You’re feeling a bit shitty and want to make changes that bring near instant returns. However, you’re pretty sure you have neither the time nor the energy to go there. What you need is a good list of pointers that will set you on the right road to contentment – and might do you good in other areas too.
Here is a light-hearted look at the ten things you can implement right away to bring a little contentment into your life and the lives of those around you.
1. Turn off the news
Brexit, Trump, conflicts in Syria, we need a break from it all. Watching the news paints a picture of the world as a miserable and negative place – but it’s not. Instead of the papers, read a classic book, or an autobiography of someone you admire. Turn off the 24hr rolling news and watch a favourite film, or some great stand-up. You’ll see how quickly this can change the way you view the world around you for the better.
2. Set a few goals
Even the most mundane of journeys have a destination, let alone the fun road trips. It’s because not having a destination would result in driving aimlessly around using petrol until we’re tired, bored and frustrated. Why then, do some of us continue to lead our daily lives like that? Set a few smaller goals, just to have something to aim for. Try to make them centred around you and your own growth and avoid just overloading yourself with work or family commitments even more.
3. Smile at people
Smiling at people might feel odd at first, and of course there are situations where it might not be the best idea. But whilst going about your daily activities it doesn’t hurt to share a bit of goodwill with others, even if you just do it with those you need to interact with. See the difference it makes to your feelings.
4. Be a producer, not just a consumer
Reading books, listening to music, chilling with Netflix: it’s all fine, but too much of anything is a bad thing. We are creative beings; some argue this creativity is a manifestation of the drive to conceive and shape small humans. Maybe it is. Whatever the reason for our need to produce, we must allow ourselves the time to do so. Anything from baking biscuits to composing an overture will work, as long as you actively do something.
5. Make positive moral decisions
Human beings are connected on many levels. We all strive for both our individual survival and the survival of humanity as a whole. If we don’t do right by each other, it can have a lasting negative effect on us as individuals. Subconscious guilt will bring you down, even if you think you’re hard enough to escape it. Being a good and morally correct person not only makes you happy, but it restores others’ faith in humanity and makes them happy too.
6. Eat fresh and healthy food
Everybody knows the cliché that ‘you are what you eat’, but many of us tend to forget just how important a phrase it really is. The body is a machine, with the output being a direct result of the input (in all ways, actually). Fresh, wholesome food will give you a clearer mind, higher energy levels and mental clarity. Seeing things more clearly will inevitably bring about a sense of overall contentment as you’ll be able to achieve your goals with less effort.
7. Mess up with pride
Nobody learns by getting everything right all the time. You learn through failure, but more importantly you learn to deal with failure through failing. Happier people have the tools to deal with life’s knocks, not allowing themselves to be beaten down when things go tits. Practice makes perfect, and most of the time it’s what you learn along the way that’s of real value. Approach tasks fearlessly and you’ll be surprised what you can achieve.
8. Avoid being jealous
Jealousy is a strange old foe. Rooted deep within our mechanisms for survival, designed to push us into catching up with our competitors. In 21st century life though, it can kick in when we least need it, making us both unhappy and ill at ease. Take time to make a mental list of the things you are grateful for, the things you are lucky enough to have. Consider the entire picture of the person you might feel jealous of, do they really have it all? Probably not.
9. Phone a friend
This one seems obvious. So, why don’t we do it more often? Getting in touch with an old friend is the ultimate pick-me-up, for both of you! It’s a win-win situation that could have a more profound effect than you’d ever realise. With mental health sharply in focus right now, the extent of those suffering from depression has been exposed. Call a mate, have a chat, lend an ear – don’t put it off, it could be just what you both need.
10. Move your butt!
Exercise is hard to start. Those that haven’t made it a routine thing – and even those of us that have – can struggle to find the motivation. But the rewards are worth it. That pesky serotonin needs a kick, and even a light jog can do the trick. If you haven’t exercised in a while, start small – but start. See point 2!
Words: Daniel Coll / Images: Unsplash