By Wannabe Happy
This project is one that comes from the heart. As I began my journey 10 years ago into love, peace and joy, I encountered several road blocks.
The biggest road block was as I came out of my state of misery, I saw so many others around me struggling, depressed and digging deeper into misery by abusing alcohol, drugs, and many other substances to cope with whatever mental sickness was plaguing them.
It was hard, because as I grew into the study of compassion I found myself weeping daily for my friends and family. I found myself weeping daily because I did not know who I was anymore; I did not recognize how it felt to feel good on the inside.
Although happiness is good, the strangeness of it is scary, just as any change. I also noticed my acquaintances (hesitant to call them friends) were not accepting to the change, even though they saw what great things it was doing for my mind and body.
I lost 45 pounds, my smile became brighter, and my hugs became tighter. So I want to introduce this plan that I designed called 8 weeks to happiness.
Taken seriously it will work for you and, in the beginning, it may not work, but that is the beauty of it. Seeing the development and what works one day and not the other is part of the process. Also, there will be ups and downs, as in life, happiness does not necessarily mean never feeling sad or angry. Happiness is a state of mind. This is why the 8 week list of daily activities will act as building blocks, starting with the most basic tactics as a foundation and building to the internal freeing of the mind. Throughout the 8 weeks we will incorporate everything from yoga, mediation to healthy eating that will allow you to take a holistic approach to happiness. Thanks to Mind Yourself Chicago for letting me host this on their site and creating a forum for you and your friends to go through this daily effort of change together. I will also post the tip of the day on Mind Yourself Chicago’s facebook page as a reminder for you to reference throughout the day.
Day 1: Easy breathing exercise.
This is the foundation, the most basic of all but yet the most difficult to master. Breathing easily and smoothly, brings energy to your body (inhale) as well as calms nerves and eases tension (exhale).
For 10 minutes today, practice this easy breathing exercise.
Lie down on your back or comfortably sitting, close your eyes, inhale all of your breath, filling your lungs completely by expanding your abdomen, midsection and upper part of your chest.
Exhale all of your breath, emptying your lungs, allowing your abdomen to fully deflate as if you were pushing your belly button to the floor.
Just inhale and exhale slowly and smoothly for 10 minutes. Preferably in the morning so you can set the pace for your day.
Throughout the day, if you feel any tension or stress, attempt to return to this breath. Or if you do not feel any tension or stress and just want to practice this method of truly breathing at your desk, on the bus, or on the train, feel free. It can also be done with your eyes open and sitting down. It is just breathing; you will not be disturbing anyone. Also enjoy the silence you experience during this time of just breathing.
Day 2: Find a theme song.
“Happiness will hit you like a bullet in the back”. Find a song that makes you feel good, gives you the chills and brings a big smile to your face. Whether it is a tune that reminds you of a positive moment in your life or just a song whose lyrics make you feel good. Once you have that song, play it, sing it and/or dance to it. Absorb the lyrics, embrace the emotions, get lost in the moment.
Listen to it in the car while you are on your way to work, listen to it on the train, whenever or wherever you have the opportunity to let it soak deep inside of you. Let this be your theme song. Play it in your head as much as you feel today.
My song is Dog days are over by Florence & The Machine. I am dancing to it right now.
Day 3: Pay a compliment to someone that you do not know.
Just one is enough, but if you are feeling good, go for it, as many as ten if you like, but not more than ten because you want to keep it sincere. Honestly tell someone that you like their shoes, like their hair, enjoy their presence, like the way they say hello to you in the morning, or whatever you are feeling. Making others feel good about themselves will have a reverse effect on you. We all spend time and put effort into our day, whether it be in deciding what we are going to wear or putting on a smile for others to see our internal lights. It is good to recognize that about another person and it makes us feel good when someone recognizes that effort in us. Try it, don’t forget to breathe and sing a couple of lines to your theme song.
Day 4: Take a walk (or have a seat).
This may take a little effort or time. It will require you to take a walk. Yes, walk. For those of you with extreme physical ability or in the process of training for the marathon, just walk, not run, walk. In some cultures walking can be a form of meditation. For those of you with physical limitations where walking is not good for you, just go outside to a quiet place. But the idea is to take a walk, alone, for as long as you may feel or the time in your day allows. Breathe deeply and smoothly , observing everything around you. Notice the plants your neighbor planted this summer that you did not recognize before; notice how the lakefront waters splash against the guard rails. Notice the flowers on your way to the bus stop. But walk and observe, quietly, unless you see something that sparks a compliment. Do what you feel in this case. Follow your instincts. For those of you that chose to sit quietly outside, do the same, look around and observe all that makes your surroundings, your surroundings. Think about how much effort went into what you have always taken for granted.
Day 5: Make plans.
Plan to do something you have always wanted to do. The key is to plan. Whatever it may be; however far away it may be for you physically or financially, but make a decision in your head to start bringing it to reality. Either write it down, or just bring it to the front of your mind. It can be something as simple as cleaning out the garage or something as big as taking a trip to Spain. However small, or however big, the idea may be, begin today planting the seed. We are just planting the seed. Later on over the 8 weeks, we will water that seed.
Days 6 & 7: “Weekend”.
These two days we will consider our weekend. Like all weekends, we either rest from our week or catch up on what we missed out on during the week. Take the same approach here. Either revisit a concept from Days 1-5 that you enjoyed or didn’t quite grasp totally. Whether it be practicing the breathing exercise, or taking another walk. Think about the week and continue to practice the principles learned. Begin to try to make them a habit in your life. But remember the honesty and sincerity that you want to put behind your actions.