"Be in love with your life."
We're always searching for ways to bring more happiness, peace, love, and magic into our everyday lives. Tons of books on the subject line bookshelves: The Happiness Project, The How of Happiness, Stumbling on Happiness, the list goes on...
I'm all about the beauty of everyday, uncovering blessings, and buckets full of happiness, so I've put together ten things you can do to practice everyday happiness.
From Gala Darling's Things I Love Thursday to the multitude of scientific studies, clearly, expressing gratitude is a form of magic. I started writing gratitude lists three years ago when I was going through a particularly rough time after moving to a new city and job searching. It was amazing how much it lifted my mood and helped me realize all the great things about my life. I still write gratitude lists almost everyday. They're especially helpful on those grumpy days or when you're feeling lacking. Expressing gratitude helps us focus on the present moment and appreciate everything we already have.
"Create altars in your home. Build devotionals to your charmed life. Decorate shelves & windowsills with photos, candles, flowers & little statues, & light matches every night. When you do, take a moment to think about your blessings." - Gala Darling
♥ Practice forgiveness
Here's another one you've probably read a lot about. If you're holding grudges you're not hurting anyone but yourself. It's kind of like you're keeping yourself prisoner. I like one of the exercises Janet Connor uses in her newest book, The Lotus and the Lily; close your eyes and see yourself walking through a prison. Everyone behind bars are people you have not been able to forgive. One by one say, I forgive you, and release them. Forgiving doesn't mean you condone whatever the person did to you. It doesn't mean what they did is excusable. It means letting go so that you can move on with your life. They've probably moved on. Why wouldn't you grant yourself that same freedom? By forgiving, you're taking back control and defining your life in a new, more positive way.
♥ Acts of kindness
Whether it's an act of kindness that's recognized or something in secret, promoting others' happiness gives us the warm fuzzies. And there are so many ways to do it! Buy lunch for whoever's behind you in the drive-thru line; slip positive affirmations in library books for people to find; give a flower to a random person; volunteer; bake cookies for your neighbor; offer to pet sit for free. Making someone else's day brightens our own.
We all know the benefits of exercise and eating healthy: improves mood, boosts energy, lowers stress. So what's keeping us from incorporating it into our lives? Sometimes it's a time constraint, sometimes it's laziness, but there's really no excuse not to do some form of exercise at least three days a week. I like to mix it up - one day for yoga, another for cardio, another for toning. That way I don't get bored. As for healthy eating, I always feel mucho better when I eat fresh food as opposed to popping a pizza in the oven or devouring a box of mac and cheese.
♥ Follow your dreams
I know what it's like to feel stuck, like there's no point in even bothering because the odds are stacked against you. Depressing! One small action a day can combat this. One small action towards your dream can make all the difference because it gives you concrete evidence that the dream is within reach. That it's real. Track your progress, check things off your dream to-do list, and go to bed satisfied.
The comparison game is frustrating. Trying to be everyone else is tiring. You can only be you, and that is enough. It's more than enough! When you ease into who you are, things flow. I do believe age helps with this. 20-something is a hard age, at least for me it was, but I found more comfort in my own bones the older I got. I don't think you have to be over 25 to love yourself though. Write yourself a love letter. Describe everything that amazes you about YOU. You can appreciate other people for who they are and how they do things, but don't forget about your own beauty/weirdness/style.
♥ Create a ritual
Michele Connolly has a nice list of happiness tricks, and I especially like #4: Have something to look forward to. I like little rituals, transitions that help us ease into moments in our day. Like Michele says, these are things we look forward to. When I was working the 8-5 I enjoyed making that first cup of coffee before diving into paperwork and emails. Now my ritual involves reading a daily passage from Until Today by Iyanla Vanzant and Heaven Calling. I look forward to divine guidance and it helps ground my day. Other rituals can include 4:00 tea, a bath before bed, or whatever makes your heart sing.
♥ Look for everyday magic
My last post on everyday magic should give you an idea. It's all around us. Living poetry. The flicker of candle flames, the way the earth smells after it rains, the texture and color of flowers, even weeds. It's all magical when you stop to really look/smell/touch/taste it.
♥ Gift yourself little luxuries
Even if you're on a strict budget, you can allow yourself a luxury here and there. It's like being on a diet and restricting yourself from chocolate for six months. At some point, you're really going to crave chocolate and if you deny yourself every time, you're missing out on some major happiness points. I'm no miss moneybags, but I'm actually happier now that I can't afford to go on shopping sprees. If you read Keep Walking you know that at one point I was buying stuff almost all the time and it wasn't increasing my happiness. It's only when I allow myself these little luxuries every now and then that I get the boost. For me, little luxuries include candles and Starbuck's coffee. Yours could be a spa day, a new book, or ice cream in a sprinkle-covered cone.
♥ Do away with people/stuff that doesn't serve you anymore
It's time to spring clean your life to make way for more magic and happiness. Get rid of the clothes that don't fit, the books you don't read, all the little nick-knacks collecting dust, and the people who drain you. This stuff weighs us down, creates clutter in our minds, and stops us from moving forward. Get rid of it and watch miracles happen.