I remember often hearing the following quote when I was younger: “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s call the present.” I thought it was a little bit cheesy, but this quote became engraved in my memory (perhaps because it rhymed a tiny bit and when you’re in middle school anything that rhymes is awesome…which rhymes with possum). The reason it stuck with me, though, is because it gets at something really crucial: we must all live in the present. Even if you’re generally feeling stressed out, cranky, or unhappy, you can try to focus on something tangible and simply make today a good day.
And here’s how:
1. Give 3 compliments: Making other people happy makes you feel happy. Dishing out compliments to your friends, family, coworkers, or even strangers will inevitably make them feel good. I guarantee that this will make you end up feeling good as well, whether you’re feeding off of their positive energy or are just proud of yourself for being so nice (rather than cold, like ice…sorry, once I start rhyming I sometimes can’t stop).
Here’s an example scenario to demonstrate:
You’re walking down the street and you compliment a girl’s outfit and she starts skipping down the street with joy. Here’s a detailed picture of what she’d look like →
Then you’d look like this →
Then unfortunately someone else tells her she looks silly skipping and she looks like this →
But whatever, at least you tried!
2. Exercise: Exercising for just 30 minutes a day gets your endorphins pumping and puts you in a great mood. If you don’t like running or sweating on the elliptical, though, try to find something you do like! Why not try hiking, dancing, or kickboxing for a change? Exercising in the morning is especially beneficial.
3. Watch a sunrise or a sunset: Although this may seem a bit corny, this is sure-fire way to boost your mood. Taking a moment to forget the problems of your life and focus on something as vast and distant as the sun can make you instantly feel more relaxed (…and not overtaxed).
4. Unplug for 30 minutes: In this day and age, we are almost always engaged with something. Whether we’re instagramming a photo, listening to music, surfing the web for funny cat videos, or thinking of our next tweet, we are never completely focused on the present and the world around us. Though this might seem like a terrifying and impossible task, I guarantee that doing this will improve your day.
5. Set small, tangible goals: Sometimes our goals seem so far away from us that we think we may never reach them. This can make it easy to get upset and become tempted to give up on our dreams. Setting small daily goals that you know you can achieve can help make you feel more accomplished and hopeful.
6. Take an hour to do something you absolutely love: Whatever it is that you love – reading, painting, singing, collecting stamps (that’s a thing, right?) – make time for it! Set aside an hour a day and make this a priority. Even if you think you’re too busy, you’re not. This will be worth it.
7. Smile: Studies show that even if your smile is not genuine or produced naturally, it generates feelings of happiness. So even if you don’t feel like you have something to smile about, smile anyway! It’s sort of a fake it ‘till you make it situation.
8. Do one little thing to simplify your life: Whether it’s decluttering your office or using some life hacks, it’s worth a couple of minutes of your day. Even if you aren’t making a huge difference in the ease of your daily life, you’ll feel like you’re doing something to make life simpler and that feels great.
9. Look good: The truth is that if you think you look good, you feel good. So take a little extra time in the morning to perfect your makeup or gel your hair just right (…but don’t give it too much height). The way you feel about yourself can have a huge effect on the quality of your day.
Example: “I lost my job, got evicted, and stepped in a puddle…but at least my outfit is cute. Wahoo!”
10. Do one thing that scares you: Do something you wouldn’t normally do, even if it terrifies you. Ask a stranger out, speak up in an intimidating business meeting, heck even go skydiving! You’ll feel extremely proud of yourself after for stepping out of your comfort zone.
All of these things seem pretty simple, right? And I’m sure many of you are thinking that I’m full of it and maybe even a little bit off my rocker – but trust me, these work! These simple tricks can change even the biggest curmudgeon (yeah, I’m talking about you) into the most bright-eyed and bushy-tailed fella.