What does it mean to be happy? The definition is different for each of us but we share a common need to feel good about ourselves and to be content -- no matter how that translates for each of us.
The next time you're having a bad day, remember that there are a myriad of ways to indulge in life's simple pleasures. To get started, here are 16 ways to have a better day. The suggestions are simple but the rewards can be meaningful.
1. Get up on the other side of the bed. Go ahead! Break your routine! The monotony of a habit can be a source of frustration, so try something new, even if it's as simple as this.
2. Replace coffee with a cup of green tea. Used since ancient times by the Chinese for its many health benefits (from ceasing headaches to easing depression), today's research also indicates that green tea can play a critical role in disease prevention. Plus, since green tea has less caffeine than coffee, you're likely to get a better night's sleep!
3. Enjoy some alone time. Whether it's curled up with your favourite book or enjoying your latest CD purchase, spending time alone, doing something you love to do, is a superb way to clear your mind.
4. Don't lie. It's not that you're a compulsive liar but sometimes, before you know it, a little white lie has slipped out of your mouth. Don't do it. Just tell the truth -- it's liberating and gives you one less thing to worry about during your day.
5. Call your mother. Or someone you've been meaning to call for weeks. Staying in touch with the people who matter most is an important way to stay grounded and remind yourself about the things and people you care about.
6. Buy fresh flowers. Don't wait for someone to buy you a bouquet. Treat yourself. Stimulate your senses with brightly coloured, fragrant blooms. Do they make you smile? Mission accomplished!
7. Play with a cat or dog. Pets have a wonderful way of alleviating stress, preventing loneliness and reminding you of life's simple pleasures. In fact, according to the Medical Journal of Australia, pet owners involved in a clinical trial had lower levels of accepted risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Pets can relieve tension by providing a welcome distraction.
8. Do a good deed. There are so many ways to perform good deeds throughout the day, but oftentimes we're just too busy. If you're in a drive-thru line, why not pay for the customer behind you? It may cost you a couple of bucks but it'll make their day -- and yours!
9. Go for a walk. Whether with a friend, your spouse or alone, walking is a wonderful activity that is easy and cheap. Bathe in the fresh air and allow yourself some time, if only for 10 minutes, to clear your mind.
10. Spend time in your garden. Surround yourself with nature's beautiful bounty. If you don't have a garden of your own, walk around your neighbourhood or visit a nearby park.
11. Chill out. Stuck in a traffic jam? Breathe in deeply and relax. There's nothing you can do about it so don't get wound up. Enjoy the time to listen to your favourite CD or catch up on the news of the day. Better yet, turn off the radio, take in the silence and enjoy the view.
12. Write a letter to a friend. In this electronic age, personal letters that arrive in the mail have become relics of the past â€“- but make no mistake, their charm hasn't diminished one bit! Set aside half an hour to write a letter to someone. The gesture is sure to be appreciated and is a great way to share your thoughts with a friend in a personal way.
13. Buy a new pair of shoes. Or treat yourself to a new outfit. When you look good, you feel good.
14. Tackle a nagging task. What have you been meaning to do for months? Whether it's cleaning out your closets and taking the clothes you no longer wear to the Salvation Army or fixing the leaky faucet in the kitchen, take control and get the job done. You'll feel a great sense of accomplishment when it's done and you can finally stop thinking about it!
15. Take a bath. To relax your body and mind, indulge in a long, hot bath. Soak the stresses of the day and drain them with the bath water. Doesn't a vanilla bubble bath sound good?
16. Say, "I love you". It's easy to get swept up in life's day-to-day hustle and bustle. But it's important to tell those around you, who love and support you, that you love them. Life is too short and uncertain not to let the important people in our lives know just how much they mean to us.
Sometimes all you need to improve your mood is to slow down and remember that life is full of simple pleasures. Tomorrow morning, make the choice to have a wonderful day. A few minor changes to your approach may be all you need to take your day from good to great!