Happiness is not expensive. It does not require a reservation or identification or anything at all. It’s a choice – you can decide to be happy right now, or you can decide not to be. It helps when you are surrounded by the people, places and things that make you feel happy.
Princeton defines happiness as “a state of well-being characterized by feelings of contentment to intense joy.” I like that definition. Being happy does not mean you are in a constant frenzy of total fulfillment and ecstasy. I am happy when I am at peace; my mind is calm and my needs are being met. Have you had some trouble finding your own happiness? Here are five little things you can do to create big happiness in your life. Give them a try. What do you have to lose?
Pets. I read that having a pet can prolong your life and reduce the propensity for depression. Even if you are not in a position that you can own a dog or a litter of kittens, spend time with animals any time you can. There is a stray cat in my neighborhood that comes by once in a while for some attention and Friskies. It’s relaxing; sitting on the patio and petting this nomad animal.
Volunteer. I know, I know - you already have an overbooked schedule and there is hardly any time to give your paying job the time it requires, why would you do stuff for free? Because it will make you happy, that’s why. I participated in a march for fair food with a crew of Immokalee farm workers last month. It was intensely meaningful and I felt good for days. When you step away from your own nonsense and concentrate on the needs of others, everything falls into perspective. There’s a lot to be happy about.
Reflection. Think about writing in a journal, praying or meditating. When you take a few quiet moments to just be still and reflect on everything that’s going on in your life - challenges as well as bright spots - you get an opportunity to choose happiness. I find a lot of happiness when I go to church. My pastor happens to somehow know exactly what I’m going through from week to week and writes her sermons just for me. That’s obviously not true, but it seems like she’s writing them for me. And I always feel happy when I leave.
Friends. There are a few people I can call for absolutely no reason and I instantly feel happy. My sisters, Tashina Hill, my roommate from college, my friend in California who has the same obsession with bad movies. Your friends will validate how you feel and help you remember all you have to be happy about. Make time for them. It can be a phone call, and online chat, and even better - an in-person visit.
Nature. Get outside. It’s hard to be happy about Florida in July, but I always try to enjoy fresh air and natural sunshine when I can. There are physical health benefits; the vitamin D in sunlight will increase your happy hormones.