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Free Article :: Happy Tips

Happy Tips

Breathe

When’s the last time you took a long, slow, easy breath while you were awake? Still holding your breath?

It’s easy to do. We still act like the saber-tooth tiger is about to get us. Being overwhelmed has the same result: we, um, quit breathing. Well, not entirely. You know what I mean: right now a quick checks finds my shoulders somewhere around my earlobes—way too high.

I check my diaphragm, and it’s pretty locked up tight too. I wonder what that does for my digestion and stress?

Breathing. It’s easy to do. Five steps:

  1. Let your shoulders go down—consciously let them head for the floor, keeping your head and neck still
  2. Imagine the place where you relax that is the perfect temperature for you, with the perfect place for you to let go.
  3. Drop your belly, just let it relax, and focus there
  4. Fill your belly air as if there is an invisible string attached to your navel like a bellows, so that as the string is pulled out, air fills the belly and then the lungs
  5. Imagine the string going slack and your lungs and then belly emptying of air, shoulders down and head straight.

Move

Do this a couple of times—then practice doing this more naturally and as if it is how you always breathe.

Are you tired of feeling tired and ready to have more energy?

Hike your Happy up by getting out of that chair and getting your blood moving! Like a lot of people, I didn’t really like exercise (in groups, and every piece of equipment I bought ended up a clothes rack).

Then I noticed I was shaped like my chair, and sitting so much I sometimes forgot my body and became a set of hands working on a keyboard (I write a lot). My hips and lower back hurt. I had so little endurance I had to take a break to open a number 10 envelope (it’s a joke).

Five hints to help you get more exercise more naturally for more results:

  1. Any reason you park so close to work? (Or if you work at home, any reason you could find to add 100 steps a day xx: cheap pedometer)
  2. Find an easy yoga class and take it —even if it means using a DVD (Cathy Stallworth).
  3. Drink water (xx: branded glass). You do? Drink a little more. Add that great dried Lemon juice powder or juice of fresh lemons. This does all kinds of good things.
  4. Did you know that walking briskly for an hour in water burns between 300-500 calories? Easy on the joints, too—no impact.
  5. Find a buddy to walk or workout with, a neighbor or family member. Go even when you’d rather sleep.

Happy up by moving more: it strengthens your heart, lungs, and muscles; improves your circulation; helps the cells and your mood.

Paying Attention

Is your anxiety a little higher than usual? Mine is. And what do I do when that happens?

Often I stop. Turn all the music off. The only noise is traffic a couple of streets away, the cat’s fountain and my own breathing. OK, the pecking of the keys. I let my tongue drop from the roof of my mouth so it rests in the bottom, the tip of it just touching the back of my bottom teeth in the front.

I notice. Ooh, there goes a chickadee fussing because she wants to be fed. I begin to think in a deliberate direction: “ How do I feel when I hear the chickadee? I feel happy. Will I ever know what is going to happen tomorrow? No. Will I be more able to enjoy tomorrow if I keep feeling this way? No. So what do I need to so that I can change how I feel?”

Sometimes the answer is “Own your fear” and sometimes it is as simple as “Laugh!” Sometimes it’s “Breathe!”

Whatever it is, I’m the one that has to choose whether or not I do it. I can hang on to the anxiety, or I can redirect it. It’s mine, and I can do what I want to with it.

You, too!

Sleep

You want to sleep better, right? Who wants to wake up tired? Not me, and not you either. Sleep deprivation. Maybe you thought it worked to stay up all night and study, or party, or maybe sometimes your brain raced so fast you couldn’t sleep. Almost everyone has difficulty sleeping sometime.

Today? Today it could be so many things keeping you awake—from what’s happening in the world to what you want to happen at home! It could be that project that overwhelms you, or who knows what! Don’t let your Happy take a slider on that one.

A Chinese idea? Traditional Chinese Medicine teaches that every hour of sleep you get before midnight is worth three hours after midnight. Where else can you get that kind of return?

Now the university researchers say that getting an extra hour of sleep ups your heart’s Happy! (Along with helping with weight management, and reducing the risk of diabetes)

Five quick tips to help you sleep better (and hike up Happy!):

  1. Set an alarm for an hour before your bedtime—use that hour to wind down.
  2. Make your bedroom dark, cool, and quiet.
  3. Go to bed and get up at about the same time everyday to help your body remember
  4. Exercise on rising instead of before going to bed (well, at least three hours before bedtime).
  5. Avoid alcohol (it disrupts sleep), caffeine (takes hours to process out of the body) and nicotine for at least three hours before bedtime.

You want to sleep better?

Let us know how these tips help—how you felt before you tried them, how you used them, and how it made a difference!

Change

Remember the very first time you ever sat in front of a computer? Or maybe it was the first breakup when you were rejected by a teen love? Chances are you felt stupid, then incompetent, then angry.. and you would be very much like most other people.

Almost everyone feels some form of anger, fear, and inadequacy when faced with a change—job, health, relationship—especially if it is a change they did not choose.

What’s the difference between how you feel when you resign and how you feel if you get laid off or your company shuts? And how would these feelings differ from the ones you’d have if you chose, planned, and executed the change?

Yep. When you’re in charge, the change can be pretty exciting and fun. When you choose the change and have some choices about it, change can be exciting and fun. But when someone else imposes the change, or it could impact others’ perceptions about you, your pay, or role, change feels pretty bad (at least most of the time).

Why do we turn those feelings into facts when it comes to change? What if we could treat them as flags that alert us to change, something different?

When you can recognize those feelings are just the way you let yourself know something different is happening? Why, they hardly need any attention! They settle right down, because they’ve done their job.

Try this:

  1. The next time you expect traffic to go smoothly, and you get slowed down, check in on your level of anger.
  2. Talk to yourself about the traffic slowdown and how you feel: will it really make traffic go any faster? Does it make you safer to feel this way? How does getting angry serve you?
  3. Pay attention to what happens to your body when you have open conversation with your feelings
  4. Notice what happens as you change your internal tone of voice with yourself—try genuinely being open and concerned with your own frustration; then (oh help) talk meanly to yourself about your feelings. What is the difference in how you feel in both circumstances? Did you notice that even the request honors your feelings?

One thing is certain: change occurs, and we go with it. Acknowledging and being kind to the feelings it brings makes it more tolerable.

PS—This hikes your happy and gives you the power (instead of the change).

Fly

Have you ever watched a maple seed—those wings—whirlygig to the ground? Or watched a poplar seed fly? Traced milkweed through the air as it floated along, or blown the silk off of a dandelion?

Have you ever watched a hawk soar and sail on the wind?

Wind, flying, floating, traveling on air has significance in many cultures. In traditional indigenous worlds, movement through air is associated with messages, Spirit being present, or omens of things to come.

What do you think when you see a feather? Imagine all the ways you could think about a feather.

Thinking about something this flighty, no pun intended, and letting your mind relax, finding meaning and pleasure in watching something so simple yet elegant helps your Happy.

Gratitude

How are you doing? Are you “not too bad,” “OK” or “blessed”?

In some parts of the country, and depending on a person’s culture, you could hear any of these. Why would you say “not too bad” instead of blessed? If times are tough, it helps hike up your Happy to focus on what you have. You can blessed without being religious.

More than that, you can be grateful without considering yourself blessed! Why? Because the ability to be thankful, or grateful, is purely a matter of choice. It’s looking at the glass as half full instead of half-empty. It’s recognizing what you have with the same fervor as your focus on what you lack.

You don’t have to eat turkey and cranberries to experience thanksgiving, and it can span more than the last days of November. My goodness! What would happen if you responded “I’m thankful” or “I’m blessed” when people asked how you are doing?

It’s made a difference in my Happy, I’ll tell you. The more I look at all the things for which I am grateful—honestly—the brighter my life becomes. I still get angry, and don’t like some of things I experience, and I’m not grateful for those (nor should I be at the moment). Over time I might see some good, and I will surely look for it. I’d hate to miss out on Happy!

Being thankful and feeling blessed increase Happy, no doubt about it. Why wouldn’t you give it a try? You can always feel the way you do now—all you’re doing is expanding your choices.

Why not? Try it. See what you think, and let me know!