1. Find something for which to be grateful — now and every time you feel anything other than joyful! It's impossible to have a heart full of misery and a heart full of joy. Gratitude is the great re-framer! When you look through gratitude glasses everything changes, no matter what happens in your life, so find something for which to be grateful. Sometimes you have to look for a little while!
2. Smile with your eyes and your mouth. It makes a physiological difference! Scientists have shown that smiling with your mouth and your crows feet muscles will help you live longer and reduce your risk of stroke!
3. Focus on what is right. It seems to be part of the human condition to look for the worst or focus on what is not right — when, in fact, you are surrounded by loads of wonderful things! (Or even some small, good things). Consciously find things that are good and focus on them. Be a good finder. Make it your mission in life and watch your life change.
4. Exercise. Go for a walk, run, swim, cycle — anything that moves your body! Exercise influences not just our physical body but also our emotions. Gratitude and exercise are powerful antidepressants! Especially when combined! As Margarita Holmes says in her excellent blog, “In Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John J. Ratey and Eric Hagerman (2008), the proof that exercise is truly our best defense against depression is unequivocally presented. Filled with amazing case studies (such as the revolutionary fitness program in Naperville, Illinois, that has made the local school district of 19,000 kids first in the world of science test scores), Spark is the first book to comprehensively explore the connection between exercise and the brain”.
5. Go out into nature and truly appreciate what you see and feel — the beauty, the sun, the breeze — all of it! Focus mostly on how you feel. Everything in life is about feelings — but too many of us shut down and stay in our heads – analyzing and worrying. Go out — feel the wind, the warmth of the sun, listen to the animals and smell the flowers.
6. Create a joy spot. Make a space in your office or home or on your desktop and put happy memory photos, songs and video clips there — anything that makes you feel joyful. Play songs that lift your spirit. Skip and dance in your joy spot!
7. Take a deep breath. And five more. Blow all the air out between each breath. Repeat until you feel better. Stress makes us take shallow, high breaths so we take in less oxygen, which reduces the capacity of our brains to function. Be aware of this and remember to breathe deeply on a regular basis. It's free and a magic bullet!
8. Help someone else. Serving others is a fast track to joy. A friend of mine who was going through a hard time, was feeling terrible until he talked to a friend going through a harder time! As he focused on helping her, he forgot about himself and his woes. At the end of the call he felt much better. Helping others really is an antidote to misery!
9. Get out of your head and the constant criticism and connect to the peace in your heart. What stories are you telling yourself, about yourself? About your circumstances? Your partner? Your life? Your head has stories — and they are all fairy stories — they are not real. They are based on our perceptions, which are always limited. Your heart has wisdom, true vision and feels. It knows when things are right or not. We call it ‘gut feelings' but I think it's really heart knowings!
10. Believe that you are worth loving. You are lovable and worth loving. The fear that you are not is false — shine a light on it and eradicate it! Keep working on it, until you do believe it and the fear has gone!
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