Wheatgrass Shots for the Soul
In a world where people are valued for their productivity it is all too easy to tell ourselves we’re too busy for something as recreational and self indulgent as “happiness”. We like to think of happiness as this far-off utopia we’ll get to one day if we a) work hard enough and b) have enough time. The thing is we already have an oceans-worth of the good stuff inside us already, endless stores just waiting to be cracked open. Here’s some ways to access that good stuff no matter if you have one second or one day to spare.
If you have…
1 second: Smile
Even if you’re not feeling it. Smiling sends facial feedback to the brain, telling it it must be happy about something. Even better, smile at someone else and spread that goodness around! Need more convincing? Read up on why you’re actually the richest person in the world (link).
10 seconds: breathe in/ breathe out
“When you breathe in, and you are aware of your in-breath, you touch the miracle of being alive. That is why mindfulness is a source of happiness and joy.” Thich Nhat Hanh
Have a spare ten seconds? Observe your breath. This doesn’t mean you have to control or contort it or take each breath with a resounding ‘ommm’. Just for ten seconds notice how good it feels having your lungs filled with clean air. How good does it feel? How good does it feel letting it go?
30 seconds: Forgive Yourself
Did you set a goal you didn’t quite stick to this week? Started a new project yesterday but think it’s crap today? Weren’t as productive today as you wanted to be? Forgive yourself. American scholar and author Brene Brown says contrary to popular belief, discipline and self-shaming will not get you back on that horse tomorrow. Empathy will. You’re not a failure. You’re not a fake. You’re human, and maybe you had to have that low-productivity day or mid-week slump in order to create something amazing the next day. Send yourself some love and forgiveness. Then get up tomorrow and try again.
1 minute: Pay It Forward
Paying it forward is the simple act of passing kindness onto others. The great thing about paying it forward is it can take almost no time at all. The second great thing is you don’t have to go out of your way to find an opportunity to do an act of kindness for someone else because the opportunities present themselves to you. Pay for the next customers coffee as well as yours. Lend some extra time and patience to someone who asks for your help. Buy some chocolate for your housemates/ family, just because you love ’em. The opportunities are everywhere. Pay it forward. Quick-hit mood-boster. Everybody wins.
3 minutes: Listen to a Song You Thrashed When You Were Younger.
I’m the kind of person who keeps my memories in my music library as opposed to my photo gallery. I’ve always had this bad habit of finding a song I like and going trigger-happy on the repeat button for a week or two to the point where I know the song down to a microscopic level. But because of this whenever I listen to these songs years later i’m able to relive exactly what I was thinking and feeling at that point in my life. What I was excited or upset about, who I was spending my time with. If you’re after a boost and have a quick three go for a wander in the shadows of your old playlists and play something that once made your whole body feel good.
5 minutes: Vacuum Your Bedroom Floor
That sand caught in your carpet and those few tea stains on your desk can actually affect your mood in a big way. Clutter, mess and dirt in the home traps energy and turns it stagnant. My housemates will be the first to tell you i’m no shining oracle of cleanliness but I do know each time I take a few minutes to wipe a surface or vacuum the floor it purifies something upstairs and turns my mood up to ten instantly. Try it.
10 minutes: Meditate, Mate.
Your mind never stops, not even in sleep. So if you’re wanting to get some feel-good in your life lend ten minutes to your think tank. There’s no shortage of guided meditation apps out there with sessions as short as ten minutes. Get amongst it.
15 minutes: Take it Off.
Find a patch of nature and take off your shoes. Ancient healers believed the earths energy could be absorded through the soles of our feet. Most of us can recall a time when we sunk our heels into some damp grass or felt the grit of sand rub the arches of our feet and felt something restore inside us. Do it on your lunch break! And if you find yourself on the receiving end of some weird looks for standing barefoot in your pot plant in your office- just smile and wave.
Half an Hour: Skype a Family Member or Friend Who Lives Somewhere Else.
45 minutes: Learn Something.
Teach yourself ten new words in another language. Listen to a podcast to learn something new about how your mind works, how other peoples minds work, something new about history, science, environment, health, the world around you, anything. Ask questions. Get talking to interesting people. It’s an endless buffet out there and pretty damn empowering going to sleep knowing you have new knowledge in your toolbox that wasn’t there yesterday.
1 hour: Go For a Walk or Run
The combination of physical exertion and letting your mind go wherever it wants to is such a sweet release. This where you can sweat out your frustrations or walk slow and take in what’s around you. This is where you can make the big plans and the small reflections. This is where you can clear your mind if you find yourself at a roadblock of any sort. One hour of this will have you returning home a whole new person.
2 hours: Watch That Movie You Loved as a Kid
There’s something restorative about watching a movie you adored as a kid and coming back to it over a decade later. In the same way listening to old songs extends a hand to a particular person you used to be, so does watching old movies you once loved. For example whenever I pull out The Lion King I can feel my overly-energetic, extremely outspoken, highly annoying eight year old self sitting next to me, all scabbed knees, tanned skin and tangled legs. I might not know how to talk to her anymore but I know she just wants the same things as me. To be happy. To be free. To lead a massive life.
There’s something about tapping into the core of who you’ve essentially always been that holds you accountable to where you’re going now. When I sit down to watch a movie with my eight year old self a few times a year she promises me that change is coming, that nothing stays the same for long. And I promise her that no matter how much I get the shit kicked out me sometimes, I promise to stay standing in the light of rawness and vulnerability as I seek to make for her the life of her dreams.
A whole day: Go on an adventure. With yourself.
“Stop looking for your soulmate and start looking for your soul, mate.” – unknown.
Set a date. Pick an outfit. Pack your lunch. Get some new music. If someone tries to make a plan with you just politely tell that that today, you’ve already made plans. Fill up your car or set off on foot and just go. The beauty of going on adventures by yourself is you get to do exactly what you want to do. Want to go to a beach and read for five minutes or two hours? It’s totally up to you. Want to stop at this park bench on the side of the road simply because it looks like a nice place to sit and eat your sandwich? Do it. And stay there as long as you like. Want to sing off-key the whole way? All good. Have the sudden urge to laugh for no particular reason? Embrace it, ya weirdo. Want to cry but don’t know why? That’s all good too. Have a chat to the universe. Existential stuff or light banter, it doesn’t matter. Just let whatever energy or weirdness you feel just come and go.
There’s nothing egotistical or shallow or lame about going on a date with yourself. There’s nothing wrong with going “Hey, you’re actually a pretty cool guy. I like being around you. I’m glad we get to kick it together for the next 50 or 60 years. Can we be friends?”
And that’s just it. Being your own best friend. Allowing yourself to be happy. Hopefully you can find something in this list from the bite sized to the big sized to get a bit more happiness in your day.