10 Ways To Find Happiness This Summer (And All Year Round)
Staff Therapist Carol Blum, M.Ed, CAC, MFT, LPC works with mindfulness techniques. She also has 20 years experience working with clients who have experienced trauma, grief, health concerns, addiction, depression, anxiety, and serious mental illness.
Recommendations that will increase meaning and joy in your life, anytime.
- Strengthen relationships with people to whom you are closest. Intimacy releases positive neurotransmitters in our brains which boosts our mood.
- Devote a minimum of 10 minutes listening to each loved one, each day.
- Ask questions and then listen to answers without interrupting loved ones.
- Become playful on the floor and give your young child at least 10 minutes of play time each day. Allow the child to decide what to play and to be the leader.
- Sit quietly next to your teen for closeness and praise him/her when they decide to confide in you. If they confide negative behavior, do not react. Ask your teen what they think is an appropriate consequence of behavior. Call a family meeting to support teen in discussing alternatives to reported behavior. Help teen to create plan for making amends, if necessary.
- Gain greater control over behavior by understanding your inner self. Regulate your own thoughts and feelings which decreases anxiety and depression.
- Devote 10 minutes to listening to your own thoughts and feelings each day.
- Train thoughts so they work for you instead of against you e.g. “My husband/wife just doesn’t understand me” can be reframed to “I will take time each day to explain my thoughts and feelings to my husband/wife. We can feel closer with time and practice”.
- Identify and manage feelings appropriately. Ask for help with managing feelings, if necessary.
- Activate altruism which helps you feel better by increasing meaning in our lives.
- Devote 10 minutes to helping a neighbor, colleague, or acquaintance each week.
- Offer to help a friend e.g. when going to market, offer to pick up a few grocery items for neighbor, listen to friend’s dilemma without giving advice or injecting your own experiences into conversation, donate gently used items to an organization that helps others who are in need.
- Shake things up to see your world with new eyes and create new pathways in the brain.
- Try something new like take a different driving route or take the bus for your commute once per week to work and notice the effects.
- Walk slowly through your neighborhood or office and name 3 things you have never really considered e.g. notice the photograph that your colleague hung in her office. Notice the sound of birds chirping on your block. Notice the effects of slowing down.
- Try tea instead of the usual morning coffee and notice the effects.
- Take that Vinyasa yoga, Latin cooking, or Conversational Arabic class that you never tried before. Maybe you’ll enjoy the movement or the music or the silence or meet a new, interesting person. Maybe you’ll feel stronger, more flexible, creative, or energetic.
- Compliment others and thank others to generate positive feelings.
- Giving kind words to others makes it easier to give/accept kind words for ourselves and develops positive associations between us and the other person.
- Reinforce faith which decreases stress and increases hope, if this is of interest.
- Devote at least 10 minutes to reinforcing or creating a spiritual practice weekly e.g. pray, walk in nature and appreciate its beauty, say, “Thank You” before each meal eaten, ask for strength from the Universe to get through a difficult time.
- Maintain a gratitude journal and give direct thanks to people around you.
- Thank people for tasks completed, small or large, obvious or invisible e.g. Thanks for cleaning up the leaves in the yard, Thanks for coaching the kid’s soccer team when no one else stepped into that leadership role.
- Try inserting gratitude into the day, all day long. Thank you for this safe commute to work, for this meeting that went smoothly, for my colleague who listened to my concerns, for my wife who emptied the dishwasher, for my husband who picked up the kids from school today, for my children who walked the dog without my having to ask them.
- Breathe deeply and let go of negativity.
- Take deep breaths and imagine breathing in light and breathing out negativity.
- Try a body scan that illuminates where you feel tension and use massage/deep breathing/small yoga movements to release tension.
- When you cannot slow down your mind, you can slow down our body and mind/body are connected.
- Visualize your best self and grow into this picture. Accept ambivalence about change as common and widespread.
- Recognize that ambivalence is the hallmark of early stages of change i.e. I want to yell less at my children. But I don’t want to sit in the car for 5 minutes before I pick them up from daycare (even though sitting in car will help me walk in calmly). I want to feel closer to my husband but I don’t want to ask for help in changing the way I think (even though I know that I can only control my thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and not my husband’s ways of being in the world). I want to quit smoking but don’t want to feel the anger that emerges when I don’t smoke.
- Set goals and break them down into small chunks to enjoy a sense of accomplishment daily.
- Pat yourself on the back and use positive language to trigger soothing neurotransmitters circulating in the brain instead of activating neurotransmitters that can agitate. “Today, I smoked fewer cigarettes than I did yesterday. Keep up the good work”.
Best wishes in the warm months ahead and beyond!
Staff Therapist Carol Blum, M.Ed, CAC, MFT, LPC works with mindfulness techniques. She also has 20 years experience working with clients who have experienced trauma, grief, health concerns, addiction, depression, anxiety, and serious mental illness. Interested in therapy with Carol? Request an appointment today.