Five Ways to Feel Really Good Right Now
Let me start by saying this: I am being a total hypocrite right now. I absolutely detest articles that suggest I can take anywhere between 1 and 100 "easy steps" to feel joy, fulfillment and happiness. I wrote an article about a year ago for Intent.com called "Five Ways to Free Yourself", which spurred several other articles to follow it that contained anywhere between three and seven things one could do to achieve a positive outcome. I promised myself I would never do it again. Why? Because I realized I don't believe in fooling people into believing in the "quick fix" let-me-just-win-the-lottery mentality that has facilitated the drive-thru phenomenon, caused countless individuals to gamble away their life savings on twenty different "get rich quick" books, and is slowly becoming the new ground on which America is planted. That being said, I've decided to write one more article like this because of something that happened today: I was feeling crummy, and I went to the gym, and I instantly felt better.
I stand by my sentiment that I don't think we can find a miracle solution that will turn our lives around instantaneously. Most miracle solutions that have staying power require a daily commitment to it and to ourselves, a regular practice that grows as we do. There are, however, several things that can make my day a better one, and they aren't that hard to come by if I'm willing to make the time for myself. So, that's where we'll start with #1:
1. Make time for yourself. That's right, drop everything if it's coming between you and your serenity. I know it all seems too important: the job, the boss waiting on the other side of the traffic you're stuck in, your mom who you know will get so mad if you don't call her before sundown, but none of it is worth the effort you're putting in if you don't feel good about yourself. That's why we do all these things, right? To feel good about ourselves? Why not start where it counts, with yourself. Trust me, you'll be a better person to all of those people you would rather put first if your tank is full in the first place. Even if it's just 15 or 30 minutes, carve out some "me time" and make yourself a priority. And try to do it before you lose your shit because you haven't taken any time for yourself, even though it's still always better late than never.
2. Say Thank You. There once was a man who was so disgruntled with his life that he didn't know what to do with himself. A friend told him to make a list of all the things that were bothering him and put it away. Days later, when the man felt good again, his friend told him to make a list of what was making him so joyful and compare the two. Low and behold, the two lists were the same. When we practice being grateful for what we have, it's easy to see the happiness is all a matter of perspective. I find that when it comes to gratitude, action often comes before feeling: I need to actively practice counting my blessings in order to feel that much better about my life in general. Counter-intuitive as it may be, it's not the other way around.
3. Break a sweat. I can't believe I'm saying this. I swear when I was getting my allergy tests a few years ago, there were definite reactions to pecans, stone fruits, soy…and, oh right, the gym. Anyone who knows me knows I'd sooner get a root canal then get on the elliptical, because at least the dentist chair reclines. I don't know where my aversion came from, but it takes everything in me to lift my ass and catapult it onto the stationary bike. Even so, I'm learning it's worth all that darn effort because I feel like a million bucks afterward. 30 minutes of cardio is like, 4 songs on the new Justin Timberlake album. That, my friend, I can do.
4. Say what you need to say. You heard the John Mayer song, "take all of your so-called problems, better put 'em in quotations." Do it. Write it down maybe, or post a blog about it. If there's a truth you're not telling in one of your relationships that needs to be told, honor yourself and make yourself feel safe enough to finally tell it. Most of us keep things inside for one reason or another, many times to avoid conflict or discomfort. In the end though, isn't it most important that we feel like people know who we are and how we feel? From there, we can find solutions that work for everyone. When others we care about know where we're coming from, it makes all the difference.
5. Stop comparing yourself. We all get to put our best and brightest moments up on Facebook, and I don't know anyone who has posted anything of themselves hysterically crying or in a fight with their significant other. So, why would you compare your breakdown with someone else's highlight reel? Remember to take a reality check: do you really think you're the only one going through the ups and downs you're going through, or might others get the same glowing impression of you that you're undoubtedly getting of them when you stalk their internet photos and down a whole sleeve of oreos? We're really all very similar, and comparing our insides to other peoples outsides only gets us in more trouble. Find a friend who knows you from the inside out and tell them whats ailing you when the going gets tough. We're all on our own journeys, and yours is just as valid as everyone else's. You are the star of your own big, beautiful life.
There's still time for today to turn around, or for it to get even better if it's great already. It's never too late, and it's never not a good time to pause and let the sun shine back in our windows again.