10 Free Ways to Rediscover Everyday Joys

by Kelley Holmstrom


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You know how the song goes, and it's true. The best things in life are free. Now, if you could just find the time to do them! Here are ten simple things you can do today, or any day, to feel refreshed, recharged, and wise to the ways of discovering happiness.

  1. Sing along to the radio. Maybe you already do this, if you're alone in the car. Why not sing along when you have company, too? (To preserve family unity, refrain from doing so when chauffeuring your teen's friends.) Put on the oldies station while you're cleaning the house, and take a time out to do a little dance when a favorite song comes on. It doesn't matter what you sound like. If you really can't carry a tune, just turn up the stereo, and keep grooving.

  2. Try a simple breathing exercise. Stand with your feet directly beneath your hips, and dangle your upper body like you're thinking about trying to touch your toes. Close your eyes. Breathe in for the count of one, hold for one, and exhale for the same count, extending the stretch slightly on the exhale. Move up to two, three, four as you feel comfortable. Open your eyes, and see how far you've stretched. You might be surprised by how flexible you are, and how calm you feel.

  3. While waiting to pick the kids up from an activity, or for your one-hour photos to finish, sneak off to the library. Pick up a magazine you're interested in. Sit and enjoy some private time, guilt-free. Regional magazines have some great travel ideas. Let your imagination run wild.

  4. Do you get too focused on the mundane details of life? Write a list of all the things you want to do before you're done in this world. It's never too late to start living the life you've always wanted, but it's not necessarily easy. Share the list with those closest to you, and set one or two concrete goals to help accomplish one of these dreams. Then don't let them slip away.

  5. Email someone you've meant to reach out to. Tell your friends and relatives what you've been doing, and ask them how their lives are treating them. Mend any fences that might need mending. Tell your Congressperson how you feel about the issues closest to your heart. Make a complaint, or give a compliment. You'll feel better either way.

  6. Be kind to a stranger. Let someone go ahead of you in line. Yes, your time is precious, but so is theirs. Tell a mother that her child is beautiful. Give someone the small gift of your patience, and it won't go unappreciated. Don't take your frustration out on someone who didn't set it off. Courtesy and civility are the founding for grace. Then again, there's a difference between being considerate and being a pushover. Stand up for yourself if truly wronged.

  7. Start a massage exchange. You rub his back, he'll rub your feet. It's a win-win situation. Who could say no? If you can't find a partner, give yourself a foot or hand massage. You'll feel more relaxed all over.

  8. Rearrange the furniture. Switching the position of just one chair will shake things up around the house. Rotate wall hangings. People stop looking at and appreciating art when they see it in the same place everyday. And remember that art doesn't have to match the couch. Display what you love and what you respond to, whether it's Picasso or your niece's junior high art project.

  9. Take a sip of a drink that's either fairly hot or very cold. Feel the liquid run through your body, and pause for a moment to be thankful for being alive. Make a mental top five or ten list of your blessings. If one of them is a person, let them know. Try to take moments like this every day, just to sit and be aware of yourself and the world around you. No meditation necessary, or even quiet. Sometimes it's more beneficial to take a mental time-out when the world seems to be going crazy around you.

  10. Do you insist on a hug or kiss every time a family member leaves to go to work or school? Now is as good a time as any to start. If you usually just give your spouse a perfunctory peck, surprise them tomorrow with an extra-long goodbye smooch. The boss won't notice if he's thirty seconds later than usual.

Aahh. Now, don't you feel better? All ten of these ideas can be boiled down to a couple of things to keep in mind: slow down and appreciate the good things in life. Before you know it, strangers will be asking you what you're smiling at. For a little extra fun, tell them it's a secret, and give them a wink. You'll probably lighten their day, too.

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