Would you like to be happier now? Me too!
If you’re like me, you often go about this by searching for new and deep happiness strategies. However, I’m learning this isn’t always the best. This weekend, while pondering future ideas for posts, I came across an inspiring quote by Samuel Johnson on the power of a reminder. Samuel states, “People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed.” Pure genius! I thought to myself. There is power in being reminded to use the tools that we already know well. And this certainly applies to happiness.
This post is about putting simple happiness reminders to work so you and I can be happier now. Although many of these happiness reminders are simple, they may not be easy. Today, I’m writing this post for myself. It contains four simple happiness reminders I know but forget to use.
Chances are, you will find value in this post too.
How to Be Happier Now
To be happier, don’t just learn new information. Practice what you know. Likely, you’ve heard these simple happiness strategies before. This post is a reminder to put them into action. Then, join me and be happier now!
Happiness Reminder #1: Life is better when we smile.
We are bio-psycho-social beings. Our feelings are connected to our physical bodies. In his classic work, How to Win Friends & Influence People, Dale Carnegie devotes an entire chapter to the heart-warming power of a simple smile. Smiling is one of the easiest and quickest mood lifters around.
Believe it or not, even a forced smile will send a message to your brain stating, “It is time to feel happier.” In addition to making us feel better, our smile can also improve the mood of those around us. Mirror-neurons reflect the mood of others. My wife Jenny, runs a day-care. Thanks to mirror-neurons, when one baby cries, the others join in.
Fortunately, feelings of happiness can be mirrored, as well. Smile at a friend, and chances are, your smile will be returned. When it comes to happiness, we really can fake it until we make it. This holiday season, if you feel down, try acting happy. The feelings will follow. Smiling is one of the quickest and easiest ways to be happier now.
Happiness Reminder #2: Boredom builds creativity and character.
Boredom is a lost art. I was reminded of its value during our weekend visit to Jenny’s grandparents. When you live in a blended family, it is easy want to cram as much fun into your half of the week as possible.
The downside is that our children have a difficult time when the attention is not on them. Because Jenny and I set limits on television and tablet time, our girls were antsy during the first part of the trip. Yet, we allowed them to push through the uncomfortableness of boredom. Initially, there were arguments and a healthy dose of whining, “I’m bored.” However, by the end of the week, our girls increased the use of their cooperation and imagination. They learned to play new board games, read several books, engaged with their cousins, and chatted with adults.
This weekend was a growing experience for me too. I had to learn to let go of some of the daddy guilt that drives me to keep the kids happy and entertained. Once I saw the creativity of my children kick-in, I knew I had made the right choice. In this smart-phone and tablet world, amusement is always within arm’s length. Boredom is becoming a lost art. The bottom line is, it is perfectly OK to allow our children to experience the gift of boredom.
Happiness Reminder #3: Recharging is a must.
I write about self-care often because it is a need in my own life. In fact, the lack of healthy self-care is creating an upheaval in our society. The diathesis-stress model of mental illness proposes:
- All of us have a diathesis—or a genetic propensity—for certain mental illnesses. Some may be more prone to depression, others to anxiety, and others to schizophrenia.
- Our diathesis is exacerbated by stress. Once our stress level accelerates beyond a certain point, the symptoms of mental-illness kick-in.
Like a car dashboard, your body comes fully equipped with warning lights. These include:
- Feeling drained…
- Yelling or snapping at someone you love…
- Bursting into tears…
- Getting agitated more easily than normal…
These are some of your body’s ways of informing you that it is time to recharge. Without self-care, our bodies function poorly. Most of us understand this on an intellectual level. I’m including this reminder because it may be time to practice some of the wisdom that you already know.
Happiness Reminder #4: Family memories are the happiest memories.
As the holidays approach, it’s easy to get caught up in all of the “shoulds,” and “musts,” of this time of year.
- I must get pictures of my children on Santa’s lap.
- I really should attend the holiday party at work and participate in the gift exchange this year.
- Christmas baking is a must.
- Our family should come over for dinner, and my spouses family over too.
- I should hang holiday lights outside—after all, all of the other neighbors are doing it.
If you were to meet with the renowned therapist, Albert Ellis, he would likely ask, “Why should or must you do any of these things?” On a similar note, Karen Horney often spoke of the tyranny of the shoulds. We put undue pressure on ourselves when we convince ourselves that tasks “should” or “must” be done. While many of the holiday events listed above are nice, they are also not necessary.
Each year, Jenny compiles a photo album of our favorite memories. Without fail, it’s always the time together as a family that matters most. Happiness reminder #4 is a simple prompt to let go of the small stuff. Focus your energy on the people who matter most. Ten years from now, the fact that the house was not as clean as we would have liked, or that all of the baking didn’t get done, will be long forgotten. Yet, the moments spent together as a family will feel like they happened yesterday.
Dive Deeper into Simple Happiness Reminders
Go deeper by using the questions below for additional reflection and discussion.
- Which of these simple happiness reminders resonates with you most?
- Is there a happiness reminder you would add to this list?
- What actions do you need to take to be happier now?
To dive deeper into simply happiness habits, be sure to check out my book Be Happier Now! It’s my free gift to you. Just let me know where to send it.