I won't lie, instant gratification is nice. I do adore a real life book, but it's so easy to pop onto Amazon and download one for the Kindle. I've lived without a microwave for over a year (!), but sometimes miss the ease of heating up leftovers with the click of a few buttons. Patience is definitely a virtue and I think I have quite a bit of it, but like most people, (remember Veruca Salt from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory?) I want (fill in the blank) and I want it now!
That extends to happiness, health, and a good dose of creativity. Fortunately, there are some ways to instantly gratify those needs, and they're mindful practices too, so you don't have to feel guilty. :) Incorporate these for an insta-boost!
Drink Green Tea
By now, you've probably heard that green tea is full of antioxidants and carries a multitude of benefits. Yep, drinking the green elixir can prevent heart disease, reduce cholesterol and high blood pressure, increase memory function, and provide a calming effect. Some studies even suggest green tea can help destroy cancer cells. Research is still being conducted, but regardless, having a cup or two a day is good for your health and your happiness.
The first thing I do each morning before getting out of bed? Stretch. And not just any stretch - I "bake all sides," as we call it in Nia, roll around, warm up my spine, and get all the fuzz out. It feels soooo good. Roll from side to side, circle your wrists, stretch through the length of your arms and legs. Whatever feels tense, gently move it, stretch it, get into your body and what feels good.
Do you ever stop to see how you're breathing? Is it from your chest or belly? If you're breathing from your chest, make it a habit to become more aware of how you're breathing and move the breath from your chest to your stomach. When you breathe in, your lungs should fill with air causing your belly to expand, and when you breathe out, your stomach should contract. Just like a balloon.
Shallow breathing hobbles the diaphragm’s range of motion. The lowest portion of the lungs — which is where many small blood vessels instrumental in carrying oxygen to cells reside — never gets a full share of oxygenated air. That can make you feel short of breath and anxious.
Deep abdominal breathing encourages full oxygen exchange — that is, the beneficial trade of incoming oxygen for outgoing carbon dioxide. Not surprisingly, this type of breathing slows the heartbeat and can lower or stabilize blood pressure.
-Stress Management: Approaches for Preventing and Reducing Stress via Harvard Health
Go for a walk
As a writer, I spend most of my days sitting in front of the computer, sometimes just staring at the screen. Although sitting and staring provides creative results sometimes, it's more likely that I'll have an "aha" moment if I'm in the midst of doing something else...like walking.
A recent study by the American Psychological Association suggests that going for a walk may lead to more creative thinking than sitting. In fact, "Of the students tested for creativity while walking, 100 percent came up with more creative ideas in one experiment, while 95 percent, 88 percent and 81 percent of the walker groups in the other experiments had more creative responses compared with when they were sitting."
And plenty of other studies have been conducted as well, all pointing to the fact that aimless walking leads to free-flowing thoughts. But don't take science's word for it: Charles Dickens was an avid walker and said creativity was, "gained by walking dreamily in a place, it cannot be gained by walking observantly.”
Tchaikovsky also walked two hours every day to keep his creativity flowing.
So head outside and "dreamily" walk. A novel idea could be waiting for you.
Nothing feels better than lending a helping hand. In fact, benevolence is one of the best ways to ease an aching heart. Feeling down about something? Volunteer at the soup kitchen or animal shelter. Just want to offer your time and gifts? Bake your neighbor a cake and invite her to tea. Helping and giving don't have to be extravagant; it's the little things that leave your heart feeling big.
Make a gratitude list
I'm not going to reiterate why gratitude lists work wonders because you've probably heard it a million times by now. So just go get your paper, some colorful markers, and make a list of five things you're super duper grateful for. Don't think too much. Just write.
Wake up and smile, smile while meditating, laugh for one minute (even if it's forced at first you'll really be laughing by the end of the minute), watch a comedy, browse Awkward Family Photos, smile at passersby. And when you're feeling bummed out, force a smile. Even a tiny one will light up the happy parts of your brain and make you feel happier.