Cheer up, bucko.
October 16, 2017 11:50 AM   Subscribe

I wish to be cheerful, mortals.

What would your normal median human being of average status do if this person wanted to feel more cheerful, for a moment or for a while? Faking the appearance of cheer is another matter. [cheerful, adj., 1. Noticeably happy and optimistic.
2. Bright and pleasant. Synonyms: bright, bubbly, cheerly, ebullient, happy, joyful, merry, optimistic, vivacious]

Bonus points for mobility restriction vectors (i.e. disability, plane flights, working). Does looking at amusing internet memes of infant humans and/or kittens cheer you up? Vintage '80s pop songs? A hobby or activity that makes you feel better in general? Walking? Positive news collections? Schadenfreude? Something else may seem unlikely?

For testing purposes, you see.
posted by Evilspork to Human Relations (24 answers total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
Watching my dog frolick around off leash always makes me feel cheerful and relaxed. If that’s not possible, petting him is also good.

Watching this clip from Frasier (05x20) always cheers me up.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 11:53 AM on October 16, 2017 [3 favorites]

It can take years but if you try, you will find you have changed.

Changing your context can help too. Some times you have to meet new people to build new relationships. I meet new people and I decide "Who do I want to be with this person? A happy person? I can do that." And I find that when I am with that person, I am a version of myself that matches to that person.
posted by rebent at 11:59 AM on October 16, 2017 [5 favorites]

Honestly, getting enough sleep does WONDERS for my level of cheer. I got a highly unusual extra couple of hours last night and then got a latte (ESPRESSO WOOOO!) and I'm almost obnoxiously chatty and happy today.
posted by Aquifer at 12:06 PM on October 16, 2017 [10 favorites]

Momentary or long lasting?

Momentary for me is almost always an animal post by Johnny Wallflower

There are books that I know will lift my spirits on a momentary basis.

For a change in brain waves, three suggestions:

Rick Hanson's books. Here's a ted talk by him that I haven't listened to, but I've done a daylong retreat with him so I suspect I have an idea of what he says in the ted talk.

The Awakening Joy course by James Baraz. I have not taken the course, but I have participated in retreats in which James was a teacher, and he is trustworthy.

Cultivate gratitude. You don't have to be grateful *to* someone or something to still be grateful for what you have, where you are, who you are, etc. It's honestly a really good practice to keep a journal of the things for which you are grateful.
posted by janey47 at 12:07 PM on October 16, 2017 [6 favorites]

- plan a surprise something for someone cool (did a surprise bbq/b-day for my hub and this was logistically a lot harder than anticipated as we don't have a car. was awesome though)
- try something physically a little tricky, like balancing on stuff, hopping over something (this is pretty much 90% of how fail videos are made)
- do spontaneous little silly stuff, like bottle flips
- hanging out with kids (we do a sports club for kiddos with disabilities and i look forward to it all week, its so kick ass)
- videos of peeps hearing awesome music for the first time makes me really happy too, for some reason (like some dude hearing RATM for the first time in the car totes made my day the other night)
- also, an IG & Facebook break has done freaking wonders for my mood
posted by speakeasy at 12:10 PM on October 16, 2017 [3 favorites]

Instead of gratitude journal, keep a cheer journal - every day write at least three things that happened that made you at least a little bit cheerful. (If you fall short of actually cheery events, substitute "things I'm glad that they happened" even if the feeling of cheer wasn't there.

What this does is it forces you to recognize more of those little micro moments where you were actually cheerful and to pay more attention to them (so you can remember to write them down later) which means they get more space in your mental story of your life.
posted by metahawk at 12:11 PM on October 16, 2017 [6 favorites]

Smiles - a really big smile and hold it for a moment. After a second or two you will start to feel a warm cheerful feeling inside. Notice and appreciate it. Don't expect too much - It won't last more than moment and you can't do it multiple times in a row but just notice how it feels (good!)

Similarly, when you are doing all those things suggested above, take a moment to notice how that joy feels in the body and appreciate that it is a good feeling. Sometimes our brains are so focused on worry and problem solving they can have trouble believing that is OK to relax and be happy. So when you are feeling happy, notice that is a way to reassure your anxious brain that it does feel good and nothing bad happens when you let yourself relax the vigilance and be cheerful.
posted by metahawk at 12:17 PM on October 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

Beyond eating, sleeping well, and exercising, which really are foundations for well-being, there are two pathways:

1) The easiest thing is to give yourself more things that you find enjoyable, i.e. control your environment to make it more pleasant.

Things that work for me:
-Like a certain food or treat? Have it at a reasonable interval, like daily or weekly. Like coffee or tea? Are you drinking it in a beautiful mug that you love?
-Do your clothes make you happy? Are they soft and comfortable and you feel good in them? Do you like their colors?
-Do you enjoy certain people's company? Do you reach out to them so you can see them more often?
-Is it nice outside? Carpe diem, try to expose yourself to it as much as possible (you can look up "grounding" which is basically being barefoot outside and soaking up nature).
-Is your workspace clutter-free and full of personal touches, like photos of loved ones and things that make you smile?
-Do you listen to music or podcasts you really enjoy?
-Do your daily grooming products smell nice and do you take time to smell them?
-Do you keep fresh flowers and plants around?
-Are you spending time on things you enjoy? Do you give yourself real mental breaks where you don't have to think or do anything (you need this daily)
-Do you help others? Helping others be happy makes me happy.
-Do you have small and large goals you work towards?
-Do you try to talk in a thoughtful way that doesn't turn into venting or complaining (if those things don't help you feel better)?

2) When you can't control your environment so much or what's happening (like you are stuck at work or on a plane or in a line), do as much within the environment as you can with ideas from above, but also:

-turn your attention to whatever pleasant you can notice right now (internal or external)
-daydream/fantasize/nap/take an objective observer stance and detach a bit from unpleasant situations you can't avoid or change
-when you notice yourself going down a spiral of annoyance/frustration/boredom, shift out of it by going back to one of the above options

Meditation helps too.
posted by lafemma at 12:51 PM on October 16, 2017 [3 favorites]

-Exercising while listening to something great.

-A small, face to face interaction with someone who appreciates you.
posted by karmachameleon at 12:53 PM on October 16, 2017

Put on an upbeat, uptempo song (if at all possible, one that in your mind is associated with good memories) and dance to it. If that feels like overdoing it, or if dancing is not possible, then maybe something calmer, like tapping your toe, rocking your head, or clapping your hands. Singing along is fine too.
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:03 PM on October 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

I like to make really long playlists of cheery, upbeat pop songs that I like and put them on shuffle. Then I get a little burst of "hey! I love this song! And I wasn't expecting it!" happiness every 2-3 minutes. It wears off after about 20 minutes though.

Talking to positive or cheery people instead of negative, complainy or too-cool-for-school cynical types helps a lot. So does generally avoiding tv and (ahem) the internet.
posted by windykites at 1:30 PM on October 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'm truly not being facetious here -- being on an antidepressant really consistently has improved my outlook on life. I found myself trying all of the positive thinking tips and then beating myself up when they didn't work. Now I have a higher baseline and I can use healthy habits and see them working.

But I'm assuming you are looking for non-medicinal tactics. Spending time in a garden, playing with dogs, volunteering in a way that requires human-to-human interaction -- these all help me.
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 1:53 PM on October 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

Accepting deeply that lots of things are unchangeably shitty, but then finding tiny things that are distinctly not shitty. For instance, little kids interacting with each other. The aforementioned animals, frolicking or otherwise. Baking cookies and giving them to someone. Scratch-n-sniff stickers. The promise of sex. Predictable routines. Having a great poop. Stretching. Laughing really hard at something.
posted by Temeraria at 2:21 PM on October 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

Exercise, learning to do something, finishing something you set out to do all work wonders for me.
Making something, even if it's useless. Taking a long shower. Sex, whether with another person or not. Thinking up fun dates, whether with another person or not.
posted by aspersioncast at 2:40 PM on October 16, 2017

I had a really hard time getting out of bed this morning. I got enough sleep, but it was dark out and it's been a pretty shitty year, and I just didn't want to deal. Also because the air quality has been so bad here in the Bay Area the last week, I really haven't exercised.

So I cut myself some slack, told my boss I would be in late because I had a medical thing to deal with (absolutely true: I had to go get a blood test I'd put off), and stayed in bed until the sun came up. Then I went for a 4-mile run in the park up the hill. It was cold and quiet and perfect.

I now feel much much better about myself, and about the state of the world.

I cannot over-emphasize how important exercise is for one's state of mind.

Watching also improves my mood, but that is a much more temporary lift than exercise provides.
posted by suelac at 3:27 PM on October 16, 2017 [4 favorites]

Spending time with other people when you are _not_ trying to accomplish something under pressure. That allows you to _enjoy_ them.

When I realize that the only time my dude and I are spending time together is when we were trying to work out logistics, do chores, etc., and made time for [what some people would call fun or] just spending time together, things get a lot better.
posted by amtho at 3:39 PM on October 16, 2017

My life is a shambles, and I'm on an antidepressant cocktail. I was on it before the shambling began.

But a few weeks ago, things turned around when I resumed taking my vitamins. Try some vitamin D plus exercise and a gratitude list, a ta-da! list (what you accomplished, no matter how trivial), and the cheer list noted above.
posted by jgirl at 4:06 PM on October 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

Looking at cute kittens/cats on youtube helps me. Not only because of the little fluffy cutie pies but because those videos have millions and millions of views. It is cheering to know just how many other people are out there getting joy from the itty bitty kitties. Makes me feel like everyone is a friend I haven't met yet because we sure have something good in common.
posted by kitten magic at 6:00 PM on October 16, 2017

This video: "MORE NFL" — A Bad Lip Reading of The NFL. Works every time.
posted by capricorn at 6:15 PM on October 16, 2017

Writing thank you notes regularly helps me. I think it's the opportunity to reflect on nice things that people have done for me, no matter the size or significance.
posted by ocherdraco at 6:01 AM on October 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Seconding music. There are a few songs that will give me a burst of joy when I hear them, no matter the circumstances. ("Fisherman's Blues" in particular.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:32 AM on October 17, 2017

For small bursts of cheer, I'm a huge fan of Wholesome Memes.

There's also an interesting line of recent research showing that focusing on doing nice things for others has a greater impact on happiness than doing nice things for yourself. Taking a friend out for coffee will make you happier than spending that money on yourself. Positive emotions are amplified when they're shared. You're also strengthening a bond, which has a deeper impact on your overall happiness than the fleeting hedonic impact of treating yourself.
posted by blazingunicorn at 8:29 AM on October 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

I've been doing this thing called the Happiness Survey for, years now, to track my feelings (for science!). My mood is noticeably better when I'm outside. Even if I'm just sitting outside, I'm more cheerful and happy.

Also, laughing puts me in a cheerful frame of mind, so I use Pinterest to find funny things. Just find one pin you think is funny, and it will populate similar ones below it.
posted by zoetrope at 9:04 AM on October 17, 2017

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