The past few weeks, I have had the best handle on my depression that I’ve had in almost a year. Because I’m not putting out fires in my brain or because of my actions (due to my brain), I can focus on higher level activities. One of my focuses has been happiness.
Happiness is a choice, yes, and it’s a choice I must make every single day.
I’ve been reading up on life hacks, things that will make me more present in my day to day, and actions that I can take to make my physical being affect my spiritual being and vice versa. Here’s a few I’ve worked on for a long time and some I’ve recently discovered—and as always take what you like and leave the rest:
- Take 10 seconds per day to look around, and inside your head, wish 2-3 people happiness. Simple. This feels a little like drive-by praying for someone you love. It instantly lifts my spirits.
- A reminder to smile. This instantly affects my mood and helps me get out of my head (which can dive into the negative quickly because of the depression)
- Volunteering or giving back. This doesn’t have to be some grand-sweeping “I’m going to change the world right now.” It could be as simple as holding the door for an elderly woman in your apartment building. It could be as huge as joining the Peace Corps. You decide. But serving others gives me a sense of purpose that I could never find if I did things solely for my own benefit
- Take 20 minutes in the morning and get in some kind of routine. The routine should include some kind of meditation, even if it’s only a minute. There’s no right or wrong here. It’s just a way to center yourself myself before the craziness of the day. If I don’t take time for myself for even a moment, who else is going to make time for me? Consistency is key for anyone and doing something every day gives the sense of accomplishment, which is definitely something human beings need to feel every day.
- Practicing gratitude. I have a calendar reminder every day at 415pm Pacific Time, to take 5 minutes and remind myself what I’m thankful for and what’s going well. It also helps make the road bumps or problems of the day seem less gigantic.
- A physical activity that makes you feel good or feel better. Mine is piano. Some people it’s the gym. For others it’s knitting. It helps you engage a different side of your brain. There’s a little problem solving involved as well, which is a healthy activity for your brain, and it can take some of the focus off the negative and help realign you toward your desired choice, which is happiness.
- Tetris before bed. I got it as an app on the iPhone. I started playing it hours before bed one night and put it down for a few days. To help me sleep, I started visualizing the blocks moving around and fitting into one another. Several days later I read that a study showed that playing Tetris before bed can help put a person to sleep. I need my sleep, otherwise I’m an emotional train wreck. ‘Nuff said.
- Vulnerability in the face of fear. After I made the choice to be vulnerable to the person that means the most to me in the world; along with a select few others—those people became more vulnerable with me, deepened our relationship; which makes me happy.