5 Inexpensive Joy Boosters

by heather

An article recently published on NPR says it all; 81% of people polled say they’re extremely worried about the economy, and 91% of people think the country is on the wrong track.

The numbers are staggering. And, it isn’t getting any better. Turn on the nightly news and the numbers look even more grim. Jobs lost, plants closing, and so on it goes.

I am in no way trying to make light of the situation we’re in. But, I want to point out something we may have forgotten in the media storm.

We always have a choice.

We choose to watch the news, and we choose to get upset at what we hear. We choose to manically track the gyrating DOW during the day, just as we choose to talk incessantly with our friends about how lousy things have gotten.

And, we choose to feel hopeless and sad about what’s happening.

All these choices say one thing: we’re choosing expose ourselves to negativity, and we’re choosing to react in a negative way.

Now, this also works in the opposite direction. We can choose to be happy.

It’s All Up To Us

This is what is so amazing about life; we’re in complete control. Every single one of us is behind the wheel, steering our life in the direction we want to go.

I know sometimes it doesn’t feel like we are. After all, we can lose our jobs, our houses, our cars, all at the whim of fate, right?

Yes. Those things can happen, and they do happen. But how we choose to react to those events is within our control.

We can choose to expose ourselves to positive things, and to think positive thoughts; we can choose to read to our kids rather than watch the news, and we can choose to walk the dog rather than surf the Internet for more bad news.

And when challenging things happen, it’s completely within our control how we react to them. We can choose to feel hopeless, or we can choose to look for the silver lining that’s always there.

So, I’d like to offer up some inexpensive ways to be happy. These little things may seem trivial, but I truly believe it’s the little things in life that bring us the most joy. And, making the choice to be happy is what it’s all about.

1. Buy Fresh Flowers, Especially Sunflowers

Fresh flowers remind us of summertime. They’re colorful and happy, and can brighten up even the darkest room.

Sunflowers especially work wonders on our mood. They resemble the sun, and have almost a human quality that all of us respond to. If laughter had a look, it would look like a sunflower.

2. Play With An Animal

There’s a reason why pet owners are generally happier than non-pet owners. Pets, especially dogs, give us

My dog, Pep

My dog, Pep

unconditional love. They’re the embodiment of how we, as human beings, should be. They love, they forgive without grudge, they’re appreciative, they’re playful, and they live in the moment.

Spending time with animals is a way for us to let our guard down and be in the moment. Petting animals is relaxing; you’re giving love, and they give it right back. If you have a dog or cat, spend more time with them.

If you don’t, visit PetFinder.com to find a homeless pet that could use some love.

3. Turn In Early

Most people don’t get enough sleep. If you want to boost your mood, then go to bed early. Get on your pajamas, grab a good book, and read yourself into relaxation.

I truly believe that getting enough sleep is crucial to keeping a positive outlook in your life. This article from Reader’s Digest, written by Stephanie Kinnon, makes the case for getting enough sleep. This quote from the article says it all:

“Sleep is crucial to maintaining your health. Without it, you increase your susceptibility to an astonishing array of health problems, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity and depression.”

4. Consciously Exercise

Most of us know that getting exercise is important to our health. In a study done by Duke University, scientists found that people who exercised at least 30 minutes, 3 times per week, was just as helpful for treating depression as taking an anti-depressant drug.

But, we can improve the quality of our exercise, and our outlook, by choosing how we think while we’re doing it.

For example, many gyms have television sets in front of their treadmills. Most people choose to watch tv while they exercise.

But think about how you’d feel if you used that time to think about things that really bring you joy. Think about how you’d feel if, while you walked or ran, you used that time to be grateful for all the wonderful things in your life, or do some soul-searching to figure out what your dreams are and how you can go about accomplishing them.

I’m pretty disciplined about getting to the gym several times a week. While I’m running, I use that time to say “thank you” for all the things that in my life I’m grateful for. I also use that time to dream; I think of the future, and what I want it to be like. I make plans, and envision the outcomes.

I can honestly say that using this time to think about positive things dramatically impacts my day. If I chose to watch tv during that time I’d still be getting the positive effects from the exercise, but I really don’t believe I’d leave feeling as energized, happy, and at peace as I do when I consciously choose to think about gratitude and my dreams.

5. Do The Simple Things

When was the last time you went out stargazing or birdwatching? When was the last time you went to an art museum, visited a botanical garden in the dead of winter, or cuddled up in front your fireplace with your family and a good movie?

Doing simple things may not seem like they would do much to bring joy. But more often than not, it’s the little things that make the most difference. Most of the time they don’t cost much, if anything.

So, start by making a list of all the little things that make you happy.

For instance, sitting down with a cup of hot chocolate on a cold winter’s day is a guaranteed cheer-up for me. So is visiting our local indoor botanical gardens, or eating cheese with a glass of red wine.

These little things bring me immense joy. When I’m feeling down I know that I can choose to keep feeling this way, or I can choose to do something happy to cheer myself up.

Making a list of all the little things that make you truly happy is like having a back-up plan. When you need a boost, you can choose to do one of your joy boosters. Or, you can choose not to. It’s all up to you.

Last Word

Remember, happiness doesn’t depend upon who you are or what you have, it depends solely upon what you think.
– Dale Carnegie (1888-1955)

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