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The Secret to Happiness

Back when I was attending church on a regular basis this sermon title would just grate against my nerves. There seemed to be this formulaic follow steps one, two, and three and you'll be happy. It didn't work and I just ended up frustrated and depressed. This post is not like that. There is no secret here. Maybe just a little encouragement.

You see, in the mornings I like to listen to the news on the radio. Everyday, however, the news just gets worse and worse and makes me more and more down. I mean, the economy is in the toilet, people are dying in horrible ways day after day, and there seems to be no hope for the future. Then there's my own life which I probably won't go into too much detail here just leave it at financial stresses are big. It makes it hard to want to get out of bed let alone be a productive member of society. I decided I needed to make a list of things I can do to help myself feel better. I realize that when I am in a full-blown deep pit of depression this list won't help, but if I stick with it maybe I can avoid that pit. So here is the list maybe it will help someone else

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  1. Exercise: I have a t-shirt I wear sometimes when I run that says "Cheaper than Therapy". Exercise does not solve many of my problems, but it does help me to clear my heard. It makes me feel stronger, more confident, and more ready to face life. Even if you take just 10 minutes every morning to do a few jumping jacks or running in place - something to make you breathe a little harder and get your heart pumping - it's worth the effort.
  2. Diet: I am not talking about diet in the typical use of the word. Going on a diet to lose weight is just another stress to add to my life. I am talking about just making healthy food choices. Eating more fruits and veggies instead of cookies and ice cream. I suck at this. When things are bad I tend to go to food first - and not the healthy food. I do know from experience, though, that eating a healthy diet makes your outlook on life much better. Face it, when you decide to eat ice cream for dinner all it serves is to make you more depressed (personal experience). Although there are always exceptions to this. Sometimes a few cookies is the only thing that works.
  3. Sleep: This s a hard one for most people. They say you should get 8 hours a night - that's what most people need. I know some people need less, others more. I'm one of those who needs 8 hours. If I don't get it I'm crabby and irritable and certainly do not have a positive outlook. When I do get it I have a lot more energy and I feel like I can function rather than just going through the motions to get through the day.
  4. Sunshine: Now that spring has come to the majority of us it's time to get outside and soak up the sun. There have been a few times these last couple of weeks where I have been stuck inside for hours for one reason or another. When I finally do get out the effect is immediate and I wonder why I didn't get out sooner. The sun is healing for me. I'm sure those of you living in colder regions it must be even more so. Missing it all winter makes you appreciate it so much more when it's there so take advantage of it all you can before it gets too hot!
  5. Creative Outlet: For me, that is obviously photography. It took me over 40 years to figure that out though. I have always (or almost always had something. I have tried scrapbooking, drawing, gardening, cooking, knitting, etc., etc. Most of the things I have tried I have not been very good at (actually I've been pretty bad at most of them), but I still did them because they brought me joy. It feels good to create something no matter how bad it is. The process of creating forces you to think of something other than the stresses of life. Being able to look at something you have made gives you a sense of accomplishment that is rare these days. So try something new go draw a picture plant a flower
  6. Hugs: Whether you are hugging someone or something, a hug can lift your spirits like nothing else. I know there are a lot of lonely people out there. People who may not have another person to hug. In those cases I have a couple of suggestions. Now, you may find these a bit odd, but sometimes you just get desperate. The first is suggestion is here: Find an animal; a cat, dog, horse, turtle, whatever works for you. If there are no animals to be found then go to your local toy store and buy yourself a stuffed animal. There is a reason kids like them. It may not be the perfect solution, but it works. And when all else fails, come here for a virtual hug. It's just good to know someone cares even if they are not right in front of you.
  7. Laughter: Laughter is hard to find sometimes, but it sure feels good. Here are a few links to shows that make me laugh: Fawlty Towers, Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Daily Show, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Arrested Development
  8. Count Your Blessings: I really don't like the title to this. It seems so trite. What I mean by it is to take five minutes and mentally go through a checklist of the things that are good around you. Do not allow yourself to focus on the negative. Look at things like do you have a place to sleep? do you have family/friends that care about you? can you look around you and see color any color? Can you hear sounds birds, music, traffic? Spend five minutes finding some sort of beauty around you.
  9. Friends: This is the hardest for me. I don't have many friends and I really hate telling people I need help. It's easier to do it on my own. Force yourself if you have to. Call someone, email, IM, send a message through Facebook, text, whatever it takes. Lots of times I wonder why "so and so" hasn't called in so long maybe it's because I haven't called them. Friends want to be there for you, but they need to be given a chance.
  10. Breathe: My final tip. Seems pretty easy, but I tend to forget, especially when things get stressful. When I feel overwhelmed I often say outloud, "just breathe, Nikki." Taking a few deep breaths helps my stress level go down significantly. Again, this does not take away the problems, but it does help not to feel so overwhelmed.

A lot of these tips take time and that seems to be a luxury lately. You can combine some though. Take a walk with someone - that crosses off sunshine, exercise, and reaching out to a friend all at once. Or practie deep breaths while listing the good things in your life. I'm not saying do all of these things everyday, but maybe try one or two and see if it helps.

 

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Posted in Dentistry Post Date 12/22/2017


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