Life is one huge roller coaster of ups and downs, isn't it? One minute we're on top of the world, then the next we're suddenly so bummed out that all we want to do is curl up in a ball and sob like a newborn baby. Even if we know that, all things considered, our lives are pretty darn amazing it's so easy to start fixating on our flaws, things we need to do better, the horrible things other people sometimes say. One mean word can ruin an entire day.
But it really doesn't have to. Seriously. Most days, being miserable is a choice we make. That might sound awful, but think of it the other way around - you are in charge of your own happiness. Maybe someone was mean to you, and that's crappy, but most of the time you can choose to completely disregard it and not let it get you down. And that's an amazing thing. The realisation that we're in the driving seat for our emotional state is so freeing.
Because emotions are as infectious as the common cold. If you're surrounded by negative people, the chances are you'll end up feeling pretty darn rubbish yourself and everything can turn into a downward-spiral of doom and gloom.
Think of the happiest people you know. Almost without exception they're probably also the kindest and most positive people in your life, and it's one of the main reasons you, and everybody else they know, loves them. So this month, let's all take a leaf out of their book and cultivate a positive outlook. If you're happy, the people around you will be happier, if they're happier then you're even happier... win-win!
1. Tell Somebody You Love Them
It might be your partner, your parents, your children, your best friend. It doesn't matter who. Make sure you tell someone special to you that you love them - it's something they'll never get tired of hearing, and it's always the best feeling when someone says it back.
2. Do Something Kind
You don't have to donate all your money to charity or rescue an animal. Little 'random acts of kindness' are amazing and make you feel like a saint. Why not leave a little bar of chocolate in the fridge at work with a note saying 'Enjoy - I'm free' or offer to do a household chore that someone else normally takes care of? Making others happy is really easy to do, and it always makes you feel better about yourself.
3. Compliment Somebody
Noticed that a colleague has a new haircut, or your friend has some fancy shoes on? Or maybe even that their handwriting is amazing, or how they're always friendly and polite? Just think how many times you notice these little things but never quite get around to saying them, and make a mental note to spit it out next time!
4. Help a Stranger
Kindness from a stranger is always the best thing. If somebody helps you with no expectations of getting anything back it not only cheers you up, it makes you think that the entire human race is that little bit better than you gave it credit for. Help an old lady off the bus, give up your seat for someone who looks really tired or offer to give a lost tourist some directions. It only takes a second and you'll be smiling about how nice you are for hours afterwards.
5. Do Something for You
Not everything has to be giving to others. Carve a little time out of your day, even if it's only five minutes, to do something purely for yourself. Maybe you want to do some colouring in, read a book, eat something amazing or go for a walk in the park. Do it. The happier you are, the more productive you'll be the rest of the time and the better you'll feel.
6. Do Something Naughty
I don't mean breaking the law or anything, but do something that feels a little bit naughty and indulge your inner child. Break your own rules and give yourself a bit more freedom. Maybe it'll be having a little slice of cake even though you're on a diet or buying those shoes you were going to wait until payday for, maybe it'll be something little like not washing your hair. Maybe tell a white lie and say you're too busy or tired to go out when actually all you've got planned is a night under the duvet watching Netflix. Allow yourself not to be 'perfect' for at least a few minutes every day.
7. Smile at Everyone You Meet
This is by far the easiest thing to do. Even if you feel a bit down, when you smile your brain does a little happy dance and actually starts cheering you up anyway. When others smile back at you, it's infectious. The world's a happier place.
8. Let Something Go
Maybe this is a huge thing like forgiving somebody who hurt you, or maybe it's a tiny thing like deciding to reduce your reading goal for the year. Most of the things we waste our time stressing out over aren't really a big deal and are just another point on an endless list of things to be worried about. Accept that we're not perfect and that we can't do everything, and adjust your priorities.
9. Take Time to Look at the Positives
This is probably my absolute favourite way to make myself that little bit happier. At the end of every day I like to sit down and make a list (either written down or just in my head, it doesn't really matter) of all the things that were great about my day and the things, even the tiny ones, that I should be thankful for. Even the very worst of days still has a couple of good moments hidden away inside it if you look for them. Focusing on these things rather than the negatives helps me put everything back into perspective and reminds me of the million things I can be happy about. Go to sleep smiling and you wake up the next day feeling amazing!
I hope something in this list resonates with you! Remember that doing even just one of these things on a daily basis is enough to make your life seem a little cheerier, so don't start beating yourself up if you don't manage every single one every day. I'd love it if you could pop back in and leave me a little comment telling me how you get on! Good luck - here's to making August the best month of the year so far :)