The Big 7 Ways to Boost Happiness (Quickly and for Free!)

I just got these 7 tips on how to boost your happiness in Sonia Sommer’s “Wellness Wednesday” email and had to share them with you! Here’s what she says:

I used to struggle with depression and anxiety. For years. If this is you, I know how it feels mate. I thought I'd stay like that for my whole life.

But I didn't.

These days, I jump out of bed feeling joy. Even when life serves up the shit sandwich, emotions pass through very quickly and I go right back to my new baseline of genuine happiness.

You're supposed to feel happy most of the time too. That's why I've been throwing joy spaghetti on your walls lately, so that something will stick.

It's actually natural to feel joyful. Stress and anxiety are an unnatural state.

Joy tip #4 the Big 7

My fantastic colleague Brian Johnson sent me this and I have to share it with you because it's a beaut summary of many of the methods I used to create my happiness baseline. 

This comes from a compilation of research by Neil Pasricha, author of "The Happiness Equation."

If you do any of these seven things for two straight weeks, you will feel happier.

Three Walks + The 20-Minute Replay + Random Acts of Kindness + A Complete Unplug + Hit Flow + 2-Minute Meditations + Five Gratitudes

Let’s take a super quick look at our Big 7 ways to boost our happiness and remember that science says the Happiness Equation STARTS with happiness.

It’s Happiness —> Great work —> Success NOT Great Work —> Success —> Happiness.

1. Three Walks. Exercise is as effective as Zoloft in reducing depression. Even just three brisk walks can do the trick! Remember that *not* exercising is like taking a depressant and get out there and MOVE YOUR BODY.

2. The 20-Minute Replay. Writing for 20 minutes about a positive experience is a GREAT way to boost your happiness. Scientists call it savoring. Groove the good stuff!

3. Random Acts of Kindness. Did you know that THE fastest, most reliable way to boost your mood is to do something nice for someone else? Yep. Find ways to do something nice!
 
4. A Complete Unplug. We’ve gotta make waves. Fully on. Fully off. Repeat. Are you training your RECOVERY as much as your “on” phases? Remember that it’s not that we work too hard but that we don’t recover enough. 
 
5. Hit Flow. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi tells us that the optimal state of human experience is found when we are engaged in activities that stretch us such that the challenges match our skills. Too much challenge = anxiety. Too little = boredom. The right match? FLOW. Find it!
 
6. 2-Minute Meditations. Meditation is huge. I meditate every single day because it's changed my whole life. You don’t need to be a levitating monk in the Himalayas to experience significant benefits. Even just a couple minutes a day keeps the gremlins away.
 
7. Five Gratitudes. As Neil says, “If you can be happy with the simple things, then it will be simple to be happy.” Find things to be grateful for and focus on them often. What are YOU grateful for today?

Thanks Brian. That's awesome!

I'm loving the 20 minute replay. It's like mainlining joy !

Which ones are you going to try today ?

xox, Sonia

Aren’t those tips amazing? If you’d like more info on Sonia Sommer and what she offers, check out her website at www.soniasommer.com.

Sonia laughing.jpg

How a Morning Ritual Changed My Life

Last Saturday morning I looked at the clock and it was 8:15. I had already written my morning pages, stretched, walked the dog, made breakfast for my son, and fixed my coffee—and I felt good; I wasn’t sleepy or grumpy! This is nothing short of a miracle, let me tell you. At the age of 49, I am sort of becoming a morning person! At least, it’s not torture for me to be up and about before 9 a.m. anymore. I can’t explain what a big deal this is for me, and I’m proud of myself for creating this shift.

My whole life I’ve loved to sleep. When I was a baby my mother used to wake me up to play because she was bored. I regularly slept until noon when I could, up until my thirties! Once I had my son—who did NOT like to sleep—that all came to a screeching halt. I was so sleep-deprived those first few years, I felt like a completely different person. My sweet husband, who has never had trouble rising early, began to get up with our son when he would wake at 4 or 5 a.m. so I could sleep in—and I basically spent the next ten years trying to fill that sleep deficit. I jealously guarded my sleep like a thief hoards his jewels.

But about a year ago, I began to notice that I felt irritable in the morning way too often—as if I’d woken up late and was running to catch up. I also felt tired every day, even when I got nine or ten hours of sleep. I researched possible causes for this in my usual way—reading lots of books and doing endless internet searches. I discovered that my nightly glass of wine was probably keeping me from deep sleep, so I started skipping it—and what do you know? I woke up feeling significantly more rested and less irritable.

But many days I still felt sluggish. I emailed a coach I follow, Sonia Sommer, to ask her advice, and she recommended that I phase out all the vitamins I was taking. I had quite an array—ironically, most of them chosen to give me more energy—and she told me that as we get older, it becomes harder for our bodies to process supplements; we can actually overtax our liver. So I took a break from them and also started drinking dandelion tea, which supports liver function. She also recommended going outside and getting sun first thing in the morning to re-set my biological clock each day, so I began doing that. I added more exercise and committed to being in bed by 10 each night.

Finally, I took a hard look at my mornings. I realized I was hitting snooze until I absolutely had to get up, then jumping out of bed with that adrenalized feeling of being late. I would stumble out to the kitchen, feeling groggy, and race around doing morning chores while I gulped my coffee. It was an awful way to start the day—no wonder I didn’t want to get up! No wonder I was grumpy! I decided to stop hitting the snooze. Rather, I would open my eyes and lie in bed for a moment, stretching and breathing deeply—and consciously NOT thinking about my to-do list. Doing that really made a difference in how I felt.

I started taking my coffee outside, drinking it slowly while I sat with my feet in the pool. I would watch the clouds or the water rippling and listen to the birds and the breeze through the leaves. Again, I wasn’t thinking about what I had to accomplish, just letting my mind rest. 

As I did this for a few weeks, I began to feel much more in control and relaxed in the mornings, and that feeling would last through the day. I started noticing that I would wake up around 7 or 7:30, then make myself go back to sleep if it wasn’t officially time to get up yet. I decided to try getting up whenever I first woke up, just to see how I felt. I was amazed to find that I wasn’t tired at all; as long as I was asleep by 11, I would wake up naturally around 7 or so, and have plenty of energy all day.

I kept doing this, and got into a rhythm of getting up on my own, before my alarm clock. It gave me more time in the mornings, which I decided to spend on myself. I would stay in my bedroom and journal, or try to sit in silence, or do some stretches on the floor—and it made me so happy! I realized I was creating a sort of morning ritual that was helping put me in a positive frame of mind. I was more patient, calmer, and more centered.

In April I began a writing class led by Martha Beck and Elizabeth Gilbert; shortly after it started I was sitting outside with my coffee and I began wondering how they spent their mornings. I figured they must have some sort of amazing ritual, since they are living aligned with their dreams. I thought about other women I knew who were living like that, and wondered about their mornings. I realized it would make a fascinating book—and then I realized I could write it! I was both exhilarated and terrified, all in the same moment. I decided to go for it, because I wanted to share with other women how powerful a morning ritual can be. If I could help even one woman change her mornings for the better, as I had done, it would be worth it.

I committed to writing the book, and am about halfway through it now. I’ve interviewed over a dozen women—including Martha Beck!—and what I’ve learned has been fascinating. I can’t wait to share it with everyone. As it progresses, I’ll keep you updated!

beach dawn 5.jpg