Simple Activities For Happiness And Gratitude
Updated: May 27
You woke up this morning, so you’re alive aren’t you? Isn’t that something to be thankful for?
But perhaps you don’t feel alive but instead fed up and wearied by life’s ups and downs. Okay yes, whilst some factors are out of our control, there are also simple actions we can take to boost our feel good vibes.
For instance, did you know that reading books of different genres has been linked to greater life happiness? Not only is this good for relaxation, but what a great way to experience other worlds and lives from the comfort of your home. My guilty pleasure is losing myself in a good novel – it’s certainly proved to be a stress reducing tonic. But, whilst my bookshelf is adorned with psychological thrillers; some might question how I can find calmness from such chilling reads. It is however, these on the edge page turners that are a stark reminder that I am safe and alive. I am grateful it is not me being kept hostage by a masked villain brandishing a knife. There are of course the other benefits such as prompting me to double check I’ve securely locked all the doors!!
Of course, a nightmarish novel might not be your thing, so how about a book that makes you feel inspired – There are many inspirational books out there that force us to put our own lives into perspective. For example, ‘’Man's Search For Meaning’’ by psychiatrist by Victor Franki - a survivor who narrates his experience in Nazi concentration camps . Whilst one might be hesitant to read a book on such a harrowing subject - I found this true story to be full of hope, wisdom and human spirit.
Another simple way to elevate your mood is to go on gratitude walk...Okay, so it’s raining but that shouldn’t put a damper on things - Isn’t it the rainy days that make you appreciate the sunny ones? Like Dolly Parton said ‘’the way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain’’.. So put on your galoshes and step outside, unless like the nursery rhyme character Dr foster, you’re perturbed by a puddle.
Naturally, life is full of mishaps and uncertainties, but if we avoid new challenges, we’ll never realise the future we could have. I for one am grateful to hear those water droplets pattering on my rooftop. It fills me with gratitude knowing that I am not surviving in a drought parched land - walking miles to quench my first. Instead, I have instant water running through my tap; allowing me to relax and unwind in a foamy bath whilst enveloped in the scent of rosemary and eucalyptus.
Anyway, back to the subject of a walk - there is nothing that helps me to feel more invigorated than strolling amongst Mother Nature. In fact, research shows that spending time in the natural world improves our mood, and overall happiness. I find it humbling when consciously observing wildlife, trees and listening to bird sounds. It is a joy to be mindful and fully present -noticing the frost coated leaves in winter, the emergence of butterflies in spring and the swathes of wild flowers in hazy summer. The natural world has an intoxicating ability to reframe our thoughts, allowing us to revaluate our lives. It’s sensory haven serves as a refuge from stress and a subtle reminder that life has many possibilities.
Whilst time spent in nature is good for happiness and wellbeing…did you know that the act of gardening promotes a positive outlook to life? Speaking from personal experience, I have definitely found sinking a spade into soil and watching seeds grow to be incredibly satisfying. Like meditation, I find it to be calming but with the added benefit of fresh runner beans, colour enthused perennials and leggy sunflowers – and not to mention those scattered dandelions and tooth leaved nettles.
But, of course, a garden isn’t required to enjoy the benefits of cultivating plants. You can enjoy potted green life in the house - not only does this look good, but is known to improve air quality. I am the proud owner of some indoor sprawling plants that are nontoxic to cats - should my fury rascals have the temptation to nibble on those fibrous leaves. In a cat free zone, I also boast some misshapen vegetables that are optimistically basking on a windowsill.
Sometimes we can get caught in the negativity of life without stopping to appreciate how awesome things are that give us joy. We forget to appreciate the simple things in life that can make us happy. I remember as a kid lying on the grass picking out the shapes of fluffy clouds and an orchestra of humming bees and the rhythmic chirping of grasshoppers in the background. It was fun counting how many times I would need to blow a dandelion clock for it to release it’s fairy dust. As a child, life was full of imagination; searching for acorns and adventuring to new lands on my second hand bicycle. When I think of those times I smile; sometimes we dwell on the things that have been wrong in our lives that we forget about those that have made us happy.
When seeking new opportunities to renew and balance the mind, how about exploring your inner landscape. When it comes to personal happiness - research shows that meditation reduces stress and negative emotions. Even if like me, your mind has been a victim of distraction and chaos - it is possible to successfully hone in on the benefits of 5 minutes daily mediation. Why not have a search for those guided meditations out there on You Tube – or you could attend a class. Whilst my own ADHD brain can be sabotaged by racing thoughts with no off button, it is through guided meditation that I am eased into a blissful state of relaxation. Those jumbled thoughts are eliminated whilst I deep breathe to the soothing voice of an instructor and the lull of ocean waves.
Certainly, in our quest for happiness, it is important to remember those acts of kindness. Doing considerate things for others can boost that feel good factor and genuinely make us happy. Today, I gently escorted a brown long legged insect from my bath into the outside world. That counts as a nice act right? Well I’m sure he was grateful that I didn’t squash him. Obviously there are so many opportunities to be altruistic and cordial. For instance the act of smiling can transmit an unspoken message of kindness to the recipient; a smiley mojo can demonstrate appreciation and gratitude.
So, whilst smiling makes us feel good, how about watching a funny movie? There is nothing like a good belly ache laugh which is proven to diminish stress, and make us happy even after the hilarity has abated. Furthermore, watching comedy can promote a connectedness with others in a room who have also surrendered to the clownishness humour. So, I am truly grateful for the power of comedy with its gift of laughter; and transformative magic for the soul.
“A day without laughter is a day wasted.”
Whilst this is not the end of a list, these are just a few of the simple activities that we can do create feelings of contentment and joy. Happiness comes not from others but within us. To flourish we need to follow your own path for fulfilment and growth - but sometimes a little guidance can give rise to new perspectives and ways of thinking…