An article by Dr. Heidi Lepper, Ph.D.

Positive Psychology: 7 Ways to Happy Days!

Here are a few ideas about what you can do every day to help improve your mood and thinking states...and by doing those two things you will have more energy to stay engaged throughout the day and come to feel happier and healthier over time.

Sundays: Write a thank you note or a gratitude letter.

One study of college students conducted by one of my colleagues from long ago, Sonja Lyubormirsky, found that those who wrote just once a week as opposed to daily, about things in their life they are grateful for found the most mood boosting effect. This is particularly compelling when we write it to someone in particular, we know we are making that person feel good and that in effect makes us feel good. This goes along with the commonly found 'do-good-feel-good' phenomenon in psychology.

Mondays: A smile begets a smile.

Smile at everyone today and marvel at how much better you feel! No worries however at the people who do not smile back or whom you cannot catch in a mutual gaze to smile. Simply smile whenever you can. Start first thing in the morning in the mirror and with your family members and notice how much easier the day starts! Keep at it all day, what an incredible way to start the week!

Tuesdays: Watch the weather forecast.

Ever notice that many of us live our lives by the weather? A sunny day and we feel peppier! A dreary day brings us down! Do you really want to live as variable as the weather? Do you want to let weather patterns, for which you have ABSOLUTELY NO CONTROL OVER, dictate to you how you live? So look as the forecast today and decide that you do not indeed want to let the weatherman's forecast be your mood setter for the day!

Wednesdays: Trade your favorite music or television show or website with someone else.

We can easily find ourselves living by the same music or watching the same television channels or going to the same websites day in and day out. Yes, you fancy them, that is why you go to them...but you may also fancy something else, just give it a try! The notion here is that in order to live happier and healthier lives we do indeed need to remain open to new experiences and for many of us we have to fake that and force it a bit at first until it becomes comfortable. And again what this can do is fuel the idea that you are taking an interest in the lives of those you are close to and oh, how wonderful that makes them feel! (And thus getting back to Mondays lesson in the 'do-good-feel-good' phenomenon.

Thursdays: Conduct random acts of waving.

What you say? Yes, random acts of waving. Either alone or with whom you are traveling across town. Just wave at people! I am one who always gets a kick out of waving at farmer's in a field, or fellow runners as I pass by. It simply helps me feel connected and therefore lifts my mood. You will feel a bit silly doing this, and people will give you a strange look such as "Why is she waving at me? Do I know her?" and they usually will wave back. Remembering to be silly simply keeps us spirited and feeling alive...two factors we need as humans!

Fridays: Introduce yourself.

See the same person day after day but do not know his or her name? We are creatures of habit, we live by routines and schedules, and so we often come across the same people regularly but we never strike up a conversation. Indeed Irving Goffman many years ago talked about civil inattention (the ways we come to ignore strangers around us) but why not bring attention to the people we indeed come across all the time? The check out clerk at Target, the gas station clerk who tells you how much your coffee is, that person in the gym who rotates on the equipment as the same time as you, a fellow worker on another floor whom you run into regularly but do not know, or the person in the lunch line who always gets the same turkey wrap as you. Start like this: "Hey, my name is John (or Mary) and I see you almost every day, I just want to introduce myself." Or something to that effect, and I guarantee the person will respond in kind because he or she has also noticed you as a regular stranger in his or her life! It is going to be HARD! So very hard! But so rewarding when you do it! Fridays are a great day to try it because hey, you have two days over the weekend to recover from the mere shock to your ingrained civil-inattention-system!

Saturdays: Stand in front of your mirror.

You likely have time on this day for a few extra minutes to reflect. Stand in front of your mirror and hold out any judgments, positive or negative. Just stand and look, simply be okay with that reflection. Do not groom or fidget, just stand, look, and be okay with that reflection. Smile, frown, scowl. Which reflection do you like? Which one would you like others to see? When you were a very young one you did this...you find any young one and put him or her in front of the mirror and they will demonstrate how to do it! They do not hold judgments about their reflection, they try on different faces, and then they go about their day! You once did this long ago, try it again today.

Now on to a new week.

Start the process all over again! We are working together to help you slowly develop the practice of thinking in positive ways, maintaining more positive moods, and remaining engaged when things get hard! Keep at it, you will get there!

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Copyright © 2009 Dr. Heidi Lepper, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.