5 Ways to Be Happier That You Can Start Today

happygirlYou’ve heard it many times. Happiness is not a destination, but a journey along the way of life. What exactly must we do on this trip that results in happiness?

There are five ways to be happier that you can start today.

1. Eat right

Consult a room full of experts and you’ll never get agreement on what is “right” for us to eat. Most people think of healthy eating as a way to lose weight. That is certainly a worthy goal, but healthy eating is more important as a powerful connection to our happiness as well.

How so?

The food and beverages we consume are processed into various forms by the organs of our bodies. Our liver, for example, the largest organ in the body, has the important job of converting our food into useful substances we need for life and growth and neutralizing toxins and wastes.

The liver works fastest and best with real food. Processed and fake foods, loaded with chemicals and preservatives, make the liver work much harder than it should. It’s like asking one employee to do the work of two or more.

You don’t have to be a medical expert to know that overtaxing the liver can only lead to impairing and damaging it. When that happens, we can’t digest our food properly nor get rid of wastes in a timely manner. Even though the liver has the amazing ability to repair itself, there is a limit to how much it can repeat this.

I’m not recommending that you launch into a diet. Who wants to diet? It has the word “die” in it.

What I’m suggesting is that you pay attention to your body. It will tell you which foods and beverages are right for you.  Consult your medical adviser and resources to begin your search for what’s right for your body.

Start slow. Change one thing. Replace one “not-so-good” food choice with a better choice.

Practice portion control. Instead of letting your eyes be your guide, use the amount of food that will fill the palm of your hand instead.

Eat a rainbow each day. That is, choose fruits and vegetables of different colors.

When you discover the combinations of food that are best for your body you will notice that you have more energy, sleep better and best of all, your mood and spirit will be uplifted.  When you eat right, you feel good, and that contributes a big part to your happiness.

2. Get some exercise

You can consult fitness experts, charts and programs to get suggestions, but the best source is your body and mind.

When I was working on my book, Color Your Life Happy, after hours of writing I would sometimes hit a wall. I couldn’t think anymore and my body was craving activity. I would leave the house for at least a walk around the block. I found it helpful to start the morning with at least 20 minutes working with an exercise video and later expanded into daily one hours walks with a neighbor.

If you are blessed to have physical mobility, move your body in whatever exercise seems right and safe for you. Many everyday activities such as housework, walking the stairs to get to your office, parking further away from the entrance to the mall can all contribute to your physical activity.

To get excellent advice, tips, cool tools, recipes, community support, as well as fitness, weigh-in and nutrition trackers, join the free website Spark People, your companion for a healthy lifestyle. There is encouragement and guidance for everyone, plus incentives to keep you motivated.

In a recent article on Spark People, Dodge the Exercise Roller Coaster, Mike Kramer says

You can stay off the coaster and get into consistency. All it takes is a little planning–and a lot of fun. The key is to build an exercise program that’s not stale, boring or disruptive. Now–while you still have momentum–is the perfect time to set up some smart, convenient systems and motivating reminders.

Here are three things Mike recommends:

  • combining exercise with other goals such as exercising during commercials or while watching a TV movie
  • taking exercise out of the gym by gardening or having a walking meeting
  • creating an in-home 20 minutes a day workout
  • What does exercise have to do with happiness?

    You know the drugs that doctors prescribe for depression and anxiety?

    Your body makes those chemicals naturally when you exercise, but without the side effects.

    Add to that deep-breathing and meditation and you have just discovered your own mood-enhancers available to you any time you want.

    3. Connect with a higher power

    People who describe themselves as happy report that they believe in a higher power, a higher source.  There are many names given to this higher power and while organized religion claims to have a special connection to this power, I’m referring to a spiritual connection that is  available to all and is our source of intuition, creativity, insight, and hope.

    When we tap into this spiritual connection daily we receive assurance that the workaday concerns that present themselves to us can be resolved. This comforts us and enables us to move through life without being undone by the ups and downs that we all encounter.

    How do you access your spiritual source?

    Quieting your mind and thoughts is the simplest way to get started. If you’ve never tried to sit still for ten minutes without thinking of anything, you’ll be surprised at first at how challenging it is. It takes practice to accomplish this. But it’s worth the practice because you’ll find that meditating can be very beneficial.

    Extending quiet time into meditation brings not only comfort, but also sparks creativity and reveals solutions that elude you during your busy activities.

    Prayer works for many people throughout the world. Some pray to the deity of their religion; others pray to the Universe, the Universal Mind or a Higher Power.

    Tapping your spiritual source is powerful because you’re acknowledging there is a power greater than you in this universe and you’re recognizing your connection to it.

    Many people attend religious or spiritual services regularly as a way to stay in touch with their spiritual source, while also connecting with others who share their beliefs.

    Some people find help in communing with nature on walks, runs and retreats. One author created a sanctuary in his backyard where he could go to be still and meditate. But you don’t have to build anything if you don’t want to—many man-made and natural sanctuaries already exist for your use.

    Some find solace in Nature, others in beautiful music and dance.

    Music is called the universal language because it has the power to speak to all of us—regardless of our native tongue. It can lift us to unheard-of heights and some say it is the only language that can reach the traumatized and brain-damaged.

    Beautiful music seems to flow through the fingers of a skilled pianist out onto the piano, creating visceral excitement; at other times it calms us, brings tears or bridges barriers across nations.

    Art is another path to spirituality. Michelangelo’s passion for creating sculpture was deep and profound. He saw himself not as creating art, but rather as releasing a human form trapped in the marble. His famous David, though created in 1501 when Michelangelo was only twenty-six, still has the power to mesmerize those fortunate enough to view it in person.

    Once you’re in tune with your spiritual source, you’ll discover it’s not just a ritual, it’s a welcome part of your life. Spirituality even helps out with mundane challenges such as finding a parking space or finding those lost glasses or keys. Being in tune with your spirituality relieves stress and brings solutions.

    4. Pursue your passion

    If you’ve ever watched a dancer, singer, or craftsman performing with passion, you can remember how they get so lost in joy of doing what they love that the audience seemed to disappear to them.

    By contrast, people who hate their jobs, look forward to Mondays with dread and sometimes develop physical symptoms as well because they are not living their passion, but are torturing themselves in exchange for a paycheck.

    Pursuing your passion ensures you joy, not because it always makes you lots of money, but because it gives you a deep contentment and fulfillment that money cannot buy.

    Teaching is one of my passions. Sharing information, encouraging, and helping others see their own brilliance gives me so much joy that I get a tingle in the back of my neck when I see that they get it.  I’ve taught all of my life with and without pay.

    Find your passion by asking yourself what you enjoy so much that you would do it for free. What puts a smile on your face? What brings out your creativity and absorbs your attention for so long that hours pass before you know it?

    Is there something inside you that you are burning to do?  Is there something you just must try it even if others don’t see the benefit or payoff? You aren’t even concerned so much with failure, but with having never tried it.

    What things to you talk to your friends about when you swap daydreams? Ask your friends to share what they think is your passion based on what you talk about.

    Perhaps there is something you find so easy that you can’t believe that others can’t get it.

    Finding your passion doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve found your life purpose.  And your passion may not be your source of income. That is something else.

    I’m not recommending that you drop your day job just yet to pursue your passion as a career, although that may be what you ultimately decide to do. There is nothing noble about starving or being homeless.

    What I am urging you to do is to tap into your passion. Find that something that makes your heart sing, that fills you up with joy and contentment.  When you find and enjoy your passion, many annoyances of the world will pass by you unnoticed or as minor occurrences.

    When you find your passion you will no longer be willing to tolerate a job you don’t enjoy, but will be attracted to one that celebrates you.

    When you find your passion you will no longer be willing to accept less than good treatment from those around you.

    Finding your passion makes embracing happiness easy.

    5. Express gratitude

    Saying thank you to others, yourself and God is one of the deepest and profound ways to open yourself to happiness.

    Express gratitude out loud, in writing, and mentally not only for the good things you’ve experienced, but also for the bad.

    Yes, the bad things have shaped our lives as much or more so than the good so we must be thankful for them as well.

    For example, I am very thankful that I didn’t get hired by the first community college to which I applied many years ago. I was teaching at a university at the time and the hiring committee thought I wouldn’t be able to relate to their students.  Because I didn’t get this job I started my own tutoring program which I successfully operated for eight years.

    Another example.

    I am also very thankful to my youngest sister who when she got frustrated with me for getting too heavy-handed in helping her raise her kids told me one day, “Get your own damn kids!”

    Wow! She was right. I was single at the time and too distracted with meddling in her childrearing that I was not focused on my own personal life. Thanks to her I turned my attention to getting married and starting my own family.  And what fun I had with every phase of my children’s lives. My husband and I raised four beautiful children who are now adults, plus I have the world’s most gorgeous grandchildren.

    I sometimes pause to think how miserable my life could have become as the old-maid aunt offering too much advice and help to my nieces and nephews. By being thankful for the jolt from my sister that turned me around, I bear no hurt toward my sister and was able to move into being her caregiver when I was needed.

    I’m very grateful to my children for still loving me in spite of the mistakes, miscalculations and misunderstandings committed in the name of childrearing.

    Be grateful for the large and the small. Sometimes we rejoice over the large sums or money or opportunities, but we must rejoice over the small as well and it will increase.

    When my feet hit the floor each day I say “Thank you God” and  “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

    I also say “Thank you God” when I find my keys, lost glasses or a misplaced check.

    Finally, be thankful to your former selves that have brought you to this place and this life.

    I’m grateful to my elementary-school self who loved school and reading and immediately fell in love with her teachers and teaching.

    I’m also grateful to my college self who didn’t want to waste my mother’s money so I used my study time wisely.

    Gratitude keeps you in the positive mode, puts the so-called negative in perspective, and  draws more of what you really want. By being thankful for the bad you let go of resentment and hurt. By being thankful for the everyday and small you avoid taking for granted that which you once didn’t have and could so easily lose.

    By eating right, exercising, connecting with a higher power, pursuing your passion and expressing gratitude you are ensured of being unified with happiness.

    Another Thing Happy People Do

    Photo by blmurch

    Photo by blmurch

    I recently asked my customers to answer a few questions about their experiences with my book, Color Your Life Happy. Here are responses that customer Renee Gailey, was kind enough to share:

    What motivated you to make your first purchase?

    I was feeling overwhelmed and very much wanted to get to overjoyed! I also joined the meetup for that reason.

    What is your favorite feature of my book?

    My favorite is the everyday language that you use and the stories to illustrate your points. Real life examples helped me to understand and also to know I was not alone in this situation.

    What life lesson or change have you made as a result of reading my book or receiving my coaching?

    I have made several changes. One, I have learned that when I am feeling overwhelmed I am looking at too much of the “picture” at one time and need to break it down into smaller “steps” or sections. Focus on the step you are working on and maybe the next step just to keep yourself on track. I have also learned that no goal no matter how outrageous, is achievable.

     

    Who seems the ideal kind of person to benefit from my book?

    Actually anyone who is struggling with their goals or with just handling life. The organization, coping, and “curing” tips are invaluable to them all.

    Renee is referring to some of the points I made in Chapter Four.  Here’s an excerpt from pages 79-80

    If you’re like many people, then you may have trouble visualizing a big dream. Even if you aspire to becoming a millionaire, owning a beachfront villa, running a successful business, or traveling the world, you may not be able to see it just yet.

    No amount of mental calisthenics can help you reach goals if you can’t visualize or believe you can achieve them. So why not set small, reachable goals that move you toward your big goals?

    Approach it the way you eat a steak (sorry vegetarians, but work with me here). There’s no doubt you can finish that sizzling steak on your plate, but you wouldn’t try to get the whole thing down in one bite and gulp.

    There’s an old joke: “How do you eat an elephant?”

    Answer: One bite at a time.

    Instead of frustrating yourself with the fact that some goals take time, think about what you can do today and tomorrow that will move you an inch toward that goal.

    I spent years longing to travel to Europe, for example. I would browse travel magazines, read travel books and watch travel shows. My friends patiently listened to my daydreams until one of them hit me with a key question: “Do you have a passport?”

    All those years of longing to travel abroad, wishing I could save enough money for a trip, and I hadn’t even taken the VERY FIRST step to foreign travel—getting a passport.

    Getting a passport was very much within my reach. Post offices and libraries make passports accessible. I didn’t have to know where I was going to travel to apply. As a matter of fact, I discovered, it was less stressful to obtain my passport before making any travel plans, while I was in no rush to receive it.

    If I didn’t have the money to buy my passport immediately, smaller steps would have been finding out where to apply and picking up an application. Even just discovering the passport fee is an important small step.

    The Chinese proverb is right. “A trip of 1,000 miles begins with one step.”

    If you enjoyed this article, click here to subscribe to our newsletter and get a free download of our popular ebook, “It’s About Time: Managing Your Life to Create the Happy Life You Deserve.”

    Practical Success Tips: Five Erroneous Beliefs That Are Blocking You From Achieving Your Goals

    p_043A key part of achieving your goals is planning. Maybe your goal requires some extensive planning, but there is a point at which planning becomes procrastination. If you examine why you are procrastinating, you may discover that you are afraid of the unknown. We all are. So don’t let that stop you.

    Or you may be procrastinating because you don’t really want this goal anymore. And that’s a good thing to discover.

    Now you can set a new goal, but don’t spend time in the planning stage for too long. There are five erroneous beliefs that may be blocking you from achieving your goals.

    1. You need lots more knowledge.

    Having knowledge and skills before starting a project are admirable, but you cannot wait until you know all there is to know about the subject before you begin. Much that we need to know is gained along the way as we work toward a goal.

    2. You need lots more money.

    There are successful entrepreneurs who can attest to the fact that they began toward their goals with very little money. Some raised startup money by taking on extra jobs, saving, reducing spending and partnering with like-minded colleagues.

    Start with whatever money you have to begin stepping toward your goal. As you enjoy small successes you will also increase your capital and know-how.

    3. You must wait for just the right circumstances

    There are no perfect circumstances.

    4. The timing must be perfect.

    There is no perfect timing.

    5. You must wait until you feel completely confident.

    Delaying to get started toward a goal actually erodes your confidence. It’s working toward and achieving your goal that builds confidence, not the other way around.

    If deep in your gut you want this goal so badly that you can taste it, procrastinate no longer. Jump in. Success and achievement await you.

    Celebrate Color Your Life Happy Day on August 9th

    momMany of us begin the year making resolutions, but within a few weeks our promises to ourselves have been forgotten.

    A Wall Street Journal article shared plans some people made to help them stick to their resolutions. Some kept their goals small and achievable. Others asked friends to help them stay on track by holding them accountable. Others found success when they changed their environment to support their new behavior.

    Here we are at the start of the second half of the year. How did you do with your resolutions this year?

    Regardless of how you fared in this annual practice, here’s an opportunity to start anew.

    On August 9th join me in celebrating the first “Color Your Life Happy Day”, a day to participate in something you enjoy, some activity that will make you happy and others too. Then make a decision to make it a habit to continue finding joy, pleasure, a way to help others for the rest of the year.

    Happiness is not a destination, but the things we do along the way as we live our lives. At the end of their lives, many wish they had slowed down, worked less and spent more time enjoying family, friends and fun activities. Don’t let this be you. Regrets are a waste. Do the things that bring you joy and happiness everyday.

    This special celebration was inspired by the memory of my mother, Mildred S. Morris, who would have turned 100 years old on August 9, 2010 (she passed at age 92 in 2002.) She spent her life making people happy with her music. She played piano and organ from childhood through her mid 80’s for many churches, organizations and events. Everyone who ever heard her play was touched by her lively and fervent style.

    I invite you to join me in celebrating Color Your Life Happy Day on August 9th. Then between August 10th-15th send me a photo or video of how you celebrated to my email at flora@florabrown.com

    You may choose to enjoy a simple pleasure such as taking time off to read a neglected book. You may join the courageous who use this day to get control of the clutter that has been making them very unhappy.

    I’m thinking of creating a new vegetable garden or maybe I’ll do some long-neglected scrapbooking.

    So get busy thinking of how you will celebrate “Color Your Life Happy Day.” Then on August 9th take a picture showing how you celebrated. Email it to me at flora@florabrown.com with your name, activity, and city/state/country. I will post all entries on my blog and Facebook.

    I’m looking forward to the wonderful array of celebrations.

    Practical Happiness Tip: Take One Small Step

    Rome2007Whenever you think of making a change in your life, the biggest obstacle is trying to make it in one leap.

    Although it’s said that we should think with the end in mind, thinking of it as one step will block your progress and threaten your happiness. You are much more likely to succeed and feel gratified if you can think of one small step, one tiny move that will start your journey. Then take it.

    That one small successful step boosts your self-esteem and gives you confidence to take the next one.

    On his blog, Work Happy Now, Karl Staib talks about this in his article Loving What You Do is An Ongoing Process when he suggests letting go of a fixed perspective and asking yourself how you can improve by 1%.

    Setting out to improve your job, your relationships or your life by just 1% at a time is so much easier to visualize and easy to do. Instead of making you fearful it is encouraging and in line with the way change occurs anyway.

    If you’ve ever watched a plant, a child or a project grow, you know that the day-to-day changes are so tiny that they are imperceptible. And yet, you know that little by little they are progressing toward full growth.

    Every idea, plan, dream has a first small step. Even if your goal is big one, it still has a small first step. Learn to respect that small step and congratulate yourself for taking it.

    What is your big plan, dream, goal?

    Whether your goal is getting a job, starting your own business, attracting a life partner, writing a book, traveling or some other wonderful thing, the progress toward it is the same. One small step.

    The small step may be just gathering information, completing a phone call or application, talking to someone who is doing what you want to do or making an outline.

    The ancient proverb “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” has survived for centuries not because is colorful, but because it is an encouraging reminder of the slow and steady progress it takes to accomplish meaningful and impressive work. (As a matter of fact, when I visited Rome, it was still undergoing construction.)

    What one small step can you take toward your change, goal, plan today?