Tag Archives: happiness

12 Ways to Indulge Yourself on a Budget

Have you been struggling with deadlines or a demanding boss all day? Fighting with the kids or your spouse? Do you just need a break and some self-indulgence?

As I start to see a glimpse of spring and warmer weather, I feel like it’s time to have a little fun. There are many small and unexpected ways to put a little bliss back into your life. Part of finding your balance is also about taking care of yourself.

Here are 12 small ways you can indulge yourself without breaking the bank or feeling guilty:

Go outside
Take a stroll in the woods. Research has found that being out in nature for as little as 5 minutes benefits your mental and physical health. If you can’t get outside, then at least look outside. Even a window view of nature can elevate your mood. Just think about it – it’s unnatural to spend our time in windowless buildings when we used to spend our whole existence outdoors.

Clean out a drawer or closet
To me, cleaning for fun seems to be in opposition with my basic nature of avoiding housework. However, I have to say, there is something relaxing about organizing a part of your life when everything else is feeling chaotic and out of control. So, organize a closet, desk, pantry or junk drawer – and enjoy the feeling of peace.

Play your favorite song
Listening to a favorite song can trigger the release of the feel-good chemical dopamine in the brain. All that matters is that it’s a melody that stirs you. Repetition nurtures the pleasure – so play it again and again!

Have a glass of wine
If you enjoy a glass of good wine or even sipping a cold beer, then indulge your senses with new flavor selections or drink it along with a great meal. You can soak in the pleasure of simply relaxing with your favorite beverage.

Keep a momento on your desk
Do you eat a small snack in the afternoon to boost your energy? Try placing something emotionally important to you on your desk where you work for a mental boost. You may have a souvenir from a special vacation, a favorite photo from your wedding or a keepsake from when your kids were small. Glancing at this momento during the work day is sure to give your spirits a quick lift.

Soak in the tub in the dark
Run a really hot tub full of water, dim the lights, burn a candle and give yourself a full hour to unwind. You can even use some mint or lavender oil to add a lovely scent to the bath. Close your eyes and relax in the warmth.

Pet a dog
It doesn’t even have to be your dog. Pet any dog or cat to enjoy the benefits. Physical contact with animals increases the chemicals in the brain associated with pleasure and decreases those associated with stress.

Eat some chocolate
Few things feel as indulgent as eating dark chocolate. Make sure you eat it slowly and savor the flavors. Make the experience last! Plus, dark chocolate may lower your blood pressure, increase blood flow and improve your “good” cholesterol levels.

Put the kettle on
Even with a coffee shop on every corner, the average American drinks more than 9 gallons of tea a year. Drinking green or black tea can reduce stress hormones over time. And, there’s just something indulgent about sitting down with a warm cup of tea.

Create a soothing scent
People have been using aromatic herbs for centuries to create great smelling scents. Now research shows that aromatherapy may be good for you. Breathing in natural perfumed scents can lift your mood. You can also stop and smell the flowers, literally. You’ll be enjoying the outdoors and taking in nature’s own aromas!

Take a nap
One of my greatest pleasures is to take a short nap during the day. Snuggle up in a comfy spot with pillows and a fluffy blanket. As we’ve mentioned in past blogs, naps are good for your mind and body. They can help improve your concentration and lift your mood. Taking a 10 – 20 minute nap in the afternoon can give you the boost you need to enjoy the day.

Give
Humans are altruistic by nature. When you act generously, you will feel joy. Find a charity or cause to support and make a donation. In addition, volunteering and helping others – without expecting anything in return – is actually good for your health.

Happiness can be elusive at times. You can create your own small pleasures and put some joy back in your life. What are your best tips for rewarding and refreshing yourself without spending a lot of time or money?

 

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14 Easy Ways to Lift Your Spirits

To me, the winter months always seem to drag monotonously toward spring. The weather is cold, dreary and gloomy. I may not see the sun for days – or even weeks – at a time. Let’s just say I can get a bit grouchy during this time. (My family would probably say A LOT grouchy.)

You can find quick and simple ways to lift your spirits. Remember that true happiness doesn’t come from a paycheck, material goods or warm weather. A good part of the joy you find in life comes from finding easy ways to make yourself happy.

Here are 14 tips to help you lift your mood and boost your happiness level:

Drink coffee or tea in the morning
Regular, modest caffeine intake can help regulate your mood. Research shows that when you enjoy four cups of black tea a day it leads to fewer stress hormones being released. Or, if you’re more of a coffee person, you can drink a few cups of java. In fact, coffee has additional health benefits.

Spend time with friends
Good friends are good for you and your spirits. Your friends foster a feeling of belonging, purpose and boost your self esteem. Strong friendships can help keep you on a mentally even keel. Whether you get together for drinks or dinner, call on the phone or text about the ups and downs of your day, friends can improve your mood. Here are more reasons why we need friends.

Eat mood-boosting foods
To help boost your mood, you can eat foods that are naturally high in serotonin, such as walnuts, tomatoes, kiwi, bananas, sour cherries, plums and pineapple. Tryptophan is also a natural mood booster. Tryptophan is found in proteins, including turkey, fish, chicken, nuts, cheese, eggs, cottage cheese and beans. Learn more about foods to boost your mood.

Get a massage
Massage can be good for your physical and mental health. When you get a massage, your body releases endorphins. Massage also reduces stress hormones, lowers anxiety and raises your immunity. Shut out your surroundings and the chaos, relax and let some happiness seep into your day.

Break your routine
Sometimes I feel stuck in a rut. Get out of your regular routine, and your mood may lift with it. Go out for dinner on a Tuesday night instead of Friday. Have lunch at a new place once a week. Take a different route to work or wear something that is normally “not you.” A small change can make a bigger difference in your outlook for the day.

Open your shades
I have a huge picture window in my living room and then patio doors in my dining room. I like to leave the blinds shut in the winter because it helps cut down on the cold air. Yet, I realized it felt like I was living in a cave or dungeon. Make sure you open the shades in your bedroom, living room or office even when it’s cold. Studies show that morning light exposure can benefit your mood.

Take a walk outside
If you work in an office without windows or sun exposure, make sure you step outside a few times a day to soak up the sunshine. Even if it’s overcast, fresh air can help lift your spirits.

Bang on something
Researchers believe that drumming helps to relax the body. I personally think that kicking and punching things can help you feel better, too. You can use a punching bag or take a kickboxing class.

Clear the clutter
Disorganization can make me anxious. Clutter reminds us of the things we should be getting done but haven’t taken care of yet. For a quick fix, straighten up a few surfaces in your office or in the areas of your house where you spend the most time. Feeling more ordered in your personal spaces can help you feel more at ease and give you peace of mind. Here are some tips to organizing and decluttering.

Watch something funny
Studies show that a good laugh gets rid of stress, boosts your immunity, improves your heart function and lowers your blood pressure. A good chuckle can also keep blood sugar levels low and aids in better digestion. You can watch a comedic movie, a funny TV series or goofy YouTube videos. Laughter and even simply smiling can be good for your overall health.

Do a good deed
There is nothing like the act of giving to help us feel more appreciative of what we have and give us a mood boost. Do some research and find a group that could use your talents and skills. Learn more about the health benefits of doing good.

Indulge your senses
Sights, sounds, smells, tastes and tactile senses can quickly change your mood. Aromatherapy can be good for your health. Breathing in natural perfumed scents, such as lavender, can lift your spirits. Bake cookies and enjoy the yummy smells and warmth of the kitchen. Listen to soothing music. Soak in a scented bubble bath, or put flower arrangements around the house.

Give a kiss or hug
It’s a good feeling to be loved. Kiss your spouse, your kids or your mom. Smooching your significant other may even help reduce your cholesterol. You can cuddle up and watch TV together or give your family members and close friends a hug – just because. You can also hug and pet a furry friend to lower blood pressure and bring on a sense of calm.

Do something you love
You may like listening to music, dancing, taking photos, working on craft projects or tending a garden. You can even sit on your deck, take in nature or read a novel. To lift your spirits, make time to do something you enjoy – even if it’s just for 15 or 20 minutes.

Your mood goes a long way to helping you achieve a more balanced life. If you’re grouchy or feeling down, you may not have the motivation to exercise, eat right or hang out with friends. Take a few minutes each day to lift your spirits and appreciate the little things in life.

10 Tips to Creating a Positive Attitude

happy-girl-1-1191009-mLast week, we talked about living a Godly life. For our part, God expects us to have a positive attitude. It’s called faith. With faith, we can always anticipate a good outcome. We can trust God to lead us, provide for us, and protect us so we can let go of fear and anxiety. That’s why we often hear the phrase “fear not” in His Word.

Having a positive attitude is good for both the mind and body, in addition to the soul. A good outlook can also contribute to good health. Read about the health benefits of a good attitude in our blog, The Power of Positive Thinking.

One of the main keys to living a happy, fulfilling life is having a positive mental attitude. Here are 10 ways you can train yourself to live each day with a good attitude:

Start each day positive
Take a few minutes in the morning to clear your mind and think positive thoughts about the upcoming day. Focus on people and events that will bring joy into your day. Think about the parts of the day you will enjoy and let that carry you through the less enjoyable activities. Let your optimism flow through your entire day.

Be grateful
A grateful mindset goes a long way toward a positive attitude. Think about the blessings you have and what matters most to you. You may be grateful for having a home to live in, a family, good friends, or work satisfaction. You can count the small blessings, too – a hug from a child, time spent with a pet, or watching a gentle rainfall.

Embrace life
Let go and embrace the moment, even if it contains an obstacle or less than fun task. Enjoy yourself while you do laundry or mow the yard. Be bold and courageous. Do something you wouldn’t normally do. If you were planning to relax at home and friends invite you out, go out anyway. Cherish the little moments that you might have glossed over otherwise.

Control your reactions
While we cannot control everything that happens around us, we can control how we react to it. For instance, one of your co-workers may be in bad mood and yells at you. You can choose to yell back, or you can decide that he must be having a rough day and not let it bother you. You have the power to shape your thoughts and beliefs how you want them to be.

Choose happiness
Being happy is a decision you make. You choose to be happy. Happiness has nothing to do with your station in life, money or other outside forces. Make it a habit to see the positive side of everything. You create your own happiness.

Love yourself
You have everything you need to be happy, loved and fulfilled. It comes with accepting who you are right now. You may wish you could be taller, skinnier or the life of the party. You don’t need to be gratified by external factors – you were born with everything you need. Accept that you are beautiful and perfect just the way you are.

Let it go
Your daughter is mad at you, someone cut you off in traffic, and you’re standing behind someone in a fast food line who can’t decide what to order. You can get yourself worked up by other people’s actions and punish yourself for things out of your control. Like we said earlier, you are responsible for your own actions and reactions to others. Just let it go. It’s not worth ruining your happiness to obsess about what others are doing or not doing.

Have positive friends
Get in the habit of hanging out with positive people. Nothing can drain your enthusiasm faster than someone who constantly complains, thrives on drama or sees only the negative in every situation. Seek out friends and family who have a sunny disposition and whose optimism rubs off on you.

View life as a journey
Be content with what you have now and where you are today. Don’t put off waiting to be happy until you have that new house, more money or perfect job. Life is a journey, and it’s important to make an effort to enjoy every part of the trip.

Reflect nightly
End your day by thinking about all the good things that happened that day. Think of at least 10 things you are truly grateful for in your life. Feel the joy of all the good things you have. You can fall asleep reflecting on your many blessings.

A positive attitude can help you cope with your daily challenges and create that more satisfying, balanced life. Positive people take responsibility for themselves and their actions, and take positive steps to turn any obstacle or challenge into an opportunity.

14 habits that will make you happier

Habits that will make you happierAs I’ve gotten older, I have come to realize that I am in charge of my own happiness. I decide how I react to the people and events in my life.

You can choose to be positive and focus on the things in life that bring you joy. You can also create habits that will make you happier in general. Even a few minor changes to your daily routine can make a major difference in your life.

Here are 14 small changes you can make in your daily routine that can help increase your overall happiness:

Make lists
At the beginning of each day, go over your goals for that day as well as long-term goals you may have for the week, the month or even the year. I know from experience that lists can be intimidating. However, having a to-do list for the day will actually help you get more done and feel more satisfied at the end of the day. Just be realistic about your goals so you will be more likely to accomplish them. And, you may have something unexpected come up that derails your plans. That’s okay. Simply set new goals for the next day.

Try something new
Sometimes your routine can become, well, routine. Mix it up every once in a while. If you feel like you’re in a rut, try something new. Take a class. Experiment with a new hobby. You may find a new passion and meet new people. It’s good to keep learning and growing as a person.

Value your friends
Take time for your friends. We have written before about the 7 reasons we need friends. Our friends help us relieve stress, try new things and simply give life more meaning. Make sure you are spending time with positive friends rather than friends who tend to be negative, needy or dramatic. Over time, they may wear on your mood and your happiness.

Take a nap
As we have mentioned in past blogs, naps are good for your mind and body. They can help improve your concentration and lift your mood. Taking a 10 – 20 minute nap in the middle of the day can give you all the boost you need to enjoy the day.

Plan for vacations
Give yourself time to plan for vacations. Half the fun of taking a vacation is planning where you’re going and what you’re going to do. Studies have shown that taking a vacation – rather than buying expensive material items – can give you a greater sense of happiness.

Savor your food
It’s unavoidable that some days you will be eating in a hurry or on the go to the next meeting or errand. When you have a chance to sit down and share a meal with friends or family, enjoy your food. Take time to savor the tastes and the time you spend with others. Of course, do your best to eat healthy foods as well.

Make exercise a priority
Exercise should be a non-negotiable habit. Trust me, I know how hard it is to get into and maintain an exercise routine. I struggle with it every day. However, exercising regularly may be the single most important habit to your overall well-being. Exercising helps you control your weight, fight disease and simply increase your happiness. So, get moving and keep moving.

Assume the best of people
We don’t really know why people do or say the things they do. For example, a coworker snaps at you when you ask a question. You may assume they are mad at you for some reason, and then you’re in a bad mood. In reality, maybe the boss just reprimanded them. Maybe they found out a family member is very ill. You should assume the best of people and try not to internalize someone else’s mood or actions.

Turn off the electronics
Take a break from the TV, smartphone, tablet, MP3 player, etc. Go outside and enjoy the sunshine. Talk to a friend. Spend some time on a hobby you love. While our electronic devices serve a purpose, they can also suck away our time and leave us feeling a little sad and dissatisfied.

Meditate
Take a mental break from time to time. It can be as simple as going for a walk or listening to music. You can also use some relaxation techniques to help you unwind. The important thing is just to allow yourself some time to relax. You will feel more refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to take on your daily routine.

Stop comparing
It’s human nature to make comparisons. We compare ourselves with others. We think about what we have and don’t have. Happy people are happy with what they have and where they are in life. Of course, you need to have goals to continue growing and improving, but remember to appreciate what you have right now.

Let loose
Sometimes you need to just let loose and be silly. That may mean dancing along with the radio, or trying out your moves on the Wii. Run through the sprinkler with the kids. Blow bubbles or draw with sidewalk chalk. Being carefree and simply living in the moment is a great way to inspire happiness.

Do what you love
I find that I spend all of my time working and taking care of my house, my husband and my kids. I spend very little time doing what I want to do. Figure out what you love doing and make time to do it. I used to enjoy sewing quilts and scrapbooking. I simply stopped making time for those things and made my family’s needs a priority. Yet, to be happy – and be a better wife and mom – I need to take time for myself, too.

Share the happiness
Happiness can be contagious. Greet people with a smile – even strangers. Give a friend or coworker a compliment. Hug your family. Cheer others on and encourage them. You will find that sharing your happiness with others will not only make them happy but lift your mood as well.

The secrets to happiness

The Secrets to HappinessUnless you’re Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh, you probably want to be happy. We all strive to be happy but sometimes happiness can seem hard to find. In today’s world, we have never-ending responsibilities and so much stress.

As a society, we have become more materialistic and focused on collecting “things” to make us happy. But as the saying goes, “money can’t buy happiness.” Although, I’ll be the first to admit that I enjoy retail therapy. Buying a new pair of shoes, a fun outfit – or practically anything – certainly does boost my mood.

However, material happiness is usually fleeting. What is the secret to lifelong happiness? What makes us truly happy? Is it something you either have or you don’t have?

Research shows that we all have the potential to be happy. It seems that there are certain characteristics that lead to a sense of well-being. You can create your own happiness by focusing on these traits:

Optimism
Happy people are filled with hope. Optimistic people embrace all of life’s experiences even if that means making mistakes. They don’t feel like mistakes are a personal failure. Rather, when things go wrong or life gives them a setback, optimists see it as a fluke or something out of their control and an opportunity to try a new approach.

Optimists who see the glass as “half-full” also tend to be healthier which can contribute to greater happiness. Check out our blog, The Power of Positive Thinking, to learn more about the health benefits of a positive outlook.

Self esteem
Happy people have learned to like themselves. Studies have shown it’s not about having friends, close family relationships, or material things. If you can accept yourself with all your flaws, you are more likely to find happiness.

I tend to repeat myself over and over when I’m having a conversation to the point that my friends and family will say, “Okay, I’ve got it!” Or, I blurt out things I wish I hadn’t said and then stew about it later. You have to love your physical traits, too. I am so pale that when I visit someone in the hospital, nurses ask me if I need to sit down. I am learning to accept these things I don’t like about myself, even find humor in them,  and then let them go.

Proactivity
Happy people search out new experiences that will make them happy. They don’t wait around to find joy in life. They have a curious nature and make their own happiness. Think of all the things you’ve discovered that you like or enjoy doing just by trying them, especially when you were younger. As we get older we get more cynical about new experiences. Take a chance and try something new!

A sense of control
People who believe they are in control of their own destiny tend to be more happy. Feeling like you are in charge of how you live your life leads to a greater sense of well-being. Of course, there are things that are out of your control. You can’t control the weather, traffic or other people who annoy you. However, you can control what you wear, how you drive and how you react to annoying people. The more you make your own decisions and manage your own time, the happier you will be.

Extroversion
Outgoing people are happy people and have a greater satisfaction in life. Being extroverted also ties into being self assured. If you are confident and like who you are, you can walk into a room of strangers and start up a conversation. Extroverts also tend to be more content and have a larger circle of friends.

I am more introverted my nature and spend a lot of time “in my own head.” I have had to work at being more outgoing and trying new experiences. I do feel it has built my confidence and made me a happier person.

Love
Having a sense of compassion for others and knowing you are loved is one of the biggest predictors of happiness. We need relationships – whether they are romantic love, the bond we have with our children, or the acceptance of friends. Spending time with others strengthens these connections and contributes to our sense of happiness.

Friendship
Our friends help us accept ourselves for who we really are. When they accept us, flaws and all, we are better able to be more comfortable in own skin. We find happiness from spending time with other people, and from supporting others when they need us. Read more about the power of friendships in our blog, 7 Reasons We Need Friends.

A contented feeling
A feeling of security or contentedness comes from feeling good about where you are in life. It’s recognizing that you can be happy without being rich, having the biggest house on the block or being the most popular. Happy people are simply content with their current situation. It’s okay to have goals, wishes and dreams but your happiness doesn’t have to hinge on them. You can be happy right now.

Spirtuality
People who are spiritual tend to have greater life satisfaction. Life may have a bigger meaning beyond our knowing, so it’s not worth worrying so much about the little things. Religion can have a positive affect on both your mental and physical health. Studies show that those who pray or attend religious services regularly are less likely to have hypertension, anxiety disorders or depression.

Altruism
Giving without expecting anything in return is one of the truest ways to find happiness. Because even though your reasons for giving are altruistic, you can get so much in return. Having a positive impact on someone else’s life can help you feel better about what is going on in your own life. For more details about the rewards of giving, read our blog 5 Surprising Benefits of Giving Back.

A purpose
Happy people enjoy what they do. They don’t do it for money or glory. They do it because they love it. Your purpose should be your passion. It may be the work you do for a living. It could be your purpose is being the best mother and wife. You may enjoy teaching kids or mentoring others. Your purpose makes you excited to get out of bed every morning. Simply put, it makes you happy.

We all have the potential to be happy. By focusing on these traits and characteristics you can create your own happiness. What makes you happy?