The world seems as if it has gone crazy. The news reports are one horrible thing after another. We watch news and reality television to see how messed up the lives of others are. Seeing others have troubles is a distraction. However, many of our lives are messed up too.
What we need are some very clear things that each of us can do today, which do not cost money; however, they increase our happiness. This is all about our mental survival under the constant barrage of negativity.
Job pressures, relationship troubles, health problems, financial difficulties, the threats of world war, and so many other things can all add up to toxic levels of stress.
Research published in the Journal of Happiness Studies notes that there are three important things that make people happy. The first is having a close personal relationship that is a loving one. The second is having a pastime that is very enjoyable. The third most important thing noted by the researchers is helping others. Money and materials things are much less important unless one is below survival level.
In fact, people who overly focus on material things and money are much less happy than others. It is quite possible to be a very unhappy billionaire. Just think how they feel when going through an acrimonious divorce or if they get ill. The types of events make anyone unhappy and there are some things that money cannot buy.
Here are our twenty free personal self-defense tips you can use right now to feel a little better. The more you do things like these, the happier you will feel.
20. The First Thing To Do Is To Take Three Very Deep Breaths
If you are in a reactive mode you cannot think clearly. This is what happens when some surprising thing occurs. The best way to deal with this is, before making a decision or taking any action, first take three very deep breaths.
Breathe in through your nose and exhale through your mouth. To do this properly breathe in for about ten seconds to completely fill the lungs and then exhale calmly until all the air is out of the lungs. Some people like to close their eyes when they do this. Others like to imagine breathing in a wonderful color, such as golden sunshine, and while exhaling imagine an ugly color or black coming out of the body. Which each exhalation, imagine the negative stress is being released.
Humans breathe by an autonomic process. It happens automatically. We do not usually think about it. This type of breathing is only to keep the human body alive. It does not give us the extra mental energy boost we need. When we breathe deeply, by our own intention, we create a stronger energy field in the body and that makes us feel better.
19. If Someone is Upsetting You, Take a Pause
If your significant other comes home and starts screaming at you for no apparent reason, it is best to take a pause before you respond. There is no rule that says you must respond immediately. They may not be attacking you for anything you did. They may be transferring their frustration for other things that happened, which have nothing to do with you.
Many people will say something to a loved one that they would never dare to say to a stranger. The way to diffuse the situation is to move away from the person temporarily. This might mean going to another part of the house or going outside. Often it is best not to say anything and simply leave the room. Everyone has the right to extricate themselves immediately from any situation where they are uncomfortable with another person.
18. The Five Smiles Game
Go out in public with the intent to make five strangers smile. All you need to do is capture their smile. Maybe you need to do something silly, like make a funny face or say something amusing. Another way to create a smile is to compliment someone.
The winners of this game only care about making others smile; however, they receive a positive benefit as well. A smile is a two-way exchange of positive energy that passes from one person to another. If you see a baby, smile at it, and most of the time you will get a smile back.
It is also fun to teach this game to another person and go out together. When two play this game together, an advanced version of the game is possible. One of the people playing selects the person that the other player tries to make smile. The one who gets five people to smile first wins the game.
17. Tell People You Love and Appreciate Them
You will know if you do this correctly when your kids, significant other, and co-workers have an improved mood. The best way to do this is to ask them this question, “Did I tell you I love (or appreciate) you today?” If they say yes, then add “OK. Great. Just checking to be sure.” After that, you ask them, “Do you need a bit more love (or appreciation) right now?” If their love/appreciation tank is full they will say no. Children may pretend to be irritated by your love; however, in actuality, they are not. Or if they are a bit sad, they might say, “I don’t know,” or “Maybe.”
At this point, you do not have to say anything. Instead, you can hold their hand or hug them or simply close your eyes and concentrate on sending love to them. This also will fill up your own love/appreciation tank. The best thing about love is the more you give away, the more you get. There is an endless supply. Notice some person or help an animal. Talk to a homeless person. You do not have to actually do anything particular to help them, simply pay attention to them and show them some kindness. Of course, it would be good if you could do something to help them as well. However, the most important thing is to notice them. Ask them a simple question and listen to what they have to say.
For animals, do not look at the stray animal directly because that is an attack stance. Simply let them come to you and smell you. Do not be afraid if they come close. That is a sign of friendship. If you have some food, give it to them by putting it on the ground where they can get to it. Most animals understand this is an offer of friendship. If you simply stay still and do not stare at them, they will come close to check you out and if you have food for them they will eat it. After that, you will have a new friend.
16. Go for a Walk
Most of us spend so much of our time driving around in vehicles rushing to get somewhere that we never really get to know the details of the places we pass by. When we are walking there is a chance to see more things. You may find coins or a beautiful piece of stone. You might discover an interesting boutique or an intimate restaurant that you never noticed was there when you drove by so quickly.
Some enjoy driving to the best neighborhoods, parking their car, and strolling down the streets to enjoy looking at the houses. Others like to go for a hike in a natural setting. Your pace should be calm and leisurely. The idea is to slow down, while walking, and relax a bit.
Fifteen minutes of daily meditation is an excellent way to keep the mind clear and bring more harmony into your life. There is a constant chattering of thoughts in the mind that you need to have a break from in order to feel better. Through meditation, the mind is stilled and you get a chance to let go for a little bit. This is especially effective if something is really bothering you.
Some concentrate on breathing as a way to stop the mind from chattering thoughts. Others like to use chanting, either out loud or silently. You can also simply sit still and calm down. If you never meditated before, it takes a little practice to be able to still the mind; however, the practice will also make you feel better.
Yoga is a terrific way to keep the body in good shape and the stretches help get rid of those annoying aches and pains. You can go to a yoga class or practice yoga alone. Yoga can be done almost anywhere that is in a safe place. Nice places for yoga are at the beach, in a park, or by a lake. Many yoga practitioners like to get up early and do yoga exercises with the sunrise. This is a wonderful way to start the day.
Yoga can be done by anyone at any age.
13. Visit a Library
Public libraries are full of interesting things to read. Reading a book is a tactile experience that is quite different from reading off of a computer screen or a mobile device. Many of us are so addicted to our smartphones we do not bother to read anything else.
Reading great literature stimulates the mind in better ways than always reading tweets. When reading a book, we get into the characters’ lives and engage with the story in ways that makes it hard to put the book down. Great writing is very compelling and interesting. This allows our imagination wander and helps take our mind off of any troubles we may be experiencing. If possible, walk to the library to get a book or read one, rather than drive there.
12. Sit On a Park Bench
Go to a public park that has plenty of people, find a nice bench, and sit down for some people watching. People are endlessly fascinating. It is fun to try to imagine what their lives are like, where they might live, and what they do for work. You may also be able to have a nice conversation with a stranger if someone joins you on the bench.
Echart Tolle wrote an amazing book called “The Power of Now,” after he completely gave up his successful life as a university professor and simply sat down on a park bench for many years to contemplate a better way of life. He was desperate to find a way to heal himself. He did not think about getting rich. However, his book is so honest and true it sold many millions of copies and helped almost everyone that read it. He started by sitting on a park bench.
Taking the time to sit on a park bench allows a person to practice the art of being. Most of our lives are very active, so it is very good for our mental health to have time to reflect and just practice being, without trying to do anything.
11. Window Shop
For people who like shopping, window shopping is a pleasant pastime. In order for this to be free to do, you have to resist the temptation to buy anything. Women usually enjoy window shopping. There are so many clothes and fashion accessories. It is fun to see what is available. Men also can find it enjoyable to look for things like pleasure boats, motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, and sports equipment. Another thing that is fun is to wander around a large hardware store. You can collect some of the free paint cards and take them home to make a collage from them as an art project.
10. Offer to Babysit
People who like children, but do not have any of their own, might enjoy babysitting. This is one pastime where you may also make some pocket money while enjoying spending some time with the children.
Older adults can offer to babysit their grandchildren, which provides some time off from childrearing for the parents. Older adults in retirement without grandchildren may find this is a pleasant second career. It is fun to play with the children and it helps a person remember what it was like to be young.
9. Visit a Nursing Home
There are plenty of elderly people in nursing homes who are lonely and enjoy getting visits and making a new friend. One of the most important things for the caregivers in these nursings homes is having activities for the patients. The staff always has many things to do so they appreciate volunteers who come in to help out.
Things that are fun include bingo, sing-alongs, card games, board games, and activities related to holidays. Physical activities like stretching, aerobics, and dancing are fun also. Bring a good book from the library and have a book reading session by reading it out loud. Some facilities take the residents on field trips that can be enjoyable as well.
Affirmations are positive statements that help reprogram our minds with more positive thoughts. If you pay attention to the thoughts you have for a day, you will probably notice many negative things that suddenly come into your mind. For example, if you make a small mistake, a sudden thought may pop into your head, such as “Why am I so stupid?” The negative self-criticisms are also called “beating yourself up.” They arise from the subconscious and are a distorted reflection of something that happened in your past.
In the past, it could have been someone else that said this to you, like a parent or a teacher. Once a person imprints such a criticism in the subconscious, the idea comes back as if it is your own thought.
Affirmations are the antidote to this. By using positive messages and seeing them, reading them, saying them out loud, you can literally re-program your mind. The counter for “Why am I so stupid?” is not necessarily an affirmation of “I am a genius.” It can be more subtle such as “I learn from my mistakes so I can help and forgive others.”
7. Watch a Favorite Movie or Listen to Music that Makes You Feel Good
Did you ever see a movie or listen to some terrific music that made you feel great? Do that again right now. When you are feeling down, never watch things that make the feelings become worse. Do not listen to music that makes you sad and ignore the news. You want the exact opposite. Watch things that make you laugh. Listen to music that makes you feel so good.
Studies of patients in hospitals who watched comedy movies show that they recovered faster and that they had fewer complications after surgery. However, if you just had a surgery for a hernia, do not watch a movie that makes you “bust a gut” from laughter. That would be counter-productive.
6. Take a Nap
Some people prefer this to meditation. In fact, it is common for people practicing meditation to get so relaxed that they fall asleep. A “power nap” that is called a siesta in Latin countries is a short rest. It can be 15 minutes or thirty minutes or up to an hour.
If you watch dogs after they eat, they take a nap. This allows the body to easily digest the food. In Mexico, Spain, and in other Latin countries, there is the siesta time. Everyone goes home for lunch and after eating takes a nice nap. Many businesses close for about two hours in the middle of the day and then they re-open to stay open later into the evening than other countries. The regular business day is not 8 to 5, but rather 9 to 12 with two hours allowed for the siesta time and working again from 2 to 8. Taking naps makes most people feel more refreshed than having a cup of coffee or an energy drink.
If you’ve never volunteered, try it. You will be amazed at how incredibly good you will feel because you are doing something very nice to help out. Pick what you volunteer to do very carefully.
For example, if you love animals do not volunteer for a “kill” shelter where they regularly euthanize the animals. Instead, volunteer for a “no-kill” animal rescue. Besides dogs and cats, there are opportunities for you to work with horses and even large exotic animals. You can go help the feeding time at the local zoo.
The opportunities for working with humans can be just as wonderful. One great example is the “Habitat for Humanity” where Ex-president Jimmy Carter frequently helped out to build houses to help the lower income people. Another one likes this is nesotrycharity.org that builds houses for poor people in other countries. If you like to cook, help out with the local food bank or the “Meals on Wheels.” Dress up as Santa Claus and ring the bells to collect donations for the Salvation Army during the Christmas Holiday. Go help the local community theater build sets for the plays and musicals.
If you need help finding the perfect match for your volunteer efforts, try voulteermatch.org to find something that fits your time schedule, your interests, and your personality, which will make you very happy to do it.
4. Go to a Museum
Many museums are completely free for the public to enjoy. If the entrance is not free, you can volunteer to help the museum in order to gain free admission. Take a sketch pad and even if you never drew anything before, try to make a rough sketch of something. It does not have to be good. Nobody will ever see your sketches unless you want to show them. This is simply practicing and you can throw them all away if you want to.
The reason why sketching other art is important is that it helps you focus on the details and if you really like the art you will get lost in the details of observing every intricacy. This is another type of concentration that is similar to meditation. People who like art find this a very pleasing to do. You can start at any time in your life.
People who like art find this a very pleasing to do. You can start at any time during your life. Grandma Moses is one of America’s finest rural painters. She said, “If I wasn’t painting, I would be taking care of my chickens.” She started painting at the age of 78!
If you find this pastime enjoyable, your happiness will go up, and eventually, you may even become a really terrific artist yourself. All you need is some free time and some paper and a pencil to get started.
3. Attend Community Events
Community involvement can be really fun. Get involved. Make a difference. Most communities have many events each year. There are free concerts. They are art exhibits. There are farmer’s markets. There are state fairs. This makes you have more happiness if you get out from in front of the television and go to an event and meet some of the people in your community or state. This author had the hobby of going to the state fair in Santa Rosa, California each year to get a photo of himself with the blue ribbon top prize winner sheep. The male ones are never slaughtered because they are more valuable as “studs.” They all live long happy lives and make many babies.
If you investigate what your local community does you might be very surprised to learn about what is happening. Even if you want, you can go to the City Council meetings to hear the fights over local things. It is fun to watch the real life shenanigans of local politics. For hot issues, it is better to see these heated debates in real time. than watching Judge Judy or other television court shows.
2. Retirement Center
If you are old enough, go and enjoy your local retirement center. If you are too young, volunteer to help out. Organize a raffle and give away something that is valuable, but you no longer have a use for it and then give the money to the retirement center to help their program.
Create a neighbor youth group to paint a mural on the walls. Many paint companies will give the paint for free for such an effort. It is a great advertisement for them. The best success comes from mixing the older adults with the young adults.
There are terrific programs where you can adopt a grandma if you don’t have one and then if possible spend some quality time with her at the retirement center. Because of the age differences, it may be the sad event that children do not get the opportunity to meet their real grandparents. Everyone should have a loving grandma and if the blood relative is no longer living you can adopt one.
1. Join a Group
There is a group for just about everything. Self-help groups, sewing clubs, coffee clutches, bridge clubs, book discussion groups, religious group, youth groups, sports groups, groups for disabled people, a group with sexual interests, and more. This list of potential groups to join is extensive.
One thing that makes people feel happy is to be part of the group, especially when enjoying a favorite hobby. Give yourself permission to do this and make time for it. Nobody dies wishing that they worked harder!
People are funny, irritating, interesting, charming, mean-spirited, crazy, kind, beautiful, and any adjective you want to use. However, we are by our nature attracted to be with others. The saddest thing is to feel completely alone and that nobody understands you. This is so unnecessary. Please never completely isolate yourself from others. This can lead to suicide. Instead, take some positive action. Reach out, there is a group for you and you can find them on the Internet if they do not exist in your local area. If you give human beings a chance you will find about 98% are basically decent, or at least tolerable, and you can ignore the 2% that are evil.
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