If you’ve been on the rollercoaster of feeling all the feelings these past few months, we’re with you. After reading about countless couples getting divorced post-quarantine, hearing from several friends that are dealing with depression, and experiencing my own anxiety highs and lows; we are determined to do all we can to conjure up more joy in casa de Nixon. After doing a happiness research deep dive and experimenting on my favorite guinea pigs for the past sixteen weeks, this is the formula that works for us. I know everyone is different so here’s hoping one or two will work for you!
- Find multiple sources of serotonin every day. If you’re like me, you might hear serotonin and think “sunshine!”, but it’s so much more than that. You can also source it from food (seek out anything with tryptophan – an amino acid that’s converted to serotonin in your brain); aside from turkey you could do salmon, tofu, nuts, seeds, or cheese. Other sources of serotonin could be massage, vitamins, probiotics, and meditation.
- Exercise! Of all the items in this post, exercise has been the golden ticket for me. As you might have heard, exercise is proven to increase your serotonin levels (mentioned above), and reduce stress. After 63 consecutive mornings of working out, I am happy to report all of the usual things you’d imagine that come from repeated exercise: my clothes fit better, I feel stronger, I have more patience throughout the day, and most importantly, I really do feel happier.
- Ditch the phone. We’ve never been night owls, but since having Grey, I feel my sleep situation is no bueno. We actually hit the sheets pretty early, but my brain won’t follow suit. Something I kept reading about but never attempted until recently was putting the phone in another room. If you’re reading this now, please promise you’ll try it tonight?! Leaving my phone on the charger downstairs is the one thing that has made a massive difference in the quality of my sleep. I no longer check social media right before bed, and if I wake up in the middle of the night, I don’t have that urge (or ability) to scroll until I get tired again.
- Positive Power. This starts the second you wake up in the morning. Or maybe a second sooner. Before I open my eyes I thank God for another day. And it doesn’t have to be a religious thing. Take a few moments to express gratitude for anything that comes to mind; your health, your family, your job, the sunshine, the food in your fridge. Big or small, starting your day with a thankful heart will create ripples of joy. I make it a fun thing to look for as I go about the rest of my day, and include Jon and Grey too. I thank the birds for chirping. I thank Jon for feeding the dogs so I could drink my coffee a little longer. I thank Grey for giving the best hugs you could imagine. All of it. I drink it all up and am thankful for all the moments that remind me how lucky I am.
- Take Charge. I was listening to Gary Vee’s podcast a few years ago and he said something that hit me hard. It was along the lines of “I could be crossing the street and get hit by a bus out of nowhere and it would be my fault. I take responsibility for everything”. YES. You get to choose today, right now, this second, to create your happiness. Sure, there is a laundry list of items that are simply out of your control. Same! But you can flip the switch on some of your actions and it will have a massive impact on your life. For instance, I can be a little snarky sometimes with Jon if I’m in a mood. But if I take a breath before I speak, I purposefully reprogram to say something kind instead, and it actually makes both of us feel better.
And if you’re looking for extra credit:
- go for a neighborhood stroll each night
- turn on some funky music while you’re making dinner
- play a family board game instead of watching tv
- start a gratitude list of just 3 things per day
- pack a picnic mid-week and head to the park
- donate to your favorite cause
- turn off the news
- send a video message to a friend
- leave a love note on your partner’s laptop
- do a chore for your partner or friend
- plant a “happiness flower” in a pretty pot (indoors or out)
- hunt for joy nuggets like you’re looking for gold all day
Thank you for taking time out of your day to be here with us! We hope you found a tip or two to try this week. If you have some to share, please leave ideas for all of us in the comments below! And remember…
Need more happiness inspo? Follow one of our favorite boards on Pinterest, The Good Life.