30 October 2007

11 tips for feeling happier right now

I subscribe to some great websites and this morning I got an update from Life Remix that was just what I needed: a scant dozen happiness boosters with a challenge to use as many of these ideas as possible in an hour. Considering I'm driving in the slow lane right now, I decided to see how many of these mile markers I could pass today and call that good progress. Here's my report:

Listen to a great song. I dug up one of the very best and reminisced. I'll never forget the precious friend who dedicated this to me with her melancholy love, years ago.

The Whole of the Moon

I pictured a rainbow
You held it in your hand
I had flashes
You saw the plan
I wandered out in the world for years
While you just stayed in your room
I saw the crescent
You saw the whole of the moon
The whole of the moon

You were there in the turnstiles
With the wind at your heels
You stretched for the stars
And you know how it feels
To reach too high
Too far
Too soon
You saw the whole of the moon

I was grounded
While you filled the skies
I was dumbfounded by truth
You cut through lies
I saw the rain dirty valley
You saw Brigadoon
I saw the crescent
You saw the whole of the moon

I spoke about wings
You just flew
I wondered, I guessed and I tried
You just knew
I sighed
And you swooned
I saw the crescent
You saw the whole of the moon
The whole of the moon
The whole of the moon

The torch in your pocket
And the wind at your heels
You climbed on a ladder
And you know how it feels
To get too high
Too far
Too soon
You saw the whole of the moon
The whole of the moon

Unicorns and cannonballs
Palaces and piers
Trumpets, towers, and tenements
Wide oceans full of tears
Flags, rags, ferryboats
Scimitars and scarves
Every precious dream and vision
Underneath the stars
Yes, you climbed on a ladder
With the wind in your sails
You came like a comet
Blazing your trail
Too high
Too far
Too soon
You saw the whole of the moon

Fake it: put a smile on your face right now, and keep smiling. Since nobody's home, I pasted my broadest grin on my face, took it upstairs, and showed it to my dog. That wound him up—he, even more than most humans I know, is very susceptible to catching moods. After that, I wore a less tiring but steady smile as I made myself some lunch. Luckily, it was a quick and easy lunch; I feel a mite stupid just smiling at a sandwich. I'll admit though that the mere act of smiling positively alters one's mindset, with startling consistency. Strange but true.

Go outside. So my sandwich and I spent our lunch together outside, on the steps, enjoying the sky's threat of rain and the cars going by. I love to be outside. I imagined to myself God urging me to shed today's claustrophobia of walls and ceiling by saying, "Honey, why don't you come outside where I can see you better?" The thing is, he can see me just as well anywhere, but I am the one who seems to gain a clearer view when I step out of the manmade, and into the natural.

Create a calm environment. It's not like the game's ever over, but I scored some order points by getting my kitchen mostly straightened out after a couple days of pile-up. In the spirit of Mary Poppins, I found a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down; as I worked I listened to several episodes of a favorite podcast. Podcasts = happy. Things clean and in their places = happy.

Do a good deed. Also while listening to podcasts, I threw in two loads of laundry . . . for a friend. This friend has only one roommate, a neurotic little cat, and has no easy access to laundry facilities. She has a once-a-week deal worked out with someone else she knows who owns a washer/dryer, but recently this pal of mine showed up on my doorstep looking pathetic and begging a favor. "My cat threw up on my bed, and couldjacouldjacouldja-please-sorry-for-asking-let-me-wash-my-stuff-here? I've already prewashed in the sink!" It was no problem. Except that I was on my way out the door, so I told her to leave her cat-hack blankeys and I'd take care of them later while I was doing my own washing. Heck, I even had a dog-hack mat to throw in with her two loads. My friend is coming back for her things after work today, so this is what I'm calling my good deed for the day.

Rid yourself of a nagging task. That's easy. Today's my last day to pay mortgage without a late charge. Here I go. (This hasn't been my most put-together month.) The other thing I did was write my uncle who (a) is very sick, and (b) has been worried about me. I should have emailed him as soon as we got back from Oregon, but . . . well, there's just no explaining some things. Like waiting till the last day to pay your mortgage when you've got the money. Same deal. Anyway, I've already received a very loving email back from my uncle. I'm not expecting the same kind of warm fuzzy from the mortgage company.

Save the life of a stranger. I wanted to go to the Red Cross and donate blood today, but I haven't got enough time between now and when I have to leave for an early YW activity. I share my blood fairly regularly. If there was such a thing as Donor Olympics, my dad would have been the USA team captain and gold medalist, and I like to give blood partly to honor him and show him that I do follow in his footsteps in at least this one way. Did I just say I like to give blood? Let me amend that; I'm committed to the cause. That doesn't mean I like getting stabbed and having my blood sucked and going faint about every other time I submit to the needle. I do like the fig newtons and trail mix and o.j. the Red Cross so nicely provides to make it up to me.

But I can't give blood today. So, to put the life-saving happiness tip to work, I decided to make a little donation to the Pennies by the Inch campaign. Let's see, I'm 5' 7", so that's at least 67¢ I owe, right?

And rats, it looks like I'm out of time for the rest of the report. I've got to get on my way to a Young Women Halloween pizza and movie night. If it isn't too late when I get home, I'll yammer about the other tips, which I will be working on with what's left of the day. Here's the preview:

Boost your energy.
Reach out to friends.
Lay the groundwork for some fun.
Spend time with an energetic friend.


wendy said...

I certainly needed this today. I'm going to have to make myself a copy of this list. I'm impressed that you did so many! I've never heard that song . . . I LIKE IT.

Am'n2deep said...

Have I already told you that I just flat out like you a whole lot?

Jamie said...

Just what I needed. I LOVE YOU! I love that waterboys song SO MUCH (it's Kevinish), and you reminded me that I can use my pod for a pod cast. Now I am going to go find some! You rule.

sara said...

What a great list. I helped a sweet 87-yr-old lady at the store today with reading the labels on some lipsticks, and I couldn't believe how good such a small thing made me feel. That and smiling - makes the world seem a little more small-town instead of big-city, doesn't it?

Chemical Billy said...

You're my hero, Geo, every day.

I used to love donating blood. Yes, the cause was good and all that, but I did it for the high. But did you know that if you lived in the U.K. for more than six months in the '90's that you are permanently banned from giving blood? Alas.

I shared my soup with a homeless guy today, and that did a lot.

But I must admit that the biggest happy charge came from the earthquake.


Geo said...

WENDY. It's one of the beauties of working at home. I'm not worried about losing my job if I walk outside for a breath of air (so why don't I do that more?) or do some crazy dancing in the kitchen with my dog.

Did you listen to the version the song title links to, or just the YouTube video? It's one of the best songs I know. The Waterboys are just all-around great anyway. I'm glad you made a musical discovery here!

AM'N. Not yet. Unless you count that question. So tell me already. Watcha waitin for?

JAMIE. I love you too. And I love that song so much that sometimes even after 'leventy-million times hearing it, it still makes me cry.

As for podcasts, I'm thinking I should post a list of my favorite subscriptions. I have some great ones on tap. Maybe we should all swap lists, expand our libraries a bit.

SARA. Welcome! That was a great gift you had the chance to give today. I bet that woman was so pleased to have your help and grateful for your kind care. Having spent a decade up close and personal with an aging grandmother, I can almost promise you made that lady's entire day, maybe more. Maybe you'd be surprised how far the ripples of your choice might go out.

Hurray for making the world smaller and nicer!

Geo said...

BILLY. Billy! Billy! You're here! When will we get to share soup? or fig newtons (not at the Red Cross)?

Emily said...

I love what you said about being outside, how it clears up your perspective--beautifully expressed. And I want to stand up and clap for you for giving blood (esp when it makes you whoozy.) After they had to turn my lawn-chair upside down (that is, put my feet up higher than my head) to fill my bag at the last blood drive I attended (it took twenty minutes), I've been hesitant to go back.

wendy said...

Well . . . NOW I've listened to both versions! :)

What do you do for work?

I will dance today.

Becca said...

hey, i'm glad to hear of that song. i like it. and thanks for sharing the tips to boost happiness.

Geo said...

EMILY. Yeah, I'm a slow drip sometimes too (in more ways than one)! Now I'm thinking Halloween might be the perfect day to go and have my blood sucked. But do you think they'll try to take it out of my neck?

WENDY. And I will dance too, in between rounds of handing out "elephant candy" to trick-or-treaters.

My husband and I are self-employed—we are fine press publishers. We do letterpress printing.

But mostly right now, I am a housewifely type.

BECCA. Is that the first time you've heard it? I would have thought Mart would have had some Waterboys around. But it's good to make new discoveries of old treasures.

I am looking forward to Thanksgiving with you!

Katrina said...

Thanks for sharing these! Great ideas. Giving blood is something I should do more... or ever, since it's been about 6 years. Well done you.

Geo said...

KATRINA. It's not a done deal yet, but the fig newtons are calling to me.

Katrina said...

Go and get em! Thanks for stopping by my blog! :-)

Rynell said...

Reading your list made my day much, much better.

And now I will go and do...

liz said...

great post


andi said...

Wow, it takes so much work to be happy these days.

Our family has two family mottos: 1.Deep Shit Grows Good Cucumber,
2.Stop it or I will Bury You Alive in a Box. (We reserve this one for repetitive, self-defeating behavior by the kids that are 21 and older.)

Try them, they work great. Do you think I have enough material to start my own happiness website?

Geo said...

RYNELL. Good luck. If all else fails, there's that great gelato shop on Center Street. (Call me and I'll go with you.)

LIZ. You are the reigning queen of great posts. So there.

ANDI. Add the gelato tip to your list and I think you're in business.

Being a real fan of cucumbers, I'm feeling pretty good about #1, especially since we have an abundance of its growing medium of choice, but honestly, we are getting low on backyard burial plots, thanks to various expired pets, so it looks like I'll have to work out a different sort of threat to encourage happiness. But thanks for the suggestion.

Elizabeth said...

Love the new template, and love these ideas. I want to try these, too.

I just love how you express your thoughts.

compulsive writer said...

Can geo come out to play? I'm supposed to spend time with an energetic friend. (not to mention I miss seeing her.)

Geo said...

ELIZABETH. I can take no credit, except for the blog template choice. I couldn't resist the orange.

C-DUB. Come out to play? Yes! But have I ever been called "energetic" before, in my entire life? No!

wendy said...

I looked at more of your home business website today. Beautiful! What a fascinating work it must be. I hope your business thrives!

Julie Q. said...

I can just imagine how much happier I'd be if I did all of these (or even just some of them) every day. I may have to hunt for the pet-hack laundry but I'm sure I can come up with plenty of baby-puke stuff to substitute.

Wahoo! Another podcast to subscribe to. Thanks for the recommendation. I never even listen to music on my iPod anymore. There are too many great podcasts out there.

christa said...

These are some great ideas! Thanks for sharing!

Geo said...

WENDY. Thanks ever so much. I hope the same thing!

JULIE Q. I hear you. The only music I listen to on my iPod anymore is . . . another podcast: All Songs Considered. I am totally smitten with podcasting.

Mirjam said...

oh, I just read this and you have no idea how much i have needed all of it the last couple months... i will come back tomorrow and reread when i'm not dying of exhaustion... thank you, my friend.

Gritty Pretty said...

Your blog is exactly why i love blogs! i agree with the smile tip. i feel like my fake smile begins as a sarcastic snarl but before long it turns the corner to sincere. weird. must release endorphins or something. and i'm now subscribed to that morning story podcast. muchas gracias!

Queen Scarlett said...

Fabulous list... I used to use the fake smile until you mean it in college. It works... ditto with the serving others... somehow...the grumbly, rumbly... bad mood disappears. AND...back in college - Alanis worked for me.

Olivia said...

Thanks for this, Geo! Your little corner of cyberspace makes me happy. I like the way you see things and help me to see things....

Brooke said...

"Rid yourself of a nagging task." the hardest one for me-- but so true, no doubt. i always feel like flying after all the phone calls for my calling are taken care of.

Geo said...

MIRJAM. Maybe we need to form a support group.

GRITTY. Thanks and you're welcome! Yeah, I don't know what exactly happens with the smile-cheer connection, but it's real. I think it's weird too, but good.

QUEEN. Alanis still works well for me. Am I stuck in the wrong decade? (Don't answer that.)

OLIVIA. This is my corner, but I don't stand with my nose in it. Dunce cap? Sometimes, maybe. I'm glad you like this space and come to share it with me.

BROOKE. I'm like that with calls too. I am generally phone-challenged, and let my telecommunications go unanswered way too long way too often. I didn't start out that a phone-phobe though—back when I was a little kid, we lived in a rural neighborhood that had a party line, and I loved eavedropping on the neighbor's calls. You have no idea how much fun that was!