My last few posts have been a bit serious, I know – so I thought I’d take a minute to write a nice cheery post!
I am happy at the moment. Really happy. The sun’s out and I’m only a little bit burnt, which is always a bit of a mood lifter – and check it out, a new before and after pic:
Evidently I’ve still got a fair way to go – but I’ve hate hate HATED that picture for a very long time, so I’m glad to be able to say I’ve definitely moved on from that.
So, in the spirit of maintaining the happy mood, I thought I’d compile a list of my top tips to improve your happiness. Because if you’re happier, you’re more likely to be healthier, and see more success in your long-term goals. And if you’re healthier, you’re more likely to be happy. Good times, eh?
1. Take your time.
When you’re rushing around, trying to take over the world – or whatever else floats your boat – it’s easy to forget to look after yourself. I don’t just mean in terms of diet, or fitness – I mean mentally. Putting a little bit of time aside that’s just for you is really important, whether it’s just five minutes, or a whole week, as it’ll give you the opportunity to re-centre yourself and get everything back in order again.
If you’re pushed for time – I hear ya. I dig it. However you want to put it. But I try to give myself at least five minutes each day to quite literally clear my head. I’ll take a seat – usually on my yoga mat, or my favourite cushion, but it can be wherever suits – and I’ll just think of one thing. A colour, a shape, a feeling – I find imagining whatever it is to be just inside my chest, next to my heart, and focusing on that, is really calming and helps me to focus on coming back to my breath at the same time.
Different things work for different people, but that’s my routine – and by making that little bit of time for myself, I’m able to take a cheerier attitude to everything else that comes my way!
2. Spend the right amount of time in front of the mirror.
I know, this might sound like a weird one. But think about it. Too little time in front of the mirror, and you’re probably either not appreciating, or ignoring, what’s going on, body-wise. Too much, and you’ll probably end up changing your outfit seventeen times before you leave the house in the morning.
Finding that middle point, where you’re comfortable enough with your reflection, without looking at it so long that you psyche yourself out, means you’re cool with yourself. And as I’ve said before, self-acceptance is really important on the road to fitness – so check yourself out!
3. Be grateful.
We’ve all got something to be grateful for. Friends, family, an exciting dinner, a Beyonce booty – there’s bound to be at least one thing in your life that you’re really glad you’ve got.
There will also be things you’re not happy about – work stresses, man troubles, a chipped nail, for instance – and I’m willing to bet that on any given day, you spend more time dwelling on a negative than a positive. So even it out. Every time you find yourself grumbling inside about something that gets your goat, rewind like Craig David and work out how long you just spent thinking about that. Then look at the clock – and make yourself take the same amount of time to think about something positive.
Eventually, you’ll find your inner optimist – and probably become some sort of zen master.
4. Enjoy exercise.
Now, I am totally the sort of person that used to abso-bloody-lutely HATE cardio. I can’t even tell you how much I would resent every second I spent on that treadmill. That’s because I was stomping into the gym with a negative attitude – I didn’t want to be there, so I refused to let myself enjoy it because that would be letting the annoying preachy fit people win.
Yeah, I see the irony. Shhh.
Anyway, once I changed my outlook, and decided to view my time working out as a release, as a way of thinking of something that wasn’t work, that wasn’t the PhD, that wasn’t about anything except my own wellbeing – well, suddenly it started to be quite satisfying. Think about what happens when you’re working out. You’re improving your fitness, because you’re in the very privileged position to be well enough to get out there and enjoy your body for what it can do – and you’re making the most of what you’ve got.
Give yourself a pat on the back – but then go back to point three and be glad you can do it at all.
5. Be you.
You’re reading my blog, which automatically makes you fifteen types of awesome – so well done you. You rock. But this isn’t about what I think of you. This is about your psyche, which as I’ve said before, you will need if you’re going to go on a long journey like this one.
Being present in your own self – by which I mean, not just coasting along on auto-pilot from dawn ’til dusk, but appreciating every moment – will help you to be happier, because you’re really alive. Every moment you live where you’re doing something good? That’s a great thing. And the more attention you pay to these moments, the more of them you’ll spot.
If you live to make every single one of these moments a great one, you’ll soon find that you’re living fully and happily in the present, moving on from past stresses more quickly, and making the very most of your life. You’ve only got one of them – so you might as well make it a good’un.
5.5. For God’s sake, smile! Just once a day – have a little smile. Even if you’re on your own, and you feel totally weird about it – do it. I promise it’ll work.
So those are my tips – but what makes you happy?