8 Simple, Sure-Fire Ways to Make Any Day Better
This morning, I have a phone call to make about a topic I don't know well. I hate those. I tend to procrastinate on them, because I know I'll have to ask a bunch of probably dumb-sounding questions. And the whole process of working my way through a phone menu and dealing with a robot before I can finally (hopefully) get to a real person makes me anxious and annoyed.
Then I have a dental appointment to replace a crown that just won't stay on (this is the third try). They're removing part of my gum, with no guarantee that that will finally work. I'm a little phobic about the dentist anyway, partly due to all of my 1960s-era orthodontia experiences. I've been feeling tense about this appointment since I made it a few weeks ago.
Choose to have a good day.
So when it's time to pick up my 4- and 7-year-old grandsons for their overnight visit, will I be wearing a frown? Will I be stressed and impatient, with my mind on many other things?
It could be that way, if I let it. But it's within my power to change. I can either have an awful day, or I can have a good day.
The following simple options may not seem like much, but they make all the difference in the world. You can choose to have a good day too – try one or more of these methods, or discover your own. The main thing is to take action to make your day better.
1. Be present.
Instead of having your mind elsewhere, bring yourself back to this moment, focused on where you are, what you're doing, and who you're with.
I'm not always good at this. I know I can't change things that have already happened, and obsessing over them doesn't help me. I can't predict the future, so worrying about it doesn't help either. But I still do both of those things, which makes me unhappy for no purpose, and keeps me from experiencing right now.
Taking action is a good way to stay present. Making that call and completing that task will be a relief. Talking to my dentist about my anxieties and using the nitrous oxide he offers will make the experience easier. Then I can move on to other things and be fully present for them.
2. Do less.
Is your schedule extra-full today? Cut it in half, or even just by 25%. Move a few items until tomorrow, next week, or even delete them altogether. You know what's truly important and what matters less. If you choose your two or three essential tasks, you'll have a much better day than if you try to cram more in.
3. Accomplish one important thing.
This is different than dealing with something that is necessary or urgent. Author Leo Babauta describes important things as those which "will have a huge impact on your life (personally or career-wise) over the long run – not things that need to be done today or else." His reasoning is that accomplishing something important – even if it's one step toward a much larger task – will make you feel a great sense of achievement. And doing one important thing every day moves you closer and closer toward your life goals.
For me, that could be banging out the very rough draft of a blog post, or brainstorming possible topics for my next book. What might it be for you?
Even if it's just a little space – one drawer or one shelf – decluttering can have a wonderful effect on your mood. Clutter creep happens to all of us, and taking a few minutes to clear it out is like taking a deep breath of fresh air. It makes you feel positive and full of energy!
A naked table is a good place to start.
5. Get outside.
Yes, most of us need more exercise, so maybe this should say "go for a walk/run/swim/bike ride." But many readers might just skip over that.
So just get outside. Moving around will energize you, and so will the fresh air. But simply getting away from your desk (or any screen) will let you clear your head. If you can sit in a park, garden, or your own backyard, you can find a moment of peace. If you can think your own thoughts without interference, you can find some clarity. And if you take a few moments to enjoy the nature around you, you'll be refreshed by the beauty and the complex, perfect design.
Consider how fortunate you are to be alive, how blessed you are to have your senses in working order, how much freedom and opportunity you have, and how many possibilities lie before you. This will have a great effect on your day.
Bach always relaxes me and cheers me up. So does a lot of popular music from the '70s and '80s! Whichever music gets you going, play it on your phone or your car radio. I promise it will make your day better.
7. Look to the heavens.
Trite? Maybe. But it works. Look up – at the clouds, the stars, a glorious sunset, or a mysterious moonrise. I listened to Dvorak's Song to the Moon from his opera Rusalka (one of my favorite arias to perform) while gazing at the blue supermoon in August. Transcendent!
8. Spend time with a loved one.
This too is obvious, perhaps, but there's nothing better. When I spend time talking to my grandsons and getting a glimpse into how their minds work, there's nothing more joyous. A conversation with my husband or kids can range over so many subjects and be enjoyable for all of us.
Even if you don't have a spouse or kids, there's someone in your life that you value. Make time in your day today to be with them – and not just to watch TV, but to actually talk, listen, laugh, and bond together. It will make any day better.
Just as you can gain skill at maintaining your home, schedule, and budget, you can also get better at maintaining inner serenity and peace. We can't control all the circumstances of our lives, but we have some control over our responses to them. And we can mold our habits and even our brains toward positivity and happiness.
My new book, Simply Happy (the fifth and final book in my Minimalist Basics series), will show you how to change the way you look at the world and help you pursue your joy. Get a copy for yourself or a friend today.