Sometimes I easily feel so much happiness I could burst. Other times feeling happy is work. I call these times “happiness challenges,” when unpleasant feelings cloud the happiness that we have in our hearts.
During one specific happiness challenge this past year, a friend told me,
“be as kind as you can to yourself.”
This was some of the best advice I ever received. It helped me reestablish some balance and feel happier almost immediately, which then contributed to the happiness of those around me.
Here are some ways that I show myself kindness and foster my own happiness:
Even if just for a few minutes I take a conscious moment to write. Some short writing exercises that work for me include:
1. Writing a list of things for which I’m grateful.
2. Jotting down a happy memory.
3. Finishing sentences like “I am…,” “I wonder…,” “I hear…,” “I feel…,” “I notice…,” “I love…,” “I enjoy…,” etc.
4. Writing a letter or email to a friend. (You can opt to send or not.)
5. Penning a list of favorite things or potential solutions to a challenge you face. (You might surprise yourself with what they are!)
I love to listen to and play music. Creating a new station on Pandora or Spotify can begin to change my mood immediately. Also, taking a few minutes to play a tune or two on an instrument (whether that instrument is your singing voice, your drumming hands, or your strumming fingers) can help happiness start to bubble up again, too. Play without judgment and with lots of love to feel the full happiness effect.
For a time, I felt like I didn’t have enough time to read, so I set an attainable goal of reading at least one page of something per day. Soon that one page turned into at least 5-10 at a time, and I was back in a reading routine. Investing a few minutes at a time for an enjoyable read is healthy and good for the soul. My latest reading picks lift me up and make me think. They are:
1. Mo’ Meta Blues, by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson – This is a memoir of Questlove, leader of The Roots and music director of the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. It strays (in the best way) from the typical structure of any other memoir you may have read.
2. Thrive, by Arianna Huffington – This is a successful woman’s take on finding peace in a chaotic world. She gives practical strategies for a more peaceful life and uses various philosophical, professional, and personal references to support her stance.
3. Rework, by Jason Fried – This is a brief guide to starting a business in your own way. It is concise, direct, and understanding of individuals with a dream.
4. Darling magazine – There need to be more magazines like this in the world! Darling’s publication is smart and supportive of females especially. It is not laden with adds and photos that often chisel away at a person’s self-esteem. Instead it is full of uplifting articles, intelligent poetry, and beautiful illustrations. I encourage you to check out their latest edition of the magazine and peruse their website for other great reading. The women behind this publication are kind, brave, and driven to infuse the world with good.
For us to continue putting good into the world, kindness is key. Someone once said, “Be kind to me when I least deserve it because that’s when I need it the most.” So remember when unpleasant feeling arise, the best way to curb them and channel your happiness is with kindness. The kindness you show toward yourself only results in happiness for everyone!
What do you do to be kind to yourself? Let us know in the comments below!
Tera is a certified school counselor and teaches research courses at Immaculata University. When she is not teaching yoga at Nourishing Storm, you can find her dancing at DAC in Hatboro, creating new goods for her Etsy shop Gracious Sakes, or hanging out at home with her husband and their pets. If you’d like to find ways to get more involved in the community feel free to contact Tera at firstname.lastname@example.org.