A global pandemic, economic uncertainty, political insurrection. Are you finding it hard to feel happy these days? Try these 3 free and easy happiness hacks.
1. Let Your Inner Child Out to Play
You may have lost touch with it, but trust me, it's still in there — your inner child. Have you ignored it and pushed it aside? After all, life is busy and you're a responsible adult now.
In the 1970s, Eric Berne wrote about a theory he named Transactional Analysis. He reported that we all have a parent part, an adult part, and a child part. Your child part is responsible for courage, creativity and fun. You can imagine the roles of the other two parts, and they do not have anything to do with having fun.
You need a healthy balance of all three of these parts. When you let your inner adult take over too much, you let yourself get absorbed by a lot of organizing and planning. you focus on the future, and you lose touch with how to have fun in the present. Sound familiar?
Sure you're an adult now, and with life comes responsibilities. You have to report to work, pay your bills, and tend to the things and people that depend on you. But, to have a happy and healthy life, you have to let that inner child play.
To have a balanced and happy life let your inner child express itself.
What happens when you chronically ignore your inner child? The answer is simple. What do most children do when you push them aside? They act up, they lash out, and they become more and more persistent until they get the attention they need.
In adulthood, an “acting out” inner child shows up as tension, frustration, depression, and physical maladies such as headaches, digestive problems and inflammation. You can try to push these symptoms aside too, but they never really go away.
Instead, let your inner child out to play at least once a day.
Here are some childlike activities you could do:
- Watch a completely silly movie that makes you laugh instead of think (I’m talking Airplane and Napoleon Dynamite)
- Skip the gym and play an active game, like Ping Pong or Frisbee
- Run through a pile of leaves or stomp in a puddle
- Ride the grocery cart back to your car
- Sing like a superstar in the shower
- Have a pillow fight
- Catch popcorn in your mouth
- Color in a coloring book or build a Lego set
- Dance — what the heck dance naked
- Do some cartwheels
- Practice juggling or the yoyo
- Actually play on the playground
Do something fun and silly every day; your health and happiness are depending on it.
2. PLUG AN ENERGY LEAK.
A leaky bucket can’t hold water, and a life with small energy leaks can’t hold happiness. Energy leaks are little things like piles of laundry that need to be folded, stacks of paper on your desk, an inbox with hundreds of emails in it, or something broken that needs to be fixed.
It’s likely you’ve been ignoring your energy leaks because over time, you don’t even see them. Your nervous system gets conditioned to tuning them out. Individually they seem like small things, but even the smallest neglected leak can sink a boat. A week ago, my neighbor’s $50,000 ski boat sank because 2 small screws fell out of the fin box on the underside of the boat. Two very small screws.
It’s not just physical things that cause energy leaks.
Unattended emotional needs and unhealthy habits are energy leaks too. Hitting the snooze button, avoiding making an apology, owing someone money, holding a grudge, habitually showing up late... These are also energy leaks, and they keep you from being your happiest.
All these leaks cause micro-drains on your energy, your focus, and your mood. They’re tasks that need to get done, so they keep demanding your attention, even if it’s only in the realm of your subconscious mind. The human brain can only focus on one thing at a time. Clutter and unfinished business are constant pulls for your attention.
“If you have debt, I’m willing to bet that general clutter is a problem for you too.” - Suze Orman
What energy leak can you plug today?
Start easy. Pick one leak you can plug today. It should only take about 10 minutes to address it. It’s going to feel like a small step, but remember that boat that sank because 2 small screws fell out? Unfinished business and messy environments are just like those tiny screws. Start with something easy and plug that leak.
- Make the phone call you've been avoiding
- Organize a closet
- Schedule your oil change, or your annual physical or dental cleaning
- Put away the laundry that's been a pile
- Clean out the refrigerator or freezer
- Empty your inbox
When I first did this exercise, I folded two huge piles of clean laundry that forever lived in a spare bedroom. Plug one of your energy leaks, and then pause to notice how much lighter you feel. This lightness is your energy flowing, and it’s an ingredient in your lifelong happiness.
3. Talk to Strangers
Keep your wits about you and stay safe, but go ahead and chat with people you don’t know.
By now you’re catching on that it’s not the material objects in your life that create happiness. A big chunk of happiness comes from positive interactions with people, your experiences, and your connections. Material objects can be fun or give a sense of excitement, but the true happiness that nourishes your soul comes from experiencing positive social connections with humanity.
There’s an unlimited supply of happiness just waiting for you, and you can have as much of it as you want. Think of all the opportunities you have throughout each day to have feel-good interactions with dozens of people. There’s no need to limit your interactions to the people closest to you.
- Smile at people
- Make small talk
- Say please and thank you
- Give a compliment (avoid being too personal)
If someone doesn’t return the gesture, that’s cool too. It’s no bother to you if they don’t want to play along. There’s no need to feel put off by them because your happiness comes from inside you.
Think about a flower. It shows off its beauty for you, but it’s not expecting anything in return. You’re not depending on other people to give you happiness in return for your kind gestures, you’re getting happiness from expressing your kindness outward. It’s the outward flow of kindness that generates your happiness today.
This world is full of cool and interesting people. Each time you have a fun, positive, or warm interaction with someone, it’s like making a deposit in your happiness bank. Free of charge, you may be helping someone else fill their happiness bank as well. When peoples’ happiness banks are full, it’s a better world for everyone.
all images open source from pixabay.com