by David Bohl
Do you get grumpy often?
Maybe you feel anxious, restless, impatient, or generally discontented?
Did you ever notice those other people who always seem to be floating on a cloud, beaming over whatever mundane occurence is transpiring? Are they for real?
What about the merry jokester who manages to find levity in even the most depressing of scenarios? What’s THAT guy smoking, and can he hook you up with some?
The truth is that not everyone is tired, fed up and pissed off! Some people really do count their blessings. Some are just buoyant. Now, I’m no psychologist, but in my personal experience, I’ve found that if you change your habits, you really can elevate your spirits and your mood.
In life, being a happy person is half the battle!
1. Keep on moving, don’t stop.
We’re all attached to computers these days. Frankly, it’s depressing. Being still for too long actually stops our blood from flowing. Blood – our life force! Make it a high priority – and I mean HIGH – to spend at least 3 hours per day walking at a quickened pace, bending, stretching, reaching, running.
Maybe that means getting up an hour early to do your morning Salutations to the Sun… or taking a bag lunch to the park and doing a few laps around the lake. It definitely means getting aerobic exercise at a minimum of 3 times a week. Make the time – morning or night. This may mean that you have to say no to somebody who needs something from you. That’s OKAY. Also: take the stairs. I repeat: take the stairs!
2. Go toward the light.
Sunlight, that is! Most of us spend far too much time under fluorescent lights. This is unnatural and unhealthy! S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and insomnia are directly related to a lack of real sunlight. The sun stimulates our brains to produce the perfect amount of mood-elevating and sleep-regulating chemicals.
As often as possible, step outside, look up and be drenched in healing sunlight. Instead of video gaming the hours away in your basement, hit the pavement at high noon with the sun blazing overhead. Find any and every excuse to walk your dog, slip away to the beach, take off for the bike path. At home? Pull those shades and luxuriate in a bath of pure sunshine. Traveling by car? Open the moon roof and roll down the windows. Let the sun shine in!
3. Easy does it.
I believe that a lot of our misery is the result of overindulgence. Food coma/hangover/lack of sleep = bad mood = inability to function = less likely to want to do the right thing and create a cycle of positive momentum in our lives.
Think about how often you push yourself past the healthy limit. Five too many Cosmos on a Friday night. Staying up until 4 a.m. on the weekends. All you can eat steak and shrimp… come on, did we really need to consume THAT much? As we get older, it just takes us even longer to recover from such abuse.
The general rule: if you’re ready to pass out, then you had too much. Food should fuel us for our days’ activities, not have us sneaking away to the nearest couch! Eat a third or half of what the restaurant serves you, and doggy-bag the rest for tomorrow’s lunch. Catching a good buzz at the bar? When you hit that giddy feeling, switch to water as your drink of choice! Remember that it’s okay to be home and in bed by 1:30. Nothing that happens after last call is ever really worth sticking around for anyway.
4. If it brings you down, avoid it.
Okay… I know that some things, like taxes and annoying relatives, can be hard to avoid. But the truth is, you can get a good accountant who knows tricks that will have you paying less at the end of the year. And email is a great way to keep contact with crotchety Aunt Maude to a minimum.
So what I’m saying is, steer clear of bitchy and whiny people, unpleasant tasks, dull conversations, and general time wasters and energy suckers. Does one particular person always take up too much of your phone time? Instill a new egg timer policy for all calls. If it can’t be resolved in half an hour, then hang up and move on. Stick to your guns!
5. Solve problems on the fly.
Being passive leads to being miserable. That’s because we’re giving up a measure, if not all, of our control. When you feel like you have absolutely no say in what happens, then you inevitably fall into a wretched slump!
To cure this, approach every single thing that happens with the attitude of an on-the-fly problem solver. I’m serious! Never take no for an answer. Never say “I can’t.” If you find that an obstacle is blocking your path, find a way to move it. A few detours are worth the personal victory of arriving at your desired destination!
Sure, some things really do seem like they have us by the you-know-whats. Instead of being passive, think out of the box. You’re stuck on hold? Turn on speaker phone and listen to the music while you get something else accomplished in the meantime. Customer service can’t help you? Ask — no, demand — to talk to a manager. It’s as easy as threatening to cancel your service with the company.
This will be difficult at first, because you’re used to being denied what you want in life. But with practice, you really can retrain your mind on how to be proactive. Proactive people get things done. That feels good!
There are many more changes you can make to keep your spirits up – and become one of those “happy people” that seem like they must be tripping on something illegal. (They’re not.) This list is just to get you started. Once you accomplish the above, you’ll be better equipped to let minor upsets and mishaps roll off your back. Best of all, you’ll find yourself laughing more and worrying less! And that’s the natural high that we all crave in our lives.
NEWSFLASH: I’ve added another chapter to my life by joining C.A.S.T. Recovery, a Los Angeles based national outpatient drug rehab program which specializes in designing highly individualized recovery plans with appropriate professionals to support a client’s health, accountability, and success.