Most of us are relatively happy. Even if we’re not where we thought we’d be at this moment in time, most of us would say we were happy in life. The sky is blue, birds are chirping, you have a jar of mini chocolate bars sitting on your desk and Spotify on your computer with U2 singing “Beautiful Day” in the background… life is great! You’re just walking along – nay, skipping along – humming your favorite song (that rhymed… keepin’ it!) and soaking up some Vitamin D from that glorious sun shining in the gorgeous spring sky. Life really is great! Until it isn’t.
All of sudden, you’ve fallen into a bottomless pit: pitch black, cold and no way to get out. Everything is not awesome. (What’s up, LEGO Movie – yeah, I saw you! And yes, your theme song is STILL stuck in my head!) Everything sucks and soon enough U2 has been replaced with the Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black” because life is awful; you feel awful, you look awful, your job is awful and your paycheck or car or social life is awful. You’re a stressed, sleep deprived, anxious, irritable, snarky creature who has seemed to morph overnight into something out of a Sci-Fi novel. You lay in the cold, smelly sludge at the bottom of said pit and wonder how you got there. Fine one minute and then poof! You’ve dropped down the hole and have no way to get out. Life can be tricky that way.
One minute we feel great, the next we’re snowballing out of control. Sometimes it’s a gradual thing; we just don’t notice that sneaky unhappiness chiseling away at our sanity. But other times, it really comes out of the blue, like a kidney stone or the success of Honey Boo Boo. One day life is great and then BAM! You get smacked in the face with a brick. In either circumstance, there are ways we can pull ourselves out of these horrible ruts.
1. Take a Road Trip
You know that old adage “out of sight, out of mind”? Well, it really does work. Not that it will automatically solve your problems, but just getting away (even if only for a couple hours) can refresh your mind, ease stress and make you feel good again. My friends and I will just go for drives around where we live when we don’t have time for a “proper” road trip! It’s still wonderful! Plus, for me, the actual driving part really helps! Put on some good music, put your phone on silent, and just enjoy the freedom the open road brings.
This sort of plays into the previous one, but music for me can really change my mood. I love music – I enjoy a lot of different genres, some of which really aren’t “happy” music. But I know when I’m ready to pull myself out of a rut, I leave certain bands/types of music off my playlist and reach for something happy. U2 (as mentioned above) is a good one, but specifically something soothing – Dashboard Confessional or Jack Johnson or The Eagles. Everyone should have their go-to happy mix, and the effects are almost instantaneous!
***Also, concerts: Live music is an amazing thing to experience. Seeing my favorite bands live is one of my FAVORITE THINGS IN THE WORLD. EVER.
I just saw a really great quote that said “reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.” I love that! Reading really is a great escape, and it’s good for your mind, too! I just pick up one of my favorite books when I need a little reprieve. Sometimes (okay, most times!) that’s an Austen, or if I need a little adventure, I pull an Alexandre Dumas off the shelf or if I need a good release of pent up emotion, I go for a Sparks. (Because no one can make you cry like Nicholas Sparks!) Just stay away from anything Cormac McCarthy… it will only make your sadness worse!
4. Set Goals
I think setting goals makes us feel happy because it helps us to feel in control of our lives. Control is a psychologically empowering emotion, and when we feel like we’ve lost it, we’ll most likely feel stress, anxiety and sadness. So set some goals, even if they are small and short term. When we meet our goals or progress towards them, we feel good about ourselves and build our self-confidence, which makes us HAPPY.
5. Meditate (Or take, as I like to call it, “alone time”)
Meditation is psychologically proven to lower stress and produce feel good hormones in your body. We should be taking time out of our days (if not, our week) to sit quietly, to just think about our life, where we want to go and what we want to do. Now’s a great time to incorporate #4, as well! But really, meditation is a great way to clear your mind, lower your stress and feel good. It’s like an instant reboot.
Surround yourself with good, positive friends and family. Take time out of your busy schedules to see them, and if you don’t have a lot of time, just grab lunch or give them a call. Our friends/family have the ability to make us extremely happy! Plus, I don’t know about you, but what I do most when I’m with them is laugh, which is an obvious (if not the most effective!) mood booster.
Sleep is vital to our very existence. The deprivation of such has massively negative effects on our physical and mental health. Whatever your sleep number may be (the number of hours that you feel best when you get), make sure you’re getting that most nights of the week. And don’t feel bad about sneaking in a nap on the weekends! Sleeping is our bodies’ natural way of recharging our system. It will keep you healthy, happy, and functioning well! Plus, it boosts your immune system and keeps those flu bugs at bay!