighting spirit, pop for an peppy beat, comedy and soundtracks for a quick laugh, or classical for a soothing symphony.If it makes you want to dance, that’s just an added bonus.
  • Take lots of breaks.When we aren’t feeling good and our mood and energy are low, it is helpful to take lots of frequent breaks.5 minutes every hour you can read a positive quote, stand in the sunshine, take some deep breaths, close your eyes and rest in silence, or do some simple stretches.Pick your favorite technique or mix and match them for the best effect.
  • Take action.One thing is for sure, if you do nothing, nothing will happen.The only way to get rid of a bad mood is do something about it.There is no secret cure for the blues.(How we all wish there was).Instead, try doing something you usually enjoy and see if it lifts your spirits.Go out to eat, see a movie, visit the park, go shopping, call a friend, meditate, nap, play kick ball, or ride a bike.Anything and everything.I have found that sitting around thinking about your problems is one of the biggest contributors to making you feel worse.Put your attention on something better instead.
  • Repeat often.All too often even I fall prey to this mistake.I do the exercise, fun, or relaxing activity, but I only do it once a week, or for an hour a day.When you’re feeling down, you need to do things that bring you happiness more often than usual.Here’s where your Joy List or Funny File comes in handy.Find things that put a smile on your face – and repeat frequently.The more you do things that make you feel good, the sooner you’ll feel better.The consistent focus on good things will help you see the world in a positive light again.

When life has kicked you around a bit too hard, it may be tough to get up off the ground and start over. When your fear, anger, and frustration come from a variety of different situations, it can be extremely difficult to find a solution. The old tricks and quick pick-me-ups may not work. Don’t let yourself be discouraged. Keep at it, and things will improve. Sometimes just when you think the sun will never shine again, it comes out bright and gleaming. Keep at it, and never give up.

For some really Zany Fun and a great pick-me-up check out this article over at Brighter Days for You and Me!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Happiness Habit.

Be happy! by Robert Snache -

Practice makes perfect. . .or so the saying goes. Like many quotes we hear repeated over and over, there is truth to this statement. The more you practice something, the more skilled you become. Whether you are training to be a better ballerina, or are learning to control your anger, the more you repeat an experience, the more you learn and grow.

That’s why I like the idea that happiness is a skill. I firmly believe this it to be true. I first came to hear about the idea after spending time reading some books and teachings by the Dalai Lama, including his book “The Art of Happiness. As I learned about Buddhism, I discovered that scientific evidence had been found which showed that the brain could and does grow new neural pathways. MRI’s revealed areas of the brain which were different in monks who practice meditation and prayer every day. The longer they meditate, the more pronounced the changes in the brain.

There is also evidence that relaxation is a learned response. Many books and articles have been written on relaxation techniques. One of my favorites is the muscle relaxation, in which you lay in bed and take deep calming breathes as you imagine your muscles as knotted ropes which you mentally untie so you can “un-wind.” You can also mentally send energy to sore spots in your body, or “breathe into the muscle,” to add oxygen to your body. These techniques get easier with practice and bring tranquility and peace after a hard day.

Therefore it simply stands to reason that happiness is simply one more habit to practice. Happiness is so much more than a good mood and a positive outlook. It is going through your day with the fully-intended purpose of adding more comfort, joy, excitement, peace and love to your day. All the various and extensive things that make you happy.

Happiness is many things. It is an attitude, a perspective, an understanding, a pursuit, a discovery, a skill, an action, and a plan. It can make you happy to be at the bedside of a very ill person. Being with them may be upsetting and depressing, but knowing through words or gestures that your presence brightens the day of someone in pain can be very fulfilling. Sharing love is a huge part of happiness.

Happiness as an attitude includes the ability to see positive moments in a negative event. Perhaps you are stuck in a long checkout line at the supermarket, impatiently waiting to pay. As you are standing there you look at the magazine rack and see Mickey Mouse ears on a celebrity’s child in Disney World. It makes you smile and laugh. You start looking for other funny pictures and before you know it the line is moving forward.

Happiness is relaxing and comfortable. It is those little touches that soothe your body and mind, brining a sense of peace and security. A mug of hot tea on a rainy day. Putting your feet up after a long day of work. Thick fluffy pillows and a soft mattress at night. Paying attention to these small details can bring a warm, cozy feeling to your home making it a sanctuary from daily stress.

As with any other skill, making happiness a habit will increase your chances at success. Practicing happiness habits on a daily basis will improve your overall sense of well being so that when life’s inevitable problems occur, you will be more resilient and able to recover more quickly.

Here are a few happiness ideas to practice:

  1. Find your joy. Whatever makes you happy, from coaching Little League to growing prize-winning peanuts. Make time for pet projects. They’ll add zest to your life.
  2. Enjoy some blessed silence. A little bit of quiet time goes a long way. Even just 5 or 10 minutes of quiet can calm your mind and body and bring peace.
  3. Spend time with positive people. Being around grouchy, irritated and negative people can affect your mood. Seek out optimistic enthusiastic friends and coworkers.
  4. Get up and move. Whether you stretch, run, dance or take the dog for a walk, exercise helps energize and invigorate.
  5. Share your love. Hug the dog, kiss the cat, give your spouse a love poem. Expressing your love freely will bring more awareness of the joy you already possess.
  6. Be playful. Wear polka dot socks with your suit. Run through the sprinklers with the kids. Let loose and have fun.
  7. Practice gratitude. Give thanks for the beautiful treasures in your life. Count your blessings and watch them add up.
  8. Keep learning. Find a subject that fascinates you and learn more about it. Pirates, ancient cultures, or the habits of porcupines. New ideas will widen your perspective on life and make things more interesting.
  9. Relax. Read a book, listen to music, walk, or put on a comedy. Get comfy and let your stress melt away for a while. Your body and mind will thank you.
  10. Live in the moment. Stop worrying about past things you can’t change, and future events that haven’t happened. The present moment will give you more than enough to focus on.

Check out these sites for more info:

The Happiness Institute

The Happiness Project

52 Happiness Tips – Zen Habits

100 Ways to Keep Yourself Happy

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Your Brain in Love.

Love is all. . . by suchitra prints

Is your brain in love? Is it the heart or brain that tells you you’re in love? Doesn’t the brain affect your body with chemical messages? Doesn’t that message system go both ways? Don’t you feel the pain of being “broken-hearted” in your chest?

Love is a funny thing. There are so many different levels of love. You love your partner. Just the thought of spending time with them fills you with joy. You take comfort in knowing someone is there to help you get through life. You love you children. Being with them brings you hours of laughter, and taking care of them gives your life interest and provides you with much satisfaction. You love your dog. You are constantly amazed at the inter-species communication that happens when you dog wags its tail and you reward it with some attention.

Then there’s love of things. You may love your car. It is the perfect color, size, and shape for you. It is a reliable and convenient way to travel and includes entertainment features like music and on-board computers. You may love sunsets. The sight of that magical minute or two when the sky looks like a color-strewn canvas, full of pinks, reds and oranges, that last for a moment or two each day.

So is love all in our heads? Is it in our bodies? Or is it everywhere? Do we love because we think we do, or do we love because we feel we do? Does our brain tell our body we’re in love, or does our body tell our brain we’re in love? Does it really matter?

Love is a glorious wonderful thing. It can glitter and shine brightly like a diamond, or be a mountain of support that never fails you. It lights up your world, brings sunshine into the dark and gives our lives purpose and meaning. Family, friendships, and affections, all of them add those delightful feelings of happiness and those giggly, giddy moments of pure joy into our lives.

Wherever it comes from, whatever is, love is welcome in my house any time. Thanks for reading – and Happy Valentines Day everyone!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

7 Easy Ways to Add Zest to Your Day.

Lily and Trixie by Emery_Way

1. Add more color. Red, orange, yellow, blue, purple, green. Color wakes up the senses and helps you feel more alert. Color livens up a room, a presentation, or your office cubicle. Wear brightly colored clothing or your favorite color when you’re feeling down.

2. Move around. Get that body moving. Stretch, dance, take a walk. It’s amazing how simply raising your arms above your head or touching your toes can make you feel more awake. Easy head and shoulder rolls can relieve stiffness you didn’t even realize you had. Exercise can get your blood flowing to that old noggin of yours and help you think better. Not to mention those wonderful endorphins that help us feel better.

3. Sound. Sound influences much of our mood. From construction noises and blaring traffic horns to the soothing sounds of a waterfall, sound can irritate or calm us. Surround yourself with the music and noises that appeal to you. Put the sound of the ocean waves in your office to cover the hum of the air conditioner. Turn on a talk radio program to keep out the door slams and footfalls of your neighbors. Or simply listen to the silence. Whether you enjoy a noisy environment or a quiet one, sound can make a dramatic difference in your day.

4. Inspiration. Inspiration can come from anywhere, a painting, a toy, a photo memory of family, a quote, or even a book. Darth Vader can remind you not to give in to your “dark side,” or a picture of beach can remind you of the vacation you are working toward. A bluebird statue might remind you to look for the “bluebird of happiness” in your day. Motivation and inspiration can help keep you going. Look for unique and unusual ideas that fit your personal style.

5. Take a break. One of the biggest mistakes I consistently see in adults, is the notion that taking a break is a waste of time and that if they keep working they will get more done. The truth is that when you take a few minutes out of your day to rest and rejuvenate, it refreshes both your body and MIND. It helps you to slow down, refocus, and often see mistakes you were previously too busy to notice. Whether you take 5 minutes or 15, use the opportunity to take a few deep breaths and relax before returning to your task. Both you and your work will benefit from it.

6. Laugh it off. Laughter is an instant energizer and blues remedy. Whether sharing a joke with a friend, reading the comics, or tearing a page off of your Cute Overload calendar to see a cute fluffy bunny, humor and fun will lift your spirits and brighten your day. Try taking comedy CDs to work, keeping a Nintendo DS or Gameboy in your drawer, or using a Magic 8 ball to tell you when it’s time for lunch. You’ll be ready to face the rest of the afternoon with a smile on your face.

7. Do things differently. Take a new route to work. Exercise in the morning instead of the evening. Try new things. Ride a motorcycle, take up archery, learn to play the harmonica. Change is good for you. It stimulates the senses and activates the mind. Life is beautiful in its infinite variety. Try a bit of the unfamiliar and find out what you’ve been missing!

See also: New Ideas to Spice Up Your Life.