Chris Croft's Personal Blog

April 10, 2013

Daily steps to increased happiness – every day for a year

Filed under: Books and Culture, Happiness, Lists — Tags: , , , , , — chriscroft @ 5:03 pm

I love my daily happiness book – every date of the year has something you can do to increase you happiness, that’s 366 practical ideas, and you can use it year after year as a fun challenge.
It is available from here:
http://www.lulu.com/shop/chris-croft/perpetual-happiness-calendar/paperback/product-20961931.html

Here is a random sample from it:
August 20
Organise a picnic with family or friends, either a fun one with kids or maybe a romantic one with a wicker basket and some alcohol, and a nice view, maybe for sunset.
Memories are made of things like picnics… Apart from the food, it’s free as well!

August 21
Go through all your jobs to do lists and move some of the items, especially some of the ones that have been there a while, onto a new list called “I’m never going to do these things, but never mind!”
After all, who says you’ve got to do everything?? Given that when you die there will still be things on your list, and it won’t matter, you might as well start choosing now, and consign the crappy stuff to this new list!

August 22
Walk around your home filming every object in every room.
As well as fun, making you realise how much you have, and being an interesting historical record to view in a few years’ time, this will also help if there is a fire or a burglary and you need to replace things and claim on insurance.

August 23
Spend some time with your parents, ideally face to face but on the phone would do. If you don’t have your parents any more then other older relatives.
It’s so easy to put off visiting older people, but when they’re gone we regret it. They may not be the easiest people sometimes, but they are also an amazing reservoir of experience and information about our common pasts.

August 24
Find a way to meet some new people today.
Your future best friend might be out there, passing you at the bus stop or playing in the tennis match that you haven’t managed to get to. And everyone we meet adds something to our experience.

August 25
Think of something big that you’re putting off, and take the first small step towards it today. No matter how small, this first step will feel great – the process has begun!
This method works because it fools your subconscious. Instead of “No I can’t face that” you think “Well that (first step) seems easy enough, yes I could do that” and before you know it you’re thinking “A bit longer and I could get this finished”.

August 26
Be a tourist in your own city.
Maybe go on an official guided tour, by bus or walking. Visit some touristy attractions that you’ve never been to, and try to learn a bit about the city. If you just discover one new thing about your home town it will have been worth it.

August 27
Thinking about your goals for your future: is at least one them a challenge? A little bit scary? Because it needs to be.
The feeling of writing down something as a goal that makes you feel uncomfortable is the feeling of your subconscious being expanded a little, and this allows you to achieve more than you would otherwise. And achieving challenging goals is one important source of happiness.

August 28
Today your task is to savour the sense of touch – the feel of wood, or leaves, or wool, or whatever. Maybe even a kitten! How wonderful the world is…
It’s so difficult to live in the present, and focussing on one of the senses is a way to do this – it kind of reinvents your world, making it new and more noticeable.

August 29
Write a list of everything that you are worrying about, and then against each one put what the possible actions are.
And begin them.

August 30
Say yes to something today that you probably wouldn’t normally say yes to, perhaps because it’s a bit scary or you don’t have the time – maybe it’ll be the best thing you’ve done for a while!
You might enjoy the film The Yes Man where Jim Carrey agrees to say yes to everything – and what a lot flows from that! This is a small version of that, where you just say yes to one or two things that you wouldn’t normally. Go to that party! Help that person! Do that activity that you don’t really fancy!

August 31
Find a body of water – the ocean, a lake, a river or a pond – and spend time looking at it, contemplating it, Ideally on your own.
Water is both restful and stimulating – mysterious and beautiful. The surface which you can see is quite boring, but what’s under there?

September 1
Make a list of past successes (on your own terms, whatever you feel is a success is fine) and put it somewhere where you can read them often. You deserve it!
Happiness comes from celebrating our successes – being proud of them, and revisiting them. But remember that as well as the past there’s the future, so don’t get TOO bound up in nostalgia. Ideally you’d have a great past AND a great future – and of course a fun present!

September 2
Are you worrying about anything that you can’t affect? Let it go. Say to yourself “All I can do is my best, I’ve prepared for it as much as I can, and what will be will be”
Worry can be a huge source of unhappiness for some people, and if you can’t do anything about it then you really are wasting energy. And even if you can, one you’ve done what you can, there is no more than you can do. What will be will be!

September 3
The Radish of Regret always tastes bitter – and we regret things we didn’t do much more than the things we did do. So – if you’re currently in doubt about whether to do something difficult or risky, decide today to do it!
Of course it’s still a good idea to assess risk, but if you feel 50/50 about something then the chances are it’s not TOO risky. And what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger….

September 4
Today’s happiness challenge is not for children – it’s to talk to strangers! Just briefly, just a friendly word.
See if you can make the effort to start a brief conversation with someone in the bus queue or lift or lunch queue or supermarket queue (hmm, maybe queues aren’t so bad after all!), someone walking their dog (just go up to them and admire the dog – it’s easy!). Happiness is increased for both of you.

September 5
How we spend our days is how we spend our lives: savour all the “ordinary” parts of your life today.
Take time to smell the roses. Make a constant effort to enjoy all the little things that you usually take for granted – your clothes, your car, your friends, your house, your food the view, your health, music, etc.

September 6
Create a Haiku (Google it, it’s a three line poem with 5 then 7 then 5 syllables. Very minimalist. For example, Crow has flown away: swaying in the evening sun, a leafless black tree.) You can do it!
But don’t write a Desk Haiku – where you imagine something and write about it. The best ones involve seeing something and then writing about it.

September 7
Compile a play list of music that makes you feel good.
Music is an instant hit of happiness, one of the easiest ways to influence your mood. I personally love depressing music like Stars by Janis Ian, or 10cc’s I’m Not In Love, and everything by Del Amitri, but today’s plan is to get some uplifting music like Walking on Sunshine, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, Paolo Nutini’s New Shoes, almost anything by Pink, quite a bit of Disco, etc

September 8
Start a happiness graph – a piece of paper on the wall with dates along the bottom and a scale of 1-10 going up the left hand side. Put a blob each day and see what the pattern is like.
Maybe put some comments next to the blob saying why it’s high or low. What is it that brings you up or down? Can you do more of the good stuff and less of the bad?

September 9
At the end of today, make a list of the good things that you have experienced or had today – reasons to appreciate your life and the world. And consider making this a habit every day…
This could build into a great body of work after a while! If you live with someone it can be fun to do it as a joint activity at the end of each day.

September 10
Do three sets of press-ups, as many as you can in each set, then a break of a minute or two. You’ll feel better tomorrow for doing this. Don’t feel bad if you can only manage one or two, everyone has to start somewhere.
Pressups are one of the best all-purpose exercises, but they do require a bit of practice at first. If you can’t even do one (fairly common!) then you can rest on your knees rather than feet as you press the floor with your hands.

September 11
Today your task is to honour those who have suffered or even died to make your world as good as it is. In your mind, appreciate what you have. If possible, visit a memorial or military cemetery, or at least read a bit about what they did for you in the past.  This might bring you down at the time, but in the longer term it’ll make you more grateful and appreciative of everything you have.

September 12
Your challenge today is to go and see a football or rugby match (at any level) – Get really absorbed! Shout for your team!
This is an example of an activity that takes you away from your everyday cares – complete absorption in anything is a good source of happiness. And even if you don’t particularly like rugby or football you’ll find it absorbing, and that’s the key. Extra tip – wear comfortable shoes and a warm coat.

September 13
Finish work on time today, whatever it takes (but don’t get fired!!).
There, it wasn’t that bad was it? You can’t do it every day, but maybe from now on, at least once a week, you could maybe finish on time? All you have to do it leave some stuff until tomorrow, and maybe say “I can’t stay on late today I’m afraid, I’m…. (playing football / visiting my mum / looking after the kids / going for a cycle ride with some friends).

September 14
Treat yourself to some nice chocolate today. You deserve it!
Gosh it’s taken nearly a year to get around to chocolate! Not really a sustainable source of happiness, but as an occasional treat, why not? As long as you savour it you can get the maximum happiness from every piece….

September 15
Gift of appreciation – find someone you work with or socialise with who deserves some recognition, or a boost in confidence, and leave them an anonymous gift of flowers or chocolates – with a note saying “A gift of appreciation, for all you do”.
It doesn’t have to be anonymous, although that is rather fun, and makes the point that you aren’t doing it for any gain on your part, just purely to make them happy.

Imagine how much is in the full book – a bargain at £10 I reckon!
http://www.lulu.com/shop/chris-croft/perpetual-happiness-calendar/paperback/product-20961931.html

Add to basket!

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