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Put on a happy face

January 21, 2011

It’s amazing what a difference a smile can make. We live in a world where it’s easy to get depressed, but I’ve found that it’s even easier to get a case of the ho-hums. I’m no expert but I’m of the opinion that happiness isn’t a spontaneous emotion to wait for but an attitude to work toward. And with few exceptions we could all stand to be a bit happier.

I’ve avoided New Year’s resolutions so far, because as a mother of an infant I have more than I can handle (enter: losing baby weight, getting a full night’s sleep, taking down the Christmas decorations by Easter, etc). But if I had to sum up one goal I’d like to accomplish for myself in 2011 it would have to be happiness. I want my home to exude a cheerful spirit, and I know that starts with me.

Now, some people are naturally incredibly happy. I consider myself naturally content (demure smile), not necessarily exuberant, jumping off of the walls happy. I have my moments – when I’m eating chocolate, shopping, or spending time with folks I love. It’s harder to be happy while making dinner, doing the dishes or working. But considering I spend way more time doing the latter things than the former, I’ll have many frowney hours before me if I’m only happy when all of my happy triggers are met.

Happiness makes life at home better and it can also improve your life at work, too. Studies show that those who consider themselves happy typically make more money and have better jobs. I know I prefer to work with individuals with a pleasant attitude.

If you’re reading this and are convicted with a case of the winter blues, have no fear. Here are a few (very unscientific) tips to help you get happier:

1. Flash a smile. It can even be a fake one. But chances are if you get into the habit of smiling more often, a genuine smile will make it your way, too. I’m lucky to have grown up in a small town, where it’s common to smile when you’re meeting someone on the street. I still try to smile whenever I catch someone’s eye, even now that I’m living in a city where smiling is often frowned upon (sorry, I couldn’t resist). I even try to catch someone’s eye to give them a smile, particularly if they look like they need one! Sometimes a smile isn’t enough, so I’ve even been known to wave vigorously and flash funny faces at colleagues in the hall or friends I see on the street. It’s even more mood lifting when you discover that you were mistaken and you don’t know the person at all – which has happened to me way more times than I’d like to admit.

2. Hold a baby if you don’t have one. Put down a baby if you do. Babies are amazing mood lifters, even for the most committed curmudgeon. That soft skin, those big eyes – they’re sure to put a smile on your face. As a new mom who spends a lot of time holding a baby I also have to add the disclaimer, however, that if you’re a very new mom like me it’s also mood lifting to recognize that you don’t have to hold a baby all of the time. This is revolutionary news that I’ve recently discovered, and it has made making coffee, taking a shower, and going to the bathroom much easier. My son has survived for several minutes in a bouncy seat or on a play mat by himself, and his doing so is smile inducing indeed.

3. Hug you husband, your child, your dog, or a stranger. Basically, hug anyone who is around. Hugging is great, a warm, cozy sign of love and friendship. Don’t be afraid to be a hugger. Next business meeting, try an introductory hug rather than a handshake. Considering it is cold and flu season, you’re doing yourself not just a happiness favor but also keeping germs off of your hands.

4. Take a walk. I’m pretty sure it was 10 degrees here today, but despite the cold I knew I just needed to get out of the house. So, I threw on a coat, a hat and any other warm weather gear I could find and I took a walk. Good for me, good for my son, and despite the wind chill I arrived home with a smile on my face.

5. Call your dad. I talk to my mom fairly often. From housekeeping tips to baby advice she’s someone I can turn to with my questions. I definitely have questions for my dad, too, but he gets far fewer of my 911 calls. Which is why it’s always a special treat to chat, if only for a few minutes.

If happiness is a state of mind you’re just a decision away from being a happier person. What are your tips for staying happy on the dullest of days? I’d love to know!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Kim Hunt Kellison permalink
    January 22, 2011 6:54 am

    Very good tips Lindy!! Baking cookies is a way to make me happy and I’m even happier if I don’t eat them all ha ha!!

    • February 4, 2011 1:57 pm

      Hey Kim – I agree with baking! It is always a de-stresser for me, too. I’m excited for the day when Lee can bake with me – although I hope it doesn’t come too soon!!

  2. Todd Moe permalink
    February 4, 2011 12:06 pm

    Great tips….Just had a new baby….I am going to show this to my wife.


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