I recently read a great article on ways to gain happiness over the next year. It was full of simple ways to change your lifestyle over the course of the year. But for me, I cannot stick to resolutions. I need instant gratification, plausible changes that I can make every single day. I was inspired by this wonderful article to list out simple changes we can all make today to promote a happy, healthy, full lifestyle. Work the below suggestions into your life right now, and see if a bigger smile is added to you daily life.
1. Cook Dinner at least 3 Times a Week
There is something that makes me really happy about cooking and eating my own meal. Once I get over the stress of figuring out what to cook, and who is going to run to the store, sitting down at the table with my family is one of my favorite ways to wrap up the day. With a little planning, aim to eat in at a minimum of three times a week. I will let you in a well known secret: There is nothing healthy about eating out. Cooking your own food is the best way to measure what you are putting into your body. Even the finest dinning establishments overload just about everything with butter. (There is a reason it’s that good!) Find a cookbook, a website, or the family recipe box and take the stress out of cooking. Planning a week ahead and making the trip to the grocery store prepared will help you achieve your goal.
2. Clean Out Your Closet(s)
I often find myself putting together a bag of clothes that I no longer wear only to stop myself. Well, I might wear that shirt again, find a top that looks cute with that skirt, need that 50th hoodie. And guess what, I never do. Same goes for the hall closet and kitchen cabinets. I find an excuse every time. Then each morning when I go to find something to wear, I am bombarded with a row of things I won’t even touch. It’s time to purge. If you have not worn it, used it, or needed it within the last 6 months, get rid of it (seasonal things are the exception). Don’t stop and justify why you should keep it, because you shouldn’t, and deep down you know it. Gain a little cash for new items and host a garage sale. Whatever doesn’t sell immediately take to your local Good Will or thrift shop. Repeat this process every six months, or as you notice items are starting to accumulate. Less clutter will result in less mess, which I can guarantee will put a smile on your face.
3. Get Organized
See item 2. Now take that a step further. We all get busy and counter space becomes storage space. Shoes are left on the closet floor instead of their boxes. Paperwork and mail liter the house. Baby toys are left where they are thrown. When our house is a mess, my husband and I are on edge. He is much more tidy then I am, and I can tell that a messy house annoys him. Which in turn makes him grumpy. When in turn makes me defensive. Which in turn puts us both into bad moods. Truth me told, there is time to clean up, if you make it a priority. I read not long ago that every time you walk out of a room take a item that needs to be put away with you. This is beyond brilliant advice! It makes cleaning up manageable, not so overwhelming. A “clean as you go” concept. Before you go to bed at night, make sure your main traffic area is clean. For us, our bar top receives the brunt of the damage. Before going to bed, taking two minutes to quickly clear it off means waking up to a fresh house. On the weekends pick one project to tackle. Organize old photos, make a binder of important information, dust the back room, set up a new way of storing your makeup, whatever it is that needs to get done that is not your usual household maintenance. Once you set up a way to be organized you will be amazed at how routine it comes.
4. Plan a Girls Day/Night/Lunch/Brunch/Trip
Whenever I go out with the girls I always go home thinking I need to do this more often. A simple coffee date, shopping trip, or a weekend getaway always leave me feeling relaxed. Your girlfriends know you like no one else. I know there are things I will share or say that I would otherwise keep inside. They give me advice, perspective and an outlet. They make me appreciate my own life as I reflect on it. We all get insanely busy, and we all have a lot on our plates, so planning ahead is key. And don’t cancel. Unless the sky is falling, try not to be the flake. We all have things come up but time is precious. Once you write it down on your calendar stick to it! You will never regret spending some bonding time with the ladies.
5. Get Active, Every Day
There is no excuse to not do something every single day that promotes a fit, healthy lifestyle. We make it a priority in our household to go for a family stroll every evening after dinner. Getting outside and stretching our legs for a quick walk helps settle our meal and gives us time to reflect on our day with little distraction. No time in the evening? How about on your lunch break? Hit a class at your local gym. Do it even if you need to leave early. Make going a part of your daily routine. Have 5 minutes before you hop in the shower? Get in a quick ab routine or yoga stretch. There are enough hours in the day to fit in some sort of activity, as small as it may be. You will feel accomplished, your energy levels will go up, and it will up put a smile on your face (and make the dimples on your butt vanish!)
6. Set a Budget
The number one thing couples fight about is money, so the study says. In my household, that is not the case, but I would say in my own personal top 10 stresses, money is one of them. My husband and I have very similar views on money, spending it and earning it. But still I stress over student loans, working full time verse being home more, and the balance of savings accounts. So I set up a budget on Mint.com to track where all my money is going. This is not to say I limit myself, not yet at least. But it is a way to see how I spend. I notice I was spending a lot of money drinking coffee and random food for lunch. So now when I am crunched for time I opt for the free cup at work and pack some snacks instead of walking to the store. I limit myself to $50 worth of new clothes a month. Sometimes I spend over this, other months not a dime. Once you get a handle on where you money is going, it becomes a lot easier to manage where you can cut back.
7. Make a Summer (and Winter) Bucket List
I feel like once again, summer is slipping away from me. I mark the downhill decent to fall with Fourth of July. Don’t ask me why, it just seems like once the fireworks hit, we are staring to wrap it all up. I know I need to be a better planner. There are so many fun, festive summer activities I want to do but time starts slipping by. So this year I am starting a bucket list. And I am taking it one step further and marking the calendar. (Found this lovely free printable here) I refuse to spend the end of the summer bummed that we never made it to the zoo! And the same can be done with winter. Don’t let the seasons pass you by!
8. Start those Pintrest Projects
I have about 800 pins on my personal Pintrest board. Some are inspiration, quotes, cute outfits, but a lot are recipes and DIY projects. It is time to stop pinning and get to it. We can easily live our lives as lookers, pinners if you will, but where is the fun in that? My goal is to attempt one new recipe a week and one project a month. What an amazing way to get out of a cooking rut and add some beauty to your home! I will be sure to update on my progress and share any amazing foods I discover as long as ya’ll do the same!
9. Make some “You” Time
I have always loved some good ole quality time with myself. But with a baby, a hubby, and a job there is very little “me” time in my day. So I gotta get in where I fit in (I think that is a lyric reference…?). I stay up late. The best solution, no, but it does work for me. Staying up an hour or so later gives me that little extra time to play online or watch my Pretty Little Liars obsession. I try to limit this to once or twice a week, as my husband and I like going to bed together. Find some time that you can fit in you! And don’t feel guilty about it. We all need to unwind and have our own list of things we would like to get done. Chill during nap time for a half hour, take a stroll on a work break, wake up 30 minutes earlier just to watch part of a movie. Whatever it is that gets you alone with you, make the time!
10. Be Passionate, Live Passionately
There is the passion we see in the movies (Hello The Notebook sex scene) and there is the passion we feel toward a certain non profit organization. There is no reason our lives should not be full of passion of all types. We should exude passion for the things and people we love. Never fear putting yourself or your passions out there. Find what it is you really care about and go for it, whole heartedly.
11. Soundtrack Your Life
Looking through my high school mixed CD’s titles were often “Summer Boat Mix” and “Break Up Mix.” With everything digital these days don’t leave the days of playlists behind. Create a mix that lifts your mood and gets you ready to conquer your day. Sunshine by Atmosphere is always number on my list. Something about the sweet beat makes me smile every time, regardless of a crappy mood. Music is a mood changer. Don’t let yourself wallow, when you are having a shitty day, pick yourself back up with your own personal mood changing melody.
12. Get Outside the Box
Put your phone down. Okay, wait, finish reading this, then put your phone down. We spend so much time checking in that we are really just checking out. Yes I know that this is the most overheard advice ever, but you aren’t listening to it, so I am saying it again. There is a time and a place for Facebook, Instagram, Pintrest, etc. It is not while driving. It is not at the dinner table. It is not while talking to someone. It is while unwinding at the end of a long day. It is while waiting in the doctors office. It is while you truly have nothing else is front of you. Make it a game. First one to pick up their phone pays for coffee. First one to update their status buys lunch. I love my social media as much as the next person, but I am learning to put my phone down and pay a little more attention to what is right in front of me.
Create you own version of Happy
No two lives are the same, nor should they be. The above are ways to spread some smiles, make life a little easier, and have some fun from time to time. It is what works for me, but that does mean that any of it is right for you. We all need to create our happiness, whatever that entails and whatever our own definition of happiness is. My hope for this list is a little inspiration to list your own plan of attack in putting a smile on your face right now. Because why stretch out something over a year that we can accomplish every single day?