Warning: Non-snarky post — ways to be happier

Posted: July 19, 2014 in Addictions, Psychology

by Zeke Teflon, author of Free Radicals: A Novel of Utopia and Dystopia

(Please be aware that this post is an aberration.  I feel vaguely embarrassed by the following, but think it’s worth posting anyway. The snark will return tomorrow, courtesy of  either C.B. or Z.T.)

Last night around midnight an old friend I’ve known for 30 years and played music with in the ’80s and early ’90s gave me a call. Like yours truly, he’s a master of driving himself and giving himself a very hard time. He told me he’d talked earlier in the day with the shrink he’s currently seeing, and she gave him some excellent advice about making himself happier (or at least less miserable). He told me what it was, and I had to agree–it was shit I was familiar with and had used, and it worked, but I’d stopped using it for god knows what reason. Then I started to think of all of the other very easy-to-apply things I know but haven’t been using.

I got up this morning, did several of them, and had a great day. Here’s what they are. They’re all very simple, and they work.

  • Write out a list in the morning of things you’re happy to have in your life. Don’t just think about them, write them out. Do it daily and see what new things you can come up with.
  • When you get up, write out a list of things you can do to enjoy life the best you can that day. Again, write it out, and try to come up with new things daily.
  • Make a to-do list every morning. Cross things off as you do them. And cheat: if you do something useful not on the list, put it on the list and then cross it off.
  • Keep your place clean. You’ll feel better for it.
  • Get rid of unnecessary shit. The less cluttered your space is the better you’ll feel. Especially, give away stuff that’s not hugely valuable, but that you aren’t using and is taking up space.
  • Don’t exercise. Instead, find physical activities that you actually enjoy. For years, I exercised brutally several times a week at the gym, an hour to an hour-and-a-half at a time. When I was done, I felt virtuous, and my self-message was, “Fuck it! You worked out this hard, you’ve got a reward coming! Mexican food, three or four dark beers, and a pint [or quart!] of ice cream. Bring it on! You deserve it!” I did this for over a decade and at the end was bulked up, but was still pudgy and hadn’t lost a goddamned ounce. Lately, I’ve been doing less strenuous activities I actually enjoy, and have been gradually losing weight.
  • If you’re feeling down (or up), call your friends and talk. Don’t isolate.
  • Do something nice for someone or an animal. Generosity and kindness make you feel better.
  • Force yourself to spend at least three minutes a day doing some creative activity you enjoy, such as playing music or writing. If you get into it and spend more time on it, great. If you don’t, what have you lost? Getting started is always the hardest part, and this is a very easy way to do it. (Thanks to Michael Edelstein for this one.)

Again, sorry for the pollyannaish nature of all of this crap. But try  it. It works. You’ll be happier for it.

Now if I can only remind myself to do all this shit . . .

The snark returns tomorrow.



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