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51 Things That Will Make You Smile

By Lori Deschene

Some days, it’s easy to smile. You wake up to the sounds of birds chirping, with the warm glow of the morning sun cradling your face. You take several deep, cleansing breaths standing beneath a perfectly cascading shower, just before drawing a smiley face on the steamed-up glass with your index finger.

Your roommate or significant other makes your coffee, just the way you like it. You hit every traffic light. You sing to your favorite tunes. And you arrive at work refreshed, excited, and anxious to create and collaborate.

But not every day starts this way. Sometimes you wake up to chaos, in your head or in the world around you. You hit snags, and bumps, and roadblocks at every turn. You try too hard, or don’t try enough, and things fall apart, or things fall short.

You struggle, you fight yourself and other people, and you find yourself wishing you could stop the world so you could get off for a while.

But there is an alternative. When things go wrong, you can fall down or look up. You can shut down or wake up, all over again, starting from right where you stand. You can accept that the days won’t always look bright, but commit to finding something worth smiling about. Not sure what that might be? No worries, friends! I have a few ideas….

“I want to touch the heart of the world and make it smile.” – Charles de Lint

1. Call a friend who knows how to laugh at herself to remember what it’s like not to take yourself too seriously.

2. Ask a friend to come over and make you smile. It’s really simple and obvious, I know, but sometimes we forget to just ask for what we need.

3. Read a letter, card, or email from someone who thought of you when you were going through a hard time.

4. Search your deleted email folder for “thank you.” You probably made a huge difference in someone’s life recently—remember that now!

5. Text a friend, “What’s the funniest thing you’ve heard today?”

6. Text your significant other with a silly picture of you and ask for one in return.

7. Ask your significant other to make you breakfast in bed—and to be creative with it. (I have no idea what that could mean, but just seeing the thought s/he puts into it will likely make it extra fun).

8. Post on your Facebook page, “What made you smile today?” (Like I often do on the Tiny Buddha Facebook page!)

9. Tell a child in your life that you need a hug. Just try to stay stoic when she throws her little arms around your neck and sings “The Sun Will Come out Tomorrow.”

10. Alternatively, ask that child to draw a picture of you and him or her together.

11. Take a break to enjoy a simple pleasure that you often multitask—like a cup of flavored coffee, or a favorite snack.

12. Rearrange your furniture. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel a sense of accomplishment when I do this, and I also really enjoy the novelty of creating a space with a different feel.

13. Give your cat a ball of yarn or give your dog a wrapped gift and watch him try to open it. Pets playing = instant smile, at least, for me!

14. Go out and invest in a hula hoop. It’s nearly impossible to stay glum when you get moving like you haven’t since you were a kid. (Alternative option: jump around on a trampoline and just try to not smile!)

15. For the ladies: paint your toe nails a bright color that you wouldn’t usually pick.

16. Ask a child in your life to do your hair. Seeing yourself with massive 80s bangs (ladies) or a Mohawk-inspired look (men) is sure to get you laughing!

17. Blast your favorite music and dance around with absolutely no regard for rhythm or appearance.

18. Bake something that has a silly face on it. Really—this is a valid suggestion!

19. Eat food that requires you to use your hands, and get messy—and then really get messy. Get rib sauce all over your face and just go with it.

20. Make some type of arts and crafts project, just like you would have as a kid, with plans to give it to someone else. (Two-part smile: when you see the ridiculous thing you made, and when you see your friend’s face after receiving it).

21. Make a snack you loved as a kid. Maybe it’s peanut butter and banana sandwiches, or a sundae with gummy bears on it.

22. Watch a movie or cartoon from your childhood. (Smurfs always do it for me, especially when I remember how my mother called them devil worshipers because Papa Smurf did magic.)

23. Write a hand-written letter to someone you love, using different colored pens.

24. Look at pictures from your childhood. I can’t help but smile when I see the ridiculously thick bangs my mother gave me (translate: the front of a mullet).

25. Pop in the video/DVD from your child’s last recital—or your childhood recital.

Continue to Smile and Read More Here

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Today is Just One of Those of the Days

Today was one of those mornings where I woke up and my mind was instantly bombarded with all the endless things I had to accomplish today. There are always lots of things to do, but some days the list can just seem more overwhelming than others…and today was one of those.

I knew I immediately had to make a decision about what I was going to choose to think about because if I didn’t, my mind would have spiraled out of control, and my heart would have imploded under the weight of all that was before me.

Do you ever have days like that, or am I the only one?

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Murphy’s law: Anything that can go wrong will go wrong

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Sometimes you just have one of those days, where things happen to you over and over again, as if someone up above is testing to see if you really want to have a good day. Unfortunately, 95% of us give in and decide that it’s just going to be one of those days.

What if one of those days really meant the happiest day of your life, despite the fact unfortunate events temporarily plague your existence?

A few weeks ago, a highway patrolman took pity on me because I was having one of those days.

It all started with a trip to the accountant. After spending a decent amount of time procrastinating on finding an accountant to dive into my complex taxes (freelancer, two businesses, consultant, full-time job, multi-state), I was finally behind the wheel hopeful for a decent return as I drove myself to a small town an hour away because of a terrific referral from a friend.

Rushed as normal due to an extended, discipline-extinct session on Facebook, I didn’t notice that the address I entered into GPS was not actually where I wanted to go.

(Note: Whenever dealing with directional streets, make sure your GPS doesn’t drop the actual name of the street and decide to take you to 109 West Street instead of 109 West Main.)

Because I was listening to a business podcast, trying to multitask instead of wasting precious time in my day, I didn’t notice my final destination was a dirt road in the middle of a ranch until I actually arrived there. Now I was lost and very late.

I called the accountant’s office for directions, mad at myself for not realizing earlier that something was not right. Because I had no idea where I was, the accountant’s office couldn’t tell me where to go. I begrudgingly re-trusted my GPS, extra careful to double-check that the directions were taking me to the real address.

Operating with a faint trace of panic in the pit of my stomach, I pulled back out onto the highway from the dirt road, only to find myself in between an oversized truck and his escort car.

The truck driver was not pleased that I broke his chain, and passed me a little too zealously. While I don’t think he intended to run me off the road, he did lack a basic understanding of how oversized his load actually was and off the road I went to save my car (and my life) from damage.

Slightly annoyed, I pulled back onto the road, knowing I would now be a little later than I already was—except this time I was in between the oversized truck and his exterior escort. Not wanting to be a part of this relationship any longer, I decided to pass all of them. At 85 mph…on a 75mph highway.

Enter the state patrol. At this point, I laughed. I really just wanted to get my taxes prepared; I wasn’t expecting getting lost on a dirt road in the middle of a ranch, getting run off the road by a wide-load truck, and getting pulled over by the highway patrol. It gets better.

Obviously unhappy, the highway patrolman brusquely let me know that I was breaking the law and he would have none of that on his watch.

He requested my driver’s license as standard procedure. As I rummaged through my oversized purse, I tried to explain that I was lost, late, and had just been run off the road by that wide-load truck in front of us, and I was just trying to get out of the way. My wallet was missing.

With a smile, I politely informed the patrolmen that I didn’t have my driver’s license. It was at this point that he chalked up the events of the previous hour to one of those days.

I nodded and proceeded to produce every form of document I had to help him find me in their “system.”

We eventually found it, though it took a good ten minutes (hint: provide your full name, including middle initial if you’re ever in a situation where a police officer needs to find you in his “system”).

I luckily got off with a warning, and went on my way. Miraculously, I arrived at the accountant’s office only thirty minutes late for my appointment.

The meeting was easy because my rudimentary organization for filing my income and expenses was apparently all that the accountant needed. In less than fifteen minutes I was headed home.

It was at this point that I realized how nutty the past hour and a half had been. It was only 11:00am. I had a full day ahead of me. It’s also at this moment when 95% of the population would have chosen to let these events define their day. I had too much to accomplish to let that happen.

The secret to making it out of those days with a sense of peace and calm? A sense of humor, deep breaths, and an appreciation for the story.

The thing is, I was able to understand that I am not my stories. I have good ones, but they don’t define me. They make others laugh and they make great blog posts and Facebook fodder, but they do not define me. I am more than my stories, my body, and my mind. I am better than that.

Give yourself more power than your stories. Rewrite them, edit them, trash them, and rearrange the plot. Allow what comes to come as it may, and then take what works and let go of the rest.

My story is a battle scar, but I cleansed my mind to allow the wound to heal quickly. I didn’t hold on, hold grudges, or hold back. I experienced it all—the panic, the fear, the laughter, the despair. And I moved on.

The rest of my day was not bad at all, but it was funny to watch the reactions on Facebook. To the commenter who observed, “What a day,” I simply replied, “That was only the morning.”

Don’t be so quick to bundle your unfortunate moments with your entire day. Think of all the moments you’re missing out on if you pre-assign them to the same fortune that found you in the past.

P.S. It was worth it. My tax return will pay for a plane ticket to Europe!


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10 Ways to Turn a Bad Day Around in 10 Easy Steps

“Peace begins with a smile.” ~Mother Theresa

stress

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Minor things can trigger bad days, whether it’s a having a tiff with your roommate, getting stuck in traffic, or just waking up on the wrong side of the bed.

As a fitness instructor, I’ve found that one negative comment from a member in a class can completely derail an otherwise happy day.

Someone in one of my fitness classes once griped about my music selection after what I thought was an amazing class. It almost drained my entire high, but after hearing from the other 99.9% of the class that was sweaty and happy—people who’d enjoyed my class—I brushed the comment aside.

This has happened to me quite often, and I have to remember not to let one measly comment tarnish an otherwise great day.

This is the good news: You can turn around a bad day just as quickly as it started.

The first thing you need to do is get some positive juices flowing. Once you’ve started to feel good inside, it’s much easier to change your perspective on the day and let the pity parade pass you by.

If a bad day’s got you down, try one of these 10 ways to turn it around in 10 minutes or less:

1. Listen to a favorite song and sing a long.

Studies have shown that listening to music you like can alter your mood and even alleviate depression.

In your iPod, make a “Feel Better” playlist that includes songs that work for you. Try to choose positive, uplifting songs that you can sing along to. “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz works for me every time.

2. Take a shower.

I’m not sure what it is about taking a shower, but I feel that it metaphorically helps “clean” the negativity. Taking a quick shower, especially one that alternates cold and hot water, can help increase circulation and rid negative energy.

Start with a warm shower and then slowly turn the temperature of the water as cold as you can stand for 20 seconds. Then bring the temperature back up again. Alternate this cycle for 3−5 minutes to start until you can slowly start to tolerate longer durations.

3. Watch a funny YouTube video.

In a study performed at the University of Western Ontario, participants who listened to an upbeat piece of music and watched a funny YouTube video were more productive and better able to solve problems than groups who listened to depressing music and video clips.

In theory, watching funny YouTube video can actually boost productivity. (Try telling that to your boss.)

Watch this video and tell me your day didn’t just get 10 times better.

4. Pet an animal.

Petting an animal can dramatically improve your mood. It can have such positive effects that behavioral therapists use animals to help with healing—with equine therapy, for example. Even though owning a pet has been shown to improve self-esteem and well-being, you don’t have to have one to reap the benefits.

You may not be at a farm, but chances are, someone in your neighborhood or building owns a pet. Also, animal shelters are always looking for volunteers. Animals need us as much as we need them!

5. Give and get a hug.

We often overlook human touch as a form of therapy. Health providers actually use therapeutic touch as a form of energy healing in hospitals and hospices to help patients recover from surgery.

The next time you’re feeling a little wonky, reach out to your partner, a close friend, or a family member and share a quick embrace.

6. Practice deep breathing.

Deep breathing has a naturally therapeutic, stress-reducing quality that can help you quell the rush of stress hormones that a bad day can bring about.

Take a few moments to close your eyes. Practice inhaling deeply through your nose for a two-second count, pausing for two seconds, and then exhaling for another two seconds. This will help stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system, thus quieting down your stress response.

7. Write about what’s bothering you and then write something you are grateful for.

Journaling is a great way to release stress and anxiety since it helps you get things off your chest in a safe way. Even if no one is going to read it, the fact that you wrote it down will make dealing with the stress a little easier.

Write in a journal exactly what’s bothering you and how you’re feeling about it. Then write a few things that you are grateful for. This will help bring you into a positive frame of mind, which will help get you out of your slump.

8. Do some light bodyweight exercises.

Even though you may not feel like it, getting up and moving your body will help stimulate blood flow and the release of endorphins, the well-known “feel good” hormone.

Luckily for you, you don’t have to tie your laces and head out for a three-mile run to get the benefits of exercise; even a five-minute routine that you can do right next to your desk can do the trick.

Perform a simple routine of light squats, push-ups, and easy stretches. This not only gets you out of the chair, it also stimulates happy hormone production, increases blood flow, and boosts your mood.

9. Sign out of Facebook.

Social media has done many positive things to bring people together, but there is a dark side.

Many studies have shown that checking social media can actually trigger depression because we often compare ourselves to our peers, creating feelings of inadequacy and doubt.

Heavily limit your exposure to your Facebook or Twitter feed. At work, check them only if you have to. Keep in mind that most people are always going to put their best foot forward, so don’t compare your insides to somebody else’s outsides.

10. Walk barefoot in the grass.

Being stuck inside all day without direct exposure from the sun, and without connecting to the energy of nature, can actually made a bad day even worse.

Grounding is the practice of exposing yourself to the ground, usually with your bare feet to help stimulate energy, improve immune function, and boost happiness.

The theory states that the earth’s magnetic field can lower stress hormones.

During your lunch break, find a grassy space where you can sit and relax for a few minutes, allowing your feet to rest in the grass. Enjoy your lunch or just sit and read a book for several minutes, letting your heart rate and stress levels go down.

These are just a few ideas to turn a bad day around. What helps you get out of a funk when you’re feeling down?

Photo by Fah Rojvithee