Instant Happiness

25 ways to improve your mood, enliven your spirits and increase your happiness

  1. Exercise. It doesn’t matter how, just move your body. Get your heart pumping. 

  2. Laugh.  Watch a funny movie.  Go to a local comedy show. Tell a joke. Or just laugh at life’s little surprises.

  3. Talk. Open the floodgates and let it all out.

  4. Play. Let out your inner child. Don’t worry about looking foolish. Swing on the swings. Splash in rain puddles. Lie in the grass and watch the clouds roll by. Allow yourself to have fun. You deserve it.

  5. Color. Embrace color.  Colors are widely known to influence your mood. Surround yourself with happy bright colors.

  6. Music.  Listen to upbeat happy music with positive messages.

  7. Get outside. Natural settings enhance your mood. Spend time appreciating nature, even if it’s just a walk in the park.  

  8. Novelty.  Do something different.  Anything positive as long as it is out of your normal routine.

  9. Aromatherapy. Take advantage of uplifting scents such as basil, bergamot, lemon, Clary sage, rose, rosemary and sandalwood.

  10. Smile.

  11. Appreciate.  Count your blessings, literally.  Make a list of all the good aspects in your life. You may be surprised.

  12. Do a kindness for someone. It feels great. a win win situation for everyone.

  13. Sing. Sing along to your favorite song. Any song will do. Be loud and proud.

  14. Challenge yourself.  Go out of your comfort zone.  Whether it is climbing a mountain, learning a language or just saying “Hello” to the mail carrier.

  15. Friends. Look up an old friend. Make a new one. Friends are like gold.

  16. Vacation.  Play tourist in your own town.  Visit the local attractions, take pictures.

  17. Dance. Wherever, whenever you can.  

  18. Garden. Dig in the dirt. Plant a tree. Pot up a tomato plant. No space is too small. Even a few herbs on the windowsill can lift one’s mood.

  19. Animals.  Pet your pet and if you don’t have one consider getting one.  Maybe befriend a neighborhood cat or visit the animals in the zoo.

  20. Touch.  Reach out and touch someone. Give a hug.  Get a hug. Human contact is essential to happiness.

  21. Create.  Make something, anything counts. You are only limited by your own imagination.

  22. Listen. Stop. Be still and just listen for 5 minutes. Notice all the sounds you hear and try to identify each one.

  23. Eat. Healthy food is happy food.

    Deutsch: eine Erdbeere English: A strawberry F...
    Image via Wikipedia

  24. Sleep. Take a nap.  Linger in bed on the weekends a little longer. Sleep can do wonders.

  25. Nothing. Learn the art of nothingness. Allow yourself this luxury once in a while. 

There are really a million actions one can take for an excellent dose of instant happiness.  These scant 25 are only a beginning….what I think is of real importance here is a person’s attitude.  Happiness is a state of mind, after all.

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”

**Helen Keller**

What do you do for a dose of Instant happiness.  Let me know and we can add it to the list.

Have a happy day!

Smile fasdfdsfoiueire
Image via Wikipedia

Strawberryindigo.

The Smile Factor

Cat smiling at sanctuary
Image by rikkis_refuge via Flickr

Smile

According to my ancient Websters dictionary; A smile is defined as a change of facial expression involving the eyes and an upward curving of the corners of the mouth that may express amusement, pleasure, affection or irony.

That sounds a tad bit antiseptic. It doesn’t define the human element of a smile and the power that a smile has.

I believe that smiles are magical and slam dunk contagious.  A warm smile has the potential to melt the coldest of the cold.  If it is honest and heartfelt, one simple smile can mean so much to the receiver of such a gift.  A smile can convey sympathy and friendship.  It can say “I understand” or “you are not alone”.

Smiling Baby

The Smile Factor

Smiles unite us.  They break down language and cultural barriers. They are a basic part of our humanity. We are born with that smile factor; that need for a smile because acknowledge it or not, we all need them.

Warm smile
Image via Wikipedia

It can be easy to forget the power of a smile.  A sadness or anger can set in to a person that will cause them to never smile again.  Their face balling up into a permanent scowl.  This scowl may remove the possibility that anyone will ever smile at them again.  I think that sometimes people don’t realize the effect that we humans have on each other.

We are all connected and we affect each other more than we realize. One person’s bad day an easily become the next person’s.

Bad days are contagious too.

I have started to think about this of late. It seems some people save up their misdirected anger for someone “easier” who cannot retaliate.  “The customer is always right” is their motto above all else, even human dignity.  I have witnessed some rather awful behavior by some “right” customers.  Rarely do I witness the opposite.

Smile 2

Making a difference

I am but one person, but I believe that even one person can make a difference in the life of another.  So I am making it my habit to spread some good cheer around wherever I go. This is not always easy and I am not perfect, but I have found that putting aside my feelings a bit to sympathize with someone, pay a deserved complement or just a simple smile can have rewards in themselves that reach far beyond the here and now.

It’s easy and it spreads like wildfire.  Try it. Smile at a complete stranger if for no other reason that to just do it.  Watch the reaction you get.  A smile truly is a gift that keeps on giving.

Keep smiling

Strawberryindigo.

SMILE

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Occupy Standoff

It was only a matter of time  and  the local media is all abuzz. The too-white smiles and scared eyes of the local newscasters reporting live in front of a hostile crowd  tell the tale.  Tempers are high and people are nervous.  Down at the center of it all, our downtown and “Occupy Grand Central”.  A reluctant mayor, feeling the pressure given by  downtown businesses  concerned about the upcoming holiday season and the bottom line.  Drew his line in the sand and called out a warning to the local occupiers.  It was an ultimatum, really;  Get out by midnight Saturday or else. 

The protestors occupying two parks across the street from city hall have vowed to stay. They have sent out for reinforcements and witnesses from other occupy encampments in other cities.  They are making homemade weapons and shields.  They seem to be digging in and readying themselves for a fight. 

 

The stage has been set.  On one side; the occupiers. On the other; the establishment. Stuck in the middle;  The people.  The real  99%.  Victims of circumstance. People from all walks of life. Very human signs of these hard times. 

We decided to pay another visit  before time ran out on our local occupy. So MM and I went down there on this very overcast Saturday morning. 

We have been there before, earlier in the occupation.   I expected much of the same.  I could have not been more wrong.  The tarps and the tents looked the same but that was about it.  With the deadline looming; the people who could or would leave have left and what remain are the chronic homeless and mentally ill.   And with them remain an unhealthy cesspool of waste and filth. And mud, a foul-smelling gunk all over.  The stench is almost overpowering.  Wet garbage and clothing strewn about.  Food containers and human waste lie on the ground mixed with brilliant yellow autumn leaves.  I almost gag.  I want to leave. We go further in.

Gone is the D.J. and the music.  Gone is the library and medical tent.  The art tent is empty and the local radio station has withdrawn its booth.  The food service has dwindled.  The air of hopefulness is gone.  The unity is gone.  All that is left are the ugly remains. 

The tattered would be heroes.  Dirty, hungry and lost, smoking hand rolled cigarettes, huddled together, worn and wary.  A spirited few cheer on the others.  Pontificating and proclaiming to fight. 

 “This is my home.”  Says a young man in a red cap. 

 His friend, the one with droopy tired eyes, calls for “warriors.”

 

A good Samaritan has brought in coffee and a brown-haired girl with big innocent eyes passes out brownies, she looks about 8 or 9.  She is a sweet little thing and stands as a stark contrast to the mess around her.  As does the  teenage girl shivering in white shorts and flip-flops eating a  glazed twist and savoring every bite. Her dirty face looks sad and alone, I wonder where she’ll go? 

A despondent old man in a wheelchair sits forgotten and ignored, a scene erupts around him, involving a woman who is obviously distressed and upset.  She is almost in tears as she begs and pleads with some occupiers to use their energy for good and leave peacefully. A small crowd has formed aligned against her.  Her young daughter hides her face in her Mother’s warm and fashionable coat. 

Cops stand on the corners. Many of them have donned medical type masks. I suppose to keep from getting sick. I feel sorry for them.  They don’t want this.  I wonder what will happen tonight.  There is a certain queasy unease in the air that goes beyond the lack of sanitation.  I can see it their faces and in the faces of the ones with nowhere to go. Those are the ones I feel for the most.

Others have come to witness this. People here and there, like MM and I.  Some are taking pictures. Others have gathered at the parameters in twos and threes, whispering in an almost revered awe and shaking their heads in disgust.   I see surprise in some eyes.  I know the feeling. Whatever the dream, the dream is lying in a ditch by the side of the road.  It’s tired and hungry and it gets the feeling that no one is listening.

Many hand-lettered signs have been left behind and many of these have valid messages.  I think these people and many others in this country and really in the whole world feel they have no voice and that no one is listening.  The world is going to hell and we know it and there is nothing we can do. 

It seems hopeless.  Our problems are so huge and all the occupying in the world won’t change that.  It’s easy to sit here in my nice warm house tapping away on my nice white laptop and judge these people.  It’s also just as easy to  turn and look the other way.  But it is history we are witnessing here, right or wrong, good or bad.  

These people, those people….We the people. We are The People and we are all connected.  Whatever happens to the least of us happens to us all.  All 100%.

 These problems are not going away. Whatever happens on the streets of my city tonight, will not change anything.  It will only put an ugly face on a valid and much needed social movement. 

….And as the rain begins and  the darkness of night sets in across the city, I can’t help but wonder the outcome.  The deadline has been set and we are all watching and waiting……

Peace.

Strawberryindigo.

 

 

The power of magical thinking

Imagine the future, I dare you to look the future right in the face.  Imagine yourself 10 years from now….try to imagine.  Pretend you are gazing into a mirror, what do you see?

Are you pleased or petrified?  Does the future you envision make you feel happy and secure or does your future vision scare the wits out of you? Just being a rational person in this crazy world is enough to scare the toughest of us. There is no shame in fear.  Most of us do fear the unknown and the future is jam-packed full of the unknown.  While we have no control over future events, we have power over how we deal with them.  We have control over ourselves, more than some people believe.

What it takes is belief and the rest is easy.

I call it Magical Thinking and it is powerful.

It has changed me personally, profoundly.  Where once I walked in darkness, I now sing proudly in the light.  I have found magic in this simple thing, this simple belief. 

But it is more than a belief, it is much more.   It is a way of looking at the world.  It gives you control over your own destiny because you have that control.  The key is to conquer yourself. That, I believe is the hardest thing anyone can do.

I have spent much of my life in the shadows; shy, withdrawn, silent and lonely.  My self-esteem hit rock bottom and my only solace lie in the cold unforgiving brown glass of a beer bottle. I had a dark night of the soul, well… quite a number of them.  I looked at myself objectively for the first time and I couldn’t stand the sight of me.  How had I fallen so low?  More importantly, how do I crawl my way out?  I had all the reason in the world because by then I had 2 small kids and they needed me.

I needed to be strong for them. For the first time in my life I had to be strong for someone else even when I couldn’t be strong for myself.  I had no one to help me and so I began to help myself.  

I started slow.  I started to tell myself good things about me, even when I had to make things up.  I would set up little challenges for myself and then I would literally pat me on the back for a job well done.  I consumed the knowledge of a growing pile of books. I filled in some gaps and smoothed out my rough edges. 

You are stronger than you think.

I convinced myself of my self-worth and I started to actually like me for the first time ever.  The magical thinking continued.  I finally quit a twenty year drinking habit.  I became more confident and more capable all the while telling myself “Yes, you can.” The more and more I believed the stronger I became.

I started to meditate and through visualization I found that I had more control over my life than I ever thought possible.  I found that often in life you get what you expect and positive thinking can go a long way.  It is we who shape our future by what we are today.  We are all connected and we influence each other enormously.  A kind word or deed may come back to you in ways you’d never imagine.

It is magic and it is ready for the taking. All you need to do is believe. The more you practice it, the easier it gets and the more effective it becomes.  

  I believe that words can hold magic, the following words are a perfect example…..

“Your beliefs become your thoughts

Your thoughts become your words

Your words become your actions

Your actions become your habits

Your habits become your values

Your values become your destiny.”

Mahatma Gandhi *******************

Have a magical day!     Strawberryindigo.

 

Sign of the Times

Great Depression: man dressed in worn coat lyi...
Image via Wikipedia

Here I am sitting at this cheap plastic ash ridden table in front of my local chain supermarket.  I am writing in one of my famous spiral notebooks and drinking a grande black coffee while people watching.  This is, believe it or not, the perfect place for such an endeavor.

This is not my usual hangout, nor is it likely I will return. I’m growing fond of going to such strange but typical places to write.  At these places I can soak up the atmosphere and get a taste of a new perspective I wouldn’t have had otherwise. 

All sorts of people have been passing through the double doors to my right; a cross-section of humankind.  We are all different but we have much in common, like our need for food, and food shopping and how this damn economy is screwing us.

..and as a certain Mr. Dylan said…”..the times they are a-changin’…” 

 They see it, I see it.  It’s all around.  It’s the sign of the times and the signs are showing…more trash in the streets and buildings and streets in disrepair, the forlorn empty businesses, the foreclosed homes…..the homeless.  The face of homelessness is changing in our country. 

Before this economic doom and gloom, the homeless were usually people with severe emotional problems such as mental illness or drug and alcohol abuse.  Now there are families under the proverbial bridge, children, elderly.  People like you and I.  It seems wave after wave of hardships hit the beach.  All you can do is hang on and hope for the best.

I see the signs of high unemployment in the streets, in the parks, the railway station.  Everywhere.  Groups of young men in their twenties roaming around with backpacks and bedrolls.  They are short on opportunity and short on money, everything but time.

I see people with suitcases, your average American, huddled in corners with looks of bewilderment.  Some fall asleep sitting up at bus stops, all their belongings held tight against them, sheltering them from the chill night air.

This is the new face of homelessness. 

I see them, all these poor people trying to blend in, trying to not look homeless.   And what about the people two steps away from it?  

I could easily be one of them and it scares the hell out of me.

I intended this post to be a rant type post because when I started writing it, I was mad as hell.  Angry with our government, with corporate greed and just plain old-fashioned human stupidity.  I still am just as angry, but now upon reflection, I find that I am more afraid than anything else.

Afraid of what the future may bring, afraid of the dark unknown.  I think many people are afraid of the same things and this economy and the state of this crazy world have people white-knuckled terrified.

We were all brought up on tales of “The Great Depression.”  Pictures of Dust-bowl Oakies with dirty faces and vacant stares haunt the pages of old schoolbooks in my memory. We were taught to fear depressions, recessions and bank collapses…..

….It’s the sign of the times and here we are again and how it can ever get back to “normal” is beyond me. 

..so for now I’ll sit awhile and enjoy my coffee. Then appreciate the hell out of everything I can and hold on for dear life.

Wishing you blue skies

Strawberryindigo.

We the People

Occupy Wallstreet 10-5-2011
Image by cisc1970 via Flickr

I have been watching with more than just a casual interest, the events unfolding in the streets of many cities across the United States.

It has been building for some time but this public vein has only just opened up recently, about three weeks or so ago, in New York City.

The Occupy Wall Street movement started there but it has spread like wildfire, now to my city as well as many others.  I’ve never  witnessed such a formation of people happen in such this way before.

I have heard many opinions on the phenomena, from television pundits, to neighbors and friends to the crackpots on the street corner.  Everyone has a take on it and everyone has it right on the money.  Again this is new to me, all this agreement.

We have much in common; We the people, We angry 99%.  The American dream, that long gone ideal that’s been shoved down our throats now seems like an impossibility. Our whole way of life is threatened and it’s like nothing will ever be the same.  We are on the losing end of a golden age and we can all feel it.

People are angry and confused.  They feel helpless.  All this marching, this “occupying” is at least something.  We elected a new president who promised us change.  We thought this new president would end the wars, we thought this new president would make us great again.  This new president is too much like the old president.

We elected him. As we have elected all the rest of them.  It is hard to swallow, but in that aspect we deserve them.  It is our system that elects those with the best sound bites and the most money.  It is the system we must change.

Marching will only get us so far, we all know.. but what else can we do?  We the People are at a crossroads and the stakes couldn’t be higher.

I see it in the faces, the desperate faces from all walks of life, marching in solidarity. this is a powerful thing, this unity.  Knowing you are not the only one effected by all this decline, this decay. In this way I think that all the marching has been good for the collective national soul.

This movement is in its infancy and without leadership it may die a premature death.    Never before have I witnessed such potential power in a group of people.

It is a shame that this power has no leadership.  We are in search for a leader once again, We are searching for someone to represent us, to speak for us; We The People, and not just the 99% but all 100%.

I don’t know how this all will play out.  Only time will tell…..

…and that reminds me of this quote:

“Waste no time with revolutions that do not remove the causes of your complaints but simply change the faces of those in charge.”

Francesco Guicciardini (1530)

The more things change, the more things stay the same.

For more revolutionary quotes; go to my FRESH QUOTES page

Viva la revolution!   StrawberryIndigo.

The unblinking eye of the truth

The Unblinking Eye of the Truth

The truth; the whole truth and nothing but the truth…those are familiar words, but do most people truly adhere to every letter of that misused and misunderstood word?  The Truth.  As a word it seems so formidable, so tall and strong.  The truth never blinks an eye and never lets up for a second.

The truth is extremely important to me, maybe too much so. One of my quirky Asperian traits involves the truth and my devotion to it. I am compelled to speak the truth as I see it, I can do no less.

If someone asks for my honest opinion, I must give it. I try to be as diplomatic as possible, but sometimes the truth hurts, no matter how you sugar coat it.  I feel I owe it to people to be honest with them.

I feel that one of the worst lies a person can tell is to themselves. This lie is the most dangerous because it blinds us to reality.  I have tried to be honest with myself, no matter how painful the truth can sometimes be.  This is essential to my personal well-being and long-term success.

I don’t mind being incorrect and I don’t mind being wrong. In fact, I welcome this. I have an open mind; To me, mistakes are opportunities for growth. I try to learn as much as I can from my mistakes and from others mistakes as well…We live in interesting times and I can truthfully say that I have learned a lot.

I have learned that “The Truth” varies with one’s perspective of it.  My friend Einstein let me in on that little nugget and it certainly rings true.  Many conflicts occur because both sides of the argument are convinced that their truth is more true than the others truth,  “You must be wrong because I am right” and all that nonsense.

There are, however, universal truths that we all share.  We all want to live in peace and happiness, to be able to fulfill our hopes and dreams.  We all need love and understanding.  We have so much in common, we share the same planet and we all need each other.

We can deny these truths, we can look away, but in the deepest parts of our hearts we know what is right….. They say “The truth shall set you free” and I truly believe that….and I cannot look away any longer……

Happy Sept.12th.       Strawberryindigo.

“This is the character of truth; it is of all time, it is for all men, it has only to show itself to be recognized, and one cannot argue against it”                    **Voltaire**

Pancakes with Mr. Obama

Several stacks of silver dollar pancakes
Image via Wikipedia

This story is based purely on speculation and rumors, and may not be true…read at your own risk.

One fine morning on one particular January day, two particular girls came down for breakfast and found their Dad at the stove instead of their Mom. They queried on the absence of their mother and more importantly they asked..”Where is breakfast?”

Mr. Obama smiled one of his signature smiles and said one word “Pancakes“.  The girls were very happy with that; Mom hardly ever made pancakes and the two girls loved pancakes.  Dad always said the right thing.

‘Everything seems so different with Dad doing things but that is what makes them so fun.” He said with one of those smiles again.  The girls weren’t totally convinced and argued among themselves.

One of them thought that Dad lacked the experience to make breakfast, let alone pancakes. “Maybe someone else should make them.” The eldest argued. The other sister, the younger one pleaded “Let’s give him a chance, he says he can do it, besides how bad could it be?” He’s got to be better than Uncle George who burned the breakfast and we ended getting Egg McMuffins at Mickey D’s.

So both girls agreed to pancakes ala Dad.  He smiled again, informing them that it was pancakes they needed and how good those pancakes would taste to folks like them. After he had talked about the pancakes for 20 minutes or so, one of the girls, the older one asked; “Dad, when are you going to make the breakfast you promised, you keep talking but nothing happens.”

It was then that Mr. Obama reluctantly got out the ingredients for the pancakes.  He consulted half a dozen cookbooks, scratched his head and slowly got to work, bragging the whole time, telling the girls how good the pancakes would be.

As he started to mix the ingredients, it was obvious that he didn’t know what he was doing, despite the fact the he kept telling them that he did. He was a mess, he spilled all over the place.  He burned the first few batches and the girls couldn’t help but wonder about Dad as their stomachs started to feel the first pangs of hunger.

With every haphazard move he made, it got more and more obvious to both girls.   Even his supporter the younger girl started to doubt him.  His talk was getting just as cold as the nasty, bumpy, half-baked pancakes he tried to coax the girls into eating.

All the sugary sweet syrup he poured on didn’t help at all. In fact, it only made the pancakes taste worse.  The girl’s were depressed and hungry….and they didn’t want to touch the pancakes.

Mr. Obama suddenly became angry, his trademark smile was gone, replaced by a scowl.  He told the girls that they should eat their pancakes and be happy about it, and that he knew folks like them were hungry and were hurting, and better pancakes were on the way. But for now they should eat what was given to them.

“I am your Father and I’m telling you girls to eat your breakfast!”  he barked.

Finally the girls had to eat the nasty breakfast because time was running out and they were going to be late for school. They hastily ate the pancakes, loaded with all that syrupy rhetoric and ran off to school…

“What can you say?” He’s a nice guy and all, but he doesn’t have a clue on how to make breakfast.” The girls complained at the bus stop.  A frosty wind blew out of the east, it was getting cold outside and their stomachs started to ache…..it was going to be one long winter….

Eat up America….Strawberryindigo.