Source: Pixabay, Public Domain
Who wouldn’t want to be happier? Alas, enduring happiness comes from hard-to-change things: genetic predisposition, early childhood, the quality of your current life—If you’re living with four roommates in a crappy apartment, have a soul-sucking job, and your lifetime savings are in 3 digits, you’re unlikely to go through life skipping down the lane.
But there are palliatives, what I call, doables, that can help, at least for a while.
Listening to music. It’s tough to be sad when listening to your favorite music, especially pump-it-up tracks. I’ve written a Psychology Today article, Music to Improve Your Mood that includes links to some of my faves. Side-benefit: Listening to one of your favorites a few times may spawn an ear worm; that happy tune keeps rolling around your brain.
Cleaning up. Many readers of Psychology Today have jobs in which progress is slow, the outcomes abstract or subtle. Not so with cleaning up. I don’t know about you, but I feel good as I clean the sink or sponge-mop my white-tile kitchen floor.
Good work. It feels good to be doing work you’re good at and feels of value. You might even get paid for doing it. Even if I’m in a bad mood, working with a client, even if deeply problemed, makes me feel better.
Writing makes me feel good because it comes fairly easily to me. Also, as I’m writing and reviewing a draft, I’m constantly finding little ways to improve it, which feels fun. Plus, it feels good to think my writing helps even a few people.
Screen-watching. Far from a boob tube, TV shows and instant-video movies can be a welcome escape from worry, taking us into worlds we’d otherwise not see or that require an expensive, time-consuming, side-effect-laden pilgrimage. Even maligned TV comedies may induce happiness.
Worried about screen-time’s ill effects? You might check out my article, The Case for Screen Time.
Playing or watching sports. As long as you don’t literally or metaphorically throw your golf club, sports are a great mood booster.
Reading. Some of my more contented moments are spent in bed reading, with my wife and/or doggie pressed against my side. Sometimes it’s professional reading—I’m now starting Mark Goulston’s Get Out of Your Own Way . Usually I’m also reading a novel. I’ve recently enjoyed A House for Mr. Biswas and Master of the Game, and am now reading White Noise and simultaneously, P.D. James’ mystery, A Certain Justice. Other times I’m merely flipping pages in a mail-order catalog as a pre-bedtime soporific—It’s relaxing, not taxing, and downright fun to see so many photos of interesting stuff and to decide if I want to buy any.
Gardening. Immersing yourself in the miracle of growth is calming and produces both instant and longer-term results. Pull weeds and your garden immediately looks better. Plant tomatoes in spring or violas in fall and you’ve spawned growth observable day by day, and within two months, bounty.
To boost your gardening pleasure, you might check out my article, Tips for Smart Gardeners.
Praying. For believers or agnostics, prayer can be comforting, hope-inspiring, or clarifying.
Helping someone. It’s hard to obsess about your problems when helping someone else, especially if their situation is worse than yours. Helping also tends to make you happier because of the ethical purity, you’re making a difference, and maybe because you’re feeling grateful that your situation isn’t as bad.
Especially if, at this point, you’re not very motivated to make major changes, maybe one or more of these fast fixes, what I call doables, may, at least for now, be enough.
I read this aloud on YouTube.