Have you ever heard of the Happiness Ratio? Psychologist Barbara Fredrickson found that we need 3 positive emotions for every negative 1 to stay emotionally healthy. That’s easier said than done when you’re chronically ill and your days are filled with painful symptoms, doctor’s visits and social isolation.
Fortunately, there are two things you can do to boost your mood: do more things you enjoy or make the things you do more enjoyable. How? By purposely sprinkling simple pleasures throughout your day.
As it happens, happiness research also suggests that when it comes to happiness, frequency beats intensity. In other words: you don’t have to tick audacious goals off your bucket list in order to feel good; savoring tiny moments of bliss will do.
To do that, you could make a list of 31 little things that make you happy and actively try to do one of those simple pleasures every day. Here are some ideas to get you started:
31 Simple Pleasures to Put on Your Happy List
- Buy spring bulbs (daffodils, crocus, hyacinth) and watch them grow.
- Turn off the TV tonight and do something creative instead: playing music, coloring, knitting a scarf, whatever you enjoy.
- Light a candle to make you regular dinner a little more cozy.
- Make a string of peanuts, hang it in your garden and watch the birds eat.
- Treat yourself to a Superfood Hot Chocolate.
- Choose a new screen saver that makes you smile!
- Practice the art of savouring: noticing and appreciating the good things in life. Stop and smell the roses – both literally and figuratively.
- Sing in the shower, loud and proud.
- Enjoy the seasons. Watch the cherry trees blossom in Spring, enjoy dinner al fresco on a warm Summer’s eve, kick up leaves and jump in puddles during Fall and put on your cutest knitwear when Winter arrives.
- Keep a Happiness Planner or write down 3 things you’re grateful for each day.
- Brighten your day and someone else’s with random acts of kindness. Give your coworker a genuine compliment, leave the barista at your regular coffee shop a generous tip, send a care package to your sick friend or visit your grandparents at the nursing home.
- Put on red lipstick or your finest aftershave.
- On a beautiful day, eat your lunch outside.
- Cozy up on the couch with tea, a good book and soft music playing.
- Adorn your desk with a plant or photos of your family. Looking at natural scenes or pictures of loved ones are both proven ways to destress quickly.
- Turn boring chores into a game: complete doing the dishes before your 3 favourite songs are done playing or award yourself points for every items of clothing you can fold in 10 minutes time.
- Call your best friend to catch up. Just hearing their voice will probably make you smile.
- Make a healthy version of your favourite fast food. Think: portobello peach burger with sweet potato fries, sexy Spring rolls or a cauliflower pizza crust. Nourishing and delicious.
- Have a living room dance party.
- Look for the good in every situation. Instead of getting agitated about being stuck in traffic, turn up the music or take a mindful micro-break.
- Get up 15 minutes earlier so you can enjoy a big breakfast or read the paper before your busy day begins. Even better, start your morning with a Power Hour of Self-Care.
- Kiss and hug your loved ones every chance you get.
- Grow aromatic herbs in a window box and find ways to add them to your meals.
- Embrace your inner kid and play! Sing karaoke, throw frisbees in the park, play miniature golf or just be silly.
- Slow down and pay attention to the world around you. Take the scenic route to work, shop at the farmers market and artisan bakery instead of the supermarket or cook a meal from scratch.
- Listen to audiobooks or intriguing podcasts on your daily commute.
- Make your daily walks to the grocery store or train station a lot more exciting with these 7 powerful tips.
- Bake red velvet pancakes.
- Engage all your senses. Notice the sun on your skin, the breeze in your face, the grass between your toes. Eat mindfully and really taste each bite.
- Have a ‘no screens night’ and do something that truly recharges your body and mind instead: take a warm bath, practice some gentle yoga poses or take up an old hobby.
- Always remember: your mindset makes the difference between an ordeal and an adventure.
Which simple pleasures do you sprinkle throughout your day? And what does your happy list look like? I’d love to hear your ideas for brightening up your days in the comments.
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