Sunday, May 27, 2012

Things you can do today to improve your happiness

I have a tendency toward depression, and while I try not to talk about it too much, I find that keeping things inside makes everything feel worse. I was having something of a bad time this weekend, and did a few of my tried-and-true happiness boosting tricks, and thought I would write some of them down here.

It mostly comes down to do something. I'm not going to suggest that you get out and exercise. I don't do that, either. But I do find that just getting up and actually doing something will improve things tremendously.

Clean something. A drawer, a closet, the bathroom, the kitchen sink. Some happiness gurus suggest that just making your bed will improve your whole day, or there is the Fly Lady axiom of cleaning your kitchen sink as the last thing you do every day. I don't always make the bed, and while I don't leave dirty dishes lying around, having a sparkling sink doesn't do a lot for me. What helps me is throwing stuff away. It's really hard for me to do, but going through a drawer and tossing useless stuff, or cleaning out a pantry shelf and throwing away expired food makes me feel like I've accomplished something.

Also, it drives me nuts to have a bunch of stuff on my computer desktop, or have my email inbox full of junk. I try to clean both my desktop and my inbox every day. It makes me less crazy.

Eat something. Even if you aren't hungry, don't forget to eat, and pay attention to what you eat if you have a tendency toward low blood sugar. I found that out the hard way a couple of weeks ago when, stressed and upset, I had chocolate milk and a granola bar for breakfast and nearly passed out at the beauty salon.

Sell something on EBay. I was cleaning out a closet and found a twenty year old "Epilady" that I used maybe once. I saw that the same item was selling on eBay for around twenty five dollars. I priced mine at $24.95 and it sold within a couple of hours, and now I have some money in my Paypal account to do something fun, like buy breakfast at Wendy's on my way to work.

Make something. I have an Etsy store, so I have an outlet for selling the things I make. You can do that, too, but even if you don't sell what you make, the act of making something is worthwhile and will boost your spirits. Last night I had an idea of making a beaded badge holder lanyard. I made it, took photos of it, and posted it on Etsy. Then I posted a photo and the link on my Facebook page, and someone bought it this morning.

Read something inspirational. I spent some time this morning reading David Alchuter's blog and it inspired me to write this blog post. Do NOT read something depressing. I would advise against reading the news. Or you could always look at some cat videos, like this one. Or there's always this one.

Get some free stuff. I love keeping track of the free Kindle book blogs. Keeping my Kindle full of Books makes me feel rich. I don't download every free book, but if it sounds like something I might enjoy, I do. Unless it's a topic that I'm sure I will want to read about, I don't usually download free nonfiction books. I don't need the guilt of seeing them in my library but not reading them.

Hallmark has a "Gold Crown" program where you get points for anything that you buy at a Hallmark store. I don't do much shopping at the Hallmark stores, but I do occasionally, and a couple of times a year I'll get a free coupon for $2 or $3. $2 will buy a package of stickers. It isn't much, but it's something, and I love getting things free. Oh, that reminds me, I filled up a loyalty card at Jason's a couple of weeks ago -- I could go there for a free lunch today! I think I will.

Get on some mailing lists, but only for things you love. Beauty Brands sends out emails showcasing their specials. Occasionally there will be a coupon for a free product with purchase, and a couple of times a year they send out a completely free $5 coupon good on anything in the store. $5 isn't a lot, and I know they do it to get you in the store, but hey, free $5! I got one a couple of weeks ago and bought a small (handbag size) tube of expensive handcream and only had to pay about a dollar for it.

Conversely, get OFF some making lists. If you're getting emails that you consistently delete, get off the list! Or set a rule in your email program that throws it away before you see it. Not having to delete junk mail will save you a few minutes every day, and a lot of aggravation.

Write something. Like this blog post. If you don't have a blog, write in a journal.

Keep track of something. I use Evernote as my adjunct brain. Use your smart phone to take photos of your prescription medications, and mail them to your Evernote account. I did that this morning. Save a conference schedule as a PDF and save it in Evernote. When you pay a bill online, take a screenshot of the receipt and email it to Evernote. It makes me feel efficient and is an easy place to find things, because I invariably get flustered when I'm trying to find something like a schedule or a list of medications. Evernote automatically syncs to any device that you have it on, i.e., iPhone, iPad, computer, etc., so once information is in there, it's available to you anywhere, and it removes some stress from your life.

Get out there and do something.