Happiness in Daily Doses
October 1, 2014 12:32 PM   Subscribe

What small steps/actions do you take to increase your daily happiness/contentment? I'm interested in practices that can be easily adopted in a full life of work, exercise, home & health care.
posted by CMcG to Health & Fitness (24 answers total) 72 users marked this as a favorite
Gratitude. If you can't cultivate gratitude without a specific reminder, keep a gratitude journal, in which you write a daily list of a few things you're grateful for.

Gratitude is the single most important factor in happiness. Seriously.
posted by janey47 at 12:35 PM on October 1, 2014 [10 favorites]

I make a point of doing something nice for someone else throughout the day, even something simple like listening to a stranger or smiling at someone for no reason.
posted by myselfasme at 12:48 PM on October 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

I recently started doing something I read in this article : wake up with the acronym A.R.G. - Anticipation, Recollection, and as janey47 said, Gratitude. I've seen results!
posted by bobbyno at 12:51 PM on October 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

Tea in the morning and at night, drunk alone while staring out a window.

Fresh flowers all the time.
posted by punchtothehead at 12:51 PM on October 1, 2014 [7 favorites]

Continuing on the gratitude theme, I like the three good things each day.
posted by capricorn at 12:56 PM on October 1, 2014

I have a calendar by my bed and I right a quick phrase about something nice that I did for myself in it. For example, I might write that I bought a magazine, took an actual lunch break to look at blogs while eating my lunch, took a longer shower, went for a walk, or made a healthy dinner. It helps me relive the moment and also keeps my attempts to show kindness to myself on my mind. I like using a calendar because it is organized and there isn't pressure to write a lot like a journal.
posted by shortyJBot at 12:56 PM on October 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

Walk around your block (apartment complex, etc.) every day. Wave to your neighbors. Smile at kids. Pick up a piece of trash if you come across one.
posted by Etrigan at 1:04 PM on October 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

Get enough sleep.
posted by Jacqueline at 1:27 PM on October 1, 2014 [6 favorites]

I float twice a month. It has been life changing. Among other things, it has reduced pain, improved my sleep, allowed me to resolve a difficult family issue peacefully, and given me the ability to calm instantly when I picture myself floating.
posted by bearwife at 1:31 PM on October 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

I aim to wash up everything I use in the kitchen as soon as I've finished using it, having a kitchen full of dirty crockery is really depressing to look at, and keeping this under control makes keeping the rest of the house clean and tidy much more managable.
posted by Middlemarch at 1:44 PM on October 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

I pull something out of the secret supply of secret squeaky toys and play with the dogs. No distractions allowed.
posted by deludingmyself at 1:51 PM on October 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

Interact with animals, rocks, various other material objects.

A pet is probably more commitment than appropriate here, but there are plenty of other animal options:
-Cat caf├ęs: it's not just for Tokyo anymore!
-Admiring and petting your neighbors' pets. (If he could, my cat would spend all day sprawled in the corridor, waiting for neighbors to pet him.) Or chickens in their yards.
-Noticing wild birds, squirrels, etc.
-Feeding wild birds, squirrels, etc.
-Paying respectful attention to the insect world. (whatsthatbug.com has totally flipped my experience of bugs.)

-Houseplants, but only if you can set yourself a low bar for success. (Hurray, this plant is still not dead yet! Good for me!)
-Learning to identify the trees you see on your regular routes.
-Noticing moss, weeds, lichen, and other plant life in and around city buildings.
-Strolling about admiring neighborhood gardens.

Rocks, etc.:
-Hang out with them. Emulate their attitude.
-For human-made objects, e.g. walls: appreciate how they're just kind of THERE, doing their thing. Remember they were created to benefit you. Feel warm and fuzzy about that.

Meditation helps with all of these things. 5 minutes a day is perfectly respectable.
posted by feral_goldfish at 2:03 PM on October 1, 2014 [7 favorites]

Keep a gratitude list, and review it regularly.
posted by jgirl at 2:11 PM on October 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

Meditation! Lots of places online offer short guided meditations or try an app. FWIW, I like "insight timer" but I think it's just for iPhone.

Also, stopping in the moment to appreciate whatever is right in front of you-- a beautiful tree, another person, a great song on the radio. Just recognize your joy in the moment. I say to myself "isn't this great?" And it is.
posted by tuesdayschild at 2:24 PM on October 1, 2014

Gratitude is good, doing a random act of kindness is good, contributing to something's growth is good (even if it is no more than keeping a cactus and checking in on it daily), and I try to do each of these daily. But these are all very adult and rather abstract, and to my mind the people who really understand small happinesses are little kids, so I try to promise myself one experience of childish glee every day. Some examples:

--Skipping down the block, especially if I have to wear a suit that day. Bonus points if someone laughs!
--Eating a strange treat like Ants on a Log (celery stuffed with peanut butter dotted with raisins) or a piece of dubious candy (like fizzy Zotz or an Atomic Fireball). Bonus points if someone gives you side-eye!
--Engaging in a pointless body challenge, like trying to emit a single glottal fry click, or getting a spoon to hang off the end of your nose for 10 seconds. Bonus points if someone else joins in.
--Spending ten minutes on some scavenger-hunt sort of quest like looking for a four-leaf clover or staring at the night sky watching for a falling meteor. Bonus points if you managed to sneak off to do this and nobody notices your secret mission.

Little things like these are likely to leave me smiling for a surprising amount of time afterwards.
posted by DrMew at 2:34 PM on October 1, 2014 [7 favorites]

Oddly (or perhaps not), I find that striking up a conversation with a stranger helps me feel happier. For example: last night I heard a lady in the grocery store say, "If it were a snake, it would have bitten me!" when a guy showed her where some item was stored. I said to her, "Oh, I haven't heard that expression in a long time!" and then we got into a nice discussion about old expressions like that. I find that those sorts of encounters cheer me up a lot -- even just saying to a stranger, "I like your scarf!" or something like that.
posted by holborne at 3:16 PM on October 1, 2014 [3 favorites]

A simple prayer.
posted by tackypink at 3:31 PM on October 1, 2014

I try to find a story in each day. It can be simple like today's "found a really good Thai place near enough that I'll be visiting it frequently", or be about doing good work and being proud of it, or be silly or sad, something I blather excitedly about on social media, or something private I write down in my journal. If the day doesn't seem to have a story, I want to change things up and find one, the next day if not that day.

I find ways to take pleasure in necessary routines. I really enjoy washing the dishes while thinking or listening to a podcast. I'd do it even if I had a dishwasher. Walking the dog, or simply taking a walk. Best is chopping wood, feeding the fire, and hauling water (helps to live in a rustic place). I go outside every night and brush my teeth while looking up at the stars, sometimes see a meteor.

Random chats are also great. I asked my neighbor how he's doing today, and he said "I'm feeling like a 14 year old boy!" He's late 50's.. Made my day.
posted by joeyh at 4:44 PM on October 1, 2014 [8 favorites]

- Make the bed. It's restful to the eye all day, and feels like you've got maid service when you tuck in at night.
- Exercise enough to make your heart beat faster, even for just 10 minutes.
- For some reason having clean feet and hands does a lot for me. When I decide I'm done with my day, I wash my hands and feet with a warm cloth.
- I like dark chocolate. I have a small square after dinner.
posted by RingerChopChop at 7:03 PM on October 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

Looking at pictures of cute animals helps with concentration and mood. Science!

So, you know, watch this kitten get scared by a lizard.
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 1:49 AM on October 2, 2014

Make sure you have a few objects you use daily that make you stop and smile, whether because they're beautiful or silly or clever. My mornings have gotten a little brighter since I bought this mug.
posted by oinopaponton at 6:12 AM on October 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

* Sitting in the dark with a friend or loved one. Talking or without. It sounds strange, but something about the dark quiets the brain.
posted by Jonathan Harford at 1:02 PM on October 2, 2014

Small doses of productivity and accomplishment. Setting goals, however modest, and meeting them. It cultivates a feeling of growth.
posted by stroke_count at 5:23 PM on October 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Regular exercise (preferably aerobic) can make you happy like no-one's business.
When we were kids we used to run around like mad munchkins and everyone remembers the fun of that. Now we're biggies and think we can get happy sitting for hours in front of a display screen. Turn that shit off. Go out and run around by yourself or with friends. Chase cars, wave your arms, throw something, shout and laugh. There's a part of you, you may have forgotten, that really wants you to be happy in this way.
posted by storybored at 1:07 PM on October 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

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