Get Happy Now!
With the state of the world today, it’s easier than ever to get swept away in a whirlwind of negativity in all of three minutes. Turn on your TV, skim the newspaper (you know, those ancient things…), or open your default browser and you’re bound to see a morose headline or two warning you of the unavoidable, impending doom fated for this world. While I firmly believe that each of us has a personal responsibility as citizens of the planet (shout out to my girl, Alanis Morissette) to remain well informed and opinionated in the world’s affairs, I also believe that we have an undeniable responsibility for our own happiness.
Accepting this fact as truth can be equally empowering and scary. It means acknowledging the power we yield as the gatekeepers of our own emotional well-being and mindset. It means acknowledging that we can intentionally choose our thoughts and therefore, are ultimately responsible for climbing our way from a bad mood to a good one, by exercising this innate superpower. But like any other skill we hope to master, we must commit to daily practice. Yes, as crazy as it sounds, it takes practice to choose happiness; especially when the easy thing to do is jump on the bandwagon of bitterness, blame, and hatred that is particularly rampant in our society today.
The good news, however, is that it’s possible to get happy now. To get started, all you need is the willingness to choose happiness. In other words, as my unofficial mentor (and long time girl crush) Gabrielle Bernstein says, the first step towards making any positive change in your life is having the willingness “to see things differently” than they currently are.
So today I’m sharing my very own “Get Happy Now” list with you, a compilation of my go-to tricks for pivoting from a negative head space to a positive one. Some of them are simple, some are more profound, but none of them are rocket science. Yet, being aware of the tools that effectively work for me is like having a treasure map in my back pocket to guide me back towards my happy place whenever I get a little (or a lot) off track.
My Personal “Get Happy Now” List:
Treat Yo Self to Some Ear Candy - When I’m feeling down and need some help mellowing out or decompressing, one of the first things I reach for is my headphones. The one-two punch of a dope beat and some positive lyrics can boost my mood in about 10 minutes. Whether it’s Beyoncé’s fierce attitude empowering me to handle my business or Jason Mraz’s cheerful serenade reminding me to lighten up, music is my favorite form of therapy (thank you, Spotify!).
Some of my favorite Get Happy Now tunes are:
Best Thing I Never Had - Beyonce
Ain’t No Man - The Avett Brothers
Clearly - Grace VanderWaal
The Remedy - Jason Mraz
Fix My Eyes - King & Country
In addition to jamming out to a positive playlist, I am a huge proponent of listening to podcasts as a means to curtail negativity. As I mentioned in one of my intro posts on Instagram (@thecuriousdabbler) - I am a self professed personal development junkie. I am constantly reading books on how to better myself and create the life of my dreams. As a compliment to the books and blogs I read, podcasts are another awesome (and free!) resource I turn to for inspiration and motivation. If you aren’t already dialed into this mega trend of 2018, it’s not too late to get on board! You can access podcasts on your iPhone by launching the purple ‘Podcasts’ app or if you’re the proud owner of an Android, you can find most podcasts on YouTube or Spotify. Whether you’re interested in improving your health, launching a small business, writing a book, or revamping your finances I guarantee there’s a podcast about it - just waiting to inspire you to make the next positive change in your life.
Some of my favorite Get Happy Now podcasts are:
Rise - by Rachel Hollis
The School of Greatness - by Lewis Howes
Armchair Expert - by Dax Shepard (and Monica Padman!!)
Bulletproof Radio - by Dave Asprey
Soul on Fire - by Jordan Younger
Get Outside - If I’m feeling heated from an intense conversation, down from a disappointing situation, or just bored from staring at a computer screen all day, going for a walk around the block helps me to check myself (before I wreck myself...lol, I had to). Stepping out into the busy world forces me to shift my focus from own my mental drama to what’s happening around me. Observing other people humming along, living their lives triggers me to reevaluate the importance of the issue that I’m faced with. Changing my physical environment puts space between me and the problem, allowing me to digest my thoughts and come at it again with a fresh perspective.
Take Action Now - If you’re not happy about something (whether it’s politics, climate change, personal finances, your job, your relationship, your body, your haircut, or even your Thanksgiving dinner recipe) change it! The quickest way to relieve unhappiness, unease, and anxiety is through action. START NOW. Yep, right now. If you are feeling unsatisfied with a particular situation - take out a piece of paper and brainstorm ideas for how you can take action to move the needle in a positive direction. For example, pretend it’s 1AM, you’re lying awake in your bed replaying a presentation you gave for a big client today that went totally haywire. You’re convinced that you blew it and you just can’t stop replaying it over and over again in your mind’s eye. Well, this is where I remind you of your innate superpower - the power to intentionally choose your thoughts and redirect your energy. What if instead of keeping yourself awake, riddled with anxiety, you made the choice to shift your focus? What if you got out a piece of paper and a pen, or opened a note on your phone, and listed every possible way you could prepare your team to do better the next time around? Maybe you’d schedule an internal team meeting beforehand. Maybe you’d sync up with your boss to do a dry run and talk through your presentation strategy. Maybe you’d touch base with your client a week in advance to make sure you clearly understood their expectations for the meeting. The possibilities are endless. Just by taking action to list the small changes you could possibly make to improve the situation, you will begin to feel an immediate sense of relief because you are making progress towards a solution instead of lingering in negativity. In this positive state, you may even conceive of a creative idea that never would have crossed your anxious mind.
Practice Gratitude - One of the best pieces of advice that I could ever give you is to make a daily habit of expressing gratitude. Buy a journal or a jar and make a habit of writing down at least ONE thing you can be grateful for every day. For me, I’ve incorporated this practice into my morning routine. Each morning I begin my day with coffee, meditation, visualization, and journaling. I challenge myself to write down ten things I am grateful for. Sometimes they are super basic - like the warm mug of coffee in my hands or my $20 Bluetooth headphones from Amazon. Other times I make it a point to visualize the people I love, send them good vibes, and write down their specific names. When I find myself feeling down, I open my journal and flip through my daily gratitude lists to remind myself of the many reasons I have to be grateful, even in the hard times.
LYAO...Laugh Your A$$ Off - As the old adage goes - laughter is the best medicine. I don’t know about you, but it’s pretty difficult for me to stay upset if something or someone makes me laugh authentically. Let’s use my English Listening & Speaking class as an example. During the week, I see 9 different classes of students in Mateums 4-6 (the equivalent of 10th-12th grade) twice per week. One of my classes is pretty small (around 20 kids, depending on who's absent or at a history/volleyball/ping pong competition...seriously). This group of students has a tight knit “Breakfast Club” kind of vibe and has formed their own unique family. I loved this class from the moment I met them. One kid in particular is your quintessential class clown. If he shows up to class at all, there’s a good chance he’s singing, dancing, or sleeping throughout. There have been several instances where this student has tested my patience. I see so much potential in him, but at his best he puts forth minimal effort, and in his worst moments he can be a pretty big distraction to the students who are trying.
However, in many of these instances he’s managed to win me over by resorting to his one proven tactic. When he sees me approaching his desk (with what I imagine is a stern looking face), he pulls out his phone, turns on his camera (obviously in selfie mode), faces it towards me, and says, “Teacher Beautiful!!”. In those moments I can’t help but laugh. Not because I believe him or feel flattered. I actually don’t believe this kid is being sincere for one second and even if he was, I wouldn’t care. But his wholehearted commitment to divert my original intent is so endearing that I can’t help but smile. In fact, I’m pretty sure even if I was a butt ugly alien this kid would stick to the same script of “Teacher Beautiful!”. In spite of my original frustration with this student, I find myself laughing every time he employs his consistent defense and my energy softens as result.
If you don’t have a mischievous student to raise your spirits, don’t worry. You can easily find an amusing clip from your favorite TV show on YouTube, listen to a comedy riff on Spotify, or find your nearest funny pal. The point is - laughter has the power to radically change your energy. Sometimes one corny joke is all it takes to change your attitude and the course of your whole day.
Help Somebody Else - The heroic, Burmese political activist Aung San Suu Kyi once said, “If you’re feeling helpless, help somebody else.” As the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, I’m pretty confident that she knew exactly what she was talking about. During the challenging seasons in my life, I’ve often found peace by spending time in service of others. Whether serving at inner city soup kitchens, mentoring disadvantaged youth, or organizing clothing drives for refugees - I’ve experienced a deep sense of compassion and fulfillment when I’ve lent my time and energy to benefit someone else. The beauty of community service is that the supposed “giver” ends up receiving just as much if not more than the benefactor of the good deed, not to mention loads of good karma (if you’re into that sort of thing). So the next time you find yourself down and out try to remember to ask yourself if there is anything you can do to serve the people in your life. Maybe it’s as simple as picking up dinner for an overwhelmed friend, watching your neighbor’s dog, or picking up your significant other’s dry cleaning. Whatever it is, committing even an hour of your time to benefit someone else can radically shift your mood and perspective towards the positive.
There ya have it! Whether you vibe with these specific tips or not, I encourage you to do some inner work to build your own Get Happy Now list, so the next time you’re faced with a bad day, you have a personal map back to the happiness that you so deserve.
And if you have any of your own tips that help you pivot into a positive mood, please drop a comment below to share them! Let’s start a Get Happy Now revolution!